What I learned today is that an IEP (which stands for Individual Education Plan - and assures your child is given an appropriate education for any disability they may have - our younger son is deaf in one ear) should be monitored with outside help from someone who knows and understands the laws and rights of people with disabilities. Now, you may already be a really smart person who can advocate for you/your child's rights and needs. But, unless you know the full scope of what is acceptable and appropriate for a person with disabilities, and specifically to their particular disability, it is best to NOT navigate these waters by oneself, ie. myself. Also, if you are a sweet person who wants everyone to live together in harmony (um, that would be me), that you'd better get yourself an Advocate, and Fast, like by tomorrow at 11:00 am. You can do a Google search for Educational Advocate, or can start asking everyone you know if they can recommend a good Advocate in your area. People will know, and they will talk your ear off for about 22 minutes telling you how valuable their Advocate is, I mean REALLY valuable, kind of like flowers to a honey bee sort of valuable...
Let's say your child does not have an IEP (our older son did not, and each time I tried to get him one, we were denied), then the Advocate can help point you in the direction for having your child tested to see if they do qualify. Your Advocate will review these test results to make sure they are interpreted correctly. Please Do NOT leave this up to your beloved school administrators. They often make mistakes, they may be inexperienced to correctly interpret the information, their testing methods may be outdated. They may try to cover up, or conveniently "bury" information that might be a very important indicator for necessary services. In the case of our older son, repeated errors (or maybe cover-ups-?) were made and our son, instead of getting the help he so desperately needed, turned to other methods to get help. Methods called drugs. Not good at all. Once his cries for help became loud enough, the school administration said it was a "drug problem" and they attempted to wash their hands of us.
As I look back on all we have been through, I realize that if we HAD hired an Advocate when our boys started school, then things that went gravely wrong could have been avoided. So, let me say this again, get yourself an Educational Advocate. It could literally be the difference between life and death for your child. It nearly was for ours.
If you are in the Southern California area and would like more information on our team (or even if you live elsewhere), please email me or leave me a comment, and I will help you find names, dates, and places that are appropriate for your situation. At the very least, I will help point you in the right direction, I promise.