'Tis the season for PPT meetings, which depending on your school based support team, you either look forward to or dread. Try these five steps to set the tone for an effective meeting.
1. Knowledge is Power: Take the time to know the rights and responsibilities of each member on your team. Special Education law can be a thicket of legalize, but there are a lot of great resources out there in the form of guides and checklists. Here is a great document full of information and tips put out by the CT Family Support Network.
2. The school team is your ally: Know that while your school team has the interests of many other children and staff to balance, they almost definitely want to help create the most supportive learning environment possible for your child. When you go in armed with your knowledge of your child's rights, be sure also to really listen to the concerns and alternatives brought forward by your team. Remember that they spend almost as much time during the day with your child as you do, and may have some insights that surprise you. If conflict does arise, Make observations, not accusations.
3. YOU are your child's most important advocate: If there is some disagreement about your child's plan, remember that you are the one that is ultimately responsible for making sure your child's needs are met. If need be, you can seek support from a trained Special Education Advocate.
4. Empower your child's voice: Take the time to look over the paperwork with your child if it is developmentally appropriate. Get his or her reaction and feedback. Use active listening, and be honest about your own assessment of his or needs if your perceptions differ.
5. Seek peer support: The special needs community is filled with people open and willing to lend an ear or offer advice. Many online resources exist such as Facebook groups, as well as face to face support groups. Peer support gives you access to a wealth of information and experience, or just a hug when you need one the most.
Aaron Weintraub, MS runs child-centered social skills groups with a focus on children and teenagers with Pervasive Developmental Disorder,Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Shyness. Strengths-based approach in a community based setting. Groups available in Tolland, Mansfield, Willimantic, Hartford, Vernon and Coventry Connecticut.