How to Be an Effective Advocate for Your Loved One in an ARD Meeting
If your child has been identified as having a disability, you may be invited to participate in an ARD meeting. An ARD is a meeting of school personnel and the parents/guardians of a student with a disability to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This process can be confusing and overwhelming, but as the advocate for your child, you play a vital role in ensuring their unique needs are met. Here are some tips on being an effective advocate for your loved one in an ARD meeting.
Know Your Role in the ARD Meeting
As the parent or guardian of a child with a disability, you play an important role in their education. You are an equal member of the team and have valuable insights and expertise when it comes to your child. It is important to remember that you are not there to fix anything or make excuses—you are there to ensure that your child’s individualized needs are being met so they can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.
Your child’s success depends on the entire team working together. When everyone is on the same page, it sets the stage for success. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher or school administrators. We are all here to support your child and help them reach their full potential. Thank you for being an important part of the team!
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting is an important opportunity for you to advocate for your child’s education. By preparing in advance, you can ensure that the meeting is productive and that your child’s needs are being met.
First, take some time to review your child’s records and familiarize yourself with their current IEP. If you have any questions or concerns, write them down so you can address them during the meeting. It can also be helpful to bring along a family member or friend for support.
Additionally, try to come to the meeting with an open mind and be prepared to compromise. The goal is to work together with the school to create an IEP that meets your child’s needs and ensures their success in school.
Make Your Voice Heard
Making sure your voice is heard in team meetings can be essential to ensuring that your child’s needs are being met at school. One way to do this is by using “I” statements to express your ideas and concerns.
For example, you could say something like, “I noticed that my child seems to be struggling in math class. I’m concerned about whether he’s getting the help he needs.” This will show the team that you’re invested in your child’s education and willing to work collaboratively towards solutions. Of course, it’s also important to listen to what others on the team have to say.
By actively participating in the meeting and listening to all sides, you’ll be more likely to come up with a plan that meets everyone’s needs.
Keep an Open Mind
It can be easy to get caught up in the details of everyday life and forget that there is a bigger picture. When it comes to parenting, it is important to keep an open mind. You may not always agree with what is being proposed, but it is important to understand that there may be other factors at play that you are not aware of. If you disagree with something, state your case calmly and respectfully.
Remember, the goal is to come up with the best possible plan for your child, so it is important to work together toward that common goal. Keeping an open mind will help you to see the broader picture and make decisions that are in the best interests of your child.
It is important to remember that everyone on the team is there to support your child. Although you may not always agree with what is being proposed, it is important to be respectful of everyone’s time and opinions. If you have concerns, state them calmly and respectfully. It is also important to be open to listening to the perspectives of others on the team.
By showing respect for everyone involved, you will create an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect. This atmosphere is essential for effective communication and problem-solving. When everyone feels respected, they are more likely to listen to each other and work together to find the best solution for your child.
After the meeting, make sure to follow up with the team members who attended about any action items that were agreed upon. This will help ensure that everything goes smoothly and according to plan. You should also reach out if you have any questions or concerns after the meeting has concluded.
ARD meetings can be overwhelming, but as the advocate for your child, you play a vital role in ensuring their individualized needs are being met. By being prepared, making your voice heard, keeping an open mind, and following up after the meeting, you will be well on your way to being an effective advocate for your loved one.
About Mary Jenkins
Mary Jenkins has over 25 years experience helping individuals with IDD live and thrive in their community. She founded Above and Beyond Caring in 2007 to provide Texas HCS services in the Texas Gulf Coast area. She is also the Director of the Community Inclusion Project, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all individuals have access to their community. She is passionate about her work and believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to be a part of, and contribute to, the world around them. Mary is a tireless advocate who is passionate about helping individuals with IDD live fuller, more meaningful lives.