Children Attending Their Own IEP Meetings: It is NOT Mandatory

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Children Attending Their Own IEP Meetings: It is NOT Mandatory

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As children get older, particularly when they enter middle school and high school, the school may start inviting your child to their IEP meeting. BE CAREFUL! I don’t think it’s always the wisest move to invite a child into an IEP meeting. Think about it: Most adults are intimidated by IEP meetings, what makes us think a child wouldn’t be as well?

Actually, it could be worse for a child because they don’t understand the terminology or the context of the discussion. As one middle schooler told me, “It was horrible. The principal and all my teachers sat there and told me how I could do better, how I wasn’t working hard enough and I was a behavior problem. They pretty much told me I was a bad kid.”

Your child does NOT have to attend their IEP meeting. The school has to invite them to participate, but they cannot force them to attend. It is your decision whether or not they participate. My recommendation? Only under extreme circumstances, and only in a very well controlled environment, should a child attend a meeting. Make sure the questions for the child are predetermined and the amount of time the child is in the meeting is minimal – 10 to 15 minutes – and then they’re out.

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