As a military wife practicing Education Advocate and a special needs mom. Moving is already complicated, with so many moving parts going on at once. Now throw in a child with a diagnosis or additional needs. They have an IEP, 504 Plan, or EP in place to support their needs, but moving adds another layer of worry for most parents.
I have moved all over since my son Jayden was born due to my husband’s service in the U.S. Navy. We even moved to Florida to only move back to California due to the lack of available resources and benefits for children with special needs.
Here are my top 5 tips to make the transition of moving with a child who has additional needs:
1. Let your IEP team know about the move.
A lot of people believe they should wait to inform the IEP team of possible moves. However, I have learned that informing them and holding an IEP right before you leave has many benefits.
The team is a lot more accommodating and willing to dig deep and write in all the child’s needs when they are not going to be the district responsible for the IEP any longer.
Is it right? Nope. But it is the 100% truth of the matter.
2. Contact the new school district as soon as you have your new address.
This allows them to review your child’s current IEP.
It also gives the district plenty of time to ensure they get all accommodations, supplemental supports, and related services ready for your child’s arrival.
I afford the school district as much front loading as I can so they are prepared to accommodate every need when we arrive.
3. Request tours of all placement options when you arrive.
Correct placement is vital to a successful transition.
The school will probably already have a placement option in mind and it could be exactly what your child needs but seeing all placements is important because you know your child the best.
I tell every parent I work with you are the expert on your child and are an equal member of the team with equal decision-making power.
Although it may not seem that way, it is, and I want to encourage every parent to own their seat whenever you come to an IEP table.
4. Let the front loading begin.
I have learned a lot through my many moves. But, one vital thing I have learned was that frontloading everyone from your child to your new IEP team is beneficial.
When we move, I request a few opportunities for my son to see his new classroom, and meet the staff.
The more time my son has to become familiar with his new classroom and the staff he will be working with the easier the transition will be for everyone.
It always gives his team time to observe him before he enters the classroom on the first day.
I have seen great differences in the start of school when frontloading is implemented well.
5. Prepare for an IEP meeting in 30 days.
You will have a meeting in about 30 days after your child has started at their new school.
The meeting will be to discuss the current IEP and how it is working in the new placement and if anything needs to be changed.
Every district is different, so I would take that into account.
However, I would also be prepared to have data from home and/or outside providers in case their vision does not match your vision.
Also, a strong parent input statement is very important in this meeting so everyone is on the same page moving forward and the IEP team knows what expectations you have.
During the first 30 days, I recommend you be very observant. If you have any concerns, the 30-day IEP review is a great place to get them on record for the team to address.
It allows for any necessary changes to be made without calling an additional meeting.
Moving with a special needs child is no easy feat. I hope these tips help ease the process to make one less aspect of the moving process less daunting.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kirby Morgan. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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