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What to Do After a Special Needs Diagnosis

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Don’t go it alone

“Bring someone with you to an IEP meeting,” suggests Bilash.

Cortese hired an advocate because she and her husband wanted an expert to help them advocate for their son.

“Hook up with an agency,” advises Ford. “It’s much easier to navigate the system when you have support.”

Implement the plan

“An IEP will have specific needs identified, which should be accurate and current,” notes Bilash.

“A good plan has ‘SMART’ goals,” adds Cortese: “Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-related.”

Speak up

Call a meeting if the district is not implementing your child’s 504 plan or IEP. Bilash says, “Share your concerns and try to have a data-based conversation. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, consider all options, including a facilitated IEP meeting, and, if needed, mediation, due process or a state complaint.”

Stay involved and informed

“Maintain active communication and involvement with your child’s teacher and any support staff,” says Olson.

“Teachers, administrators, support staff and therapists are typically really good people who genuinely care about kids,” says Cortese. Therefore, “any communication should begin with appreciation for their hard work, followed by a request for information.”

Stacy Heenan Biscardi is a freelance writer and MomSpeak blogger for MetroKids.

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