Welcome to our new website!
June 20, 2022

What is an IEP? (feat. Shelley Kenow) S5E16

What is an IEP? (feat. Shelley Kenow) S5E16

Are you a parent to an autistic child, a child with ADHD, or a child with a disability? If so, this show is for you. Learn everything you need to know about IEPs, from an IEP expert, and go into your next IEP meeting empowered with the knowledge needed to better navigate the system.

Are you a parent to an autistic child, a child with ADHD, or a child with a disability? If so, this show is for you. Learn everything you need to know about IEPs, from an IEP expert, and go into your next IEP meeting empowered with the knowledge needed to better navigate the system. This episode with help you ensure your child has access to the support and accommodations needed for them to succeed in their educational journey.

Guest Bio:

Shelley Kenow is a wife of 30 years, a mom for 22 years, a trained human to a Chihuahua for 13 years, a special educator for 30-plus years, author, Education Consultant, and live streamer for #nolimits and Friday with Fran, provider of professional development for school districts, and Master IEP Coach®. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is to prepare an individual child for further education, employment, and independent living...whatever that looks like for each individual. Shelley believes we know who we are, but not who we will be. These are the two driving factors in her approach to working with families and schools. 

Connect with Shelley Kenow:

All of Shelley's information is found atshelleykenow.com

Host Bio:

Rob Gorski is a single Dad to three amazing autistic boys as well as Found and CEO of The Autism Dad, LLC. Multiple award-winning blogger, podcaster, content creator, digital marketer, social media influencer, and respected public figure for well over a decade.

Connect with Rob Gorski:

Official Podcast Homepage

Official Blog

Podcast Discussion

Autism Parenting Support Forum

Mentioned in this episode:

Just two Dads Podcast

Shawn Francis and Brian Altounian host "Just two Dads." A weekly conversation with two dads about raising children with special needs. Listen, every Wednesday at 12PM PST. Find them on Facebook and anywhere you get your podcasts.

Just two Dads Podcast

Happy Ladders

To learn more, get a free trial, and take advantage of an exclusive, limited-time offer for my listeners, visit happyladders.com. Use the code theautismdad at checkout to save 50% off the monthly membership. Plus get a free one-on-one session and access to the Tantrums and Meltdowns mini-course. This is a limited-time offer so act now.

Learn More About Happy Ladders


Shelley Kenow

[00:00:00] Rob Gorski: Welcome to The Autism Dad podcast. I'm Rob Gorski. And thank you so much for taking the time to tune in. I really appreciate each and every one of you let's learn something today. You guys wanna learn something today, or if you wanna learn something today, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Right? Here's the deal.

[00:00:12] There's a lot of you out there who have experience in navigating the school system with your child, right? There's a lot of you out there as well, who are first time parents or caregivers to a child that is autistic or has a disability. And, and you're learning to navigate the school system for the first time.

[00:00:30] I wanna help you with that because I I've been there. And I know how overwhelming it can be, especially when you hear those three letters, IEP. So here's what we're gonna do today. We are gonna have a conversation about IEPs and I have an expert here to do that. Her name is Shelley Keno. We're gonna talk about what an IEP is.

[00:00:47] We're gonna talk about. What they're used for what types of situations warrant an I E P what your rights are as a parent, what your child's rights are as a student and how to work together with the school to help ensure bright future, uh, for your child in the educational system. So thank you, Shelley. I really appreciate you taking the time to come on a show. Could you take a moment and just tell us a little bit about yourself and maybe what got you started in working with?

[00:01:12] Shelley Kenow: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. First of all, um, I am a former special education teacher. I have about 30 years in the world of special education. Some of that as a teacher, some of that as an aid, some of that as a substitute, I was in the classroom full time for about 15 years and I left teaching about five years ago and became an special education consultant and master I E P coach.

[00:01:35] Um, I saw so many families when I went through teaching. Seemed lost. Um, we'd have these meetings and we'd ask them if they had any questions or any comments. And they would say no. And, but yet they would come to me later and ask me a dozen questions. And so I realized that there is so much in the I E P document and so much to the special education process that parents didn't have a clue because there's.

[00:02:06] That much of it. It's kind of like having a mortgage, you know, you don't look at a mortgage paperwork. Well, most people don't anyway, and, but yet, you know, that's a, it's a legally binding document. So, um, like I said, about five years ago, left teaching and started this consulting business, um, working alongside parents and helping them really be able to navigate the special education process.

[00:02:28] Rob Gorski: Okay. Very cool. And you're right. I don't think most people read that stuff. Uh, and well, they, they, they probably. Um, what, so, so let's just start out. Let's assume that people, parents out there just like, they don't know what an IEP is. So can we start off by just sort of talking about what an IEP is and, and sort of, well, let's just start out with what an IEP is.

[00:02:53] Shelley Kenow: Sure, absolutely. So that's an actual excellent question because a lot of people hear I E P and they have no idea what the letters stand for and the letters are very important. They stand for individualized. Education program. And we get that from the special education law individuals with disabilities education act.

[00:03:11] And the reason that I emphasize the eye in both of those is because so often that gets forgotten when we get into these meetings and school systems will sadly revert to things such as well. That's the way we do it here, or that's the only thing we have available or, uh, something that is not individualized.

[00:03:31] And so the IEP is the document that drives special education for a particular. I mean, it's the, I, it's the document that drives it for everybody, but it's individualized for each person or at least it's supposed to be. And so understanding that the data that, that builds into that, um, all the present levels of performance, there are goals and objectives that are worked on, um, that are done by specially designed instruction.

[00:03:57] They have accommodations and modifications. It lists out the related services. Uh, it talks about the placement and it also may hold the evaluation information from when your child was evaluated for, uh, special education. So every year, once you get an I P you will have a meeting, um, every three years, your child will go through a full Reeva.

[00:04:23] Rob Gorski: Okay. So what is the purpose of an IEP?

[00:04:25] Shelley Kenow: So the purpose is to help children access their curriculum. So it doesn't dumb down curriculum. It doesn't, um, make it easier for the child. So for example, if you have a child who, for whatever reason is lacking some skills in reading comprehension, and they've gone through the evaluation process and been determined to need those special education service.

[00:04:49] They will get that specially designed instruction to help fill in the gaps of what they were missing. Um, the, I E P works with your strengths to strengthen your deficits. So, um, you know, working on those kinds of things sometimes with a special education teacher, sometimes separately in a classroom, sometimes in the general education classroom with just a little bit of, of different kind of support.

[00:05:17] But it will. I, I think the general education population is like 70 to 75% of kids get things. Um, the way that they're being taught by a particular teacher, and then you have another 15 or so that will need that extra education from a special, um, a special education teacher giving that specially designed instruction.

[00:05:40] And then unfortunately you have another 10 or 15% in there that are. They don't qualify for special education. So not everyone who's struggling qualifies for special education.

[00:05:51] Rob Gorski: Okay. So what are some common situations that a parent may experience with their child? And if you recognize, or, or that could help them recognize the need or benefit of an IEP?

[00:06:03] Does that, that make sense?

[00:06:05] Shelley Kenow: Yeah. Um, so for example, going back to the reading, let's say that your child is, um, really getting a lot of accommodations from their teacher. And you have learned about those accommodations at conferences, or just in conversations with your teacher and you find out that it's because your child is really struggling with, um, math, for example, and they're getting, um, extra time, they're getting extra.

[00:06:33] Uh, they're, they're just really not understanding the concepts of say time manage, um, not time management time in general, um, telling time, um, working with time, um, maybe they don't understand fractions. They don't understand. Um, Number sense in general. And so when you're starting to see that your child is having a lot of difficulties in one particular area, specifically, you want to talk to your child's teacher about, you know, do we think we need to have an evaluation or is it just that they're.

[00:07:06] Maybe just a little bit behind, um, because if they're, if they're just a little bit behind, it's probably not worth it. If it's one particular area, I, I did specifically mention fractions. A lot of kids have difficulties with fractions, but if it's only one particular area versus a whole subject, it's probably not going to be necessary to ask for an evaluation for special education.

[00:07:29] You might just need a little extra support in that one area. But if you are in need of a whole subject or multiple subjects, uh, because your child is struggling in lots of components of a subject, you probably want to reach out and ask your teachers to have a special education evaluation done and do that in writing by the way, anything that you do with special education, make sure you always do it in writing.

[00:07:54] That's a huge tip for anybody. No matter if you have an IEP for your child or you don't make sure you always do anything in writing.

[00:08:01] Rob Gorski: Okay. I'll bite. Why, why is that?

[00:08:02] Shelley Kenow: Well, basically the, the main thing is because you have a, a paper trail paper trail. Yeah. Um, but it sets things in motion for timelines with special education.

[00:08:12] There are lots of parts of it that have timelines involved. And when it comes to evaluations specifically, once you give permission to have your child evaluated, then that starts a timeline and different states. Uh, the federal law says 60. Unless the, and that's calendar days, unless the states do say otherwise.

[00:08:33] And so like in my state of Illinois, it's 60 school days from the time that a permission is granted to get an evaluation until they have to do the evaluation and hold the evaluation results meeting. Um, but yeah, the other reason is because people forget. You know, somebody has great intentions. They're talking to you, you say, Hey, I think I want my child evaluated for special education or, Hey, can we try this accommodation with my child?

[00:08:59] And the teacher says, yeah, sure. We can do that. And then they turn around and they talk to five other people and they forgot what they've said to you. So if it's in writing, it's easier to say, Hey look, remember we talked about this. Oh yeah, here it is on paper. Yeah. I'm sorry. I forgot. I'll get to that.

[00:09:15] Right.

[00:09:16] Rob Gorski: So, okay. So in regards to kids who, who need, or would benefit or qualify for an IEP? Well, I guess, do you have to qualify for an IEP?

[00:09:26] Shelley Kenow: You do have to qualify for an IEP. There are 14 eligibility categories under idea, which is that individuals with disabilities education act, and yes, you would. Um, like I said, either you, or if your school sees that your child.

[00:09:40] Having some difficulty, like I said, in the full content area. Um, and they ask you for that permission to do the evaluation, you have to qualify. And I do wanna say because you're the autism dad that just because your child might have a diagnosis of autism from a medical professional, they won't automatically be eligible for an I E P it has to impact their education.

[00:10:06] In order for them to be eligible. And there's a whole evaluation process that happens and it's, it's lengthy and there's lots of assessments that go on. And, um, it's, it's kind of a daunting process, but, um, we don't just wanna throw anybody and everybody into special education. So we do have those criteria they have to meet.

[00:10:24] And those assessments that they have to take,

[00:10:26] Rob Gorski: I, I do, I do remember that. And I was really surprised the first time that, uh, we were like, well, I mean, they were diagnosed by, uh, Johns Hopkins. I. My youngest was. And uh, I'm like, okay, so why, why do we need, like, why do we need an educational diagnosis? You know, like how, I don't understand how you can like question a medical.

[00:10:48] And I remember kind of going back and forth with them because I was really irritated by that right. Cause they were, we were in a situation where they were pushing not to do anything. And we were like, Hmm, like really? Like, that's a, I, I don't understand like how you can just disregard. All of this stuff.

[00:11:05] And so I guess that leads me to another question just specifically in like the autism community IEPs. It, it has this reputation of being almost like a four letter word, right? Like nobody, nobody, nobody gets up in the morning and they're like, yeah, we got an IEP meeting today. Like pumped, we're gonna go do this.

[00:11:23] They hate it because it's scary. And it's overwhelming. And what I hear from a lot of parents is they sort of feel bullied sometimes into whether it's intentional or not. It. It's uh, schools seem to wanna do the minimum requirement to meet whatever standard they have to, to meet. And parents don't realize that they have, they have some power, I think.

[00:11:48] Yeah, absolutely. In those meetings. And, and so do you, do you find that, um, schools are reluctant to. Uh, to enter into an IEP cause it's like an IEP it's, it's a contract, right?

[00:12:06] Shelley Kenow: So, absolutely. Yeah. It's an absolute, it's a legal document that has to be follow. Yeah. So you're

[00:12:09] Rob Gorski: entering into a contract. Mm-hmm do you find the schools like don't like are reluctant to do that and sort of kinda push back a little bit?

[00:12:18] Or is it just sort of based on where you're at?

[00:12:21] Shelley Kenow: No, I, I do think that they're reluctant, but probably not for the reasons that you are thinking, um, for one. The whole, going back to the beginning of that, the diagnosis, um, from the medical doctor and your school for your child, not really wanting to just automatically give an IEP.

[00:12:38] Um, special education does come with a stigma, unfortunately, and schools don't give that stigma, put that stigma on a student unless it's really necessary. And so that's where I feel a lot of the reluctance comes from it's from a good place. It's not that they don't wanna do it because it's extra work or it's extra money, or yes.

[00:13:04] Unfortunately those things are part of it. But the reluctance really does come from the, well, we don't wanna put that label on a child if they really don't need it. And so, but to your other point of. What do parents, you know, do they have rights? Absolutely. Parents have rights and there are a lot of things that, um, schools do because that's the way they're used to doing them.

[00:13:32] Um, and they're not used to oftentimes parents asking questions or having input or having knowledge. And it's often I. Almost scary for the, for the school part of the IEP team, when a parent does ask questions and does come in, because they're not used to that. And I think that concerns teachers that they feel like they're failing and that they feel like no matter how much effort they put into it, they're, they're just not gonna be successful with certain kids.

[00:14:04] And so that brings up a defense mechanism instead of an openness to, Hey, you teach me about your child. You help me understand your child. It's the, well, I'm the expert because I'm the teacher, I'm the therapist or I'm the administrator. I'm supposed to know all the answers and we can't, but it's like a, it's like a catch 22 sort of a situation.

[00:14:27] Um, and, and to the point of the bare minimum, one of the things that I dislike about the law, but I understand why it has to be that way is the word appropriate. Um, idea says that your child is, has the right to have a free, appropriate public education or faith F a P E if you've ever heard that. And the word appropriate, I think is too broad of a word because your version of appropriate and my version of appropriate could be completely different.

[00:15:01] And, but the law had to be that way because they couldn't say. And that's of course what we want as parents, we want the best for our children. And so oftentimes we come in and we are expecting the school to, you know, do everything under the sun, the moon and the stars to, to educate our child. But they're not required to do that.

[00:15:21] Um, because if they were required to do that for every child who qualifies for special education, they would probably be doing better. For the children in special education and the children in the general education, it's just not possible. When you think about what best means, as far as, as funding, as far as location, as far as, you know, everything that's involved for all the millions of students in the education system, we don't give our children the best, which is very unfortunate, but it's like an impossible thing to do at the same time.

[00:15:55] And so, you know, some of the things that I like to tell parents when they are going through that special education process, some things that I think are like the biggest points to know would be, uh, one of the things that always throws parents off is you have a right when they send you that notification of your meeting time and date that you can say, I can't make that.

[00:16:16] Can we work something else out? It's not, it's supposed to be a mutually agreed upon time. And. So that's, they're saying, Hey, these, this is the time and the place we're suggesting to you, does this work for you? Um, and oftentimes parents are like, well, I can't make that. And the team will say, well, that's when we have, you know, all the 17 people from the school sport of the team that are available.

[00:16:40] Well, the law leans more towards the parents and the schools cooperating with the parents. So if it doesn't work for you as a. Then you tell them I need to change it, or I need to attend by phone even before, uh, COVID happened. You could attend by phone mm-hmm , but it wasn't often offered for whatever reason.

[00:17:01] Um, and so you can attend by phone. You can attend by video. Um, something else is IEP are supposed to be data driven. So when you get those progress reports, um, on those goals and objectives that I mentioned before, it should be clear. There should be data along with it, not a summary of the data. But the actual raw data that shows where the teacher got the information to put into the progress report.

[00:17:30] So if you're not getting that information, you need to make sure that you reach out and ask your school to give you that information. And that data comes from every goal has how it will be evaluated, whether it's a daily work or assessments or, uh, chart or observation logs, or, uh, whatever else you and the, the rest of the team decide.

[00:17:51] You should have copies of those things that you can see. Oh, okay. I can see that on May 12th. My child did this, you know, this many times accurately, but on April 6th, they only did it this many times accurately so that you have that exact same information. You as the parent are an equal member of the team.

[00:18:13] Um, I advise my clients to write a parent input statement. Every I E P has a parent concerns or parent input section. Never leave that blank, write it ahead of time and send it to them so that they can put it into the IEP. What your concerns are. A lot of states have laws now where the school districts are required to send out a draft copy of the I I P and all evaluation materials.

[00:18:40] Mm-hmm that will be discussed at the upcoming IEP. If you have a state, if you live in a state that you don't have, that you are certainly within your rights to request that information, um, because that gives you that chance to go over it ahead of time so that you're not bombarded with all of that information and then have to try to come up with any questions as you've been given, you know, a ton of information and then said, do you have any questions?

[00:19:08] Most of the times it was too much information and parents are overwhelmed and they. Couldn't formulate a question because they were still trying to process everything.

[00:19:17] Rob Gorski: When I've talked to parents about IEPs in the past, like there's, there's sometimes that I feel like parents are like, their expectations are, are way beyond what is practical inside of a classroom.

[00:19:30] And I think it's important that we, we kind of find that balance between. Not doing enough and to help the child reach their potential and meet their needs without going overboard, I guess.

[00:19:44] Shelley Kenow: No, I understand what you're saying. And it does, you know, the law does not say anything about there's a cap on how much a school can or should spend on a student's education.

[00:19:57] Um, I, I see what you're saying and I agree with you that, you know, we, we do have to. Reasonable. And this is something that I have struggled with all of my teaching career, because I've heard of stories where school districts have lost programs such as art or music, because they have had to spend so much on a particular student that was in the special education program.

[00:20:23] And I, I do, I struggle with that because there's a whole lot of people that would be missing out on music and art, but is it appropriate for that child? To to need, you know, whatever it was that they had to spend that money on, or should they have maybe looked at a different option? You know, maybe a different school placement would have been the appropriate setting.

[00:20:46] Um, one very disappointing thing about our federal government and our state governments is that we are promised money. Our school systems are promised. To provide those extra resources and that extra education and that extra, you know, whatever it is that is appropriate for, for the children. But it's a promise.

[00:21:10] It often is not backed up with actual money. And so our school systems are still required though, to do what is appropriate. They're still required to spend those dollars, even though they don't have. The federal education law was supposed to fund. I think it's 40% extra and they have never come even close to funding that much in real money.

[00:21:36] It's only been, I think, 15 to 18%. And so when I hear, uh, organizations say, you know, well, the schools are getting all this money and you know, this bill promises that they're gonna give this many dollars to schools. You guys have to remember, it's a promise. And promises aren't often kept when it comes to our government and our government officials.

[00:21:59] So yes, your schools are required to do these things, but they don't have the money and it's not because they're spending it elsewhere. They literally have never gotten the dollars to do it. So it's a, it's a tough situation, honestly, and I don't know the right answer.

[00:22:14] Rob Gorski: That's exactly what I was. I was kind of hoping we were gonna get to, because I hear from parents.

[00:22:20] A lot of times where they're, and I I've been there too, you know, where, where they're angry with the school, because their idea of what a reasonable accommodation is, is different than what the parents' idea of reasonable accommodation is. And a lot of times I think, and, and I do, I do think, and I've been there with schools that are just horrible in managing and implementing and, and maintaining and following IEPs.

[00:22:42] I mean, we had some really bad experiences where, where I'm at, but I think the over the overwhelming. Percentage of, of schools and in teachers, I mean, they want what's best for the child and, and if you're going to be, it, it's counterproductive to be angry at the school. If it's, if the school is limited, what they can do because their hands are tied.

[00:23:07] Right. And, and it's important to remember where to focus that anger on . Right. And, and when you, when you, and that was sort of the whole point of. Because I think like I've had my experience with, with bad teachers, right. But I've had more experiences with really amazing teachers who can only do so much.

[00:23:30] And one of the most successful ways to help any child, especially I, if you have a child with special needs to navigate their education journey is for you in school to be partners in their education and be involved as a parent. And, and when you don't fully understand. Why something is the way that it is.

[00:23:48] And you just go after the first person, you know, in sight, which is the school or the teacher or whatever, you can damage those relationships and you can burn those bridges. And it becomes much harder to work together. And, and, and you go into these, these IEP meetings where it's already stressful and people can already have tensions and whatever, and it just sort of makes it worse and it becomes a less productive experience.

[00:24:13] And ultimately your child is the one who's gonna pay the price. And, and so that's kind of, that's kind of what I was tr I was trying to get at what you said, where it's, it's, it's not always the school's fault that they can't do this stuff. You know, voting matters guys, and you wanna make sure that you're voting people into power who are going to Institute legislation that will fund the schools the way they need to be funded.

[00:24:37] The, the system is, is, feels like the system is broken in a lot of ways. I agree. And it's not always, it's not always the teachers. It's probably rarely the teachers, honestly. Oh, ex oh yeah. And, and so I just, I guess I just wanted to, I wanted to make sure that we address that so that we're not too often. I feel like we're pitted against each other where the parents are against the school trying to fight for something, because maybe they just really don't understand, like what goes on behind the scenes.

[00:25:06] And they just sort of feel like they have to get, they have to fight the school to, to get things. It's not necessarily the case.

[00:25:14] Shelley Kenow: Yeah. And it, it, it, you're absolutely right. I, and I might be a little biased being a teacher myself, but it is rarely if ever the teachers, um, you know, every teacher that I worked with put in countless hours outside of the actual teaching day, we put in hundreds, if not thousands of our own dollars.

[00:25:39] To make our classrooms enjoyable and have different things for the students to enjoy. And I come from a rural area, but I'm sure that that happens in the cities too. And in bigger districts, um, that yes, they might have a little bit more funding, but I guarantee you that most teachers are still. Investing a lot of their own time and money into making things, into buying things into researching, and trying to find different things.

[00:26:11] And when it comes to your special education teachers, I walk into a classroom and I have zero curriculum. I might have, uh, I taught in three different school districts. And when I would walk into those classrooms, there was nothing on the walls. There was no materials, you know, if I wanted to do arts and crafts, I had.

[00:26:32] Go beg, borrow and steal. As we would say from other teachers, the supply closet, if there was such a thing. Yeah. It's just what we, what we provide for our teachers is pretty minimal compared to what you actually see in your child's classroom.

[00:26:47] Rob Gorski: That's so frustrating because like, if, if, if as a society we're gonna invest in anything, I mean, our kids should be the thing that we're pouring money into and the schools should be one of the avenues with which we're pouring that money, you know, into them because they are literally the future.

[00:27:09] Yeah. So I, I guess, I guess the whole, the whole point was I, I just wanted to make sure that parents have that context. You know, you can go into the meetings, knowing what your rights are and, and always, you know, always fighting for what your child deserves and needs, but also be aware that it's not always, yeah.

[00:27:28] The school trying to give you a hard time. It's not always, as it appears. And, and so just having that sort of in the back of your mind, you can go in there and, you know, fight for your child. If you feel you have to, but just understand that you might be fighting the wrong person. You know, like you can, you can vent and express how you feel, hopefully in a socially appropriate way, but right.

[00:27:53] Um, and I, you know, it doesn't, I think that doesn't always happen.

[00:27:58] Shelley Kenow: No, it doesn't. And I, and I'm sorry to interrupt, but I, I understand from the parents' perspective, um, I, I wrote a book called those who can't teach true stories of special needs families to promote acceptance, inclusion and empathy. And as I interviewed the families that are included in this.

[00:28:14] They talked about, you know, from the time that they found out their child had the eligibility for special education or had a medical diagnosis, they almost instantly were on the defensive because it was defending my child right. To be in the world. And then it was defending my child right. To be in the C.

[00:28:36] Defending my child's right to be in the family, defending my child's right. To have friends defending, defending, defending. And so, unfortunately, you know, you come into the school systems and maybe if you've had the early intervention services, like some of the families in the book did, you know, it's, as one parent said, it was like all rainbows and fluff and happiness.

[00:28:57] And then they got into the school system and it was now I have to prove why I need everything that my child is getting. It's connected to dollars that it wasn't connected to before there's 20 people, maybe from the school's part of the I E P team that are telling me all these different things. And it's just me for the voice of my child.

[00:29:19] And, you know, it can be like you said, it can be very daunting. I'll, I'll be honest. The first time I attended a meeting with a parent, instead of with the school's part of the team, I was overwhelmed myself and I knew what was being talked about. And so I definitely can empathize with parents who, who don't have all the innards and all the wording and all the, uh, shortcut verbiage and stuff that we as educators use to have a, a feeling of being an equal member when you're at those meetings.

[00:29:52] But, you know, it was very disheartening to, to talk with those families and realize how much on the defense they felt. They always were because in so many instances, just defending the fact that their child should be wherever they were in the world.

[00:30:07] Rob Gorski: I don't wanna make this too long because I, I just wanted to kind of touch on what the IEP is, but I, I do feel like we need to include this.

[00:30:13] Do parents have the right? I, if they feel that they are not being heard. Parents have the right to have like a parent advocate or a, some type of advocate with them in, in the, in the process, they can involve their own people in the process.

[00:30:29] Shelley Kenow: Absolutely. And you, you don't even have to feel like you're not being heard if you just feel like, gosh, I really wish I had somebody with me that could just be a second set of eyes and ears.

[00:30:42] You are absolutely have the right to do that and welcome to do. As I mentioned earlier, you'll get that notification of conference and that has the time and date suggestion on it, but it also lists all the people that the school is inviting. They have to tell you who they are inviting, but you can bring whomever you want.

[00:31:02] Um, the law would like for that person or persons to be knowledgeable in your child and or special education, if it's. Even better. Um, but you can absolutely, you can bring in outside therapists if you want so that they can give their opinion of what they see of your child in outside therapy. Um, you can bring in, like I said, just a friend to be that extra set of eyes and ears, because it is so much information and there is so much going on that you bring that other person maybe to be the note taker.

[00:31:33] So if you're more of a verbal learner, you can just listen. Um, but yeah, they, they, you can bring in an advocate. Um, you can bring in someone like myself who is an I E P coach. Um, technically yes, I'm the same as an advocate, but I really advocate is adversarial. And so I like to come in and try to help the situation rather than give a huge push to the school and say, you're not doing X, Y, and Z, and you should be doing this.

[00:32:01] No, I'm gonna eventually step out of that system. And even if I don't, you are still dealing with the school every single day. So I wanna come in and. Everybody get along with one another and hear what everyone else is saying and truly help everyone on the team be an equal member and be equally heard and have equal input.

[00:32:20] Um, but yeah, and, and if you disagree with your school and you've had somebody come with you, there are steps you can do, uh, mediation, you can do state complaints, you can, um, you know, go to due process. It's not something that I recommend. But if you have tried all the other avenues, you've gone from your teacher to your administration, to your school board, and still nothing is changing.

[00:32:44] And you really know that what you're advocating for is what they should be doing. Then you can absolutely do facilitated mediation and all those other things that I mentioned.

[00:32:55] Rob Gorski: Very cool. and I guess I actually have one more question and then, okay. I want to just a ask you one last thing after that. So I got this two more question.

[00:33:05] Um, do you, okay, so just real quick, and we don't have to go into detail, but what is the difference between an IEP and a 5 0 4? Because I know parents seem to kinda get confused about those two, different approaches,

[00:33:18] Shelley Kenow: The very basic difference is that a 5 0 4 provides accommodations and modifications and might provide some related services.

[00:33:28] The I E P is truly when you need that specially designed instruction. Then there'll be goals and objectives that they'll be working on and it'll have their, you know, if necessary, um, their related services and all that sort of stuff. So that's the basic difference. Is that a 5 0 4 is really just if your child is.

[00:33:48] Doing okay. But they just need a couple of extra supports or, um, a lot of times it's medical reasons that people get 5 0 4 S because they need, um, you know, they have to take medicine or they have to have certain things available to them at all times, but they don't really need to have the whole, they don't need to be taught to use those medications or taught to.

[00:34:11] Use those services that it's just available to them. So that's the basic difference is one is just accommodations modifications, and the IEP is everything else. Plus the specially designed instruction.

[00:34:22] Rob Gorski: Very good answer. Thank you for that. and my last question and I promise that's my last one is what if you had one piece of advice to offer parents mm-hmm who were.

[00:34:34] Let's just say like this time of year, you know, we're in the summer and the school year is, is gonna be, you know, creeping up on us here in the next couple of months. And they're either going for an IEP for the first time or they're up for reevaluation or they just, whatever, like, what is your, uh, advice to parents who are gonna be approaching that type of situation?

[00:34:54] Like what, like, what's your best advice for parents?

[00:34:57] Shelley Kenow: Depending on which situation they're in. I have a different answer. If your child already has an I E P and let's say you are going up for reevaluation shortly after school starts in the fall, make sure that you have looked at your child's I E P over the summer.

[00:35:12] You know what the goals and objectives were that they worked on last school year and what they are projected to work on next school year. Some of that can be overlapping, um, know where they were last year at the end of the year. And if you can work with them over the summer, you don't have to, you know, have a full fledged, um, extended school year or summer school type setting for your child, but just do maybe some little things to keep them abreast of the skills that they had learned.

[00:35:41] Um, and then if you have questions based on that I E P and anything from the previous years, write those down. Um, and then, like I said, come up with that parent input. That's if you already have the IP and you're going for the three year reevaluation, if you have never had an evaluation for your child and you are thinking, wow, they really like, you know, um, I feel like they're supposed to be doing this at this level and they're not there and I'm really concerned.

[00:36:12] And I think I'm gonna ask the school to do an evaluation, start taking your own data. Writing down, like they can read so many words a minute, or they know this many letters of the alphabet, or they can do this type of math, but not these kinds of math. And I know that at that level, that their age is they should be doing these other things, write down as much data as you can.

[00:36:35] And if you're unclear as like what to write down, reach out to me and I can guide you a little bit more with that. And then at the beginning of the school year, write a letter to the school. And say, I would like to have my child evaluated for special education services in this area, or you don't even have to be specific.

[00:36:52] You can just say I would like my child evaluated for special education services and get that to them as soon as possible. Because as I mentioned, it's 60 days, at least, you know, and in some states that's school days, which is, you know, almost a third of the school year before they would even have to meet with you and have that eligibility meeting.

[00:37:12] And there's another process if you're going for the initial. They'll have to have you come in. Even if you say this is my permission to go ahead with the evaluation, they'll still have to have you come in and sign documents and do some different things with you. And if you have a child who has an IEP and you had a good annual review and you're not up for an evaluation next school year, I still kind of recommend what I did for that three years.

[00:37:34] You know, know what your child's IEP says, know what the goals and objectives. Look at the data that the school presented to you and collect your own data, keep an eye on things and try to work with your child. If you can, at all, like I said, there's, there are a myriad of things that, I mean, almost anything is educational, depending on how you, how you frame it and what you do in it.

[00:37:56] Um, you know, so try to keep educating your. If your child needs a break from school, that's totally understandable. Like I said, don't make it a full educational, like, okay, we gotta come in, we gotta sit down. We're gonna do math. Then we're gonna do English. Then we're gonna do writing. You can, you can do all of that kind of stuff in play ways that they don't even know that they're still keeping those skills that they learned.

[00:38:17] And if you have questions based on the IEP, Write those down and submit them to the school when the, when the school year starts and say, Hey, you know, I looked at my child's IEP over the summer and, and I really don't understand this part, or I don't really understand how this works in the classroom. Can you explain that to me?

[00:38:33] Because those are all within your rights to be an equal member of the team. You need to have the same information as the rest of the team.

[00:38:40] Rob Gorski: That was really good advice. Thank you, uh, for that. And, um, you are a team. With the school, like you're supposed to be allies and it's not their side or your side, it's your child's side.

[00:38:52] And, and everybody wants, I, I would say in almost every situation, everybody wants what's best for your child. There are always gonna be exceptions and someone's gonna bring that up. But majority of the time, it's, we just need to get on the same page so that we can do what's best for our kids. Uh, how can people find.

[00:39:09] Shelley Kenow: I feel like I'm everywhere. I'm on LinkedIn. I am on Instagram. It's Shelly Keno. I E P I'm on Facebook. It's Sheey, Keno I E P consult. Um, I do have a Facebook private group that's called no limits, changing the perspective of special needs through IEPs. And then I have a YouTube channel where I have my own live stream, which you are going to be joining me.

[00:39:33] Um, I think it's in July and yeah, next month. Yeah. Um, and it's called hashtag no limits. And the reason I, I keep, you know, you you've heard me say that a couple times now. No limits is, um, because I don't think we should limit a person's. And on my show, hashtag no limits. I interview people whose society has placed limits upon, but who have busted through those limits and then those who help them or businesses who help them.

[00:39:56] And I, I truly believe that that, you know, we, we should not say, well, this is as much, or as far as somebody's gonna go. And so, um, yeah, you can find me there. You can find me at my website, shell keno.com and that's S H E L L E Y K E N O w. Um, I emphasize that second E because it's normally not most people don't spell.

[00:40:16] Rob Gorski: That's caught me a couple times. I'll admit.

[00:40:18] Shelley Kenow: EY, it's just why so, um, and yeah, I, I, I had my name spelled wrong. Most of my going through school. And I finally, when I was in junior high, I asked my mom, why did you put that E that second E in my name? And she didn't really have an answer. And she said, well, I was on drugs when they asked me how to spell your name, meaning the epidural

[00:40:38] So

[00:40:40] Rob Gorski: The epidural. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, my kids are the same way cuz it's uh, two of 'em are one's Emmett one Zet but it's it's uh, two LS, two Ts and in Emett it's two S and two T's and that always throws people off. Uh, so yeah. Yeah. Just remember the extra E and I'll have all that information into show notes below.

[00:41:00] So you guys can just click and all your information's on your website. Right. So they can hit your website and then yeah. Yeah. Connect to everything. Okay. So yeah, we'll, we'll, we'll put all that stuff there. So you guys can find our website and then you can reach out and connect and find our social media and all that fun stuff.

[00:41:15] Uh, also, uh, your book is available like on Amazon.

[00:41:19] Shelley Kenow: It is anywhere books are sold. Plus you can get an autographed copy through my website.

[00:41:23] Rob Gorski: Okay. So we'll have that link on there. Outside of that. Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it. Absolutely.

[00:41:30] Shelley Kenow: This was very enjoyable and I can work anywhere in the country.

[00:41:33] So if anybody wants to reach out to me, they can no matter where you are. Oh, really? That's a good, yeah. Yeah. I can. Very cool. Yeah. I, because we all work under the federal law. Okay. So, um, yeah, like I said, there are some state things that are, you know, a little bit different, but we can always verify that if there's a question specifically in that area.

[00:41:51] Um, but yeah, I can work anywhere. I was. Virtual before virtual was a thing

[00:41:57] Rob Gorski: Trendsetter. Yeah, she's a trendsetter that extra E yeah. And, and all the virtual conferencing before that's became a cool thing. Do yeah. All, well, thank you so much. And again, like we had some hiccups trying to get this to happen with stuff and whatever.

[00:42:13] So thank you for, uh, being diligent and absolutely getting this set up, cuz this was a great conversation. I really think it's gonna help a lot of people. So thank you. And that's my pleasure. Talk to you soon.

[00:42:23] Shelley Kenow: All right.

[00:42:25] Rob Gorski: Before I close things out. I just wanna say, thank you, Shelly, for taking the time to come on a show and educating us on IEPs.

[00:42:32] There are so many parents out there who find themselves overwhelmed and frustrated by that whole experience and having this knowledge and be very empowered. And when you feel empowered, you're, you're in a better place to navigate challenging things. So I really appreciate all of your insights. Uh, you guys can find all of Shelly's information in the show notes below.

[00:42:54] Check out her website, her book, you can reach out to her on social media and connect with her. Should you have any IEP related questions? As for me, you can find me on my brand new website. Listen dot the autism dad.com, where you can find all past episodes you can read about the guests, check out sponsors, leave comments and feedback you can rate and review and subscribe and follow share.

[00:43:15] You can sign up to be a guest. You can inquire about sponsorship opportunity. It's very, very cool. I'm very, very proud of it. And I really hope that it's a better experience than what you guys have had in the past. Thank you again for tuning in. I really appreciate it. Have a fantastic week and I will talk to you next Monday.

[00:43:31] All right. See you. Bye.

Shelley Kenow Profile Photo

Shelley Kenow

Special Educator, Master IEP Coach

Shelley Kenow is a wife of 30 years, a mom for 22 years, a trained human to a Chihuahua for 13 years, a special educator for 30-plus years, author, Education Consultant, and live streamer for #nolimits and Friday with Fran, provider of professional development for school districts, and Master IEP Coach®. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is to prepare an individual child for further education, employment, and independent living...whatever that looks like for each individual. Shelley believes we know who we are, but not who we will be. These are the two driving factors in her approach to working with families and schools.