Feeling Overwhelmed by the IEP process?

Feeling Overwhelmed by the IEP process?

I thought this article would be interesting for many readers.

It offers a good perspective on why a lot of parents feel overwhelmed during the IEP process for their child. I hope you find some answers or comfort in reading it!


By Kristin Stanberry

Reposted from the NCLD website.



Given the complexity of the IEP and IEP process—and its importance to a child’s education—it’s understandable that parents often feel overwhelmed. In fact, the whole IEP process can be an emotional roller coaster, as we learned from a survey we conducted in 2012. We asked parents what feelings they have ever experienced during the IEP process. The results were eye-opening, with over half of respondents saying they felt overwhelmed, confused, powerless, and/or intimidated. On a more positive note, many of those surveyed said they felt (or had at some time felt) hopeful, confident, thankful, and trusting.

The same survey told us that, while many parents are satisfied with the IEP process and their involvement as members of their children’s IEP teams, just as many were dissatisfied. More than half feel prepared at IEP meetings, so preparation alone clearly doesn’t wipe out the host of emotions many parents feel!

IEP Scenarios – Why You Might Feel OverwhelmedHere are some common reasons why you might feel upset or uncertain during the IEP process — along with some possible remedies:

  1. You feel outnumbered and intimidated. Even if you attend the IEP meeting with your spouse/partner, you’ll almost always be surrounded by more than two educators. Here are some ways to bolster your confidence:
    • Capitalize on the good relationships you (and your child) have with certain educators on the team, whether it’s your child’s general education teacher, the school psychologist, or someone else.
    • Enlist an advocate to join you at IEP meetings if doing so gives you confidence.
    • Remember that you are a valuable member of the IEP team. The others may be education experts, but you are the expert about your child. No one else on the team has a lifelong relationship and or the same level of awareness you do of your child. Make sure your voice is heard!
  2. You’re overwhelmed and/or confused by the technical and legal jargon in your child’s IEP. The language used in an IEP is complex. And if English is your second language, or you have a reading disability yourself, understanding the jargon may seem impossible. Here are some steps that may help you better understand the meaning of the IEP:
  3. You feel powerless. It’s natural to feel this way, but you and your child have legal rights that you should not hesitate to exercise. Give your confidence a boost by becoming knowledgeable about those rights and about the kind of interventions and accommodations your child needs to succeed. Turn to LD.org and other trustworthy LD resources to learn more, and take time to absorb and understand the information. Let the IEP team know that you’re informed, but be sure to ask them questions as needed. They should respect your request for clarification and information.

The LD journey doesn’t always move in a linear fashion, so don’t despair if you sometimes take two steps forward and one step back — or you take an unexpected detour when your child runs into new challenges or you’re dealing with a new IEP team, a new school, or a change in the law. With patience and practice, you’ll learn what you need to know and do to be an effective advocate for your child.


Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education, and consumer health/wellness. Her areas of expertise include learning disabilities and AD/HD, topics which she has written about extensively for Schwab Learning, NCLD, and GreatSchools.




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