Special Learning Logo Light

How to Have a Successful (and Friendly) IEP Meeting

Erin Lombard
Expert Name: Erin Lombard
Expert Title: M.Ed., BCBA
Company Name:  Step By Step Academy
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Erin Lombard is a behavior consultant with over 12 years of experience working with 

children in homes, schools, and center based programs. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a previously certified Special Education teacher in Arizona.  Along with providing consultation through SBSA, she also currently teaches Positive Behavior Support courses at Northern Arizona University.

Erin is originally from California where she earned her undergraduate degree in Child and Adolescent Studies from California State University, Fullerton. She obtained her master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Phoenix. She completed her coursework in applied behavior analysis from the University of North Texas. She is currently working on her PhD in Psychology at Capella University.

How to Have a Successful (and Friendly) IEP Meeting

The annual IEP meeting is a great time to reconnect with parents, teachers, principals, directors, and any intervention staff to determine the best individual plan for a specific child. Unfortunately, this time of year also can bring much anxiety and tension as parents feel the need to “fight” for their child’s rights, and professionals feel that they need to defend their positions.

Here are some tips on creating a friendly IEP environment for all parties involved.

Before the IEP Meeting: PARENTS

• Review your child’s current IEP
(1) What goals have been met?
(2) What goals need to continue?
(3) What new goals are needed?
• Bring a list of your child’s strengths and needs. Include a list of what motivates your child. If you are not sure, ask your child and your child’s providers.
• If your child is transitioning to a new school or program, visit the school/program before the meeting.
• Bring a list of your future goals and dreams for your child. Consider what you want for your child next year, in 5 years, and in 10 years. The IEP team will ask you this – be prepared.
• Bring a list of questions. Ask your child’s providers or doctor if they have any questions that you may want to ask at the IEP meeting.
• Remember that everyone at the IEP meeting is a team. Consider all options.
• Be respectful and avoid emotional confrontations. If needed, a meeting can always continue on a different day.
• Even if you disagree, sign the IEP to show that you were in attendance at the meeting, but do not give your approval if you disagree with the IEP.
• Bring a peace offering – treats! How can someone argue with you while chewing on warm delicious brownies?!!
• Ask the IEP team if there are any parent groups or resources available in your area.
• Ask for a copy of the IEP and review it periodically. Contact your IEP team if you have a concern or issue and set up a meeting as you need throughout the year. You do not need to wait for the annual meeting to bring up your concerns.

Before the IEP Meeting: Professionals

• Be nice! It is intimidating for parents to be surrounded by an entire team of people who all know each other and have experience working together!
• Have parents sit next to an adult they know and feel comfortable with. Make sure that the seats are arranged so that parents do not feel excluded. Do not sit them across the table from the rest of the team.
• Be respectful. Parents are an equal part of the IEP team. Consider all options.
• When reviewing test results, explain these in terms that are very understandable for all parties of the IEP team. Be polite and considerate. Instead of asking “do you understand?” ask, “Would you like me to review any of these items?”
• Be prepared. Review the IEP before the meeting and be able to demonstrate why any goals may not have been met.
• Answer all questions. Upon conclusion of the meeting, even if you think you may already have addressed all the questions, ask, “Do you have any other questions or concerns that you would like to address?”
• Thank the parents for their time and for being part of the IEP team.

For additional resources visit http://www.ade.az.gov/ess/das/pinspals/documents/IEP/

Suggested Resources:
Multidisciplinary Collaboration Series- Module 1: IEP Team Multidisciplinary Collaboration (RECORDED)
Journey to Independence- ABA Waitlist Training for Parents
Trying When Its Hard Social Story Curriculum


Teaching Numbers: Building Early Language with Flashcards

Multidisciplinary Collaboration Series- Module 1: IEP Team Multidisciplinary Collaboration (RECORDED)


Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
Special Learning’s Free Hotline

This is an independent SL Hotline that is part of our VCAT service. This hotline has no connection with any other association or membership group.

Got a question you want a BCBA or other ABA expert to answer?
Fill in this form and one of our professionals will handle your question quickly and confidently. You can expect a response in 24-hours or less.