There are 3 people I always invite to ARD meetings: a friend, my child, and my child’s professional.
ARD meetings can be very emotional. That’s why I always bring a friend. My friend takes notes for me. This way, I can pay more attention to what is being said.
She takes notes about the important things. She writes down questions. She reminds me of things I have forgotten. She knows when I need a break.
We have very similar views and opinions on inclusive education. This is very helpful when everyone on the ARD committee is trying to make the best decisions. Also, because she isn’t as emotionally invested, she can think more rationally for me.
I think it’s important for my child to be at the meeting. (I have 2 children who receive special education services.) This way, no one can forget we are talking about them. It's important for my kids to have input into what their education looks likes.
My oldest typically doesn’t say much. We are working on something he can present for future meetings. My youngest likes to tell us what he likes and doesn’t. For instance, when we discuss his motivators, he gives us ideas. It’s better than the adults coming up with ideas that don't interest him.
My oldest son has a full-time paraprofessional. This person helps him access his environment the entire school day. She knows a lot about the social aspects of his day and his needs beyond mere instruction. These things are very important when developing an IEP. She needs to be at the ARD meeting to give her input.
I have also considered inviting one of my oldest son’s friends to the beginning of his meeting. The friend can engage my son and talk about the different things they like to do together. Often, other students can see things adults can’t. I need to get permission from the child’s parents. But it is certainly something to try.
All these people play a huge role in our ARD meetings. The meetings would not be nearly as successful without them. So when planning for your next ARD meeting, think about other people who could attend to make it successful.
Visit Education and Schools for lots of information on the ARD.