There are so many professionals sitting around the table as you walk into the room for an Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meeting. They usually just stare at you as you take your seat. It can be a very lonely and intimidating experience. Instead of everyone being a team, it sometimes feels like it’s you against all of them. This is why I always bring a friend with me to the meeting.
For the past 7 years, a couple of friends and I have been going to each other’s ARD meetings. It’s so much easier walking into that room with someone instead of alone. Even if my husband attends, I still bring a friend. My friend is less emotionally invested. She takes notes while I listen. She reminds me of things I wanted to talk about if I forget. She asks questions I might not think of. She can call a “time-out” if things get heated.
Your friend doesn’t have to have a child with a disability. They don’t need to understand special education. They just need to be able to support you. That support is going to look different for everyone. You need to decide what that means to you. My friend and I always talk before the ARD. She knows what I want to accomplish.
After 7 years, she can also read me pretty well. She can tell when I’m getting upset. When this happens, she reminds me to ask for a break. Since she takes notes, we can look at those at the end of the meeting. When the minutes are being read, we can check the notes to make sure everything was covered. If she has something important in her notes that wasn’t included, we ask for it to be added.
You are a very important part of the ARD Committee. The ARD meeting doesn’t have to be scary. Bringing a friend along can make the process a lot easier. Having a friend by your side can give you the confidence to speak up. They can give you the support you need to be the best advocate for your child.
ARD meetings can sometimes be overwhelming—learn more about what to expect on the ARD page.
There are many benefits to bringing a friend or companion to your child’s IEP meetings.
Categories: Education & Schools