“Should my student attend her annual Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meeting?”
This is a very common question asked by parents. They reason that, at best, the student will be bored out of their mind.
My answer is a resounding “Yes!” Even if the student doesn’t stay for the entire meeting, having them present for a portion of the meeting helps put a face to the information. It acts as an important reminder that this meeting is about a person.
My daughter, Chloe, doesn’t use spoken language. She struggles greatly with written language, too. To make matters more complicated, she doesn’t do strong emotions well, and she’s very aware of tension in a room. These factors made her attending her ARD meetings a bit tricky. Especially since her ARDs were contentious and heated for several years.
But with some creativity and flexibility, I figured out a way for her to not only attend her ARD meetings but participate in a very meaningful way. In fact, her participation has allowed her to take some ownership of the meeting and feel like a part of the discussion.
I help Chloe prepare an “About Me” PowerPoint presentation to show during the introduction time at the ARD. She pushes the button to advance the slideshow at whatever pace she chooses.
The teachers and other committee members have enjoyed Chloe’s input. And the staff members who don’t know Chloe well have appreciated getting a quick glimpse into the child we are discussing and planning for.
To make the PowerPoint, I first give Chloe some sentence starters that she can respond to. Any that she doesn’t want to answer, she can skip. Some of these questions she needs guidance on, others she answers on her own.
Each year it gets easier because she knows what to expect. Some examples of questions I include:
Then, I take the completed statements and help Chloe create a PowerPoint. She gets to choose the style and the layout. We put one or two of her statements on each page of the sideshow.
I even use her statements if they don’t make sense to me – they make sense to her, and they might make sense to someone at the table. If we have time, we might even add some pictures, but usually we like to just keep it simple.
Chloe has enjoyed sharing her PowerPoint at each meeting. It helps her have an important role at the meetings. It is also great practice for her as she learns to be a self-advocate.
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