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Brenda Hauf provides Connections for Autism with the essential perspective of a parent on an IEP team. As a parent of a son with ASD, she has attended many IEP meetings. In these meetings and in establishing relationships with educators, Brenda focuses on enhancing the collaborative process, but admits it can sometimes be challenging. Brenda is a dedicated mom who has researched current and needed supports for her son and families of children with ASD, both online as well as within the communities in which she has lived.

Brenda speaks to the value a parent can bring to an IEP team as the expert on her child with autism, while acknowledging the expertise that other members contribute as well. She advocates for her son and his needs in the classroom by sharing her experience with and understanding of his autism. She believes in the collaborative process and relies on all team members to play their unique role in educating students with autism.

For those parents who, like Brenda, may be already anxiously or excitedly awaiting their next IEP meeting, Teri Steinberg gave some wonderful advice in a recent column on autism.digital. In "It is Never Too Soon to Plan," Teri echoes Brenda's conviction that while parents may not be an expert on pedagogy, they are experts on their child. Teri speaks about in the IEP meeting, emphasizing the strides the child has made in past year, not simply focusing on the obstacles that remain. She encourages parents to advocate for a "Dream Year," built upon a variety of realistic achievements. As Teri states, "Let's design a year filled with attainable goals. It should be a stretch, but not stressful."

Parents are equal and critical members of an IEP team, and their goals belong as much part to the fabric of the plan as the essential school subjects. Connections for Autism assists the entire team in setting and tracking goals that are, as Steinberg states, "a stretch, but not stressful." Collaboration and communication between parents, teachers, and specialists is simplified and streamlined by CFA’s centralized database of tools for educators and seamless way to send progress updates and communicate with parents. If you are ready for a "dream year" with your child or student, explore the site to find out how Connections for Autism can partner with your IEP team today.