This article appears in our January\u00a02016 issue of Indy\u2019s Child Parenting Magazine. Flip through it here\u00a0or pick up a copy today at your local Marsh or Kroger store, YMCA, public library or community center. If you are a parent of a student with special needs, you know how the IEP acts as the blueprint for the support your child receives in school. The IEP is often cited as a \u201cliving document\u201d that should change as a child moves through the educational system. How does this happen as a student transitions out of elementary school?\u00a0 Making adjustments Jeff Naas, a special education teacher and Department Chair for Clay Middle School says, \u201cThe overall look and purpose of the IEP remains intact throughout a student\u2019s schooling, starting with present levels identifying areas of need, which lead to goals and services to help the student meet these needs. The main difference usually comes in the delivery of services as students move from the elementary model of one teacher\/classroom to the middle school model of multiple teachers\/classrooms and meeting the students\u2019 needs in each of the different classes.\u201d Wilner Pope-Cusic, a Program Specialist for IN*Source, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for families and children with disabilities, also states that a child\u2019s IEP does not normally change. But, she stresses that within a student\u2019s new environment, \u201cParents and educators need to make sure the IEP is written in a way that all teachers involved are seeing the IEP and implementing it.\u201d So, what will change for a child with an IEP? Social goals may look different for a child with a disability in his or her new middle school setting. Dr. Kharon Grimmet, Clinical Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Department of Educational Studies for Purdue University, says, \u201cSocial opportunities will be in different settings, and we are looking to expand skills worked on in elementary and generalize them across trainers and settings to allow kids to apply those skills within different settings and different groups.\u201d As a student moves toward graduation, making a successful transition to whatever path they choose after high school becomes a major goal of the IEP. Lindsay Doherty, a Special Education Teacher and Department Head for Creekside Middle School, explains that \u201cThe Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004, requires that IEPs include transition-related goals and statements in order to assist the students in preparing for life after high school.\u201d In this transition phase, post-secondary goals are established, which include training, education, employment and independent living skills if appropriate. Dr. Grimmet adds, \u201cWe intentionally start planning for this young person to become an adult.\u201d Middle school students, and even younger students, are encouraged to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and how to advocate for themselves. Getting involved in the process \u201cParental involvement and collaboration is essential in all educational, emotional and behavioral areas of students,\u201d says Doherty. When parents and educators openly communicate, they can collaboratively identify where a student\u2019s skills are lacking and work together to implement solutions. It is critical that parents obtain and understand their child\u2019s IEP. Pope-Cusic advises parents to get a copy of their student\u2019s IEP and to know their child\u2019s teacher of record, subject teachers and his or her daily schedule. She also suggests parents meet with their child\u2019s teacher every 3-4 weeks in order to communicate any concerns. As Naas says, \u201cParents should not be afraid to ask for clarification on anything they are confused about during the process.\u201d \u201cEducators have to help parents feel secure,\u201d says Dr. Grimmet. She encourages schools and teachers to really get to know the families, and advises parents to inform teachers about anything at home that may be relevant to understanding their child. \u201cWhatever we do, the biggest caution would be working on anything in isolation.\u201d Lauren Lawson is a freelance writer passionate about all things parent-related. A transplant from Buffalo, New York, she now happily resides in the Cincinnati area with her husband and two young boys. Watch for more of Lauren\u2019s work in upcoming issues of Indy\u2019s Child Parenting, Cincinnati Parent and Dayton Parent Magazines.