Does My Child Really Need an IEP?
Let’s start with the basics. Your child is a little different from his peers. Perhaps he has a bit of trouble sitting still or maybe he just isn’t grasping certain concepts as well as his classmates. Whatever is going on, you are concerned. Maybe this is something you’re just noticing; perhaps you’ve been struggling with it for a while. Either way, you’ve heard people mention IEPs and you’re wondering if maybe your child needs one.
What Is an IEP?
IEP stands for Individual Education Plan and is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Act. It is a specialized set of processes and services that will be given to a child while she is in school, to help her get the most out of her education. Each one is unique to the student and tailored to her specific needs. This means that two children with the same general diagnosis may have very different IEPs.
IEPs only cover certain disabilities, and the first step to receiving one is an official medical diagnosis, confirming that your child officially has one of the 13 eligible disabilities:
- Emotional disturbance
- Hearing impairment
- Intellectual disability
- Multiple disabilities
- Orthopedic impairment
- Other health impairment
- Specific learning disability
- Speech or language impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Visual impairment, including but not limited to blindness
Once you have the diagnosis, you, as the parent, can request an evaluation of your child for an IEP. At this point, school officials will become involved to determine whether or not your child is eligible for modifications in his learning plan to better succeed.
Included in the IEP will be a statement of how your child is currently doing in school, as well as his education goals. Also included is how the administration will measure progress towards those goals, and when. This is in addition to the information regarding the specific modifications and support that the school will provide.
If your child does not qualify for special education but still has some struggles, then a 504 plan may be a better option.
How Do I Know if We Need an IEP?
If you’ve found yourself questioning whether or not the school is doing its best for your child, or if you’re wondering whether your child is able to learn successfully given her diagnosis, then you are likely in need of an IEP. Get the diagnosis. Get the evaluation. Get the IEP. It’s there to help.
If you and your child go through the evaluation process and are not found eligible, don’t worry. You can still seek extra help outside of school – or fight the administration and advocate for your cause. Although you will have to do much of the legwork, you can gather a team of specialists ready to help you advocate for your child’s needs – both in and out of school.
If the evaluation comes back and your child is put on an IEP, this means that the school will have to follow the new education plan, to ensure that your child is getting everything she needs to succeed.
Once this is in place, the school has to make accommodations for your child. This may include extra support, a dedicated aide, or just more time to really grasp new things.
Trust Your Gut
An IEP is a tool to help your child. If you’ve gone through the process and still have reservations, you do not have to sign off on it.
If you are not comfortable with the plan as it is set out, you do not have to agree to it! You can choose to agree to only parts of the IEP, noting which parts you do not want put into effect. Or, if you feel it has really missed the mark, you can reject the entire thing.
If you do reject it, you must meet with the IEP team to discuss why and to work toward something that is a better fit.
The most important thing is that your child is receiving the help he needs to succeed in school.
Getting an IEP can be a long, stressful process. But for many children, it’s worth it. It gives them the tools they need to have a fulfilling education. As the parent you will have to be very diligent throughout the process. But once it’s done, your children will have a better chance at meeting their education goals.
There are many parents going through the same thing and it’s never too late to start. Be open and honest with the team that is working to help your child. This will ensure the best possible outcome for your child in the future.
An IEP is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a tool that will help your child and give you peace of mind.
What tools will you use to advocate for your child’s education?Tags : school special needs