An individualized education program (IEP) is a document outlining special services, supports, accommodations and modifications your child might need in school. There are strict eligibility requirements for IEPs and not every child with autism will be eligible, however, as a parent you have the right to request an evaluation to determine if your child is eligible.
Whether you are just starting the process or already have an IEP in place, the process of creating the IEP can be intimidating. Parents and teachers meet on an annual basis to create goals and determine services and supports. The following are six things you need to know about IEPs:
There is no standardized IEP.
Autism is not the same in every child. Some have more needs than others, some have need for an aid, others might need speech or occupational therapy, some might need minimal services. IEP stands for individualized education program because each IEP is developed for a specific child, based on their unique needs. Your child’s teachers can give information about helpful services based on classroom needs. As parents, you also provide valuable information about your child.
IEPs are backed by the law.
The IEP is a legal document. Schools are mandated to provide services and supports listed in the IEP. There are laws for developing, reviewing, revision and carrying out the IEP. As parents, you have the right to attend all meetings and be an active participation in the process.
You have the right to challenge anything in the IEP.
The IEP should be a collaborative effort between you, your child’s teachers and school administration. If you don’t agree with goals, services, supports or anything else in the IEP, you have the right to challenge the information. If you believe your child needs services and the school is not willing to provide those services, you have a right to appeal their decision. You have the right to an independent evaluation and the right to bring an educational advocate, an attorney or a friend with you to the meetings. If you don’t agree with the information or services/supports, you do not need to sign the IEP. You have the right to file a complaint or ask for a due process hearing.
All IEPs should list specific and measurable goals.
Goals are one of the main components of an IEP. Goals for the coming school year should be clearly listed. They should be specific and measurable, for example, “Joey will show improvement in reading,” is not specific and measurable. The IEP should list what grade level your child is currently at and what the goal level is. You should receive progress reports throughout the year so you can monitor whether goals are being met or whether services and supports need to be modified.
All services and supports needed are to be listed in the IEP.
Depending on the extent of your child’s disability and limitations, he could need only a few services or he might need extensive services, such as occupational, physical and speech therapy, specialized transportation and a classroom aid. Your child might need supervision during recess and lunchtime. Your child might need extra help in reading, math or another subject. Every service, support, modification and accommodation should be clearly listed in the IEP. It should include who is responsible for implementing the service and to what extent your child will participate.
For older children, IEPs should include a transitional plan.
For children 16 and older, IEPs need to contain information about transitional services. These are services and programs to assist your child in moving from school to post-school activities, such as work, college or other post-high school programs. Just as with the in-school services, the IEP should contain goals, what services are to be provided and who will implement the program.
“Individualized Education Plan (IEP),” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Autism Society
“Individualized Education Program: Summary, Process and Practical Tips, 2011, Staff Writer, AutismSpeaks.org
Published On: January 30, 2014