Every child who is in a public school who receives some type of special education or related services is required to have an Individual Education Program (IEP) in place. An IEP must be written specifically to the child receiving services, and outlines what individual services and supports the child will receive during the school day and throughout the school year.

Who is involved in developing an IEP?

IEPs are a collaborative effort between teachers, parents, therapists, counselors, other school staff, and the child that the IEP is being developed for. The goal of an IEP is to create an environment that is conducive to helping a child with some type of learning disability or other related special needs be able to get the best education possible. The IEP is meant as a guide and is the bedrock that is put in place to provide the highest quality education possible for kids with special needs.

What does it take to ensure an effective IEP?

Effective IEPs are important if the child is to reach their full potential. For a successful IEP, parents, teachers, and other school staff must cooperate to look at and determine what the child's needs are and how they can be most effectively met within the school setting. The combination of knowledge, experience, and simple dedication is what goes into creating an Individual Education Program that works. Once the IEP is written, it should easily guide educators, therapists, and other support staff on how to best serve the child. Goals and expectations for the school year should be outlined and carried out throughout the school year.

Who needs an IEP?

There are numerous situations that can lead a child to needing an IEP. Mainly, IEPs are requested and put in place for children who have difficulties when it comes to learning and functioning inside the typical classroom environment. Children who have been identified with some type of special need or carry a particular diagnosis like ADHD or Autism very often have IEPs. Children most identified and having IEPs include children with the following:

  • some type of learning disability
  • ADD or ADHD diagnosis
  • an Autism spectrum diagnosis
  • emotional disorders
  • some form of mental retardation
  • visual or hearing impairment
  • speech or language impairment
  • some type of developmental delay

How to start the process of qualifying for an IEP

If you believe that your child is struggling to learn in school and believe that they could qualify for an IEP, you will want to take action immediately. The sooner you get your child the services they need, the more likely they are to succeed. Many parents fear the stigma attached to a child that has a disability and often avoid getting help right away. What parents need to know is that they are not alone. It is estimated that over 2.5 million children receive special services in schools across the country, and those that do have a much better chance at success.

As a parent, your first step is to contact the teacher and ask for your child to be evaluated. If the teacher does not agree, you may need to speak with the school counselor or special education department, but if you believe your child does have learning difficulties, do not give in lightly. You may need to fight for what you believe your child needs.

In order for your child to qualify for services and an IEP, he or she will need to be evaluated. Your child will be evaluated in the areas of concern. When the evaluation(s) are complete, parents and school personnel will meet to discuss the results and determine a course of action. If your child qualifies for services, then an IEP must be developed and a meeting called. At the meeting, details of the IEP will be discussed, and when all parties are in agreement, the IEP will be put into place.

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