What You Need To Know About Individualized Education Programs

"Our daughter is experiencing severe meltdowns due to the new school year. We recently were forced to make a trip to the Children's Hospital. Every person we've seen asks if she has an IEP. She does not, just a 504. The school district says she does not qualify for an IEP, which I question since all the mental health professionals think she should have one. Why does she need an IEP, and what should be included that will help this child?"

Not all children who have disabilities require specialized instruction. For children with disabilities who do require specialized instruction, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) controls the procedural requirements, and an IEP is developed. The IDEA process is more involved than that of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and requires documentation of measurable growth.

For children with disabilities who do not require specialized instruction but need the assurance that they will receive equal access to public education and services, a document is created to outline their specific accessibility requirements. Children with 504 Plans do not require specialized instruction, but like the IEP, a 504 Plan should be updated annually to ensure that the child is receiving the most effective accommodations for her specific circumstances. 

There is perhaps no process as frustrating for parents and teachers alike as the IEP process. As a team process, it is designed to help parents and teachers develop a program that is in the best interest of the child. All too often, the schools experience a lack of resources, which leaves the parents feeling that they are not receiving the support that they need. 

The IEP process is critical to the educational success of the child, and with success can leave parents feeling empowered to make a difference in the life of their child. Parents and teachers need to develop an IEP process that enables both parties to feel as though their concerns are heard, and the child's needs are being met.

Here are some important resources that will assist both parents and teachers in coming up with the most effective IEP possible:


•    Anonymous said... We have gone through a similar situation. It took 2 full years to get an Aspergers diagnosis, and the school STILL didn't want to acknowledge anything because of his grades. Early elementary was bumpy from behavior issues, but once we learned his triggers it all subsided. He had to take an IQ test, which the special Ed teacher and the state tester felt was not accurate since he deliberately started answering questions with nonsense once he was tired of it. We never did qualify for an IEP, but were able to get a 504. We really don't have much in the plan, since luckily we have been " bump" free for awhile. I just let his teachers know his triggers, and he is allowed to remove himself from the classroom of he begins to feel overwhelmed. ( this does have to be monitored, however, as he can be quite manipulative) we have been so fortunate that as he has gotten older and school has gotten harder he is actually doing much better. I was concerned with middle school being just too much with all the changes, but we have been incident free for 2 years. Turns out that class is over before he is "done". Keep pushing for what you feel is best, you know your aspire better than anyone and are the very best advocate they have!!! Best of luck!
•    Anonymous said... The Occupational Therapy part of the IEP will be very important, at least for my Aspie, in the eval part of this. This will help with any accommodations that are needed in the classroom such as a desk corral, placement of desk, etc. An IQ test should also be included but it is hard with an Aspie to be accurate. I am sure you know that YOU know best of what your child needs! Stick to your guns!
•    Anonymous said... Tell them your child has AUTISM because they understand that. Not everyone understands Aspergers. It is on the spectrum so you are telling the truth. Make the school district test her again. They cannot refuse you an IEP meeting.
•    Anonymous said... One of the hardest things we needed to decipher growing up was the difference between meltdowns that were due to Aspie things and meltdowns that were mere behavior problems. Once we realized that not all of his tantrums were from the disability, it cut way down on the total meltdowns and we were able to deal with the real issues from Aspergers. It also helped us realize his queues before the meltdown happened so that we could redirect before he became overloaded or overestimulated.
•    Anonymous said... My son has a 504 plan. His school feels he doesn't need a IEF because he "behaves well." I recently requested a meeting with his teacher and school guidance counselor to review his 5. I addresses my concerns to both regarding his attention/anxiety regarding his reading. I was basically told, in a nice way I'm jumping the gun.
•    Anonymous said... If she has Aspergers/Autism she should have an IEP. You can have a behavioral developmental pediatrician diagnose her and bring the paper work to your school.
•    Anonymous said... I have students who have 504s. The good thing is, teachers can still make any accomodations for these students that they deem necessary to improve the student's learning. My Asperger's/ADHD son has neither right now, because he gets good grades. Therefore, his school has determined he doesn't qualifiy for any special services.
•    Anonymous said... I am going through a similar situation with my son and his school right now. I live in NC. My son is 15 and in the 10th grade. He was diagnosed this past July with ASD, Asperger's Syndrome (he also has Graves Disease, medical PTSD, Depression, and anxiety disorder). He refuses to go to school. So far, this school year, he has only attended the first three days of school, and then his anxiety and panic got the better of him. I had to put in writing to the school, to request an evaluation for an IEP. Now, by law, they have 60 (or 90, I forgot) days to have him tested. I had tried to have him tested this past June, but I was talked out of it by the lady in charge of special education. She said that my son is "too smart" (honors classes) and does not misbehave in school, so she felt that we should wait til the new school year and if anything, sign up for a 504 plan. Her real reasoning was because it was the beginning of the summer, and she said that it would be harder for her to find someone to do the testing. Now, he is falling behind in school because of his social fears and anxiety, and they are just getting worse every day. If she would have just listened to me in the beginning, then his school year would not have started off like this. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of his father's death this month, which is making his situation even worse.
•    Anonymous said... A lot of this comes down to money, at least in the UK. To get an IEP the child needs to be statemented, but this is done by council employees that know as soon as it is done and an IEP setup, they council will have to provide some extra funding. We struggled to get our boy through, having to fight every turn and the problems tearing the family apart. We found a family support worker as part of social services (different money pot to education) who worked with us for over a year to get our boy statemented and an IEP, as well as moving him to a school that understood his needs and teaching us to understand his needs. He was way behind in his education the past school not bothering with him, but I'm so proud of him now, he's caught up everything this past year and moved to the top class where I know he'll continue to excel, what a change and family life has turned around to being fun and relaxed again.
It really makes me mad though families have to fight as hard as they do to get the help provided, the fight is hard enough to handle a child with these issues let alone fighting the authorities that were put there to help.

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