Search This Site

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.

Please post your comment below…

Does My Student Have High-Functioning Autism?

“I’m a teacher and I think one of my students may have high functioning autism. What things should I look for in determining whether or not this child may have the disorder? Also, is it too early to approach the parents about my concern?”

If you have a basic knowledge of the symptoms associated with high-functioning autism (HFA), and based on that knowledge, you suspect the disorder in one of your students, advise the parents of your concern now. It’s better to know than not to know, and the sooner treatment can begin - the better!

If the student in question is having a greater degree of language difficulties than other peers his/her age or has diminished communication skills, and also exhibits a restrictive pattern of thought and behavior, he/she may have HFA. One peculiar symptom of the disorder is the youngster’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. The youngster living with HFA wants to know all about this one topic.

Here are a few more traits to look for:
  • Although kids on the autism spectrum can manage themselves with their disorder, the personal relationships and social situations are challenging for them. 
  • These young people have some traits of Autism, especially weak social skills and a preference for sameness and routine. 
  • Kids with HFA typically develop a good to excellent vocabulary, although they usually lack the social instincts and practical skills needed when relating to others. 
  • They may not recognize verbal and non-verbal cues or understand social norms (e.g., taking turns talking or grasping the concept of personal space). 
  • They typically make efforts to establish friendships, but may have difficulty making friends because of their social awkwardness. 
  • Developmental delays in motor skills (e.g., catching a ball, climbing outdoor play equipment, pedaling a bike, etc.) may also appear in the youngster.

 ==> A comprehensive list of traits associated with HFA can be found here.

The main difference between Autism and HFA is that the youngster suffering from HFA retains his early language skills. It is classified as an Autism Spectrum Disorder, one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior. Unlike young people with Autism, HFA kids retain their early language skills. In Autistic kids, language is often absent, lost, limited, or very slow to develop. In HFA, however, language development often falls within normal limits.

Advise your student’s parents that many moms and dads find comfort and build acceptance with help from support groups, counseling, and a network of friends, family, and community. A diagnosis is best made with input from caregivers, doctors, and educators who know or who have observed the youngster. A diagnosis is based on a careful history of the youngster’s development, psychological and psychiatric assessments, communication tests, and the parents’ and clinicians’ shared observations. When making a diagnosis, the health professional will see if the boy or girl meets the criteria published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association.

You can best serve this student by learning about HFA and providing a supportive classroom environment (see link below). Remember, the student, just like every other youngster, has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and needs as much support, patience, and understanding as you can give. Visual supports, including schedules and other written materials that serve as organizational aids, can be very helpful for students on the autism spectrum.

==> Teaching Students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism


•    Anonymous said... I sure one of my son's teachers had mentioned it to me. He didn't get diagnosed until he was 11, and so missed out on early treatment and intervention. After he was diagnosed I had teachers, coaches and other parents say "I thought that might be it"...why oh why didn't they say anything? I had never even heard of it before.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter was recently diagnosed at 4. Her preschool teachers brought it to my attention. We dismissed it because we didn't see Autism. Then...when we read and did some research, it hit us like a ton of bricks that almost everything mentioned was her to a tee. Do it gently and explain to the parents that this is not a bad thing, and she/he will lead a normal life. Aspies just approach things differently. They see life differently.
•    Anonymous said... Teachers should approach this discussion with a positive attitude and lightly. As someone who was thrown this "he has autism" in kindergarten, I was angry and unconvinced. I didn't know really anything about Aspergers/high functioning autism, and I dismissed the discussion until second grade when a much more polite discussion was brought to me about my son's habits and issues. As a parent, I didn't know that a talking, caring, sensitive and smart child could be aspergers/autistic. The best thing I did to convince myself was to go over to school and observe my son at recess. I then did alot of research and started checking off symptoms...this combined is what convinced me.

Post your comment below…

Dealing With Your Child's Frustrations: Tips for Parents of Kids on the Spectrum

"I would like ideas on how to deal with my (HFA) son’s frustrations. He will either dig his heels in and refuse to do what he is supposed to do, or he shuts down and then we have a time away so he can get himself together to discuss the problem. It seems he works himself up over things that are not that big a deal."

Children with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's (AS) overreact to crowds, confusing situations, sensory stimuli, and situations in which they are asked to do things they don’t want to do. Situations or problems that seem minor to most of us are a “big deal” to those with the disorder because they don’t know how to handle them.

Low frustration-tolerance originates from the youngster’s dysfunctional and irrational beliefs. Behaviors are then the result of avoiding frustrating events which, paradoxically, lead to increased frustration and even greater mental stress.

Low frustration-tolerance occurs when the youngster gets upset and has an unwillingness or inability to tolerate the necessary short-term discomfort that is sometimes required for long-term gain. The opposite of this would be HIGH frustration-tolerance. High frustration-tolerance is simply the ability to tolerate or cope with discomfort and hard work in the short-term in order to achieve one's long term goals.

Removing your son from a stressful situation and giving him time to calm down is an excellent idea. Then if he is willing to discuss the problem, you may be able to help him learn how to handle a similar situation in the future. His frustration and stubbornness are due to the anxiety he feels and his inability to handle situations ...he can’t help those feelings.

Generally, there are two therapeutic approaches to working with the anxiety seen in kids on the autism spectrum. The first is cognitive psychology, which is an approach that focuses on the child’s mental processes (e.g., problem solving, memory, language, etc.). A cognitive psychologist will want to know how your son perceives and solves his problems.

A cognitive psychologist will be able to help your son figure out exactly what triggers his anger. The psychologist will help him change the negative environment that fuels his anger and develop various age-appropriate techniques for coping with anxiety.

The psychologist’s recommendations might be simple (e.g., lowering lights and sound levels), or it could be more complex, and therapy might become long term. In addition to cognitive psychology, medication may be recommended for your son. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications that will help reduce your son’s frustrations and reduce his anxieties.

Please note that antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac have been prescribed for HFA and AS kids, but they have also been known to cause serious problems. Ask the psychiatrist to explain all of the behavioral changes and discuss the possible side effects of any medication that is prescribed.

The second approach for helping your son - and one of the most frequently recommended interventions for kids with the disorder - is for you, as a parent, to make his life structured and consistent. If he has chores to do around the house, they can be done on a certain day and at a specified time. He can leave for school at the same time every day, and he can be expected to return home at a certain time every day, also.

Structure can be built into his life for recreational activities, in addition to his school obligations and chores. If he enjoys video games, a time can be set aside that is predictable for the both of you. He can complete school homework and chores while looking forward to the recreational time that he knows will occur at the same time every day.

Your son is becoming easily frustrated over things that he perceives as too challenging. You can provide a “wrap-around” treatment for him by surrounding him with a psychologist that he can talk to, medication he can use to reduce anxiety (if warranted!), and a predictable home environment each day.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:


Anonymous said...
We have the exact same problem with our 14-years old ASD son. Even the psychologist couldn't get him to talk (AT ALL), and this psychologist is known as an autism expert and well-loved by his clients and peers in our area. We should probably try another doctor, but money is tight and insurance doesn't cover it and we were frustrated with that first attempt which lasted an entire school year. The second piece of advice, to give our son a routine schedule, is what we need to do. His life is quite routine, and it's the disruptions that are so hard because in any life there will be interruptions and disruptions. We will work on being even more consistent, however, and we REALLY need to get better at allowing him screen time as a reward. This Aspergers stuff really makes me work harder at being a better parent!

Anonymous said...
I have a 17 yr old son with HFA/ADHD, His routine now is constant unexpected change and as our life is a struggle to plan anything because something ends up changing. I found this was a struggle in the beginning & a few difficult moments but now that he is older I now realize this turned out to be a benefit because now his routine is kaos & he has learned to work with it. Just in case here is some back ground. My son was quite low functioning in the beginning he started off non verbal and by kindergarten could form 3 word sentences.He was not aloud to attend more than 2.5 hrs of school a day until Grade 6, by grade 9 he was on the honour roll, by grade 11 he was on the high school football team, He now will be graduating with his peers. I am a single mom and have never been able to afford the ABBA therapy or much of anything else his therapy consisted of a neighbors daughter who was beyond a blessing to us who was going to university & grew up with a special needs uncle. Prayers, Love, discipline & learning the language of Autism was what I used.

Anonymous said...
I still though have a son that won't talk about how he is feeling, this became a challenge when my daughter went through medical distress with having to call 911 over 60 times. My son explained when my Nana passed during that time that he new who should feel sad & he would miss her but beyond the moment of being told he didn't have the same response to feelings like we did they were dealt with then gone,

Anonymous said...
I have a pretty structured routine for my son (who will be 15 in a couple of days) and for the most part he does fairly well with small disruptions to the routine. The issue's we are having is when it comes to social functions. If we are able to, we try to find a quiet out of the way place for him to go and sit when he gets over whelmed, but I don't know how to help him with the white noise, or how to help him deal with the crowds of ppl. He is able to handle public school fairly decent, but it's fairly structured in the school setting as well, but at wedding's or charity events, it's chaos and I don't know what do to help.

Anonymous said...
We have a "chill out" list. He helped us make it. Its a list of things for him to do to, well, CHILL OUT! swing, wear his weighted vest, color, play with the cat, run, take a walk, etc. You get the idea. He can help make the list when he's calm and thinking clear. Sometimes we pick from the list, and sometimes we just tell him to go pick from the list. so far so good....

Anonymous said...
We suggest ways for our 13 year old to chill out. Also, before going out like to a restaurant or such, we have him make a "plan B" just in case "plan A" doesn't work out.

Anonymous said...
My daughter does the same thing. I try to talk in a low monotone just to make sure she stays calm. Then I'll pose several solutions and then let her choose...right or wrong. And, as always, just be there for them!! It's frustrating on our end too!

Post your comment below…

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content