Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Does Your Child Need an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?

Does your child need a Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?

If your child is struggling in school and you think his or her needs might require and Individualized Education Plan, start with you child's physician. Has your child had a physical within the past year? Make an appointment with your child's physician to get you on track concerning your child's health status as well as any learning-related conditions that might be a barrier to your child's academic success.

Several categories of special education service require information and documentation from your child's physician, so this initial doctor visit is a good place to start.

Once your child has had an up-to-date physical and you have talked with the doctor, move forward with these steps:

1)Schedule a conference with your child's teacher(s). A face-to-face conference is better than a telephone or email conference, but one way or another, you need this conference to discuss your concerns and to know what they have observed in the school setting.

2) Contact the school guidance counselor, an important ally once you have made initial contact with the teacher(s).

3) Work out your own fears and defenses so that you will be open to hearing what the teacher(s) have to say. Teacher input is important and you will want to have your child's teachers in your corner. Discuss the learning interventions that can be employed to address your child's areas of weakness.

4) Set up a learning environment at home and provide the materials your child needs to complete homework and projects. Be involved with your child's daily routines that the teachers have established.

5)If the interventions or learning strategies are not making a difference, then ask for your child to be tested.

6) Read and understand all paperwork that is part of this process. Ask questions, get satisfactory answers before signing paperwork to begin this process. Your school system, with your signed permission, will then follow a sequence of steps to assess your child in several areas.

7) Assemble records of your child's development. Write down any relevant observations and family history that you can to help in your child getting services.

8) When the testing is finished, you will receive information from each evaluation in writing. The school will invite you to an eligibility meeting to review test results and to determine your child's eligibility for special education services..

9) If found eligible, make sure you understand on what basis your child was found eligible and what recommendations are being made for your child.

10) Teachers and other educators will outline what happens next and you and, if your child is found eligible, a school representative will write an IEP customized for your child's unique needs in learning.

You you can be the one to begin this process. You needn't wait on the school to move forward. You, the teachers, the administrators, and the related services providers will comprise the IEP team that will make decisions regarding your child's needs.

The special education process and schedule takes time, but the process works. Do your best to collaborate with the teachers and other professionals and, as a team, you will get the IEP your child needs so that your child can receive services.

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