Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Autism: Benefits Of an Individualized Educational Program (IEP)

Top Tip: Have a look for progression throughout the Individual Educational Programs (IEP's).

I am a father of an 11 year old son Charlie. Charlie has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Today I would like to write a little piece about the IEP or reality check as I like to call it.

An IEP is an annual (Individualized Educational Program), set out by a panel of experts to try and meet the needs and challenges of your child's educational requirements. Believe me when I say, that no two children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are close to one another, when it comes to their educational requirements (Autism is such an enormous Spectrum). Due to the complications of Autism there is an absolute requirement for each child to have an Individualized Educational Program. Ideally at the early part of the school year, you (the parents) will have a round table meeting with a group of experts such as, the child's teacher, the school Principal, a Speech and Language Therapist, an Occupational Therapist, a Behavioral Therapist etc. At the IEP meeting, the team will discuss your child's educational needs and come up with specific, measurable short-term annual goals for each of those needs. If you attend this meeting, you can take an active role in developing the goals, and determining which skills or areas will receive the most attention.

Are IEP's helpful?

In my opinion, the IEP is the single most important tool for communicating your hopes and desires for your child's short term and long term goals. If something has to be said, the IEP is the place to say it. An extremely helpful part of the IEP is the coordinator writing a list of your child's strengths and needs on a whiteboard. Each person at the table may have their input as to the strengths and needs of your child. It can be a real eye opener. For our first IEP Charlie's needs far outweighed his strengths, as can happen with many children on the Autism Spectrum. However, gradually as the years have passed the strengths column has grown in length and the needs column has diminished substantially. I would like to stress at this point that we consider ourselves extremely lucky that Charlie has responded so well to the educational system, I have no doubt that many people may not see the needs column dwindle as fast as we have. If the IEP does nothing else it will definitely give you a snap shot as to where your child is (with regards to many disciplines) at that particular moment in their lives. Furthermore I find the IEP tends to focus on the positives rather than the negatives of your child, most of the work for the forthcoming year will be based on your child's requirements. There has not yet been an IEP that I walked out of feeling bad. Through all walks of life, the choice to view the cup as half empty over half full is yours, I would advise you, the parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder to concentrate on as many of the little positives as possible.

As I sit in the car typing this story (waiting for Charlie to finish drama with a Special Needs group) I will just give you a piece of positive behavior from last night's world of Autism. It was time for Charlie to go to bed, I asked him to go to the toilet and wash his teeth before he goes to bed. He must have been ten minutes in the bathroom, so I asked him what was he up to, "nothing dad," he replied, and scuttled into his bedroom like a mouse. When I walked into the bathroom two hours later Charlie had three tooth brushes lined up on the sink, with tooth paste on them ready to be used by the rest of the family. I don't know where he got that idea from but it worked for me. I look on this as another little piece of positivity, soon enough he might possibly even be making my breakfast.

My Name is Peter Devlin, my website is AutismInIreland, Here is the URL http://www.autisminireland.com/ I have an 11 year son Charlie, he has Autism. Without wanting to be, I am now an expert on Autism issues. The journey has been tough, extremely tough. I am writing a series of stories about how I managed to beat Autism and sometimes how Autism managed to beat me. Have a look at Charlie's pictures they are amazing. Send me your stories, and lets educate together.My website has a multitude of stories and helpful hints about Characteristics of autism and traits pertaining to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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