Does your child have a recent autism spectrum disorder diagnosis? Are they about to start a new school? As you prepare for this major life transition, take a look at what you need to know about the Individualized Education Plan (or IEP) and your child's choices.
What Is An IEP?
It's all in the name. The Individualized Education Plan, also known as the IEP, is exactly what the name says. This document is a plan that details or outlines educational needs and goals for the individual child. Each IEP is specifically tailored to the child and directs the way the school educates the student and the services provided.
What Does An IEP Include?
Even though an IEP is made specifically for each individual student, in general, these documents should contain:
The present level of performance. This section includes your child's present level of educational performance or achievement. It also details how your child's diagnosis affects their scholastic or functional performance and progress.
The support your child needs. What types of accommodations does your child need to succeed in school? This IEP section focuses on supportive methods such as assistive technology, special education classroom services, therapeutic services, transportation, classroom modifications, or individual instruction.
The annual goals. The specific goals depend on the child, their present level of functional and academic performance, and developmental expectations. Along with academic goals, this section may include behavioral or mobility/physical objectives.
The IEP should also include how the school plans to track your child's success, the duration of services provided by the district or individual school, whether your child will participate in a mainstream classroom, and adaptations necessary to accommodate your child for tests and other classroom work.
How Can You Get An IEP for Your Child?
Start with the school. Like other schools and districts, your child's new place of education has a set of steps to guide this process. In general, this includes:
A diagnosis that meets the conditions for a plan. There are 13 categories that qualify a child for an IEP. ASD is one of these categories.
An evaluation for approval. Your child will need approval for special education services before they begin to create this plan. The school will request an evaluation and then move on to the approval process. Either the school will evaluate your child or you will need to provide the results of a private evaluation.
Meet with the IEP team. Your child's school has a group of educational professionals who will oversee this process. Parents are also part of the child's IEP plan team. This means you will play a role in the development of an IEP.
Keep a line of communication open with the school and the IEP team. This can help you to learn more about the process and make sure your child is getting the right services for their scholastic and functional needs.