How parents can create an IEP for their special needs child
Every child is different. As a parent you should know this, especially if your child is a special needs child. Your child may need a different education plan than other children, to fit their individual needs to be able to learn at their own pace. This how-to-guide will teach you how to write your child’s own Individual Education Plan (IEP), to fit their exact needs. You will be able to set certain goals and objectives that you feel are perfect for your own child.
Before you begin creating your child’s IEP you need to know your child’s rights. The Special Education Law gives children with disabilities certain rights that children who do not attend special needs schools do not have, including the Education for the Handicapped Act (EHA). These rights include the guarantee of a free and public education. From the ages 5-21, your child has the right to a free education, whether they are disabled or not. Though disabled children are allowed the appropriate education designed to fit the students’ individual educational needs. If found necessary, special education and related services must be free, and provided by the public agency at no cost to the parents. If special needs children are placed in special education they will be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The last part of the EHA is that parents have the right to participate in every decision related to the identification, evaluation, and placement of their child. Due process procedures assure parent’s right to appeal.
The first thing you will you do is establish your child’s IEP team members. The members should include the parents or guardian of the child, the child’s special education teacher, support workers and if available, a classroom teacher. Each member should set their own goals to help the child meet their goals. The more people willing to help your child, the more opportunities your child will have for academic achievement.
The second thing you will need to do to create your child’s IEP is set their goals. The goals will need to be specific, realistic, measurable, and challenging. Ask the teacher for a general curriculum and schedule to ensure that the goals you set coordinate with regular classroom activities. After the goals have been set, members of the team will discuss what they can do to help your child meet these goals. You should then discuss how your child’s progress is going to be monitored. Set a time frame for each objective and make sure at least one member of the team is specifically responsible for helping your child meet that certain objective. Expect all goals to be achieved as the end of the school year. Objectives should be certain skills needed to achieve the goals and should be accomplished in intervals.
The goals you set for your child will be based on their individual needs and what you would like to see them achieve. For example if your child was to have Autism, and was anti-social and aggressive, you would set certain goals, expectations, and accommodations based on those characteristics. Some general accommodations you might set are attention cues, small group instruction, reduce distractions, and use of preferred learning style. Some behavioral expectations would be the ability to manage anger and resolve conflict, demonstrate respect for others, and develop a positive self image. Some strategies and accommodations may includerewards, roleplay, consequences, one-to-one teaching, teaching of social skills, and establishing a classroom routine. The annual goal set may be something along the lines of the child will be able to work towards controlling anger and compulsive behavior which will positively affect his and others ability to learn. The child will also be able to interact with others in a positive way.
The IEP set by you and your child’s teacher will hopefully positively change the education and learning process for them. If the IEP you set is designed for your child’s individual needs it will create an opportunity for the child to improve educational results. You know your child better than anyone, and it is important that you give them the same opportunity as all other children by giving them a chance to learn in their own way.