Tips for Maintaining Your Child’s Individualized Education Plan

Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families

During the spring, schools will begin to establish Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students with special needs. An IEP is a plan with long-term goals and objectives that is designed to help your special needs child receive an effective, high-quality education. If you will soon be determining an IEP for your child, you can expect to meet with a team of school officials, teachers, and therapists to discuss your son or daughter’s unique behavioral and educational goals.

Once the IEP is set, you may have valid concerns about whether the plan is being followed by the school and if your child is demonstrating signs of progress. To ease your worries, there are several proactive steps you can take.

  • Ask the right questions. During the initial meeting, take advantage of the undivided time and attention of your child’s teachers and therapists. Make sure to ask specific questions about how your child’s progress will be measured, monitored and documented.
  • Set up a communications plan. While you may have a clear idea of how your child’s progress will be tracked, you may not know how, and how often, that information will be communicated. To help ease your anxieties, set up a defined communications plan from the beginning. You will be more at ease if you know when to expect regular updates on your child’s progress.
  • Establish an open and honest dialogue with your child’s teacher. While you may feel hesitant to request time with your child’s teacher, remember that you are your child’s biggest advocate. Keeping the lines of communication with the teacher open will help you monitor your child’s progress. Consider requesting a phone call or meeting with the teacher in advance so that he or she has time to prepare.
  • When in doubt, ask for clarification. If you feel that updates on your child’s progress are not specific or accurate, do not hesitate to ask questions. Parents of a student on an IEP are entitled to see data-driven information regarding their child’s progress. If you need additional clarification, request a meeting with your child’s teacher.
  • Consider the need for an Extended School Year (ESY) early in the school year. An Extended School Year includes services that are provided to your child during the regular year, such as language, occupational, and speech therapy, vocational programs, life skills, and tutoring. For your child to qualify for ESY, the school must agree that your child would regress without the continuity of services through the summer. If you plan to advocate for an ESY, plan early and be prepared with evidence of regression during school year breaks.

If you have questions about whether an IEP may benefit your child, contact Peak Potential Therapy. We can help you plan for and navigate the IEP process.