How to Get the Most From an IEP

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the very foundation from which to build for special needs children, or those with any form of learning disabilities, when they are ready to enter school. Understanding the basics of the IEP, the information it can provide, and the key elements for successful implementation and benefits are necessary in getting the best possible rei sults for your child.

An IEP is just as the name implies: a personal plan of action, made specifically for a child that has been confirmed as eligible for specific and special academic, social and/or behavioral programs that can help them reach their maximum potential, both educationally and personally. A team which includes the parents, academic leaders, therapists and teachers decide upon what testing (such as developmental skills and levels, behavioral issues, etc) should be done, those tests evaluated and an IEP is written.

The written IEP will include the child’s current level of performance in education, social and behavioral skills, and how their disability affects them within their current environment. The report will suggest reasonable short and long term goals for the child, ways in which to help them achieve those goals, and the methods that will be used (such as additional training for teachers, hiring an aid for the student in the classroom, providing different facilities with different resources for greater benefits, etc), as well as when the programs would start, the locations in which they will be practiced, the length of time of each program, as well as how long the service may last.

Although the IEP is a guideline with measurable goals and resources with which to work is a great platform, the key to getting all the benefits possible for the student beiigins with the parents and caretakers. They bring information about the child’s needs, strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and a multitude of other factors that will greatly increase the ability of those within the team to pursue the proper evaluation methods, needs assessment tools and the outcomes of such, to allow for a more realistic and beneficial plan of action for the child.

The teachers, both traditional and specialized, are also critical players in the program’s success as they will implement programs, follow through with suggestions, and provide the fundamental feedback which will indicate what is or isn’t working for the child, so that adjustments can be made and success attained.

School administrators have the power and authority, via the laws and resources, to assure that needs and facilities required are available or attainable. Therapists and other members of the developmental team can add insight and suggestions, as well as provide additional resources.

The entire IEP team: parents, administrators, teachers, as well as the therapists and counselors, each play vital roles in making the individualized program as successful and beneficial as possible. Open communication leads to proper evaluation and testing which can provide accurate results. Those results are then acted upon with proven programs, which are monitored, regulated and adjusted as needed for the best possible outcomes, giving the child optimal advantages for mastery and success in all areas of their life.

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