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An Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, is a tool that teachers, therapists, and parents can use to help a child with an autism spectrum disorder succeed in their educational environment. An IEP can provide important guidance for educators so that the child has a safe and positive learning environment. In general, parents, therapists, and educators work together to create an IEP.
In the US educational system, if a student is eligible, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is written that sets out the ways the child will be helped with his areas of difficulties, with goals and objectives. The IEP is developed by an IEP team at IEP’s that take place at least annually.
An IEP team consists of the parents, the child’s teacher, a general education teacher, a special education administrator, any professionals providing services such as occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and adapted physical education.
Sometimes, some members of the IEP team and / or the parents may not be in agreement as to how a child’s educational needs should be met, and what constitutes a ‘free and appropriate education’ for your child. As a parent, it is important to get to know how your child learns. Remember that you are the expert on your child. Also, it is important to keep abreast of the educational methods that are out there that may help your child.
If you are in disagreement with the rest of the IEP team, there are appropriate ways for you to express your disagreement. The first step is to try and have good and open communication with your child’s teacher and other professionals involved in helping your child with his difficulties. The second is to make sure you know your child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). As a parent you will need to become an advocate for your child.
As laws and regulations change, parents and educators can stay informed by checking the US Department of Education (www.ed.gov) and your state department of education.
Most, if not all, states have an agency that helps people with disabilities and tells you your rights in plain language, and provides information in different languages. To find out how your state interprets IDEA, These are usually called Protection and Advocacy offices. Often these agencies have decoded the complicated IDEA and made it available on-line in easy to understand layman terms so that parents can understand the rights their children have in terms of education.
An IEP is considered legal documentation. When an IEP is formed, it involves formal testing, parent feedback as well as input from the educators that the child deals with. Autistic children will greatly benefit from having an IEP in their school setting because it gives the educators and school personnel set goals that they have to follow in order to assist the child in their school environment. Goals can be very simple such as having the child "complete 3 out 4" tasks in a day, or having the child meet certain goals in regards to therapy.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.