Make Sure The IEP Is Working

Make sure your child's IEP reflects their goals and that it's being followed.

The IEP can help your child qualify for services during transition. But it must be detailed and specific.  A diagnosis or explicit description of their challenges can sometimes make the difference and allow them to qualify.

Make sure these are all written into the IEP:

  • A clear description of your child’s vision for their future

  • All diagnoses that your child has (for example, write “autism” and “developmental disability” if they have both)

  • Detailed descriptions of the challenges they have that might affect their ability to live independently, get a job, or do academic work

  • Detailed explanations of why they need the services and accommodations

  • Goals that you've thought about carefully and fit your child's vision for the future

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Remember, your child has a legal right to a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE)!  FAPE means more than just getting by. Students should be getting the support they need for their own goals.  Make sure those goals are as high as you can reasonably expect!

Once you have set up an IEP that is good for your child, make sure all services and accommodations listed in it are being done. Remember that the school is legally required to follow the IEP!

Monitor your child's experience and progress to keep track of how things are going.

  • Talk to them and their teachers about what's happening in the classroom

  • Read their grades, assessments and progress reports

  • Questions to ask:

    • Are the IEP services and accommodations being followed?

    • Are they working?

If not, here's what to do:

  • Talk to the IEP team. You can ask for a meeting at any time. 

  • If that doesn't change things, ask the school principal.

  • If that doesn't help, call your school district and ask to talk to the person in charge of special education services.

It may be hard, and you may feel pushy. But it's ok to ask for what your child needs, and it's ok to insist that the school follows the IEP. Remember, it's a legal document!

The IEP should reflect your child’s goals and abilities — even as they change.

Things change as your child gets older.  They might have more trouble as things get harder in high school, or as they start to go through puberty.  Or maybe they'll have a new goal of going to college.

Keep up with these changes as you look at your IEP.  You can sometimes increase your child’s services if you think it’s needed.  And even though you only have an IEP meeting once a year, you can ask to meet with the team anytime.

If you think your child needs more — ask for more!

FAPE stands for a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

Every child has a legal right to get this from their public school system. Students with disabilities have a right to get FAPE that meets their unique needs.

What does "appropriate" mean? 

  • Students should be getting the support they need to make effective academic progress, and meet the goals that they and their families have set for them.

  • It may be very different for different students. 

  • If you think your child is not getting an education that meets their unique needs, then you could argue that it is not appropriate.

Source: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

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