It’s IEP Time Again

NOTE: Although now a veteran of my share of IEP’s and IEP meetings, I cannot claim to be an expert on them.  Since it’s such a subject of concern and apprehension for most of us, however, here are some of my thoughts and experiences.  I hope it helps!

As IEP meetings are scheduled, worried over, and being prepared for, I thought it would be appropriate to touch on them this week.

For those of you new to the public school system, an IEP (Individualized Education Plan or Program) is a document drawn up by the school.  It includes information from teachers, speech therapists, guidance counselors, autism coordinators, and the like (from the school side).  It may also contain information about anything from standardized test scores to doctor recommendations to parental requests.

It’s a sort of catch-all document.  Obviously.

Once the diagnosis/diagnoses and test scores are listed, problems/challenge areas are identified and clear, quantifiable goals are set.  Accommodations are then agreed to by parents and the school.  Herein lies the importance of the document.

And yes, “clear, quantifiable goals” seems problematic, doesn’t it?  Especially for kids like ours.  But if these goals are not stated, then it’s all haziness and pie in the sky ideas.

Here are some examples:

  • (child’s name) will turn in homework assignments on time 80% of the time or better for 4 out of 4 grading periods
  • (child’s name) will demonstrate organizational skills by labeling papers/assignments independently with name, date, and subject for 9 out of 10 observations
  • (child’s name) will demonstrate modification of impulsiveness to interrupt, answer for others and participate in turn taking 80% of the time

By setting these goals, the school is agreeing to help the child reach them.  I know, at first glance it appears to be a laundry list of demands upon our children;  however, it’s really a sort of contract between parents and school.

And yes, quarterly reports regarding goals are sent home to parents.  I’ve found they usually arrive around report card time.

Since these goals are an acknowledgment by the school that there are challenge areas for our children, accommodations can be built around them.  This is where we can help our kids deal with everyday problems, such as those late turn-ins.

Accommodations examples:

  • Flexible Scheduling – may have extra time to complete tests/quizzes if needed
  • Flexible Setting – may take tests/quizzes in a quiet, small group setting if needed.
  • Increased time to turn in assignments as needed

and so on.

But to make all of these things happen, and in fact to bring the IEP into existence, a meeting must be put together that includes parent/s and school officials.

This is a source of great anxiety for most of us.  Myself included.  After all, the Meeting can be a friendly gathering of like minds, or a clash of misunderstandings.  My single best piece of advice would be to bring a guest (you are entitled to bring one if you like, or even have one available to answer the phone), as stated in IEP Meetings.

If your IEP contains a particularly well-worded accommodation or goal, please share it with us.  Our kids have a lot of the same issues in common, and your experience may help someone else out there.

Related Posts:

IEP Meetings

Before Diagnosis

Letters To Schools

Volunteering At The School

Snapshot Brochures For Teachers

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About aspergerfamily3

Living in an Asperger's World, surrounded by a love of learning, interesting people, and daily challenges.
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2 Responses to It’s IEP Time Again

  1. Wendela says:

    So true! And it’s important to make sure that the goals are more than just wish lists. For example, for the goal to turn in homework on time at 80%, the IEP might list benchmark objectives to turn in homework at 50%, then 60%, then 70% on the way to 80%. But does the IEP state what steps the school will take to ensure that your student meets the goal, or are they just hoping for improvement? Someone should analyze where in the homework process the breakdown occurs – does the student realize a homework assignment has been given? Does s/he write down the assignment and when it is due? Bring home needed books or materials? Initiate or begin doing the homework assignment? Understand the task and have the basic skills needed to complete it? Maintain attention to the task long enough to finish it? Put it back in the backpack and take the backpack to school? Take it out of the backpack at the right time and put it in the right place? There are so many places this sequence can be broken, and how we deal with it depends on where the problem lies. Behavior can be shaped, and the steps required to successfully turn in homework can be explicitly taught through direct instruction. Positive behavior intervention can increase the likelihood that the student will continue to complete and turn in assignments. The important thing is to look beyond the simple goals, to make sure there is a solid plan in place to help your student reach those goals. ~Wendela

  2. Clearly, you have experience in these matters 🙂

    Hopefully, parents and teacher (or guidance counselor or autism coordinator or whomever) have been working toward actually identifying causes and helping the child gain the skills/habits he or she needs. Hopefully, people have been considering the points you bring up and discussing them, during conferences and via email.

    That said, this is a difficult area for our kids, or it wouldn’t be mentioned in our IEP’s. And as you imply, the IEP’s give a quick nod and a goal (mostly to protect the schools from liability, I’m convinced), and don’t actually solve things on their own.

    As you were listing items, it made me smile. I could identify with so many of them as you went.. Yep, that one’s true… and that one… oh, yes, that one for sure…

    Hopefully, if those out there hadn’t already focused the magnifying lens and identified where the weak link (or links!) lie, your post will give them some food for thought.

    Thanks for writing, and my apologies for being so late in writing back!

    -AF3

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