Individualized Education Program is an important element in the academic life of your child with special needs. The federal law called Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires every public school to provide an IEP for children with special education needs. As this document is legally binding, the school must create a solution to unique learning difficulties faced by many children.
IEP is specifically designed to meet the child’s unique learning needs, so it is an important tool for the education of children with autism. Just like the uniqueness of the difficulties, every IEP will be different from one another. However, according to law, an IEP must contain certain elements. Let’s take a brief look at them.
Present Level of Educational Performance (PLOP)
This will show how your child is doing in school at the moment. It will describe his/her current strengths, abilities and weaknesses. This part of the IEP shows how these learning difficulties affect general education carried out. Also, it explains how the child is getting along with everyday functional activities, such as socializing. It is important that the PLOP is based on the objective observations of the teacher. Furthermore, as each year the child matures, the PLOP and IEP will change along with the skills and weaknesses, the needs and the performance of that year.
Evaluation and Test Results
District-wide and state assessments should be included.
Support/Services Needed to Reach the Goals
The IEP will explain and state what kind of support and services the child will receive in the school. For instance, if your child has difficulties with speech and needs speech therapy, the IEP will say how many minutes a week the child will receive this therapy.
Accommodations and Modifications
These two terms are generally used together in IEPs and 504 plans. These are changes that allow a student to fully participate in learning. Their role in learning general education curriculum is pretty important. To break it down, Accommodations are changes in how a child shows what he has learned. With these, the child may find a workaround to his/her learning issues. Meanwhile, modifications are changes in what is taught or expected of a student. These state the rate of grade-level expectations the child must meet to move on to the next grade.
Goals in Education
Annual educational goals should help the child participate in the classroom. So, the goals you set should be realistic, achievable and measurable. The IEP team will also list the academic and functional skills needed for independent living that they think the child can achieve by the end of the year in the IEP. According to law, if the child has more than one or severe disabilities, the IEP should list short-term goals.
Your Child’s Progress
The IEP should contain an explanation on how the school will track the child’s progress in terms of the goals set. Also, it will also describe how the school will share the results with you. If your child has the goal of being able to read at third-grade level, the IEP will specify how the process will be tracked (i.e. informal/formal assessment) and how often the results will be reported to you. This way, you can act on the results and make changes to the IEP if you see that your child’s progress has slowed down.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
This means that a student with a disability should have access to education with their peers to the greatest extent. They should have access to general education curriculum or program that non-disabled peers would be able to access. It is required by law that the IEP includes an explanation on how the child will participate in general education classes and extracurricular activities.
Many states have formal timelines as to when the IEP will go into effect.
A transition plan will prepare the teenager for life after high school. This plan should include what services and support the student will need to graduate from high school and achieve goals after graduating.