Insuring the Individualization of the IEP

One of the reasons families reach out to me to coach their child is to be able to back off and allow for independence, success, and a healthy self-esteem. Although they (usually the mom) desires her child to function on her own, it still remains as difficult as climbing a mountain to let go!

Special education ball

The following forces are occurring:


• The Coach, who reinforces the importance of the client, the child, making decisions to achieve goals.
• The Mom, who may not like decisions, or may decide that she is the safety net that will alter the action plan for the good of the child. (Despite her not wanting to be involved.)
• The School, who, despite the fact that the child has an IEP, continues to penalize the child for missed assignments with failing grades. As a result, the mom penalizes her child and at the same time, is being admonished by the school with words like: she needs to work harder, she is smart, you are too involved, etc.


It’s no wonder that there is a continuation of stress, misunderstanding, and failure. I think the coaching process must shift at this point to advocating for support in the school. Coaching this child will not succeed if this scenario of mom’s perception of the need for control and the school’s lack of support continues.

young boy reading and thinking

Since much of what is happening is directly related to the lack of IEP utilization, I will focus there. In this case, there is an IEP. This was put in place when this child was in third grade, supported by a teacher who understood ADHD and could see how her impairments of inattentiveness were clearly affecting this child with a soaring IQ!


Fast forward to middle school and her upcoming entry into high school and you will see an IEP without any supports that are individual to HER needs. The goals are generic and could apply to any child with or without ADHD or a learning difference. The purpose of the IEP is to address symptoms of ADHD that are adversely affecting her success. Every person with ADHD is different. So must be the IEP.


By not addressing her difficulties with missed assignments, for instance, she continues to miss when they are assigned. Children with ADHD can have issues with transitioning from one class to another. I would guess that as she is grabbing what she needs for a class, there is conversation regarding assignments that is being missed. Or many times, as the children are dismissed, there is not adequate time to process and write down assignments on the board.


The IEP is in place to provide modifications and strategies that relate to her difficulties. Once the IEP is individualized to her needs, it is breaking the law to not follow through with what is contained in this legal document. In addition, the mom (parents) are definitely part of the team and should and can contribute to its development.


With an appropriate IEP in place, the coach can coach her client to success in the area of academics through strategies, information, and the ability to self-advocate. And the mom can begin to let go and watch her child become able to handle expectations in school and feel good!

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