What is the Other Half of the IEP Battle?
You as a parent have gone through the process with the school of documenting through testing, gathering data from teachers, and an IEP eligibility meeting in order to put an effective IEP in place for your child with ADHD. I would say that is 25% of the process. Now, once it is decided that the IEP is necessary, it is now time to give your input as to what you believe should be some goals and action plans. Also, it’s important to consider what accommodations and modifications will serve to contribute to success and remediate any learning issues.
It’s important to remember that you, the parent, are part of the team and know more about your child than anyone else does! So, what are the important areas of the IEP to look at?
- There should be an area in the beginning of the IEP that states present levels of educational performance. This information comes from teacher input, grades, test, and classroom performance for the child with ADHD.
- Annual goals that are measurable and reflect those present levels of performance. This is what makes it individualized. Goals can’t exist unless it is known exactly how the child is performing and what deficits exist. Although many times there are short term goals and bench marks, the IDEA has stated that only annual goals need to be in place.
- What special education services will be provided, including modifications and accommodations. In addition, when all of this will be in place, who will be providing any special services, the frequency, duration, and location. Remember, if there is a learning disability, there needs to be a well-researched program in place to remediate the learning issue.
- Information on how each goal will be measured as well as the frequency. This is so important! If goals are not measured consistently, no one will know if the IEP is effective. Too many kids graduate with low reading levels who had an IEP in place!
- When and how will the parent be notified of these assessments in order to determine the need for changing and adding to the IEP.
- Transition planning should begin by age 14 but be in place in the IEP by age 16. This is so important to discuss with the child before age 14 in order to insure placement of needed courses for either college or vocational schools.
While all of the above is crucial to review, and understand, I also think it is so important to now be aware of the need to maintain communication with this child study team. The IEP completion represents another 25% of the process. Now, the other half is making sure that what is in place is working! What are some steps to insure this efficacy? What falls under that umbrella of communication?
- Insure that there is communication weekly with the teacher or a representative of several teachers. This communication can be through email or phone.
- Throughout each week, document daily what you see is working and not working. For example, is homework taking longer than district policy, is there frustration, grades going down, lack of comprehending assignments, and behavioral issues being documented by a teacher. Kids with ADHD have executive functioning deficits that show up often as the child moves through middle and high school. Organization and time management issues are quite common and can be helped through an IEP.
- Know when there are assessments to be done. Usually they are quarterly and you need to hear the feedback.
- Know that you can schedule an IEP meeting at any time with concerns and questions.
- Insure that every teacher, including those who teach specials like gym and music, know about and have read the IEP. These teachers should also be included in the communication process as far as the ability to provide input.
An ineffective IEP that is not individualized is useless! You the parent are part of the team and really have the right and responsibility to gather information and help to decide how well the IEP is providing needed support. You and the staff can make all the difference in the world to ensure that your child has success and a healthy self-esteem!
A little about the author and founder of ADD Advocate, Karen Lowry: I am a certified ADHD Coach. ADHD advocacy is my passion. There are so many school support challenges facing our children, that knowing your rights as a parent have never been more crucial. Effective ADHD coaching depends on effective advocacy for our kids. Remember, if you should ever have any questions about anything regarding school support, or just understanding about ADHD, IEP programs, 504 plans, etc…. Please feel free to contact me directly for a free consultancy session. You can contact me directly by clicking here!