IEP? Are you ready? The big tool to carve an educational program for special children is the IEP – Individualized Education Program. Education is a big task; figuring out what to do with special needs kids in the educational system is gigantic.
For one year, a child will be defined in his/her educational goals in a draft, then a final IEP is drawn up by the student’s academic team. That’s a big deal for anyone, and for special needs parents, it can mean the difference in leaps and bounds in how a child mainstreams, socializes, and learns.
For “regular” children, they pass 5th grade or not. They get a score, and it serves as a barometer for many things. The parents can ask questions: did the student put forth effort? Is the student getting needs met? Does the student have stress that needs to be addressed? Solving a child’s academic puzzle doesn’t involve a straight-line formula to success, yet it takes a basic temperature and gives the chance to address issues and cheer successes.
What is success for a special child? Some kids have strong academic skills, yet struggle emotionally; some fit right in, but reading is taking a long time; others are working on both and more. Grades cannot often be determined, yet happiness and a few small gains can be a measure of movement forward.
My son is happy. The people who work with him are wonderful. I see great contemplation and effort in truly trying to meet my child’s needs and do what’s best for him. He’s starting to read and making friends. I am blessed to have a thoughtful group of professionals surrounding my son. If I’d known then.. how intense yet wonderful the process could be, perhaps some of the unknown could have been loaded on to the freight train of worry and fret and sent up the line.
A great amount of concentration and deliberation must be had by both the school administration, the teachers, and the parent. The hardware of the report needs to include things we might gloss over like the size of the bus, the form of seatbelt, and the need for assistance to walk up and down stairs in addition to the nuts and bolts of learning.
As the year nears an end, there are new leaves to turn over. No IEP will be perfect; but it offers a tremendous tool if care is followed by all who care for the fate of each of these little souls.