When enrolling your child with special needs or a learning disability into school, you may have heard the phrase I.E.P. tossed around a few times. If this is your first child that needs to enter special education, the I.E.P. process can be a daunting one. However, with a little research and help from other parents, you can secure your child a spot in special education without any problems.
What is an I.E.P?
First things first, an I.E.P. stands for an Individual Education Program or Plan. It is a specialized document developed in the public school program to assist school children who are eligible for special education. The special education program is protected under the law and must be made free and available to all children that are eligible.
Receiving an I.E.P. Referral
Before your child can be admitted into the special education program, though, they must be proven eligible. To get your child an I.E.P, there must be a referral or request to have an evaluation done. The referral can come from a child’s teacher, doctor, or school counselor who sees that the child is having a problem with schoolwork or socialization. If you feel your child needs an assessment, talk with your child’s teacher, doctor, or counselor to get a referral.
Many times a child will receive a referral for an I.E.P., and the parent finds it completely unnecessary. Before ruling out the professional referral for an Individual Education Plan, figure out why your child is being referred to the evaluation. The referral does not mean your child is incompetent or unintelligent. It simply means that the professionals see that your child would be better suited with an education plan that is more suited to his needs. Enrolling your child in special education can give your child more learning opportunities because he will be able to learn at his own pace in a way that is suited for them.
Taking the Assessment
Once the referral of the evaluation has been made, your child needs to take an assessment. This evaluation is simply to assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses. The evaluation also can see how your child learns best and what learning disabilities they may have. Overall, the evaluation is done to see where your child is at and how he would benefit the most from specialized instruction.
Once the evaluation is complete, the school professionals go over the evaluation and other recommendations to make their decision whether your child fits into the services offered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). If for some reason they do not accept your child into the program, you have the right as a parent to request a hearing to challenge the decision.
Enrolling your child into special education and an I.E.P. can be time-consuming and at times overwhelming. While the whole process can be this way, it is necessary to get your child the education they need and deserve. Talk with other parents with similar situations for help and support.
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