In the United States, millions of American children are referred for consideration in a special education class at school. For many parents, receiving notice that your child may require special education, often, comes as a surprise. Understanding the process by which educators reach conclusions regarding your child’s education needs is important to the overall health and education of your special needs child.
When considering a child for special education, educators will commonly implement the use of the IEP, also known as the Individualized Education Plan. Because the IEP outlines both the strengths and weaknesses of a special needs child as well as the objective and goal of the school program, parents of the special needs child are better equipped to understand the type of services that can be offered through the education system.
For many parents, the introduction of the IEP foundation is achieved through an initial assessment and meeting with school officials, usually including a special education teacher, the parent as well as a representative of the school district. Known as the IEP team, the Individualized Education Plan is begun and will include statements from educators, or teachers, who will describe, first hand, the impairments or disabilities of your child’s educational foundation.
While most special education children are not present in the IEP team meeting, some school officials will encourage their participation especially when the child is about to reach age of majority; 18. When preparing for this initial IEP meeting it is important that you become an advocate for your own child and provide the school with the human aspect of the issues of concern. While the school will present, in the IEP meeting, the test scores and academic achievements and failures of your child, it is you, as the parent, who must then provide the school with a short, five minute, description of your child’s personal history including any pertinent familial or medical issues that may directly relate to the special education needs.
While many parents find the initial suggestion of IEP, and special education placement of their child, an offensive action, it can be a great academic process in which your child receives more individualized attention and education outside of a traditional classroom setting. Therefore, when considering approval or denial of the IEP outlined, be sure to address not only the issues, concerns and goals but also look at the documents which outline the accommodations that can be made for your child. If the accommodations do not seem appropriate, discuss alternative options with the education or school district staff as there are options to be considered from classroom setting to medical assistive and educational devices and even tutoring. The key, here, is to review all of the documentation presented by the school, researching and considering options and then do not sign the IEP until you, as the parent, feel 100 percent confident the program is in the best interest of your child.
As with any delayed educational process, understanding the method by which school districts outline the special education needs of students is crucial to protecting your child’s welfare. With most school utilizing the Individualized Education Plan, IEP, parents are provided with a rather generic platform on which to develop a more customized special education program for your child.