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IEP Help

The IEP process can be very frustrating, in fact most special needs parents dread it. Remember that you know your child best and that you are their strongest advocate. The information provided here will hopefully be useful to guide you in the process. 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living. (Katsiyannis, Yell, Bradley, 2001; Martin, Martin, Terman, 1996; U.S. Department of Education, 2010).

Each state has its own implementation defining the processes put in place to comply with IDEA.


What is an IEP?

Per the Department of Education:

"Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability."

An IEP is a written document that must be agreed upon and signed by all members of the team. The data in IEP's is regulated by guidelines but those may vary by location. 

Department of Education Guide to IEPs:


Frequently Used Terminology

  • IEP 
    Individualized Education Program (IEP) - A unique plan, developed specifically for the educational goals of your child for the current school year.

  • LRE 
    Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) - Generally, a child with a disability should be served in the regular classroom with as much interaction with his or her non-handicapped classmates as possible. A child with a disability may only be removed from the regular classroom when the nature or severity of the disability is such that the education in regular classes cannot be achieved satisfactorily, even with the use of supplementary aids and services.

  • IDEA
    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.

  • ESY 
    Extended School Year Services (ESY) -An extended school year is a component of special education services for students with unique needs who require services in excess of the regular academic year. Extended year often refers to summer school.

  • FAPE
    Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) - Special education and related services are provided at public expense, without charge to the parents

  • IFSP
    Individualized Family Service Plan: (IFSP) - A process of providing early intervention services for children ages 0-3 with special needs.

  • ITP
    Individualized Transition Plan (ITP) - This plan starts at age 14 and addresses areas of post-school activities, post secondary education, employment, community experiences and daily living skills.


Common IEP Mistakes

  1.  No Preliminary IEP

    1. Always ask for a preliminary copy of the IEP prior to the meeting. Without one you will be placed at a disadvantage and may lead you to feel pressured to sign before you are ready. You should never feel pressured to sign anything you aren't sure about. ​

  2. The IEP does not contain measurable goals

    1. This is one of the most common mistakes. Goals that are overly generalized are easy to make but difficult to measure. Be sure goals are specific and measurable. ​

  3. Short Term Goal does not build towards Long Term Goal

    1. Always make sure that short term goals are working towards the long term goal. ​

  4. Signing when You Don't Agree

    1. NEVER sign an IEP at the meeting, especially if you do not agree with it. A verbal commitment of "we'll work that out later" is not binding but a signature is. You have three days to look over an IEP before you sign so take it home and review it at least once before you commit. ​

Educational Toys

Let's Work Together

For more IEP help visit: Understand

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