With the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) law, children with disabilities are granted free public education throughout the nation.
This law enabled children with disabilities to learn in a safe learning environment where their special needs are addressed with specialized services. All of this is free and without any amount of cost to the family. Essentially, the Individualized Education Program ties its foundation to the IDEA law. IEP is an acronym that stands for the Individualized Education Program. This plan clearly outlines the programs and services for children with disabilities through free public education. Similarly, the Individualized Education Program for Autism ensures that children with autism receive appropriate educational support, services, and resources that will meet their special needs.
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Significance of IEP
A child as young as 18 months old can be diagnosed with autism. Autism is a spectrum disorder that impacts a child’s social skills, communication skills, self-regulation, and building relationships with other people. Essentially, implementing an early intervention program like the IEP for Autism can help other people understand autism and in turn, provide the appropriate services and assistance to children with autism. The IEP maps a child’s strengths and weaknesses. After which, the plan outlines the specific goals and objectives a child with autism can achieve based on the areas where they need help and assistance. Essentially, each IEP plan is different. This is solely base on each child's specific needs. As this plan is education-based, these goals are achieved within the school’s education parameters.
Benefits of the Program for a Child with Autism
There are many key benefits to getting an IEP for a child with autism. One of these benefits is that the families of the child with a disability are thoroughly involved in the decisions made for their child’s public education. IEP offers an opportunity for educators, school administrators, parents, other services personnel, and students alike to work collaboratively in making a safe space for learning for children with disabilities.
The IEP serves as the grassroots approach to tailoring the programs and services of the public school system to meet the specific needs of children with disabilities. Simply, this is the cornerstone of ensuring a quality public education system for all children. The IEP is a legal document that ensures the best opportunities are given to children with autism.
Potential Drawbacks of IEPs
IEPs that are not thoroughly drafted and thought of can bring out a vague and inadequate action plan for
children with disabilities. As such, it is important that a clear and detailed outline is made in order to bring
out better results. This is also a way to prevent potential drawbacks that can happen in the process of
implementing the IEP.
An IEP should be able to set measurable goals and objectives for children with disabilities. Also, the steps
and ways for achieving them should be aligned with each goal a child with autism should be able to perform and achieve. Conversely, IEPs fall short when it comes to setting the goals too high or low, and not
highlighting the child’s strengths and weaknesses. Essentially, it is vital that the IEP works well with the
public education system.
Drafting the IEP Plan
An IEP plan starts with an IEP meeting. This meeting consists of the IEP team that will help draft and create the document. Essentially, the IEP team includes:
Parents of the child (at least one)
The child (if appropriate)
School administrators or supervisors
Additional family members or friends
Medical professionals (doctors and therapists)
Parents stand as advocates for their children. Both of them know by heart what is best and appropriate for their kids. As such, the presence of the parents in the IEP meeting affects the entirety of the plan. For the teacher’s role, the SMART objectives are recommended to outline the goals a child with autism can follow in reaching their fullest potential.
Getting the Plan for a Child with Autism
Drafting an IEP plan starts with an IEP meeting where the parents, teacher/s, the child if appropriate, school administrators, medical professionals, and school counselors are all present to optimize the plan in order to tailor the child’s specific needs to the program. If you have a child with autism, your presence matters in an IEP meeting. This meeting will be the basis on how you can get the IEP plan suited for your child’s special needs.
Keep up with your child’s progress by working closely with the teacher. Also, you can check in with other
school support staff to make sure that your child receives the services outlined in the IEP plan. More than
this, it is within your legal rights as a parent to schedule a follow-up meeting or checkup with the school and other people involved in the drafting of the IEP plan.
It is helpful to know that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) law requires specific and
helpful information to be included in the IEP plan. It is within the federal and state jurisdiction that IEP
plans should be able to cater and provide services and programs for the enrichment and engagement of
children with disabilities to the public education system.
If you plan to get an IEP plan, you should start by contacting the local school district and asking for
recommendations on how you can proceed with the IEP meeting. For optimized results, you can do further research on the entire process of conceptualizing and getting an IEP plan for your child.