IEP: Not a Gift but a Right

As the new school year is well under way, parents from all over the world are talking to their child’s teacher about the best way to teach their children. While this can be a quite a process don’t look over the fact that your child has a right to a quality education. Parents of special needs children have the legal right to what is called an IEP in the U.S., U.K and Canada  and an ORS(Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) in New Zealand.

IEP stands for Individual Education Program and is done annually as your child progresses from year to year. This is a wonderful tool parents can use to sit down with teachers and school administrators to discuss education goals for their child. For instance, if your child requires speech therapy you can implement a goal where your child learns to speak in full sentences or if  your child is learning to write you can implement a goal that they be taught to write their name. Sitting down with the IEP team, which by the way you are a part of , also gives you the chance to explain your child’s behavior. I know a lot of parents deal with meltdowns with children that are autistic and this is a constant concern for them. At an IEP meeting you can explain to the teachers and other staff that work with your child the most effective way to calm your child. You can tell them when a meltdown is most likely to happen and signs to look for. Having this kind of input gives you, the parent, lots of control and a sense of comfort because you know what your child is working on.

Remember this is your legal right and not a gift from the school. For more information on the IEP process in the United States visit the U.S. Department of Education website. Other countries should refer to their Department of Education website. Our children can and will have bright futures with a quality education plan set in place, so lets make sure they have one.

Special Expectations for Special Children

I remember when Christian was 4 years old and starting to talk. Sometimes he would ask for want he wanted by saying what it was but the majority of the time he pointed at things. Of course I was so excited he was beginning to talk that I was just satisfied with him speaking 2 or 3 times a day. Then one day it hit me….if he can talk 2 or 3 times when he wanted something why not the other 5 times when he wanted a banana or juice? I learned that he saw talking as an option. He knew that I would give him anything he wanted whether he used his word or pointed. To  him if it wasn’t a requirement to talk, why do it.

I began telling him to “use his words” instead of pointing to things. Initially he got irritated with me; after all he hadn’t had to talk for 4 years so what was the big deal now. After a week or so he learned that I was going to ask what he wanted when he pointed so he started telling me before I could ask.

From that experience I learned that I had to set expectations for my son. Not because I want to give him a hard time, but so that he won’t expect doing his best to be an option. Christian still receives speech therapy and we talk everyday. Our children can learn to anything with our support. Yes, we have to take more steps with our Autistic and special needs kids but as long as they’re steps in the right direction we’ll get to where we’re going.