This school year might be over, but the summer break provides a prime opportunity for you to learn even more about your student’s needs. The summer is a great time to read essential neurobehavioral development books, as well to plan and prepare for next school year. If your child has never been in school, or if you expect your child to be receiving an IEP for the first time, you’ve no doubt heard some myths surrounding these education plans.
An IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is customized for each student in need of an IEP. It is meant to take into account a student’s disability and unique differences in order to set goals for how the child can best be served by their school. All children are legally entitled to a free and appropriate education. The goal of the IEP is to accomplish this right.
Unfortunately, myths abound in the world of special education, and the IEP really is no exception. Here are 6 common misconceptions regarding IEPs — and why they’re wrong:
Myth: You Have to be in a Special Education Classroom to Have an IEP
Most students with IEPs will spend at least some, if not most, of their day in a regular education classroom. This comes from a concept known as “the least restrictive environment” and it is a legal mandate from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).(1) Students with disabilities must be able to receive an education alongside their regular education peers whenever that experience is appropriate and still meets the needs of their disability.
The IEP will be designed to accommodate special education students in the regular classroom as much as possible. Often, students will spend time both in a special education classroom and in a general classroom. Other times, a student might spend the entire day in a regular classroom, or the bulk of their time in a special education resource room. What is best for your child will depend entirely on their own unique situation. Even students with the exact same disability won’t necessarily have the same goals or needs.
Myth: An IEP is Related to a Child’s IQ or Intelligence Level
The stigma surrounding IEPs and special education is a damaging one for students and families, but the truth is that students with IEPs have all levels of intelligence. It’s important not to think of a disability that impacts learning as an inability to learn. Students with IEPs are absolutely capable, and should even be expected, to learn and thrive in school and in life. The extra interventions or services offered by the IEP simply help students with special needs learn the school curriculum in a way that works best for them. The vast majority of these students will have an IQ equal to that of their typical education peers. Some will even have an above average IQ.(2)
Myth: Every Student with a Disability or Need Gets an IEP
Not everyone is eligible for an IEP and its related services. To be eligible, a student must be both officially diagnosed with a disability that is recognized by the IDEA and the child’s school must decide that special services are essential to the student’s success in school with that disability.(3) Students who do not find their classroom learning to be affected by their disability do not usually qualify for an IEP.
You’ll also want to note the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan. There are several, but in general, a 504 plan is more about accommodations (such as for testing accommodations) and less about the specific education planning that is characteristic of an IEP.(4)
Myth: A Student Must Have a Severe Disability to Have an IEP
Most students with IEPs do not have severe disabilities. They might have issues with reading, math, or even emotional problems that affect their ability to learn without special supports. Most students with an IEP have a “specific learning disability,” such as dyslexia, as opposed to a severe condition.(5) However, IEPs exist to serve all students on an individual level — from more severe problems to such mild differences that impact learning.
Myth: Parents Have No Involvement in the IEP
Parents are an integral part of the formation and continued updates of the IEP. It is often said that parents are a child’s first teachers, and as such, parents are a key resource in being able to provide information to help guide educators in planning the IEP. Check out our past blog about attending that first IEP meeting.
Myth: You’ll Never Have to Advocate for Your Child’s IEP
Unfortunately, schools today are often short on money, staff, time, and even certain trained staff members needed for support services. This can lead to your child’s IEP not being properly or thoroughly followed at school. It’s extremely important that you stay involved and monitor your student’s school progress and even their enjoyment of school. If they dread attending classes, find out why. Is the IEP not being followed through? What about their grades? Advocating for your child’s education — and giving your child the confidence to advocate for themselves — will be one of the greatest gifts that you can give them.
Neurobehavioral Associates routinely attends IEP meetings. We can help you advocate for your child and provide access to our community connections and supports. Begin by scheduling a comprehensive assessment for your child with our neurobehavioral experts today.
- Morin, A. (n.d.). Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): What You Need to Know. Retrieved June 16, 2019, from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/special-education-basics/least-restrictive-environment-lre-what-you-need-to-know
- 8 Special Education Myths Debunked. (2016, August 24). Retrieved June 16, 2019, from http://www.stapletonscoop.com/8-special-education-myths-debunked/
- Stanberry, K. (n.d.). 5 Common Misconceptions About IEPs. Retrieved June 16, 2019, from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/ieps/5-common-misconceptions-about-ieps#slide-1
- Team, U. (n.d.). The Difference Between IEPs and 504 Plans. Retrieved June 16, 2019, from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/504-plan/the-difference-between-ieps-and-504-plans
- Morin, A. (n.d.). 10 Myths Parents May Hear About Special Education. Retrieved June 16, 2019, from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/special-education-basics/10-myths-parents-may-hear-about-special-education#slide-2