An individualized education program, or IEP, is an essential service for school children who have learning differences. An IEP is planned by teachers, parents, therapists, and school administrators as part of a child’s legal right to a free and appropriate public education. (1,2)
While an IEP allows for necessary support services and educational planning, the process isn’t without its challenges. Here’s a closer look at both the advantages and challenges of this key part of special needs education:
IEPs Can Be Confusing and Frustrating for Parents
Individualized education programs have the potential to be incredible tools for children and schools. However, parents often become frustrated with many aspects of the IEP. These programs can be lengthy and are sometimes difficult to understand. (3) Parents may also feel like their own suggestions and recommendations aren’t being heard by the teachers and professionals in the IEP meeting. In other cases, parents might find that the IEP isn’t being properly implemented, or that the school isn’t making agreed upon accommodations. (3)
Parents Must Advocate for Their Child’s IEP
It’s important to remember that you know your child best of all. Present your student’s IEP team with your requests in writing, if at all possible.(3) Staff from NeuroBehavioral Associates can also attend IEP meetings and help you advocate for your child. In some extreme cases, such as cases where the IEP plan isn’t being followed at all and this pattern continues despite conversations, it might be necessary to consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in special needs education and rights.
IEPs Provide Valuable Services and Supports
IEPs have a well-known place in education because they allow for children to receive necessary services that support their education, including (4):
- Counseling or mental health services
- Hearing and vision services, such as Braille instruction
- Early intervention
- Health care services
- Therapies, such as physical, speech, and occupational therapy
- Transportation services
- Accomodations to allow for a fair access to education
- Assistive technology needs
- Transition services, such as planning for the transition from high school to adulthood
IEPs Allow for the Least Restrictive Learning Environment
IEPs take into account your child’s learning and behavioral strengths, as well as their weaknesses, so that a plan can be put together for their success in the general school setting.(4) By law, public schools must educate children with learning differences in the least restrictive environment that is appropriate for their needs. The goal is always for your child to receive these supports within the regular classroom. Sometimes, your child might need to be in a separate classroom or location for part of the school day, but your child should be able to learn alongside their peers as much as possible.
IEPs May Not Always Be Followed in the Private School Setting
The right to an individualized education program as part of a free and appropriate education is the law of public schools. If your child attends a private school, it’s important to be aware that their school might approach special needs planning differently than the public school system. Some private schools are specifically designed for educating students with learning differences. Other schools may not have a plan for educating students with special needs. Some schools may implement a service plan, instead, or work with the public school district to provide limited services (known as equitable services).(5) Ultimately, if more extensive services are needed, they will likely need to be provided by the public school system.
IEP Advocates at NeuroBehavioral Associates
The team at NeuroBehavioral Associates in Columbia, Maryland can attend IEP meetings in both public and private school settings. We provide comprehensive neuropsychological assessments for children and adults with suspected or known learning, cognitive, and neurodevelopmental differences. We also offer therapy services and referrals.
Contact NeuroBehavioral Associates online or by phone at 410-772-7155 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our services.
NeuroBehavioral Associates has remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our practice maintains a low-contact testing strategy that includes the maintenance of social distancing, as well as certain telehealth tools to complement our in-office visits.
- Free appropriate public education under section 504. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/edlite-FAPE504.html
- Bachrach, S. (Ed.). (2016, September). Individualized education programs (ieps) (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/iep.html
- Wong, L., & Wong, L. (2019, April 18). Common problems & helpful solutions for your iep/504 plan. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.additudemag.com/iep-504-plan-help-accommodations-special-education-laws/
- Guide to the individualized education program. (2019, August 30). Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html#disagree
- Tucker, G. (2020, October 22). 6 things to know about private schools and special education. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/finding-right-school/6-things-to-know-about-private-schools-and-special-education