5 Tips for Every Individualized Education Program (IEP)

For every special needs child, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be an important part of their education and future success. It can be challenging to create a perfect education plan around your child’s needs, but the IEP can drive a focus for the school that matches parental and medical opinions. As many of you already know, when it’s time to create an IEP for your child with Cerebral Palsy, there are many things to consider. We found five considerations that could be discussed when forming an IEP to hopefully make the progress a little easier.

The first consideration is nutrition. If your child has a special diet, it is crucial to note that in the Individualized Education Program and ensure it continues to be a focus for his or her school. This can be done in the Health/Medical section and again in the Accommodations and Modifications section. You will need a doctor’s note stating what the child cannot eat and then a list of safe alternatives. Some of you may choose to provide your own lunch, but, if you want your child to have school-provided lunches, another doctor’s note is needed to indicate substitutes and safe choices for your child.

Secondly, team member selection will be a big part of the Individualized Education Program progress and need to be considered thoughtfully. IEP team members will hold meetings to create your child’s program and track progress along the way. While team size can differ, there are often about seven people or ‘roles’ on a team. Key figures to include are:

  1. The child’s parents
  2. At least one regular teacher – only if the child is or will be involved in the regular education
  3. At least one special education teacher or, if appropriate, at least one special education provider
  4. “A representative of the public agency (who has certain specific knowledge and qualifications)”
  5. A person – who could be listed above – “that can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results”
  6. At discretion, someone who has knowledge and special expertise of the child
  7. If and when appropriate, the child can be a part of the team

Third, be sure to carefully select and define goals that you think will help bring focus to the education plan. The goals your team creates need to be specific and realistic for your child. A broad and unrealistic goal will only cause frustration and be a problem to track. Also, the goals have to be measurable. If an Individualized Education Program’s goals can’t be measured, there is no way to track progress and, in turn, limit your efforts. Don’t forget to discuss and state in the IEP how often you as the parent will be notified of the progress your child is making towards the goals, as well as any team members you think are needed.

Next, an IEP should also account for emotional development. A common mistake when people begin mapping out an Individualized Education Program is a complete focus on just educational goals, leaving behavioral and emotional goals at the wayside. You can create goals that will help your child grow and develop emotionally and track the progress. There are five areas where goals can be established: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. To see examples of goals in each area, click here.

Finally, adaptability is crucial to have in an Individualized Education Program. Your child might need accommodations during the day to enhance their learning and the IEP will show how the school will adapt to include your child. The program can change the way your child learns to make sure they are absorbing the information properly and developing educationally. Accommodations can include more time on tests, orally answering questions during a test, audio books, etc. Don’t hesitate to see how the school will adapt for your child’s education; it never hurts to ask or see what additional options may be a reality.

A perfect Individualized Education Program is one built around your child’s unique needs and will make a world of a difference for educating your child. It can be a long process, but one that can’t be rushed. Keeping in mind these five considerations can help ease the process and hopefully help create the best IEP for your child. Don’t hesitate to express your concerns and suggestions as a team member and remember that IEP goals can be more than just educational. We hope that with these tips and considerations, your team can come up with a program that will best fit your child’s individual needs. If you have more considerations or suggestions to add, feel free to submit them through a comment below or on our Facebook Page.

If you have any questions regarding Cerebral Palsy or an Individualized Education Program for your child with CP, don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 692-4453(800) 692-4453s FREE or fill out our contact form on Facebook or our website.