Posts Tagged ‘ special education ’

4 Ways to Start Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for Kids With Learning Disabilities

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Two girls learning in a classroomEditor’s Note: This post is courtesy of National Center for Learning Disabilities (, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring success for all individuals with learning disabilities.

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are intended to help children with learning disabilities and special education needs reach educational goals more easily, but they’re often a mystery to parents. A recent study found that schools nationwide could do more to explain the IEP process, which are a federal right of every student. Below are 4 pointers on how to start the IEP process:

Make a Request In Writing: A comment or request made verbally in passing to a teacher or school administrator technically didn’t happen. Remember always to place requests for an IEP evaluation or changes to your child’s current IEP in writing, whether by email or letter.  Notify the school administrator in charge of the Committee on Special Education (CSE) in your school district.

Know Your Rights: After you’ve submitted an IEP evaluation letter of request, every school district nationwide is required by law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to respond within 10 business (or school) days. The school must provide you with written documentation explaining (1) the parents’ need for consent to conduct an educational evaluation’ (2) how the a determination of eligibility will be made; (3) the documentation needed to identify the existence of a Specific Learning Disability (SLD); and (4) confirmation that parents are invited to participate in the IEP process.

Be Patient: Your child’s school has 60 business days to complete the evaluation, which includes an interview with parents, a conference with the student, observations of the student, and analysis of the student’s performance (attention, behavior, work completion, tests, class work, homework, etc.). Legally the CSE (or IEP team) must include “you” the parent, plus at least one general educator teacher (even if your child is in one general education class) and one special education teacher in the meeting.

Speak Up: The IEP team is charged with developing, reviewing, and revising your child’s IEP at least once a year by law and more often if you are dissatisfied with your child’s lack of progress. If you’re not satisfied, speak up (and write emails or letters) as often as you need in order to get results! Remember that you are an equal partner with the school in the IEP process, and the IEP document is intended as a flexible, but binding, agreement that guides everyone involved to ensure the highest quality instruction and free ,educational services in the least restrictive environment.

For more resources on IEPs from, check out Tips For A Successful IEP Meeting, Why And How To Read Your Child’s IEP, and IEP Meeting Conversation Stoppers.


Image: Concentrated school children being occupied with a task via Shutterstock.

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How To Spot Delays As Quickly As Possible

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

MFFC-White-Paper-CoverEach year, nearly 1.5 million children in the U.S. enter kindergarten with learning or health issues that have been missed.

I learned this staggering fact when speaking with experts from Easter Seals, which provides education, outreach, and advocacy to families affected by autism and other disabilities. It was startling to think of all of the children with unidentified challenges, and upsetting to know that with the right support, many of them could have caught up and entered school needing fewer services, or none at all. It’s a proven fact that early intervention is critical to strengthen a child’s intellectual abilities and communication and social skills.

This is why Easter Seals has created a new campaign called Make the First Five Count. Its goal is to guarantee that all children have access to early detection of possible delays and disabilities as well as access to services. A big part of the program’s success, of course, is based upon proper funding. Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) offers all families the possibility of free or lower-cost early intervention services, but the program has never had enough money to accomplish this. Take a minute to sign this petition urging your representatives and senators to block cuts to funding Part C—and to push for increasing the money that goes toward these services.

And on a more immediate level, if you want your child evaluated for any kind of health or emotional issue, speak to your pediatrician right away. (Not even sure whether your child should be evaluated? Easter Seals has provided a very clear breakdown of potential red flags here.) If you don’t have access to a pediatrician or specialist, call Easter Seals directly at 800-221-6827. They will happily walk you through the process of getting help. In fact, they estimate that they field well over 2,000 such requests each month. They want to hear from you.

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