What Is an IEP?
We will only be looking at what an IEP is, as in definition and how it came to be, not in how to obtain one. Though that may be covered in a later post. But trying to keep in mind the intended audience of those who may not be in the world of autism or special needs, and may hear the term IEP and wonder what it is.
IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. An IEP outlines appropriate goals for a child. These goals may be related to academic, social, language, occupational therapy, and many other areas of development. Various types of goals can be covered under one IEP. The goals are outlined by an IEP team of teachers and supportive staff and agreed upon by the parents. The IEP give specific steps to help those goals be achieved and by whom. These may come in the way of offering classroom modifications or a percentage of time doing a specific activity for example.
A parent has rights through an IEP as an IEP is a legal document that is always open for review. If the parent or care provider sees that the goals do not fit that child, an IEP which should be with in a matter of days of the request for review.
In 1997 a federal law was passed called Individuals with Disability Education Act or IDEA. This states “all children with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living”. Before IDEA millions of children were denied access to public education. IDEA is broken up into 4 parts A, B, C, and D. We won’t get into each part in-depth but I will post a link so if you would like to read more about each part it is available. But to give a little insights IDEA covers infants to 21 year olds and states that services must be available for the child.
Annually the IEP is reviewed and goals are updated or new goals are set and agreed upon for the next year. Lengthy assessments are done every three years and for transitional IEP meetings. Transitional meetings are done when a child transitions from one program to another. An IEP can be taken from state to state and is federally protected. IEP’s can be challenging for some families to make sure their child is getting the services they think their child needs to thrive. But once those are agreed up, the IEP is a great protection.
Here are a few links related to IEPs: