What to do if you think your child needs an IEP

Every child deserves a good education, but children with special needs often require extra support to achieve success. If your child struggles with school, you may guess that an individualized learning plan is in order. But how can you know for sure? 

You want what is best for your child, but you may not know your rights and the rights of your child. As a parent you may lack the knowledge, confidence and time to advocate effectively for your child. Do not hesitate to reach out for help. Many professionals can assist you along the way. 

Obtain a diagnosis 

Schools can only offer special education services to students with a disability covered under the law. Furthermore, the condition must be severe enough to warrant accommodations. 

A proper diagnosis is the first step. Share your concerns at your child’s school. You must give consent for your child to undergo an educational evaluation. A team of educators may be able to perform the evaluation. In some cases, a medical or mental health professional outside the school may present the diagnosis. Enlist the help of a physician or counselor if necessary. 

Educate yourself 

After receiving the results of your child’s evaluation, you should know more about your child’s strengths and challenges. To get a clearer picture of what your child needs, conduct some research of your own. 

Start with reliable online resources, then dig deeper by meeting personally with knowledgeable professionals. Consult authorities in the appropriate fields. Reach out to other parents as well; their first-hand experiences may help as you move forward. 

Meet with school personnel 

If your child does qualify for special education services, you will meet with the school to design an IEP. This is an ongoing process, and your involvement is crucial to your child’s success. Be aware that the school may initially deny services. However, if you remain convinced that your child needs accommodations to succeed, you do have options. Your child deserves proper support and the best education possible, and you have the right to advocate for your child. 

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