IEP Resource Guide

INTRODUCTION

The world of IEPs and 504s and all of the other alphabet soup of special education can be overwhelming and very confusing! There’s tons of helpful information out there, but even that can be difficult to navigate. Apraxia Kids has compiled this guide about IEPs to help you navigate this process!

FREE APRAXIA KIDS WEBINARS

Our On-Demand Webinar Portal has more than fifty webinars, but we are highlighting these two IEP webinars for FREE for all of May – Apraxia Awareness Month!

Please note: These free webinars are NOT available for ASHA CEUs. If you would like to earn ASHA CEUs for these webinars, you must view them through our On-Demand Webinar Library where you can access the ASHA requirements.

What’s In Your IEP?
Presented By: Lynn Carahaly, MA, CCC-SLP, and Nicole Newman, MEd
In this webinar, presenters focus on the common errors that both parents and school districts make during IEP meetings that may affect students with severe communication disorders, such as childhood apraxia of speech. Viewers will see advocacy in action and will come to understand the educative value of their voices during IEP Meetings. This webinar also focuses on effectively opening the discussion on assistive technology as well as inclusion services across the curriculum. The importance of asking for a full comprehensive evaluation before the IEP team “releases” a child from special education was also discussed.

Creating IEP Goals for Children with CAS and Other Communication Needs
Presented By: Sue Caspari, MA, CCC-SLP
IEP goals are written in order to address a child’s individual needs. Most children with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) will have needs in more than one communication area. A child with CAS, who clearly has speech production needs, may also struggle with social pragmatics, have difficulty with expressive language, have atypical variations in the melody of their speech, and may need to supplement their verbal speech attempts with an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system. What is the difference between these communication need areas, and does the child with CAS need a goal for each one? This webinar focuses on how goals can be written for different communication need areas. Resources are provided describing methods for effective IEP goal writing. Cases are reviewed demonstrating children with different communication profiles including examples of the goals written based on their specific need areas.

APRAXIA KIDS ARTICLES

Our Article Library has a wealth of information for parents and professionals on CAS and many related topics. Here are a few highlighted articles specifically about IEPs and other school related issues.

Speech and Language Goals When Planning an IEP for a Child with Apraxia of Speech
By Lori Hickman, MS, CCC-SLP

The Effects of Motor Planning Deficits on School Function
By Ann Marie Ferreti, OTR/L, CHT

Children with Apraxia and Reading, Writing, and Spelling Difficulties
By Various Authors
Joy Stackhouse, PhD
Sharon Gretz, Med
Glenda Thorne, PhD
Christ Dollaghan, PhD, CCC-SLP

Advocating for Your Child with Apraxia
By Various Authors

APRAXIA KIDS BROCHURES AND PRINTABLES

Apraxia Kids has some great free brochures and printable resources that you can use to talk about CAS with your child’s teachers, peers, and IEP team. Check them out here.

For Schools

Explaining Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Other Free Brochures and Printables

IEPs 101

Totally new to this world of IEPs and have even more questions? No problem! Make sure to click the hyperlinked title in each paragraph below to get an even more in-depth look at the many aspects of IEPs.

What is an IEP?
An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a written plan that spells out the specific types of help that a student will receive. With an IEP, your child will get individualized instruction that focuses on improving specific skills, including accommodations and modifications. Having an IEP gives you and your child certain legal protections, too. This process allows you to be involved in decisions that impact your child’s education and learning goals. The IEP usually is written for one year, at which point a new one is done. But meetings can be called by the parent or other team member at any point during the school year to change, update, or review progress.

Who gets an IEP?
IEPs are a part of public education. They’re given to eligible students who attend public school (including charter schools). Private schools don’t have to offer IEPs, however, students in private schools may be able to get special education through what’s known as a service plan (also called an Individual Services Plan). Even before they attend school, babies and toddlers can get services through early intervention. Once children age out of early intervention, they can get an IEP through their local public school district. There are no IEPs in college, but eligible students often can still get accommodations through college disability services, though they must advocate for themselves.

What is the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan?
Both an IEP and a 504 Plan can offer formal help for K-12 students, but do have notable differences. An IEP is a specific and detailed plan for a child’s special education experience during school. A 504 Plan is a plan for how the school will provide support and remove barriers for a student with a disability. Additionally, a 504 Plan has a broader definition of “disability,” stating that a disability must substantially limit one or more basic life activities, such as learning. Because of this, a child who has needs, but doesn’t qualify for an IEP, will likely still be able to get a 504 Plan so that they can still be supported in school.

What is the difference between accommodations and modifications?
In short, accommodations change how a student learns the material, and modifications change what a student is taught or expected to learn. For example, a child might have an accommodation for a teacher to read science test questions out loud for him when other children read it themselves. A modification would be that the child is only responsible for 50% of the science vocabulary instead of 100% of the words. How do accommodations and modifications impact different aspects of your child’s education, like classroom instruction, tests, art class, and more? This link includes a chart that provides some samples to better help you contextualize what an accommodation or modification might look like in different scenarios.

Who attends IEP meetings?
You and your child’s IEP team should attend every IEP meeting. Your IEP team should include:

  • You, the parent/caregiver. Parents take an active role in all IEP meetings.
  • At least one of your child’s general education teachers.
  • At least one special education teacher or other special education provider.
  • A school district representative knowledgeable about general education and special education. This representative has the power to commit school resources for your child – usually a principal or vice-principal.
  • A school psychologist, diagnostician, or other specialist who can interpret your child’s first (or most recent) evaluation and test results.
  • Any support personnel who work with your child directly or indirectly – OT, PT, SLP, Reading specialist, etc.
  • Your child, when appropriate or when the IEP team begins to develop the transition plan for life after high school. This plan will be part of the IEP that goes into effect when your child turns 16. (Your child may attend meetings even earlier if you think it is appropriate. Early participation can help build self-advocacy skills.)
  • A team member can be excused if both you and the school agree to it. Otherwise, the team should reschedule the meeting for a time when everyone can be present.
  • Your choice of a support person (advocate, family member, friend, etc.).
  • Anyone who can’t attend in person can participate by conference call or video chat. Be sure to tell the IEP team leader in advance if you or a guest will need a phone or video connection.

What happens at an IEP meeting?
IEP meetings should be open discussions with the child’s best interest in mind. During each IEP meeting, the IEP team will discuss a few key IEP components such as related services, present levels of performance, annual goals, and supports and services. The IEP developed during the meeting is considered a draft IEP. Some schools create this in advance and then share it at the IEP meeting. If your child’s school creates the draft ahead of time, ask them to send it to you well before the meeting. The draft is a work in progress. You have the right to suggest changes during the meeting. You also have the right to request an IEP meeting any time you have a concern, outside of the regular meetings the school schedules.

What happens after an IEP meeting?
The IEP team leader will read a written summary of all services included in the IEP that the team has discussed during the meeting. This will become a draft version of the new IEP that requires signatures from the whole team to finalize. If you’re not ready to sign all or part of the new IEP, you have the right to take it home to think about it. You can also ask when the new IEP will go into effect and how long you have to make a decision. Once everyone has signed the IEP, the parent is given a copy of the entire document. When the meeting is over (or when you agree to the new IEP), don’t simply file it and forget it. The IEP will guide your child’s day-to-day education for the next year. Get ready to monitor how it plays out.

Where do I get started in advocating for my child?
As a parent, your responsibility is to ensure that the decisions made are what is best for your child – but how do you know where to start? This guided worksheet from Understood.org can help you organize your thoughts about what your child should be receiving through the schools. Writing down your thoughts prior to the meeting can help you clear your head and keep a record of everything you want to say during the meeting.

Do I need an advocate?
The IEP process can be stressful or confusing, so many parents seek the support of an educational advocate. Unlike an attorney, there is no formal licensing or certification for an advocate, but there are organizations and schools that offer training and a certificate of completion showing they have completed the training. So what are the things you need to consider when seeking out an advocate? Most importantly, your advocate should be well-versed in your child’s primary disability and your state’s specific special education laws and interpretations. See this link for more detailed information and additional questions to ask potential advocates.

Should I do a private or a school evaluation?
Before you can put an IEP in place, your child must go through some evaluations to determine eligibility for services, and what support they may need to be successful in school. So, should your child be privately evaluated or evaluated by the school? There are pros and cons for considering who should evaluate your child so you should review your options thoroughly before deciding. Know that a school district is not required to accept recommendations from a private evaluation.

What if my child’s teacher isn’t following the IEP?
It’s a good idea to meet with the teacher as soon as possible, and make the meeting conversational rather than confrontational. If your meeting with the teacher is unsuccessful, you should document what has happened and raise your concerns to the school administrators. Since an IEP is a legal document that staff must follow, there is some accountability for those who do not follow it. If the teacher, IEP team, and administrators continue not to follow your child’s IEP, there are further steps you can take.

Prepping for an IEP Meeting

Review the Records You Have
Review your child’s current IEP and goal progress reports and/or ask your school for their current copy of the IEP to review. The school will be working on the new IEP ahead of the meeting and you can ask for copies of draft goals/objectives prior to the meeting. If there is any new evaluations, those should be reviewed with you prior to the actual IEP meeting.

Gather Your Apraxia Resources
It’s always a good idea to educate the IEP team about your child’s diagnoses so they fully understand how best to support your child. While every parent’s description of apraxia will be different based on their own child’s experiences and needs, there are some general things to include when explaining apraxia. How you do that is personal to you, but you can use our free brochures and printables (linked above) to help guide you.

Aim for a Positive and Productive Meeting
It’s important to try to maintain a positive and productive relationship with the school as much as possible. That can absolutely be a challenge sometimes if they don’t listen or agree with you, but you have a long relationship with this school ahead of you so we suggest finding agreeable solutions whenever possible (obviously keeping the child’s needs first!).

Invite a Friend
You can invite someone who understands your child’s needs and/or special education to attend the IEP meeting. You also can ask a friend, family member, private SLP, or advocate. It can be helpful to have an extra set of eyes and ears in the room. Let the school know about any guests ahead of time.

Write Down Questions You Want to Ask
You will have your own list of questions you know you want to ask so make sure you write them down so you don’t forget! And don’t be afraid to take your time to address every single question before your meeting is over. Here are some “pro tips” for questions to ask as appropriate during your next IEP meeting:

What is the full continuum of placements?

How are the current service minutes met?

What curriculum is being used for reading and other core subjects?

How frequently is data taken for each goal?

How are accommodations and modifications implemented across all school settings?

Is further data needed to make great decisions?

Does anyone need further training to make the IEP happen?

Do we need to explore further options for inclusion?

Do we need to explore more technology?

How does this IEP goal apply to the real world?

When does this IEP go into action?

IEP Accommodations for Apraxia

While you’re planning for your next IEP meeting, it’s also helpful to think of some of things you do to accommodate or help your child at home and how those things might be implemented in a classroom setting. Write your own list of accommodations you’d like to have included in your child’s IEP. They may not all be included, but it’s very helpful to have your own list before these meetings start!

IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan, which means that IEP accommodations are very personal and specific to each individual child. Your school should be formulating your kiddo’s IEP based on their specific needs as shown by evaluations, SLP and teacher reports, your observations, and more.

Accommodations are also different from IEP goals (or Measurable Annual Goals/MAGs). The IEP goals will be very specific based on evaluations and proposed outcomes. Accommodations are more open to family and outside input based on your knowledge of what works, and what doesn’t work, for your apraxia star. Here are some of the IEP accommodations other parents have used in their apraxia stars’ IEPs as a helpful point of reference!

  • Include your child’s SLP in parent-teacher conferences, IEP meetings, trainings, etc.
  • Reading assessments should be done with their SLP to help facilitate fluency and vocabulary.
  • Tests given orally should be done with their SLP.
  • Reading/Fluency assessments should not be timed.
  • Don’t require child to read out loud in front of other students.
  • Added time for test taking.
  • Notes from class should be written and provided to the student (by a peer or the teacher).
  • Ability to type homework and other assignments if handwriting is a challenge.
  • Small group testing where the teacher/para/SLP reads the questions/prompts aloud.
  • Reading out loud for the child or have access to audiobooks until reading skills improve.
  • Teacher will call on student only when hand is raised, rather than putting them on the spot.
  • Allow use of adaptability equipment such as pencil grips, fidget tools, graphic organizers, picture prompts (to be used in conjunction with oral prompts), manipulatives for math, etc.
  • Break larger assignments and tasks into smaller chunks so they’re easier to focus on.
  • Allow for movement breaks to stimulate gross motor skills.
  • No point deductions for mispronounced words during oral presentations.
  • Priority seating near the teacher to lessen the amount of times the student may need to repeat themselves when speaking to the teacher.

Sample letter templates & Tracking Sheets

It’s important to keep track of as much as you can in writing! This helps to keep you and the school accountable and responsible for following the mandated special education timelines. Here are some sample letter templates and tracking sheets you can use when you are working with your child’s school.

Sample Letters for Requesting Evaluations and Reports

Sample Letters for Dispute Resolution

IEP Goal Tracker

IEP Binder Checklist

Alphabet Soup Glossary

504 – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act
APS – Approved Private School
ARD – Admission, Review, Dismissal
ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder
AT – Assistive Technology
BASC – Behavior Assessment System for Children
BIP/PSP/PBSP – Behavior Improvement Plan/Positive Support Plan
CAS – Childhood Apraxia of Speech
DIBELS – Dynamic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills
DOE – US Department of Education
EI – Early Intervention
ELL or ESL – English Language Learner or English as a Second Language
ER – Evaluation Report
ESY – Extended School Year
FAPE – Free and Appropriate Public Education
FBA – Functional Behavior Assessment
HH – Hard of Hearing
IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Act
IEP – Individualized Education Plan
IFSP – Individual Family Service Plan
ISP – Individual Service Plan
IU – Intermediate Unit
LEA – Local Education Agency
LRE – Least Restrictive Environment
MA – Medical Assistance or Medicaid
MAG – Measurable Annual Goals
NOREP – Notice of Recommended Educational Placement
OCR – Office of Civil Rights
ODR – Office of Dispute Resolution
OHI – Other Health Impairment
OT – Occupational Therapy/Therapist
PLOP – Present Levels of Performance
PT – Physical Therapy/Therapist
PTE – Permission to Evaluate
PWN – Prior Written Notice
RTI – Response to Intervention
SDI – Specially Designed Instruction
SLD – Specific Learning Disability
SLP – Speech Language Pathologist
ST – Speech Therapy/Therapist

Apraxia Kids is dedicated to improving and growing our community outreach efforts so that every family, regardless of location, can find the help they need for their child with apraxia. Please consider a donation today so we can help more families in need.

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