For those of you who beginning the IEP process, I just wanted go through some common misconceptions parents have regarding IEP’s. They are not magic and do not make all your child’s problems disappear. It is merely a tool to help your child be more successful in school and receive an appropriate education; as a result, your child will have the opportunity to lead an independent adult life in the future.
1. A child with a disability does not automatically qualify for an IEP.
Even though your child has been diagnosed with a disability or you suspect they have a disability, they do not automatically qualify for an IEP. You must prove need under the law IDEA to receive special education services.
2. IEP’s are not automatic cures for whatever disability your child has.
IEP’s are in place to help a child receive a Free Appropriate Public Education FAPE). It does not mean the best education, nor does it fix whatever struggles your child might be experiencing in the home environment.
3. IEP’s do not stop all the battles a parent might encounter with their child during homework time.
The IEP team can make accommodations with regards to homework; such as how much or what content needs to be completed on a daily basis. However, children with ADHD, Autism or Learning Disabilities still may find homework challenging at times even with the accommodations in place; therefore, parents may periodically struggle with their child to complete their homework.
4. Just because your child has finally been give an IEP does not mean your child’s problems are behind them.
Children’s needs constantly change and their IEP must reflect that as well. One day a child will master a task, but the next day a new need will arise. A child may require an IEP for many years; so it’s actually the beginning of the road…not the end!
5. IEP’s will not prevent your child from making mistakes in the future.
Even though a child is receiving special education services, they will continue to make mistakes every now and then because they are human….it’s OK! In many cases, human beings learn best from mistakes they’ve made in the past anyways.
6. IEP teams cannot predict the future!
Nobody has a crystal ball!! As long as the IEP team is working in good faith they do their best to implement strategies that will help a child become more successful in school; therefore, to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Parents need to be patient to see if the strategies work, if not then everyone heads back to the table to develop new ones. It’s not a sprint…it’s a marathon!
7. Even though a child has been given an IEP, it does not negate a parent’s responsibility in seeking professional advice, medical attention or conducting their own research with regards to their child’s disability.
The home environment is just as important as the school environment for a child with a disability. Parents should not look to the IEP as a means to solve all the problems at home. It is a parent’s responsibility to seek out whatever assistance they need outside of school personnel to address the difficulties occurring at home.