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Your Child's IEP
Does your child have a developmental delay or a difficulty with learning? Maybe your child is not getting enough individual attention and would benefit from a smaller class size with more one on one help. If you feel like your child is exhibiting problem behaviors or poor progress in school, you may want to consider an evaluation by the school district to determine if your child would benefit from an IEP (Individualized Education Program). An IEP is a program created especially for your child which usually follows a psychological evaluation, and general testing or vision and hearing. These evaluations are needed to rule out any physical handicaps such as poor vision,hearing and also to determine if your child has an issue which may affect their learning such as ADHD and other learning disabilities.
These services are available to all school age children and to children who are not yet ready for school, but over the age of three. It is important to bring these issues to the attention of your school district as soon as you notice they are posing a problem as there is often a process to obtain these services which depend on the availability of the school resources. You can start by visiting your schools main office and asking them for the number to the Special Education department. Once you call, you will speak to someone who can set up the initial evaluations needed depending on your child's situation. The entire process can take from 1-3 months depending on where you live. Once your child attends the evaluations and the issues are pin-pointed and addressed, you will be rescheduled for an IEP meeting which usually means your child is considered eligible.
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If you are concerned about you child being scheduled for a psychological evaluation,don't be. Many times this is a routine evaluation and sounds a lot more scarier than it actually is. If this evaluation is scheduled,you must attend if you want to receive all the services available to you and get a fair eligibility decision. The psychological evaluation consists of tests used to measure your child's abilities. Some of the tests that will be given will used to assess his/her verbal and non-verbal cognitive abilities,visual perception,fine motor skills, and visual motor integration. To test the child's academic abilities,your child will be given a task to complete or activities to participate in that will measure their skills in the areas of basic reading,reading comprehension,math calculation,math reading, and written expression. You should be prepared to dedicate 1-2 hours of your day for these evaluations. The vision and hearing tests usually take place in the weeks or days shortly before the evaluation with the school psychologist.
Now that you've completed all the testing required to have your school set up an IEP, they will give you appointment date for you to attend. You can bring your child along with you. If you child is younger than school age,you can still bring him/her along as they will have toys and activities to keep your child entertained during the meeting. For an older child, this will be a chance for them to sit in and learn what the educational plan consists of. During the meeting, you will be given a report which is basically a typed out summary of what took place during the evaluation and the conclusions that have been made from the outcome of the testing. Another set of papers will be given to you which will be the IEP plan itself which will address the problems that are preventing your child from progressing whether it be an academic or behavioral issue. Goals will be outlined and are usually set to be met within one year, in which another meeting will take place to discuss any improvement or failure to meet goals implemented in the plan.
Getting your child this help will probably be the best thing you can ever do for him/her. It is easy to deny that your child has a problem. Many parents may feel ashamed or not know where to start. You have certainly done the right thing and should thank yourself as your child will do in the long run. Remember your choices shape their chances!