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Why Does My Child Need an IEP?

written by: Victoria Trix • edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • updated: 4/5/2012

If you are a parent of a child with special needs one of the first things that will be done after diagnosis is planning your child's IEP, or Individualized Education Program. This is a necessary step in making sure your child is educated according to their needs.

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    What is an IEP?

    If your child has qualified for special education then the very first thing that will happen is an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed for them. If a special education teacher mentions to you that they are developing an IEP for your child or asks you for your input, you may be confused at first. However, there is nothing to be worried or concerned about. In the simplest terms, and IEP is an individualized education plan for your child that is based upon the different components of their disability. In fact, an IEP makes sure that your child receives the attention that is right for them.

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    Who develops the IEP?

    The IEP is usually developed from a team of special education teachers, a school principle, psychiatrist or other specialists as needed, who sit down and go over the results of your child’s special education assessment. From here they ascertain the level of knowledge your child currently has and where they would like your child to be by the end of their educational journey. This way they can correctly gauge and direct the extent of attention your child will require.

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    How is it developed?

    An IEP also takes into account the disabilities your child may have that are impairing their learning ability in a regular learning environment.This is why many times trained professionals are present to speak on behalf of your child’s interest to make sure their education will be tailored to them.After an IEP is developed, you as a parent will likely have a meeting with the special education department at the school to discuss the way they are going to address your child’s needs.This is done both so you feel comfortable with the special education plan, and so that you can help maintain stability of the plan while helping your child at home.

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    Why is it important?

    It is important to have an IEP in place to ensure your child will be taught according to his or her specific needs.Oftentimes your child’s progress will be assessed against the IEP that was developed for them to see how well they are doing in school since there is no one better to compare them to but themselves and their special ability levels.An IEP is flexible and will be altered and adapted throughout your child’s educational lifespan since it is likely that their abilities and condition will fluctuate as well.