An IEP in an evaluation year for an autistic child

An IEP in an evaluation year for an autistic student.

Our child is about to have his 6th IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and this year is an evaluation year.

What does that mean?

Every three years, the IEP (a formal meeting of the “IEP team” that produces a legal document that outlines the specific educational needs of each special needs child) includes a comprehensive evaluation.

The IEP is an individualized plan administered by a school district. The plan itself is decided by an IEP team which consists of the child’s parents and several different school representatives all the way from the child’s teacher to the district special needs representative. The IEP team may also include any representatives that may assist the parents in understanding all facets of the process. (Most notably any therapists outside of the school that have worked extensively with your child as well as an advocate who can communicate with the school district officials on your behalf.)

A child’s first IEP can come as early as age three (when a child is in pre-school). 

Our child was two weeks from his 3rd birthday when he had his first IEP. Any child’s first IEP should include the evaluation portion of the process. How else does a school district know about your child if they haven’t evaluated him or her before their first IEP?

In older grades, the evaluation process begins before the IEP meeting date. Typically the evaluations coincide with the services provide according to the IEP document. These may be speech and/or OT. The evaluations are always done by a child psychiatrist, the resource specialist (RSP person), and a teacher representing “general education.” They constitute the IEP team for the school district.

All of these representatives must attend the IEP in order to report on their evaluations.

All this boils down to an IEP in an evaluation year for an autistic student.

Our hopes always hinge on no surprises at the IEP.

In order to help our goal, I try to think ahead as to what the school district officials might throw at us. I also communicate with everyone involved long before the IEP. “How is my child’s evaluation going? Is he responding well? Are you already seeing weak areas?”

I also bring social skills reports and other items that may be of importance from groups outside of school. I consider these things supporting documents that may be useful.

For more help preparing for an IEP, check out http://specialchildren.about.com/od/specialeducation/f/iepfaq05.htm

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