My daughter, Natalie, a third grader, has had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) since preschool, but I still feel like the new kid in class when it comes to advocating for her effectively.
It’s not for lack of trying. I read books, I search for information online, I ask questions. But my advocacy remains clumsy, at best. There’s so much to know -- legal rights, educational strategies, my child’s unique strengths and needs -- it can feel overwhelming.
In August, I introduced ADDitude’s Back-to-School IEP Challenge in my ADHD Parenting Blog, My Picture Perfect Family. Parents were invited to respond with real-world accommodations that worked for their kids. The idea was to create the most comprehensive list of accommodations used successfully by real kids in existence.
And, the more ideas, the better. After all, what works for one child won’t necessarily work for others, as one reader confirmed: "I'm a special education staff developer and I train others on IEPs, so my son has a pretty nice one. When you said 'real life' accommodations, you were right on. These must be based on the child's needs, not what they give to most of the kids. Every kid has unique needs!"
By the end of the challenge (September 30, 2009), more than 30 parents had contributed their hard-won wisdom. Rather than let this treasure of parent-to-parent sharing disappear into the cyber-archives, it is summarized here. Please, continue to comment, and we'll add your accommodations-of-choice to the data.
By working together, parents, we can attend our next IEP meetings feeling more like star students, and less like class clowns.
Pre-K and Kindergarten IEP
“My son's special ed teacher adopted a new plan this year inspired by my son's love for LEGOS. For every day that he does not get a time out, he gets a LEGO piece. After 10 pieces have been earned, he gets to take them home. He brought his first baggie of LEGOS home last week and was so PROUD! We also have a notebook that we use on a daily basis to communicate his progress and issues. The LEGO idea has really been great!”
- posted by Frustrated Mom of 5 yr old ADHD
Excess Energy Accommodation
"Knowing that my adopted son, Aleksi, nearly 6, had some issues, I got an early start with Early Intervention and formal evaluations. Besides ADHD, Aleksi has a non-verbal learning disorder, plus anxieties, and some sensory issues.
"Among other services, Aleksi will be receiving OT. For movement, they have provided a balancing ball to sit on versus a chair, and will permit him to stand up to eat snack or write on an easel, if that suits him better than a flat desk.
"Aleksi is VERY ACTIVE. The child needs to move around. The IEP also includes scheduled 'motor breaks' during the day, either in a sensory room equipped with a swing, trampoline, and the like, and/or the teacher is supposed to include more motor breaks in the class for all students. He will be taken out of class as little as possible, to avoid too much disruption, but enough so that he is not so distracted and can focus better on a one-on-one basis. He has visual-spatial issues, so copying from a board will be impossible. For such tasks, an aid is supposed to be available to guide him and reiterate the lessons of the day. (Auditory processing is challenging.) "Handwriting without Tears" is the method to be used to help improve letter-writing skills."
- posted by East Coast Mom
Next: Grade School IEP