Dear ADDitude: Shouldn't My Child's IEP Go Both Ways?

"My son's IEP is one-sided. He's required to complete a certain percent of work by deadline, for example, but the school is not required to give him extra time for tests or other accommodations. Should I push for more balance?"
Success at School | posted by Eileen Bailey

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ADDitude Answers

One of my pet peeves is a poorly written IEP that is, in your words, “one-sided.” A good IEP has requirements for both the student and the teachers. Schools and teachers sometimes forget that if your child were capable of meeting these goals, such as completing a certain percentage of assignments, he wouldn’t need an IEP. Difficulty completing assignments on time is part of his disability. The unbalanced IEP also tells me that the teachers involved don’t understand the academic challenges and executive function deficits that are part of ADHD.

If your child reads, writes, and completes homework slowly, ask the school to assess your son for slow processing speed. If he is eligible, an appropriate accommodation is either shortened assignments or allowing more time for completing his work. On the other hand, if getting started (a key executive skill) is the major problem, getting someone (possibly a nearby student) to prompt him to start could be helpful.

Selecting a supportive student should be done with care and with input from your son. Discuss the challenge in private with him. Suggest one or two nearby students and let him pick one to remind him and discuss how to remind him in the least obvious way — perhaps by leaning over and tapping your son’s desk.

Posted by Eileen Bailey
Freelance Writer, Author Specializing in ADHD, Anxiety, and Autism

This question was originally asked in an ADHD Expert Webinar. Listen to the full recording here.

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