Ask the Experts

Q: My Son’s IEP Does Nothing for His Behavioral Issues

If your child’s IEP fails to address behavioral issues that impact his learning and growth, you can request a functional behavioral assessment from his school. Read on to learn your IDEA rights, and how to get an FBA.

Q: “My son’s new school has been relatively accommodating. But his IEP only addresses academics, and when I raise my behavior concerns, the IEP team doesn’t seem to comprehend that he’s not neurotypical. How do I advocate for him?”

A: Contact the IEP team and explain that your son’s emotional and behavioral needs are not being adequately met. Ask them to do a functional behavioral assessment, or “FBA,” which isn’t routinely done for every IEP but is a right under the IDEA.

Getting an FBA for your son will provide the necessary information to create a behavioral intervention plan, which has a structure similar to an IEP but focuses on different behavioral situations. If you receive any pushback from the school, remind administrators that they are legally obligated to accommodate your son’s needs.

Also be mindful of the fact that students who have or should have an IEP are entitled to special rules about suspensions. If there are disciplinary proceedings being brought against your son and if he has behaved in a way that could get him suspended, he is entitled to a special preliminary hearing where his behavioral issues are taken into account.

This content came from the ADDitude webinar by Susan Yellin, Esq., titled “A Parent’s Guide to Changing Schools: How to Find the Best Match for Your Student with ADHD or LD” That webinar is available for free replay here.

Susan Yellin, Esq., is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Medical Review Panel.

[How to Make School IEP Meetings Count: Your Free Guide]

1 Comments & Reviews

  1. I share your frustration and offer the following advice. After working cooperatively with my granddaughters IEP team in elementary school, in 5th grade we finally concluded we needed professional assistance and hired an advocate. The results have been transformational, but our battle is not done.

    After barely passing in elementary school, our granddaughter has been getting A’s in her core course through instruction in a small classroom setting, classified as Outside of General Education OGE. She is completing her work within a reasonable time frame, whereas in elementary school her task completion had declined from 65% in 2nd grade to 45% in 5th grade. We hired the advocate because IEP team kept telling us how “fine” she was because her test scores on standardized tests were average and she is very smart. They were recommending a middle school placement in large classes (with special education aides) in middle school, which was the same environment in which she failed miserably in elementary school.

    Our advocate recommended we have private testing done, which we did. The test results were used to add services and goals to a revised IEP. So, here we are a year later and the IEP Team in the new school has decided our granddaughter is now “cured” because she is getting straight A’s and continues to show strong test scores. Instead of keeping her where she is excelling, they want to return her to the environment where she failed miserably in the past.

    So we are fighting, AGAIN. But we could not do this by ourselves. We simply do not know enough about what is possible to make appropriate demands. The challenge for children with special needs is that the school systems seems to offer two options. Classes off 28-30 with special educators, where all children with 504 plans and IEPs are placed, or small classes for developmentally challenged children and behavior problems. Unfortunately, neither of these are ideal for children with ADHD.

    I am not sure what the outcome will be, but we feel like we have enough history on our side to prevail. Our advocate knows the law, and the law is clear that the school is suppose to provided what is needed not what is available. But truly knowing what is needed requires an experience beyond that of a layperson.

    And yes, it is expensive. But there are various groups that offer a sliding scale, depending on income. I would encourage you to also speak to your special education support group and Board of education representatives to see what other options there might be. Do not expect the school to be able to figure this out on their own. Their staffs are too limited and I believe the get direction to hold the line on services whenever possible. This is why advocates are able to make a living.

    Hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck. Hang in there, your child’s future depends on it.

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