How to Get an IEP: Step One – Document School Problems
Your child has symptoms of ADHD and he’s beginning to struggle in school. Don’t “wait and see.” Get working now on securing school accommodations for your child by following these steps for securing an IEP or 504 Plan.
Many children, with and without diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or LD, struggle in school at some point. This may be a temporary setback; your child may fall behind in reading or math, but catch up when you spend extra time working with her. But when you see a pattern of academic struggles or a steady stream of notes sent home from teachers, you should pursue an ADHD diagnosis and school accommodations through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan.
Record Your Child’s Academic Struggles
When your child begins to struggle with classwork and homework, or tells you that he hates school, hold on to all quizzes, tests, report cards, homework examples, letters home from teachers, a diagnosis from a professional, and observations that you made. You will need all of these when you apply for accommodations. Organize the documents according to this plan:
1. Make copies of all correspondence and e-mails with teachers, doctors, and school officials, so that you have a paper trail.
2. Keep a notebook to be used only for health and education information concerning your child. Use it to take notes during meetings with doctors, teachers, and other professionals. Jot down any questions that occur to you in between meetings, so you don’t forget to ask them.
3. Keep track of your child’s grades — tests, homework, and classwork — as well as communications from your child’s teacher.
4. Place everything in one big file.
This paper chase may seem laborious, but it is important. A U.S. Supreme Court decision underscored the importance of good recordkeeping. The Court ruled that, in a due process hearing, the legal burden of proving that a plan fails to meet a child’s needs falls on the parents. It’s imperative to document your child’s difficulties, to be assertive about receiving progress reports, and to push for changes to the IEP as the need arises.
- Step One: Document Signs of Trouble at School
- Step Two: Schedule a Meeting with Your Child’s Teacher
- Step Three: Pursue a Diagnosis of ADHD and/or LD
- Step Four: Request a Special Education Assessment
- Step Five: Research the Differences Between IEPs and 504 Plans
- Step Six: Learn Whether You Need to Contest the School’s Recommendation
- Step Seven: Prepare for Your IEP Meeting
- Step Eight: Research Classroom Accommodations
- Step Nine: Draft an IEP with Your Academic Team