Learning About the IEP Process

Monday August 22, 2022 at 11:23 AM


With the start of the school year, there are ways to help your student prepare and get their school year off to an exceptional start. One of the most critical components of the success of your child’s school year is their Individualized Education Program (IEP).

What is an IEP?

An IEP is a written document for students with disabilities that outlines supports and/or services that meet their individual needs. An IEP is developed once a student is found eligible for special education services following an evaluation by school staff. Following this evaluation, the team will determine 1-2 areas of eligibility that best describe the learner. Eligibility categories include but are not limited to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Cognitive Impairment (CI), and Speech & Language Impairment (SLI). Programs and services outlined in the IEP may include the following:

  • Therapy from ancillary providers such as Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP), Occupational Therapists (OT), Physical Therapists (PT), or Social Workers.
  • Instructional accommodations, such as preferential seating and guided notes.
  • Instructional modifications, such as modified curriculums or following alternate standards apart from Common Core State standards.
  • Assistive Technology.
  • Special Education programs, such as Resource Room or an Autism-based classroom.

The IEP document is composed by all pertinent members of your student’s special education team, which also includes parents and guardians. An IEP team meeting is held at a minimum of one time per year; however, parents may request additional meetings as they see fit. At each IEP meeting, parents should expect a collaborative review of their student’s strengths and skill deficits. Each deficit discussed renders a support and/or goal to address this skill in order for the student to make progress.

What are some ways I can get more involved with the IEP Process?

  • Request a copy of your student’s IEP if they have one. Schedule a meeting with the case manager to review any areas that are unclear to you.
  • Obtain the email of all relevant service providers. Reach out if you are interested in more information regarding your student’s progress.
  • Request a copy of a draft IEP prior to the meeting.
  • Come prepared! Prior to the IEP meeting, devise a list of both your student’s strengths and your concerns about their educational journey.
  • Ask questions! Write down any topics or information that you would like clarified in advance. It will help drive positive and meaningful conversations.
  • Know your rights. Ask for the Michigan Procedural Safeguards packet prior to meeting or download directly from the Michigan.gov website.

  • How can my BCBA get involved?

  • Discuss collaboration with the school team with your BCBA. Provide consent by signing a “Release of Information” form.
  • Develop the parameters of the collaboration with the BCBA and school staff. Determine a realistic model for collaboration. Schools are not required to have this collaboration, nor implement all supports suggested by the BCBA.
  • With information from school staff, the BCBA can target prerequisite skills that align with the core deficits of Autism that may be acting as a barrier for students to make progress in the school environment.
  • If school staff are open to guidance with maladaptive behaviors, the BCBA may provide strategies for behavior reduction that are feasible and permitted in the school setting.
  • The BCBA can share any pertinent data of target skills that may be of interest to school staff. Additionally, the BCBA may provide simple data sheets for school use, if applicable.
  • While BCBAs cannot serve as formal IEP advocates, they may attend IEP meetings as a continuation of the ongoing collaboration with the school team.

  • Thank you for reading, we hope you found this blog helpful. If you are currently receiving services with us and have any questions about the IEP process, you can reach out to your child’s clinician to meet for additional information and support. Have a wonderful day!

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