How to Know if Your Child Needs an IEP

Many students need individualized help from time to time, but for certain students, that help might be more specific and defined by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). An IEP is a written document that the school's special education team creates for each child who receives any special education and related services from the school. The IEP is discussed under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

To be clear, you as a parent do not choose whether your child receives an IEP or not. The IEP is a required document for students who receive special education services. So, before the IEP step arises, the following would take place:

A child would be referred for evaluation of a disability. This request might come from a parent or a school professional or both.

The child would be evaluated in all areas related to the suspected disability or disabilities. Teachers, parents, school counselors and other professionals might be involved in that evaluation. The results of this evaluation would determine the child’s eligibility for special education services.

The qualified professionals involved would determine whether the child has a disability as defined by IDEA.

Once a child is determined to have qualifying disability and is found eligible for special education and related services. Within 30 days of this eligibility determination, an IEP team must meet to write an IEP for that child.

The IEP includes a lot of information about the child and the programs and support at school that will meet their needs. That information includes the child’s current educational performance, annual goals, special education and related services to be provided and more.

When to request an evaluation:

Parents can request that their child be evaluated if they suspect that they have a disability. Here are a few signs that could indicate an evaluation is worth pursuing:
Homework and learning are hard, and nothing seems to help. If your child struggles with homework every night and seems to be prevented from fully participating and progressing in general curriculum because of certain challenges (whether known or unknown), this shouldn’t be ignored.

You’ve followed teachers’ advice but have seen little to no progress. You’ve tried all the tips and interventions at home, but your child continues to have problems completing school work, working independently and/or achieving their academic goals.

You just know something isn’t right. Perhaps you’ve never considered that your child’s challenges are actually a disability. Many parents do not realize that some behaviors or habits are problematic until their children are older and school work is more challenging. If your child is struggling in school and nothing you’ve tried or done seems to make a lasting difference, it’s time to dig deeper.

What disabilities qualify for an IEP:

There are 13 disability categories defined by IDEA that qualify a child for an IEP:
Specific learning disability (includes dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, etc.)
Emotional disturbance (includes anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and others)
Speech or language impairment
Visual impairment
Hearing impairment
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Orthopedic impairment (caused by a congenial anomaly, disease, or other cause such as cerebral palsy)
Intellectual disability (such as Down syndrome)
Traumatic brain injury
Multiple disabilities (concomitant impairments, such as intellectual disability-blindness)
Other (includes ADHD, asthma, diabetes, Tourette’s syndrome, and others)

Learn more about these definitions by exploring part B, section 300.8 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

To learn more about how Huntington helps students with ADHD and a wide range of other learning disabilities succeed in school, parents can call 858-866-9599. Our team is here to help your child develop strategies to manage their time, stay organized, improve their efficiency and effectiveness, and much more.

Date: Sunday, October 30

Del Mar, CA Center

2652 Del Mar Heights Road
Intersection of I-5 and Del Mar Heights Road in the Vons/CVS shopping complex
Del Mar, CA 92014