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What should I ask for in IEP?


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I will be meeting with the school at some time relatively soon to develop an IEP for my 16 year old.  Her IEP has mostly been things like small group testing, and consultations with a special education teacher once a quarter, mostly just so she has a point of contact if something goes wrong (usually with her anxiety), and she needs help problem solving.  This has been fine, but I'm wondering what would really help.  I'd love to have it that spelling does not count for writing done in class, but the school has told me this is impossible, because that would be a modification of the curriculum and means she wouldn't be eligible for a diploma.  She will be taking algebra 2 and chemistry, and I expect she will struggle a lot in both of those.  I'm not sure what to ask for.  Maybe that she won't be penalized for being late at the beginning of the year as she tries to learn her way around the school building?  

Anxiety is usually her biggest issue.  We've had issues in the past when she couldn't remember her locker combination/ get into her locker in the mornings.  We had an issue when she accidentally won the science fair and they were going to make her compete at the next highest level and she was having a panic attack.  She usually does well academically, and she has really good executive functioning, but she struggles a lot with working memory.  She cannot spell at all.  All of her writing needs an editor, as even things that have been spell checked are often full of things like the wrong homophone was used.  She struggles a lot with math.  Chemistry may be very hard, since it has a lot of math and a lot of memory work.  She'll be taking:  Pre-AP English 10 (This may be a mistake, but she also loves literature), Pre-AP World History 1, Algebra 2, Chemistry 1, ASL 1, Concert Choir, and then either Clay/ Ceramics, being a library aid, or Culinary Studies.  

Any thoughts of things we should ask for in the IEP meeting for an autistic kid with lots of anxiety who has learning disabilities in writing and math?

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Some things my kids with IEP's have:

Extra time for assessments and assignments.

Permission to complete all written assignments on a computer (this allows a word processor program with spell check).

Testing in an alternate location.

Breaks as needed throughout the day.

Things I have heard of other kids getting:

Shortened assignments (only half the usual problem set assigned for example).

Scribe for written assignments

I can't remember more off the top of my head but google IEP accommodations for anxiety.

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Tests in an alternate location, and with breaks, has been helpful here.

Extra time for tests and assignments.

Breaks as needed.

Use of a calculator.

For the algebra class, I don't know if your school will offer it, but here there's an option of a "lab" class that meets on alternate days to provide extra help in a small group. So, regular class MWF, lab TuTh. 

We're trying to fine tune a system to encourage/support/require attending office hours and getting help when need arises. This is a bit tricky, since the case manager's inclination is just to require it, but there needs to be a teaching component in regard to initiating contact in a stressful situation. Ymmv.

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Other things to ask about:

Ask about memory aids. Sometimes it's possible to get recommendations for these through the IEP process, even if they are not then funded on the IEP.

An anxiety plan (that is to say, make sure dd knows what she can do, and (if that doesn't work) where would be a safe place to go, if she feels an anxiety incident coming on - updated for each location where the answer is different). Sometimes knowing there's a safety valve in place can reduce the need for the safety valve to be used.

Have a plan for how to initiate contact, that can be consulted at need (and prompted if necessary, as it likely will the first few times).

You are asking good questions. Best wishes with the IEP meeting!

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Does your high school offer Chemistry in the Community? I know some Va schools do. (ChemCom is the ACS's program specifically for high school kids that aren't likely to take chemistry in college, and is the Chemistry that chemists feel is most important for people to know to be informed citizens. It has a lot more biochemistry and organic chemistry than standard chem, and much less math and calculations, and takes a local problem solving approach (so, for example, one unit is how do you manage an oil spill).  That might make it easier.

 

Is she allowed to use a laptop or tablet device for written assignments and submit digitally? Would it be possible to do oral input so that she doesn't have to spell, and grammar check would likely avoid homophones? If so, she might need to be able to leave the room and go elsewhere to be able to do writing assignments. 

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Do you expect her to attend college?  I think if so, go light and only do things if they are shown to be needed.  
 

If she can talk to her teachers about spelling then that is self-advocacy for her.  Honestly it will probably be something that works out — you can be bad at spelling and not need IEP stuff for it.  
 

I think be ready to adjust to anything that comes up, but it sounds like things might go well for her as it is.  
 

Right now your job is to get her confident end independent as possible for college if that is what is expected.  It’s not to get everything possible at the IEP, less is more sometimes.  
 

If she is not college bound I would be more concerned.  
 

If there are problems that last more than 2-4 weeks that are problems *to her* and not just things that “could/should” be better — I think it is good to provide opportunities for her to experience problems and problem solving and then this can include “mom talks to the school.”


 

 

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I would definitely ask her what she thinks — if she wants or doesn’t want certain kinds of help.  Would she be willing to have certain kinds of help.  And then that can be balanced with if it’s to the point she really just has to have it, or if it can be a choice she makes.  
 

 

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Definitely I would ask her what she wants/ would use.  In middle school, we didn't use much because the classes were smaller, and there was more flexibility to work with teachers if something came up.  I do expect her to go to college, but possibly will start at community college first.  The tricky thing is, she really wants to major in biology in college.  She LOVES biology, and wants to do AP Bio and AP Environmental Science, but chemistry is a requirement.  I think we need regular chemistry.  

Mostly I'm just frustrated that the emphasis has always been "getting her through" math classes, but she's never really LEARNED the math.  

I think digital submission is a good option. Shouldn't be too hard, since that's the general approach for most classes anyway.  

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Would they allow a Livescribe pen or similar to help her take notes? It will record the class lecture, so that she can listen back.

My kids have had teacher's notes provided and/or guided notes (already typed but with blanks to fill in) to help with note taking. If the classes require students to take notes, but she won't be able to keep up, or won't be able to read her notes afterwards, these things can be helpful.

I'm surprised that they won't allow her to not have points taken off for spelling errors. My dyslexic DD has that in her IEP. I suppose state laws can be different, but I would ask again about this and maybe push a little bit. You can always ask them to show you that policy in writing. Unless the assignment is for a spelling grade, how would misspellings modify the curriculum? She would be doing the same work as the other kids. The whole idea of an IEP is to allow kids to access the curriculum when they have a disability, so I'm sorry, this is odd, and I would question it again. I know I'm preaching to the choir, here.

An alternate idea is that she is allowed to tell the teacher orally what a word was supposed to be, if they can't read it. Or allowed to have extra time to edit for spelling with a spellcheck program.  Or give answers orally instead of writing them down.

Frequent teacher check-ins to check for her understanding.

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5 hours ago, Storygirl said:

Have you considered hiring a parent advocate? They can tell you whether the school is legally right about what they will allow in the IEP.

I've thought about it, but honestly, she had no issues at the middle school and hasn't had issues in virtual school.  The biggest thing we've needed is a contact person who can problem solve if an issue came up, which was about once a year in middle school.  I'm more nervous about the high school, because it's huge and I have some massive anxiety and anger from my oldest kid's disastrous experience there.  

When she was younger, I thought about Livescribe pens, but she hasn't ever had any issues taking notes.  Other people might not be able to read them well, but she's perfectly capable of reading her own notes, and a lot of times the teachers distribute power points to everyone anyway.  

It's just really hard for me to guess what she's going to need at the high school.  I think she's going to have a hard time adjusting to the hustle and bustle of a new school with 2,000 kids after being at home for 18 months.

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Posted (edited)

To be honest, I find what you describe to be a little confusing.

A 504 provides accommodations only, with no special direct instruction.

The whole point of an IEP is to provide specialized instruction, in addition to accommodations. I am not up on every state's rules, obviously. But I find it hard to believe that ANY academic related things in an IEP will prevent the student from receiving a regular diploma. I am not doubting that you have been told such things; I am doubting that that is legally correct. I really, really think they must be legally wrong about spelling accommodations.

That's why I suggested an advocate. Or at least asking them to show you such policies in writing. I have also, for our own situation, spent hours researching things on our own state's department of education website, so that I understand the laws as much as possible for myself. If you haven't yet read this book, I highly recommend it.  https://www.amazon.com/Complete-IEP-Guide-Advocate-Special/dp/1413323855/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=NOLO+special+education&qid=1623247435&sr=8-8

If she only needs accommodations, that sounds like a 504 situation to me. Does she have goals in her IEP now? Or just accommodations? You seem to be saying that she only needs accommodations.

The way that you describe her spelling, I would consider pushing on that issue to be really important. But your last post says that she just needs a case manager to check in with, so I'm not sure what you think the priorities are. I personally would totally push for spelling accommodations, but I have gone to battle with our school (and have a parent advocate and things have escalated even beyond that), and you may not think that's needed in your case.

Edited by Storygirl
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I think it’s likely teachers will not count off for spelling.  
 

I don’t think teachers count off for spelling a lot in high school, plus there is spell check, or asking someone to proofread for things a spell checker won’t check.  
 

I think these are *often* fine things for kids to do without needing an IEP.  
 

If it turns out it is a problem, I think you can handle it as it comes up.

I think the thing is — a lot of things are done to respond to a problem, or because the accommodation has already been needed at a lower grade of school.  
 

 

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I am also not on top of this, but my understanding is that, to some extent, colleges do the kinds of accommodations that are in a 504 plan, not the kind in an IEP.  
 

Now this overlaps, because if you have an IEP, then that could include accommodations that for another person would be in a 504 plan.

 

But for a college bound student, even community college, to some extent you want to think about if things are really needed or not.  
 

She may need a 504 plan, but it may need to happen in response to a specific problem she is having.

 

She might need an IEP now if she does need tech accommodations and would need an IEP to be taught to use them and then switch to a 504 plan when she could use them independently.  I definitely hear about that.

 

But with something like a Livescribe pen — there could be a big learning curve, it could be a big undertaking for her to learn to use and get used to using it so she uses it effectively.  
 

Honestly you might thing about getting a private evaluation that would generate a list of recommendations.  That is something you could do.  I think even then they are going to be asking about what things are actual problems at school, since she was in school until a year ago.  
 

I think the truth is — for a lot of kids, there is no way to read the tea leaves and predict just what will go well and what will be a problem, so that the problem can be prevented before it ever occurs.

 

That is different for kids who have got the history of problems.  I think it can seem like people just come up with things because they just figure them out — when really it is the culmination of seeing a problem develop over time.  
 

So if she was in public school 18 months ago and didn’t have an IEP — what has changed to need one now?  
 

I think the thing is — unless the middle school was truly a very small school, most of the time going from middle to high school does not bring out new issues.  Going from elementary school to middle school does.  
 

If she already walked down hallways on her own and went from class to class on her own and went to the cafeteria on her own, in middle school, then going from doing that in one size building to a larger size, is usually not as much of a transition compared to elementary to middle school, where kids are mostly staying together as a class, have more supervision, etc.  

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If this daughter is currently treated for anxiety — I think ask that person for a letter to take to school, with recommendations, and if that equates to an IEP or a 504 — do whichever one fits.  

 

Really I think — sometimes you can do due diligence and come back with — well, wait and see.  Which is not very productive, but it can be the right answer.

 

And if you are anxious — whatever helps your own anxiety will be good to do.

 

It probably will not get any easier as the start of school gets closer and closer!

 

I was just a wreck while my son was at church camp.  He came back so chill.  And he is in special Ed classes and has to have someone make sure he gets on the right bus after school.  

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We literally got a phone call about a doctor referral where the person said “is this the parent of _____?” And we both thought it was the camp saying to come pick him up.  

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Really I think you are a good mom and if there is a problem, you are a capable person who will handle it appropriately.

There are going to be a lot of kids who had needs changed while school was out, and have to add things as school starts.  I think that is okay!

If there are things you know for sure, they have been needed in the past and were effective and it makes sense to keep doing them, then — that is one thing.  But I think a lot of people are going to be stuck with watch and wait, respond, etc, bc it is just what the situation is, with school being out so long, and over a time when school expectations change.  

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I was a wreck when my son started here, too. He missed the end of 5th grade including the time they would normally tour the middle school and do special things to prepare for the changes (in a special needs class so he would have gotten extra).  
 

Then we also moved, so was starting with all new kids.

 

And bc Covid he wasn’t able to go for a tour with his teacher and meet his teacher, which would have been done in other years for him (special Ed).

 

So it really was not ideal and I think also very unfair that he had to have things not be arranged as well as they would have been in another year.  
 

But that is what coronavirus has done, it is just too bad.  
 

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She has had an IEP since she was seven.  When she was in middle school, she had homeroom in the special ed room, which was really good for her, but other than small group testing, she didn't have any specialized instruction or even accommodations.  Her spelling is really bad, maybe a third grade level, but because they use laptops for almost everything and all kids have access to spell check for almost everything, it rarely came up as a problem.  I had asked if not counting off for spelling could be an accommodation, and I was told repeatedly that it could not, but in practice, nobody ever actually did count off for spelling, because the computers were used so extensively.  Her last IEP made at the end of 8th grade, the week before covid hit, that was planning for high school, had her meeting I think twice a semester with a special ed teacher to check in as her only instruction, and small group testing was her only accommodation.  I really expected when she had her re-eval, that she would not qualify for an IEP anymore, but I think her anxiety is enough that they felt like she needed to keep the IEP, and I like the legal protection it affords.  Her goals were all things like, "She will identify anxiety trigger, apply coping strategies, and use available supports to self advocate and resolve issues."  She had an IEP this year through the state virtual academy, but because it was virtual, the needs were very different.  She met once or twice a quarter with a special ed teacher to discuss how things were going and to talk about soft skills related to employment and possible jobs after she graduates.  Being a waitress would be a disaster, but I think she could do something fairly predictable and routine based, like work in a library or with animals (her special interest), or baking, or working in a lab as an assistant.  Retail and dealing with customers might be a challenge but would be doable.   I used to really worry about her future with employment, but I now think she's probably going to be okay, as long as she picks the right job.  I'm hoping she can volunteer this summer at the zoo.  (She filled out the application, but they haven't started interviews yet.)  

She really struggles with math, as well.  I am tempted to ask for a co-taught class for Algebra 2, but I fully expect to be told that they "don't have co taught classes at that level."  She works very, very hard, and she gets a ton of help at home in math, but honestly, I don't think she has really understood what's happening in math since she returned to school after homeschooling in third grade.  It's tricky, because she's 2e with a slew of diagnoses (ASD, anxiety, learning disabilities in written language and math, working memory below the first percentile), but she's very, very bright, and I DO expect her to go to college, so she's taking fairly high level classes.  (And so far, she's always made A's and B's in them.)  

It's just really hard to anticipate what a new, gigantic school is going to need.  

In my fantasy IEP, something we'd get help on is special help learning to drive, but I'm pretty sure that's not something they offer.  They do the in classroom part of driver's ed but not the behind the wheel part.  

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Drive by posting....in addition to the things mentioned:

chromebook with the use of grammarly free extension (will suggest correct spelling and grammar for her)

bring your own lock for the locker (my kid can't do combo locks)

study skills support (our school offers a study period with certified teachers--ds will be using his for math intervention for geometry and chemistry)

extra time for assignments and tests (as mentioned above)

sensory breaks if needed

designated quiet place for lunch

designated adult

assignments graded for content, not length 

We had a Discussion with the IEP team a few times, with clarification from the district bosses, as to what constituted modified assignments (which can change diploma type) versus what constituted adapted assignments.  This is actually a huge legal distinction, and you're getting told things that I understand to be incorrect.  I had to go to bat a few times this year and call out teachers and work through SPED coordinators to assert ds's legal rights, and once we established that this was my hill to die on, everything settled down and went smoothly.  If you know this is going to be a big deal for your kid, I would contact the state advocacy group and raise a stir.  I understand that you have to play your hand wisely, though.  

 

 

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On 6/9/2021 at 3:16 PM, Terabith said:

She has had an IEP since she was seven.  When she was in middle school, she had homeroom in the special ed room, which was really good for her, but other than small group testing, she didn't have any specialized instruction or even accommodations.  Her spelling is really bad, maybe a third grade level, but because they use laptops for almost everything and all kids have access to spell check for almost everything, it rarely came up as a problem.  I had asked if not counting off for spelling could be an accommodation, and I was told repeatedly that it could not, but in practice, nobody ever actually did count off for spelling, because the computers were used so extensively.  Her last IEP made at the end of 8th grade, the week before covid hit, that was planning for high school, had her meeting I think twice a semester with a special ed teacher to check in as her only instruction, and small group testing was her only accommodation.  I really expected when she had her re-eval, that she would not qualify for an IEP anymore, but I think her anxiety is enough that they felt like she needed to keep the IEP, and I like the legal protection it affords.  Her goals were all things like, "She will identify anxiety trigger, apply coping strategies, and use available supports to self advocate and resolve issues."  She had an IEP this year through the state virtual academy, but because it was virtual, the needs were very different.  She met once or twice a quarter with a special ed teacher to discuss how things were going and to talk about soft skills related to employment and possible jobs after she graduates.  Being a waitress would be a disaster, but I think she could do something fairly predictable and routine based, like work in a library or with animals (her special interest), or baking, or working in a lab as an assistant.  Retail and dealing with customers might be a challenge but would be doable.   I used to really worry about her future with employment, but I now think she's probably going to be okay, as long as she picks the right job.  I'm hoping she can volunteer this summer at the zoo.  (She filled out the application, but they haven't started interviews yet.)  

She really struggles with math, as well.  I am tempted to ask for a co-taught class for Algebra 2, but I fully expect to be told that they "don't have co taught classes at that level."  She works very, very hard, and she gets a ton of help at home in math, but honestly, I don't think she has really understood what's happening in math since she returned to school after homeschooling in third grade.  It's tricky, because she's 2e with a slew of diagnoses (ASD, anxiety, learning disabilities in written language and math, working memory below the first percentile), but she's very, very bright, and I DO expect her to go to college, so she's taking fairly high level classes.  (And so far, she's always made A's and B's in them.)  

It's just really hard to anticipate what a new, gigantic school is going to need.  

In my fantasy IEP, something we'd get help on is special help learning to drive, but I'm pretty sure that's not something they offer.  They do the in classroom part of driver's ed but not the behind the wheel part.  

In order to qualify for an IEP, a student must have:

1. A disability - I read ASD, OHI due to anxiety, and SLD in writing and math
2. That the disability interferes with learning (adverse effect)
3. A need for specialized instruction

It seems like the school is trying to say she does not meet the 3rd criteria. Do you happen to have a copy of the Evaluation Plan and Report? That will outline which basic skill area the team found adverse effect in and where they determined the need for specialized instruction. 

As a parent, your voice should be the most important one on the IEP team. If you believe she needs extra help in math, and your DD has a specific learning disability in math, I don't see a reason for them to deny that. 

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1 hour ago, AmandaVT said:

In order to qualify for an IEP, a student must have:

1. A disability - I read ASD, OHI due to anxiety, and SLD in writing and math
2. That the disability interferes with learning (adverse effect)
3. A need for specialized instruction

It seems like the school is trying to say she does not meet the 3rd criteria. Do you happen to have a copy of the Evaluation Plan and Report? That will outline which basic skill area the team found adverse effect in and where they determined the need for specialized instruction. 

As a parent, your voice should be the most important one on the IEP team. If you believe she needs extra help in math, and your DD has a specific learning disability in math, I don't see a reason for them to deny that. 

I have questions about whether she meets the third criteria, but the school is not fighting her need to have an IEP.  Nobody is saying she shouldn't have an IEP.  The question is what to ask for in it.

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On 6/9/2021 at 2:16 PM, Terabith said:

She has had an IEP since she was seven.  When she was in middle school, she had homeroom in the special ed room, which was really good for her, but other than small group testing, she didn't have any specialized instruction or even accommodations.  Her spelling is really bad, maybe a third grade level, but because they use laptops for almost everything and all kids have access to spell check for almost everything, it rarely came up as a problem.  I had asked if not counting off for spelling could be an accommodation, and I was told repeatedly that it could not, but in practice, nobody ever actually did count off for spelling, because the computers were used so extensively.  Her last IEP made at the end of 8th grade, the week before covid hit, that was planning for high school, had her meeting I think twice a semester with a special ed teacher to check in as her only instruction, and small group testing was her only accommodation.  I really expected when she had her re-eval, that she would not qualify for an IEP anymore, but I think her anxiety is enough that they felt like she needed to keep the IEP, and I like the legal protection it affords.  Her goals were all things like, "She will identify anxiety trigger, apply coping strategies, and use available supports to self advocate and resolve issues."  She had an IEP this year through the state virtual academy, but because it was virtual, the needs were very different.  She met once or twice a quarter with a special ed teacher to discuss how things were going and to talk about soft skills related to employment and possible jobs after she graduates.  Being a waitress would be a disaster, but I think she could do something fairly predictable and routine based, like work in a library or with animals (her special interest), or baking, or working in a lab as an assistant.  Retail and dealing with customers might be a challenge but would be doable.   I used to really worry about her future with employment, but I now think she's probably going to be okay, as long as she picks the right job.  I'm hoping she can volunteer this summer at the zoo.  (She filled out the application, but they haven't started interviews yet.)  

She really struggles with math, as well.  I am tempted to ask for a co-taught class for Algebra 2, but I fully expect to be told that they "don't have co taught classes at that level."  She works very, very hard, and she gets a ton of help at home in math, but honestly, I don't think she has really understood what's happening in math since she returned to school after homeschooling in third grade.  It's tricky, because she's 2e with a slew of diagnoses (ASD, anxiety, learning disabilities in written language and math, working memory below the first percentile), but she's very, very bright, and I DO expect her to go to college, so she's taking fairly high level classes.  (And so far, she's always made A's and B's in them.)  

It's just really hard to anticipate what a new, gigantic school is going to need.  

In my fantasy IEP, something we'd get help on is special help learning to drive, but I'm pretty sure that's not something they offer.  They do the in classroom part of driver's ed but not the behind the wheel part.  

In my community, one of the driving schools does a special Ed driver's Ed class with small groups, lots of simulation work and lots of behind the wheel progressing gradually and the kids can keep coming until they are very, very comfortable and confident. It's expensive, and I don't know if a school would consider it something reasonable to pay for, even if they offer driver's Ed. We ended up not going that route, due to COVID delays, but my anxious kid spent so much time on a simulator that the routes were memorized (due to the DMV shutting down so that the knowledge test was delays and will have been driving well over a year on a learner's before actually testing due to when we could get the driver's Ed class that insurance wanted and then when we could get a testing appointment, so I think we essentially did the homeschool version! 

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