A network to share best practices for children with special needs
As a former school therapist, I often tell folks that this time of year, for special education teachers and school-based therapists, is like tax season for accountants! Instead of working diligently with clients on income tax returns, our days are full of meetings, planning with team members and families and writing reports for the annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) review.
The IEP review process used to occur in the spring as a transition plan for the student’s next school year. This has morphed somewhat now so that meetings are held throughout the year - not just between March and May. During my time in the schools, I have had the opportunity to work with some very interdisciplinary teachers, therapists and supportive families, and we approached the IEP process as a collaborative team.
Because I travel around the country a good bit, I have come across school districts and staff that are not quite as cohesive. They tend to write separate goals and objectives for each discipline (separate PT and/or OT objectives and measurements) and/or use a computer generated IEP software program that churns out more generic goals and objectives based on the skill or competency area. Over reliance on either of these types of approaches may not be in the best interest of the student. One of my favorite references is Collaborating for Student Success, edited by Barbara Hanft. Although written for OTs many of the key principles for teaming and inclusion-based services are applicable to the entire special education team. Are you a teacher, parent or therapist? What do you do to keep the individual student in the IEP process?