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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?

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Tags: , , , IEPs, Advocacy/Teamwork", IEPs", Writing, Writing IEPs,

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Comment by Kara Conrad on March 7, 2012 at 5:53pm
I like that idea, Sue! Thanks!
Comment by Cecilia Cruse on March 7, 2012 at 3:19pm

Fabulous idea! That definitely would help as a reminder of the "I" in IEP!  Thanks for sharing!

Comment by Sue Schuelke on March 7, 2012 at 1:25pm
A workshop I attended on IEP team meetings suggested that, if the student isn't present, to have a picture of the student on the table so that everyone there remembers this is an actual child we're talking about
Comment by baozulin on March 2, 2012 at 7:58pm

I like this article!

Comment by Annette Broddie on February 20, 2012 at 4:57pm

Goals can be too general: where the teacher writes the fine motor goals to "fit"  what they are doing in the classroom to more specific goals that address the child's needs (OT does this well). The more specific the goal to the child the more directed the treatment is to meet that goal. It keeps kids from just floating along in their IEP which can be frustrating to the therapist as well as parents.

Comment by Cecilia Cruse on February 20, 2012 at 11:00am

Heather: Glad to hear that your son's IEP team is now running as a good team should! I think ipads for all students will someday be a reality as part of UDL (Universal Design for Learning) but for now still too cost prohibitive for many schools.  Are you familiar with the Neo2? Much improved over the original AlphaSmart and still under $200. Thanks for writing in!

Comment by Heather Wampler Bryant on February 19, 2012 at 9:56pm

Right now my son has a Alpha Smart which he has hated for over 3 years.  He tries to hand write but he starts to shake and his writing is that of a 1st grader when he is in 5th.  I have tried getting help to get him a Ipad to no avail, he so needs help writing where he does not hate the product he uses!

Comment by Heather Wampler Bryant on February 19, 2012 at 9:53pm

Until Dec 19th of 2011 the IEP team was fractured into several different groups.  Since changing my sons school the IEP team is now cohesive and runs like a well oiled machine where everyone talks to each other and discusses what is going on with my son.  It has taken a load of stress off my shoulders knowing the IEP team is just that... A TEAM!  Everyone wanting the same for my son and looking for his best interest!

Comment by Teri Roberts on February 19, 2012 at 1:12pm

Our team meets monthly and also plans with parents prior to the meeting, we try to keep the focus on each student!

 

Comment by Kara Conrad on February 19, 2012 at 12:13am
Kelli, it gives an entirely different perspective once you've been on the "other side of the table", doesn't it? I have always considered myself a caring, hard working, put kids first teacher, but still, once I went through the process as a parent, it changed how I viewed the process.

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