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Individualized Education Plan: Points parents should know

Students who have special needs, including those who have autism, might need to have specialized plans made for their education. Individualized Education Plans, which are also known as an IEP, are the documents that are created to lay out this plan.

The IEP is created during a meeting that includes the child's parent or guardian and other professionals who are involved in the child's education or medical care. The inclusion of parents in creating the IEP is set forth by the 2004 Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. This act is central to many aspects of special education, but there are some points in it that are misunderstood or misstated.

Some school districts might claim that IEPs must be a certain number of pages long. This is one of the misconceptions of IEPs. The act doesn't set forth any standard for the document length. Another misconception is that if a concept or objective doesn't fit in a given space, it can't be included as part of the plan.

When your child needs an IEP to get the education that can better his or her life, you might find yourself in a battle with the school district. Some school districts are familiar with these plans and work hard to ensure that the students have what they need. Other schools aren't so accommodating.

The fact of the matter is that IEPs are governed by federal law. Parents who find that their children aren't getting the services they need might have to explore legal actions to help their child get a suitable education.

Source: Autism Society, "Individualized Education Plan (IEP)," accessed March 17, 2017

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