One of the most intimidating things that many parents of children with autism have to tackle is the IEP, or Individualized Education Program. If you haven’t been through the process yet, IEPs can be extremely daunting. That’s why we’ve put together a quick reference guide to help you through tackling IEPs, from what exactly IEPs are to the best resources to help you on your family's journey through the process of creating one.
What is an IEP? IEP stands for Individualized Education Program and, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), they’re required for every American public school student living with a disability. According to the Department of Education, “Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.”
Who develops a student’s IEP? Crafting an IEP is a team effort that involves input from parents, teachers, other school staff and, whenever possible, the student themselves. This is why many parents of children with autism stress about the process; if you’ve never helped write an IEP, it can be a daunting endeavor. Keep reading for resources that will help take the process from daunting to totally doable.
The National Autism Association’s ASD and the IEP Process Toolkit: The ASD and the IEP Process Toolkit from the National Autism Association is an invaluable resource for parents and educators alike. The toolkit is designed to help parents “understand your child’s right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE), and how to work together with your school district to create an eﬀective IEP.” It’s completely free and can be accessed easily here.
The Autism Society’s IEP Resources: The Autism Society has an entire page on its website dedicated to the IEP, with tons of resources for parents, from an in-depth explanation of what an IEP is to information about the legal requirements on the part of teachers and schools to helpful tips for navigating the IEP meeting as a parent. Check it out here.
Autism Speaks’ IEP Guide: Autism Speaks is one of the go-to resources for the autism community, so it’s only natural that they would have a truly top-notch set of resources about IEPs. In addition to a slew of information about what IEPs are and the process for crafting them, Autism Speaks also has an Autism Response Team (also known as the ART) that users can connect with for help with more information about IEPs and more. Access the Autism Speaks IEP resource page here.