An individual education plan, or IEP, helps students access the support services they need to succeed in public school. If your child has diagnosed learning differences, he or she may benefit from having an IEP.
Learn more about the factors that may indicate the need for an IEP when your child enters school.
Types of disabilities
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act has established 13 disabilities that qualify a child for IEP support. These include:
- A learning disability such as dyscalculia or dyslexia
- Emotional disturbance
- Autism spectrum disorder
- A health issue such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Blindness or another visual impairment
- Language or speech impairment
- Hearing impairment such as language or auditory processing disorder
- Intellectual disability
- Orthopedic issues such as cerebral palsy
- Traumatic brain injury
- Multiple disabilities
Difficulty succeeding in school is often the first sign that a child needs an IEP. If your child already has one of the diagnoses listed above, you should document how the symptoms affect school performance.
To obtain an IEP, you must show that the condition makes it difficult for your child to learn an age-appropriate curriculum. The school district must consider five factors, including whether your child needs assistive devices, has impaired vision, communication or hearing, is not fluent in English, or displays behavioral problems.
You may want to take the IEP route when you and your child’s teacher have tried to resolve the problem with limited success. Examples include removing classroom distractions and providing extra support at home.
Massachusetts families who need special education services can start the process by contacting the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.