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How to get an IEP for your child


Dr. Gayani DeSilva MD


Education and Schools

Gayani DeSilva is a Child Adolescent Psychiatrist with 20 years experience. She is the author of A Psychiatrists Guide: Helping Parents Reach Their Depressed Tween, and A Psychiatrists Guide: Stop Teen Addiction Before It Starts.

An Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, is essential for children who require special modifications and accommodations in the classroom. Without an IEP, your child may not be getting federally mandated assistance to succeed in school. Children who may benefit include, those with special medical or mental health needs, with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), emotional challenges, developmental delays, autism, learning disorders, and anything that impairs their ability to succeed in a regular educational program.


Know the IEP timeline. Schools are federally mandated to adhere to a strict timeline. First, type a letter with the date on it and request an IEP meeting. State something close to, "I am so-and so-'s parent and my child is struggling in school. I believe he needs to be evaluated for special education and other potential modifications like OT, additional time, increased 1:1 assistance, a low stimulating environment to take tests, and an evaluation for learning disorders like dyslexia."


Then, send that letter via postal service to the Special Education Department of your school district.


The school district has 30days to respond to your request. And then after completing the evaluation, another 30days to meet with the parent to review the findings.


The IEP is a written document generated by a group of educators and the parent. The parent may bring a parent advocate to the meeting. This is a person who helps the parent assert the parent's voice and child's needs. The child's therapist and psychiatrist may go to the meeting as well, or call into the meeting if needed.


Parents need to assert themselves and advocate for their children. Schools have limited resources, and are typically judicious with allocating them. There must be an academic reason for them to initiate a modification.


Parents of children with multiple needs or needing many modifications will need to fight hard on behalf of their children. This is a case where the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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