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IEP, in terms of eligibility, is based on a series of evaluations. You will typically meet with a multidisciplinary team which is made up of teachers, administrators, parents, the student, and anyone else who is familiar with the evaluation process & could potentially lend some insight. 

In order to determine eligibility for special educators, you’ll create a profile for the student. Within this profile, you’re looking at behavior, academics, and their current level of performance in terms of schoolwork. You’ll also look at characteristics during the determination that support or dispute disability as it impacts the student in the classroom. The main question at point here is, “Does the student’s disability adversely impact their ability to access education?” 

Other things that come up during the evaluation process may include: 

  • Cognitive Evaluations
  • Behavioral Assessments
  • Social Assessments
  • Emotional Assessments

Once this evaluation has been completed you get a complete picture of the student. Where are their challenges? Where are their strengths? This creates a global view of the student where every aspect is addressed. The evaluations are very important as you never know what you might find out during this meeting. 

These evaluations may be conducted by different types of individuals including occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech and language pathologists. It is important that they are part of this meeting so they can be there in the case that questions arise. 

If you’re having an evaluation about speech and the speech and language pathologist is not at that meeting, you need to stop and reschedule the meeting and have that person there.

If you’re having a conversation about physical therapy and the therapist is not present, you would need to stop the meeting. The gym teacher cannot answer these questions accurately. 

All of these things are your right, as a parent. If the right people aren’t there, don’t feel pressure like, “Oh, we don’t want to inconvenience the school.” This all comes down to the child. We don’t want to interrupt what the child needs to make it convenient for everybody. It’s an entire team helping to make this decision. And if the entire team isn’t present, then you’re not that able to make the best determinations for the child.


Medical vs Education Evaluations

First off, what do you do when you get a medical evaluation? If you have a meeting coming up, a determination meeting, the first thing you do is get that medical evaluation in enough time for the teachers to look it over. Not just the night before. They’re not going to read it. If they do, they won’t have enough time to properly process the information. 

You don’t want to force feed the information to anybody. This is, once again, your child’s overall wellbeing we are discussing here. Get those medical evaluations in early and make them available to everyone on the team. Everyone is different and will view and process these medical evaluations in a different way. There are a lot of different things we will find out if we get those evaluations in others hands earlier than later.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say the medical diagnosis is autism. 

Autism is often the biggest controversy with these medical vs educational evaluations. A doctor might, very well, give you a test or assessment… give your child an assessment, and it comes up, “Yes, your child has autism.” You take this assessment, you get to the school, and you expect autism to be part of the IEP. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. So what happens is, a medical professional can see autism, but in the school environment, if the school isn’t seeing autism as affecting that child, once again, in the school setting, then autism might be off the table as a disability category.

Now, that does not mean the school doesn’t believe your child has autism. They’re just saying that, “Yes, they have autism, but it’s not affecting them, in an educational setting.” In other words, it’s not impacting them to access their education. 

Here’s another thing to consider with these medical evaluations. One of the most common scenarios we’ve come across in meetings is, we get a great medical evaluation, and then the school says, “Well, we appreciate you giving us this evaluation, but, it was in a clinical setting. And in our school, it’s an educational setting. So, we appreciate the recommendations, but that’s coming from a medical or clinical setting. So, we’re not going to necessarily honor these recommendations.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean that your child won’t receive an IEP. It just may mean that autism might not be a part of it.

What we would encourage you to do to beef up the support of that medical evaluation is plan this IEP determination meeting around the medical provider’s schedule so that they can attend. Maybe they can’t come in. That’s rare, but we could find a time when they have a half hour to talk on the phone. If they’re on the phone for a half hour, let’s make sure we address that evaluation, while they’re on the phone.

You have the right to invite your doctor, physician or nurse. You can invite whoever might have some input from the medical clinical setting. It really helps to have them part of the meeting  to back up that support in that argument, “Oh, that’s just a clinical setting.” 

Relocating with the IEP

This is a contract. It is a federal document. So that means if you move from the city of Denver, to the city of Colorado Springs, that document follows your child from the Denver school system to the Colorado Springs school system. If you moved from Colorado to Vermont, to California, that document continues to follow your child and needs to be implemented within the school setting, wherever your child ends up. So just keep that in mind that it is a federal document. It’s important for people to know that it will follow the child wherever they go.

If you have any questions about IEP, please feel free to reach out to us and we will be happy to assist you as best we can and as fast as possible. 

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