To Have an IEP or Not?
When parents suspect that their child has a learning challenge, often the first emotion they go through is denial. The denial can lead to misconceptions about having an IEP or Special Education designation.
Some families may think that having an IEP means that the child will be labeled as ‘slow,’ but it’s important to realize that an IEP is a way to support a child’s different learning style and other needs. And often parents may worry that their child will feel different from other kids in their class if they have an IEP. Families worry that their child may be embarrassed or mocked. But most children are acutely aware of their personal challenges (which often in their minds is enough to set them apart) and are often very relieved,when they get the support they need through an IEP.
There is no stigma in having an IEP. The main downside can be that families need to invest the time (and sometimes money) to get an evaluation.
An IEP holds the school accountable for helping your child. It gets everyone on the same page and working towards a clear set of goals to help the child. Simple changes like extra time on tests, reduced homework, access to audio books and extra one-on-one instruction can all be helpful to the child to be able to learn in a stress-free environment.
A student has freedom to use an IEP or a 504 Accommodation to the extent they want/need, especially in their middle and high school years. Having an IEP allows extra time with SAT and ACT test taking. No school or college admissions board can discriminate against a student for having an IEP. Once in college, an IEP no longer applies for students, but instead 504 Accommodations will be put in place as needed.