The Squeaky Wheel Gets An IEP…Not Such A Bad Thing

August 25, 2010 by

Ever since my son started school, his teachers told me that he was easily and often distracted, but he was bright and he was doing well in school. He had no real behavioral problems until he started middle school. During 6th grade, he was bullied for several months. During this time he began to act out – he had a lot of anger, hurt and frustration. This continued until I was able to have him moved to another team (teaching team) so he’d be away from his tormentors. Once he was moved he seemed fine again – behavioral issues seemed to disappear.

Seventh grade brought more behavioral issues. During the 4th quarter of the school year, upon discussion with the 7th grade guidance counselor and administrator, I decided that I wanted to have my son evaluated by the school for learning and/or behavioral issues. Well into the 8th grade there was no progress toward the evaluation process and my constant phone calls to the 8th grade guidance counselor proved to be useless. I watched his grades drop to almost failing and frankly I was appalled that none of his teachers seemed to be concerned as they advised me of his slipping grades. I expressed my concerns and said that I thought he may have ADD or something along those lines, but I received no support from teachers…rather they dismissed that possibility and said that he just thinks he’s “too cool.”

I decided to take him for private testing and it was revealed that he has ADHD-combined type. In addition, he has very low processing speed, some executive dysfunction (apparently common in ADHD) and some other related issues. With report in hand and email, I still hit a brick wall with the school. I quickly learned that it’s the squeaky wheel that gets heard….by the county school board, school area psychologist, almost every ESE person in the county! They finally agreed to hear me out.

Kevin was given an IEP. I don’t feel that this is a bad thing as some posters have stated. First of all, the IEP is designed with the input of the school board psychologist, ESE teachers for the school, grade guidance counselor, parent and child. The goals are not implemented without parental consent (per my experience). The goals are in effect for one year and then progress must be reviewed. If the child is found to be succeeding in accomplishing goals, they can be modified accordingly. Parents also have the option to request an interim review of the goals. My son doesn’t have ESE services, rather accommodations and goals. I cannot speak to the process of how the IEP works when a child must be outside of a general ed class or has special services in place.

For my son, he has been able to make great strides because of the accommodations provided in his IEP. Because of his processing issues, he was not able to complete standardized tests – which in Broward County determine whether a child promotes to the next grade level. Because his tests were incomplete, his grades were low. His IEP provides him 200% time for tests (and all tasks). With the additional time, he was able to complete the tests and did amazingly well, scoring very high, near perfect on one. He has almost never used the additional time for his everyday tasks, but I’m glad to know that he has the accommodation if necessary.

Leslie Cedeno is a working mom who lives in Florida with her two sons. For the last three years, she’s been employed as a staff grant writer for a nonprofit agency providing emergency shelter and services to homeless men, women and children.

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