So the IEP Goals were not met….Part 2

inclusive-play-6Let’s suppose that the IEP goals were perfect for your child 6 months or 1 year ago, and they are still perfect BUT, very little progress was made.   Should you just say – let’s roll these over to the next year?  If you don’t make changes can you expect a different outcome?  Consider these thoughts.  

FIRST- make really sure that you cannot break this goal or the objectives down to smaller goals and objectives that are more likely to be successful.  Marking success is important for the child and for everyone on the team. There is a huge difference for everyone hearing “no progress was made” vs. “the goals were met”.  Think in terms of tinier steps to take to get there.   If your child can’t write letters think of everything that goes in to writing letters.  

For example:

The understanding of the instruction

The ability to use the tools – paper, pen, etc – hand grasp, pressure, movement

The ability to see – think glasses, CVI etc

The ability to form the pieces

Here’s some questions to ask yourself:  Does he know what you are asking him to do?  Does he know recognize letters?  Does he know how to make the lines and circles that letters consist of?  Does he know how to hold the writing tool?  Can he use the typical desk or slant board, or would another placement be better?  Does he feel the paper when he makes marks?  Should it be textured?  Can he see easily?  Are glasses needed?  Does he need black paper with white chalk?  Yellow paper with Green Felt pens? Backlighting?

large_ARLENEUse this idea of breaking down the task to think of the questions you would ask about the specific goals that are set for your child.  If you think of the parts that will be a challenge then that might where changes can be made to help your child be successful.  Notice I did not say that is what the goal should be.  That is where the learning ENVIRONMENT should change to suit your child.

Every accomplishment can be put on a continuum.  Speaking, Writing, Reading, Crawling, Rolling, following instructions etc.  Think of the goals you have set.  Where is your child on the continuum?  Do you need to step back and set a smaller goal?  Should you expect lines and circles instead of complete letters?  Should you expect 10 alphabet words instead of all of them?

NEXT – if you are still convinced the goals are appropriate, it’s time to look at two things.  How is the plan being implemented, and is there a health, medication, behavior issue interfering?

I have seen some ineffectual implementation.  Sometimes time just keep passing and the team doesn’t coordinate what needs to be done.  Evaluation of adapted options, or seats, etc take time.  Equipment funding and ordering takes time.  Sometimes there isn’t the correct staffing in place.  The teacher might be overwhelmed and your child’s needs aren’t deliberately being ignored but implementation is not high enough on the priority list.

I have found the best solution for this is to first ask if there is anything you can help with.  One teacher who moved classrooms at the last minute was so grateful that all the parents showed up to help her move and set up.  Their children’s programs went much more smoothly when she didn’t need to stretch the transition over weeks, and she felt very cared for.  Each family sent one person down, even if they had to take a few hours off work.  That was very heartwarming to hear.

The second thing to do is ask for follow up IEP meeting (s).  You are entitled to ask for them as often as needed.  Sometimes when things are in transition parents have mini meeting weekly or monthly.  It doesn’t have to include the full table of administrators, as the yearly meeting would, unless you see a reason to need them there.  You can plan ahead for this and set the dates in advance or you can submit a request when you see the need.  I think they have a month to respond with possible dates.  Knowing there is a deadline to report on progress can cause things to be at the top of the todo list for those implementing.

ALSO – look at health, medication, and behavior.  

The school has no control of health and medication but you do.  Is your child taking a seizure medicine that interferes with learning?  Are there any medications causing brain fog?  Is there a need to look at nutrition?  

Is the class environment making it difficult for your child to focus, attend, be in learning mode?  You can’t ask the teacher to change what is working for herself and the other students but you CAN ask to see other classes to see if there is a more optimal environment for your child, or in the case of regular education classrooms, speak to the principal about your child’s needs and the available teachers’s teaching styles.

If your child has an IEP you already know that you have responsibilities far beyond what other parents have as they send their child into the care of the teacher and school.  The ideas discussed here will take some thought on your part but it will be so worthwhile in the long term.  You will se your child’s needs and program much more clearly and be ready to do your part to hep them be successful.

Part 1:

Related Post:

IEP time – focus on the positive