3 Things that Should NEVER Be on Your Child's IEP

Dear Parent, After 20 years of being an IEP advocate, I can tell you that most parents approach me wondering what they should put into their child's IEP.  There are SO MANY options to put into your child's IEP to help prepare them for further education, employment and independent living. What parents often don't look at is what SHOULD NOT BE IN YOUR CHILD'S IEP. What you avoid putting into your your child's IEP is just as important as what you do put into your child's IEP. Here are the top 3 things I will never put into a child's IEP and if these exist...I get them out! 1. Taking away recess as punishment.  Your child needs movement to grow physically and mentally.  Do not ever let recess be taken away as punishment.  If on a certain day, your child can't handle their typical recess routine, have an alternative plan, but NEVER eliminate recess/movement breaks.  I just found in a new client's behavior plan that recess elimination was consequence listed in the behavioral plan...No Way.  My client did not approve that behavior plan! 2. Old School Skills.  Your team is looking at curriculum to determine your child's IEP goals.  YOU need to look at REAL LIFE!  You are not standing at Target counting out quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies to pay for your groceries.  You are swiping your card or pulling out big bills from your wallet. I'm not saying your child can't learn to count coins.  What I'm saying is that counting coins is a bonus life skills these days.  If your child never learns to count coins, their world isn't going to fall apart. Yes, let them learn coins when it comes up in the classroom, but don't take up space in the IEP taking data on counting coins.  I promise you that there are many more important money and math skills to be learned. 3. Make New Friends.  Yes, I know you want your child to make new friends, but this simply can't be an effective social goal.  You can't determine how the other kids are going to respond to your child and you can't guarantee you can help your child make a friend, at school.  Heartbreaking, I know!  What you can do is set your child up for success by learning behaviors that lead to friendships and learning how to self advocate for themselves.  I'm always rewriting goals with parents to give their children real-life social skills, not cookie cutter "how are you" statements on the playground. When you make the changes above, you start to upgrade your child's IEP.  You know your child's IEP needs to be individualized, but what does that really mean?  I have a brother who is an adult with Down syndrome and I live in the adult special needs community everyday.  Real life skills are important and can be taught in many different environments, from inclusion to therapeutic day schools. I'd love to help you start upgrading and individualizing your child's IEP!  In my EXCLUSIVE IEP BOOT CAMP, you can work directly with me and learn how to advocate like you have never done before.  Join me at www.iepbootcamp.com This is YOUR YEAR to CHANGE YOUR CHILD'S IEP! With Hope & Determination, Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed