IEPs focus on each individual childﾒs needs
Individual Education Programs (IEPs) are plans that are developed for students who struggle in school due to be developmental impairments. In 2004, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) received a face-lift, which included the implementation of IEPs for all students who require special programs.
Pocahontas County Director of Special Education and Student Services Ruth Bland explained that an IEP does not classify a student as ﾑspecial ed.ﾒ
ﾓItﾒs not that theyﾒre disabled; itﾒs not that at all,ﾔ Bland said. ﾓThey may just need extra help in particular areas to make sure that theyﾒre developmentally on target. What an IEP does is it gives specialized instruction, whether it be in the regular education environment or whether it be in the special education environment.ﾔ
In order to serve the countyﾒs students properly, Bland said it is best to test students prior to entering preschool. If the student is delayed in at least two areas, he/she will be eligible for an IEP, which will be implemented in the classroom.
ﾓWe want preschoolers in preschool, not being pulled out [of class],ﾔ she said. ﾓSay itﾒs a particular issue like theyﾒre not able to use a pincher grasp to pull crayons out of a box or to pick up a crayon. Thatﾒs where specialized instruction comes in. Theyﾒre still doing the activity with the regular education kids, but youﾒre adding a little bit of specialized instruction to it so they get used to being able to do that type of thing.ﾔ
Students who are eligible for IEPs may suffer from learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotional disorders, cognitive challenges, autism, hearing impairment, visual impairment, speech or language impairment and developmental delays.
Bland said an IEP classification does not mean the student isnﾒt intelligent, but rather learns in a different way.
ﾓThe student has a different way of thinking. Thatﾒs what we call learner styles,ﾔ Bland said. ﾓThere are different forms of intelligence and different learning styles. If you put children side by side, and one can learn visually, when they see something, they can remember it, but if theyﾒre listening to it, they canﾒt get it as fast. Then you have the child over here, you think that heﾒs not paying attention to you at all, and yet he hears everything you have said and is able to process everything.ﾔ
IEP screenings will be offered at the Early Childhood Fair April 21 at Pocahontas County High School.
For more information on IEP plans, contact Bland at the board of education office at 304-799-4505, ext. 2224.