A Learning Disabilities IEP: How Does it Help Your Child?
A learning disabilities IEP can help your child learn the same material their classmates are learning. With accommodations in the individualized education program (IEP), children with a specific learning disability can maintain the same pace and stay with the curriculum for their grade level. With over two million students in the US public school system officially identified with learning disorders, this group of disorders is the largest category of disability for students receiving special education services (Understood Team, n.d.). Receiving services requires an individualized education program, so a learning disabilities IEP opens the door for the special services your child needs to learn and thrive in school.
What A Learning Disabilities IEP Can Do for Your Child
“Specific learning disability” is a broad term that refers to problems processing or recalling information. There are many specific learning disabilities that affect multiple learning domains, including:
- Understanding time
- Understanding money
- Organizing ideas
- Hand-eye coordination
- Fine motor skills
- Interpreting and processing sensory input, especially auditory and visual
If a child is tested and found to have significant problems in one or more of these areas that indicates they have a learning disability, they qualify for an IEP. Having an IEP allows a child to receive accommodations or modifications so they can learn what they would have learned without their disability getting in the way.
A Learning Disability IEP Calls for Accommodations, Modifications
Individualized Education Programs for learning disabilities are designed specifically for the student whose special needs, like those listed above, call for extra support in learning. An IEP will delineate specific accommodations or modifications that will help that child learn.
Accommodations are changes made so that a student with a learning disability can participate in classroom activities like their peers. For a child with a reading disability, for example, text-to-speech software will let them read material that is a higher level than their reading level. Reading disorders don’t mean that a child can’t think critically and understand the content. A reading disorder means that the child can’t process the printed word correctly. Thanks to accommodations for learning disabilities in the IEP, students don’t have to be held back by their disability.
Accommodations remove the learning barriers children face. They don’t, however, address other areas—a child with a math disorder won’t receive a reading accommodation. Accommodations also aren’t in place to make learning effortless or to guarantee good grades. A student is accountable for doing what needs to be done to earn a grade. An accommodation for a learning disability simply gives them opportunities equal to the other students.
A student with a specific learning disability can also receive modifications, but they’re not as common as accommodations. While accommodations change how a student learns so they can stay on par with their classmates (like that text-to-speech software), modifications change what a child learns or is expected to do in the classroom. With a modification, a student won’t learn exactly what their peers are learning. They’ll learn something slightly different, like reading a different book. They also might receive a reduced amount of work, perhaps only part of the book their peers are reading, or the same book but only a portion of it.
What accommodations and/or modifications a child receives is determined by the Education Planning Team that created the IEP. Every child with a learning disability is unique, even when two children have the same disability, such as dyslexia. Another way a learning disabilities IEP helps your child is by ensuring that all accommodations and modifications are properly suited for your child and your child is positioned to take charge of their learning.
Peterson, T. (2019, August 25). A Learning Disabilities IEP: How Does it Help Your Child?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/learning-disabilities/a-learning-disabilities-iep-how-does-it-help-your-child