How to get a great IEP for Children with a Learning Disability

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What are common challenges for children with Learning Disabilities?

All students with learning disabilities have strengths and it’s your parental responsibility to help identify these strengths and make sure teachers are aware of them. Kids with learning disabilities often have difficulty with language processing. This means that students might have difficulty with the output or producing of language. This could be while speaking and not being good at telling a story or explaining daily events. Some kids, with this characteristic, prefer to answer with yes or no answers and appear quieter because they are good at thinking about problems in their mind. The output difficulties also appear in the learning disabled child’s writing. His or her writing may have short, choppy sentences filled with easy to spell words. The writing may not make sense or may be difficult to understand. These students often speak more proficiently than they write.

Other challenges for students with learning disabilities include variable memory. This could be short term, working, or long term memory. As with everyone, you remember things you are interested in. This is especially true for students with learning disabilities because they usually have an extremely hard time learning information they view as meaningless. This can occur with the kindergarten student that can’t remember letter names or sounds because they are not meaningful.

About one-third of students with learning disabilities have social skills deficits. Some kids with learning disabilities have fewer friends and less social status than their peers and require direct social skills instruction. It’s common for students with learning disabilities to have lower self esteem and appear to have less motivation for learning. Yet, motivation is age appropriate if the student with a learning disability wants to learn about the topic.

Frequent types of services or accommodations provided on the IEP for students with Learning Disabilities include:

  • using a prearranged signal to gain attention
  • repeat and simplify directions
  • assign a study buddy
  • use a timer
  • give the student an individual checklist
  • use two sets of books so there is one at home and one in school
  • placing a dot on a handwriting starting place
  • let the student use a word processor
  • reducing the length of an assignment, allowing extra time.

10 Questions to Ask at the IEP Meeting

  1. Are the IEP goals directly linked to my child’s priority educational needs?
  2. What specific learning strategies are written on the IEP?
  3. Is there a learning strategies class my child can take?
  4. Will peer tutoring by used with my child?
  5. What types of technology are available and can help my child with a learning disability?
  6. What are the most common accommodations for students with learning disabilities?
  7. What are the least common accommodations for students with learning disabilities?
  8. How can social skills instruction be incorporated into the IEP goals?
  9. Can my child get preferential scheduling of courses (in middle and high school?)
  10. What type of support does my child’s general education teacher receive when working with my child?

Tips for Parents of Kids with Learning Disabilities

  • Ask yourself, “Where do you want your child taught? In a pull out classroom, separate classroom, or within the regular education classroom?”
  • Ask the school staff if they know of any outside school tutoring free for students with learning disabilities?
  • Ask if there are any respected private practice clinics or learning centers in your area that specialize in working with students with learning disabilities.
  • Discuss options for summer learning.

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