How to get a great IEP for Children with Intellectual Disabilities

What are common challenges for children with Intellectual Disabilities? Children and young adults with intellectual disabilities often have difficulty attending to tasks, academic challenges with reading comprehension, applied math, and math calculations.  They have short term, working, and long term memory difficulties.  Most students have difficulty transferring information or applying learning to new situations.  Some may have problems learning vocabulary.  All children with intellectual disabilities have one or more deficits in adaptive behavior skills such as social skills, daily living skills, or being self directed.

Frequent types of services or accommodations provided on the IEP for students with Intellectual Disabilities include: specialized instruction in basic and functional skills, independent life skills, self-advocacy skills, and transition planning from school to adult living.

10 Questions to Ask at the IEP Meeting
  1. Is the IEP academic plan based on learning functional skills? (reading a recipe, ordering from a menu, counting out money, telling time, etc.)
  2. At what age do you switch from teaching basic academic skills to functional skills?
  3. What types of life skills are taught?  (using a telephone, grocery shopping, cooking)
  4. Are social skills explicitly taught?
  5. At what age do you begin involving my child in goal setting and self-advocacy?
  6. What is community based instruction and is it an option?  If so, where do students work in the community?
  7. How much time will my child spend with non disabled students?
  8. Is cooperative learning used?  (Cooperative learning is when students of different levels work together and are responsible for their learning and helping the group reach a goal.)
  9. Is technology available for my child such as learning how to use time management devices or an audio recorded prompt system to use at work?
  10. What type of support does my child’s general education teacher receive when working with my child?
  1. Never underestimate the learning potential of a child with an Intellectual Disability.
  2. Leaning Independent life skills are critical goals to have on the IEP.
  3. Parents’ choices should be respected about the value of which functional academics are taught.