Parents throughout Minnesota are visiting school open houses, scheduling classroom visits, setting up physicals and immunizations and making plans for their child’s schooling in the fall. Families of children who have disabilities face planning for new classes and the individualized education program (IEP). Students who have disabilities are likely to need accommodations in certain academic areas. Accommodations might include things like verbal instruction for children who have dyslexia.
An individualized education program defines specifics on a student’s disability, special education services they might need, and academic goals that the student needs to reach in order to be on the same academic level as their grade-level peers. For a student who has dyslexia an academic goal might be the ability to read at grade-level. That goal can be difficult to reach. With dyslexia, the students might have problems that prevent them from seeing letters correctly and understanding how to put the letters together to make words.
Educators can make academic adaptations for students to help them achieve their goals as best they can. Educational services can be helpful. It can be beneficial to have teachers trained to teach children who have dyslexia and physical therapy for students who have motion or dexterity problems.
It is important for students to work on their academic strengths as well as their weaknesses. If students do not work on their strengths, they could fall behind on their grade-level education. Sometimes students fall behind on their education because of having to leave the classroom to receive an educational service or too much of their time is spent on their academic weaknesses.
Including students in meetings on individualized education programs is crucial. It helps them understand where they are academically and why they need educational assistance. By having a grasp of what is in their individualized education programs, students will be able to decide what services they need and what they do not require.
It is essential to balance educational services that emphasize students’ academic strengths. Dropping educational services can give students the opportunity to focus on their strengths.
If students have had educational services for a number of years but they no longer require some of them, dropping services can lead to a feeling of satisfaction.
-Emma Wagner has cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and epilepsy. She attended meetings on her individualized education programs and had several types of educational services in school. Services included occupational therapy, physical therapy and adapted physical education in elementary school and learning disabilities services, adaptive physical education and physical therapy in middle school and high school.
Wagner appreciates the issues regarding individualized education programs, students’ desires to have a balance of focus on their educational strengths and weaknesses and wanting to be treated like students in a classroom.
In elementary school Wagner requested that the number of her educational services be cut back, which gave her the opportunity to work on her grade-level studies. Services were dropped when she left elementary school and by her junior year of high school, physical therapy was dropped.
Today, Wagner is majoring in psychology at UW River Falls. She has academic accommodations and enjoys focusing on her general education studies. College has given Wagner the opportunity to work on her academic strengths and feel the satisfaction of not having educational services.