This past week, we had a 504 Plan meeting for Blake and I learned some new things.
We have done an IEP with Blake from Kindergarten up until about a month ago, but we had never done a 504 Plan.
I am not an expert, by any means, I did want to share what I learned and the difference between a 504 Plan and an IEP.
An IEP is short for Individualized Education Program.
The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities.
Source: US Department of Education
For Blake, he had an IEP from Kindergarten up until about a month ago for his speech. We had our IEP meetings with Blake, his teacher, and the speech teacher to discuss and evaluate the behavior that was an issue.
Fortunately for Blake, he graduated from speech just about a month ago and no longer will need an IEP for speech.
The main key to an IEP is that you are modifying a behavior.
For Blake, we were modifying his speech and how he spoke certain sounds using exercises, tools (such as straws and mirrors), and practicing certain word sounds to improve his speech abilities.
He had 3 specific, measurable goals (80% success or higher) with a specific due date that we evaluated due date to see where he was making progress, what he had succeeded at, and where he still needed improvement.
By the middle of this school year, he had succeeded in 2 of his 3 goals. His last goal was finally met successfully about a month ago, allowing him to graduate from speech and no longer be in need of his IEP.
I will say, an IEP has a lot more “standards” and “deadlines” per se, than a 504 Plan. It is a much more “conservative” process with meetings, evaluations, paperwork, follow-ups, etc.
The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.
Source: University of Washington, 2017
We just had a meeting last week for Blake’s 504 Plan.
The 504 Plan is less… “conservative” so to speak than the IEP process.
The 504 Plan was a meeting between us, Blake’s teacher, and the school psychologist. (The principal usually does them but because we are at the end of the school year prepping for next year, he was unavailable.)
The main key to a 504 Plan is that you are providing accommodations for the child.
One thing on his 504 Plan is that he takes medication from the nurse’s office at lunch time. Another item was that he is allowed to have “active time” if needed, meaning he can pace or stand in the back of the classroom if he gets antsy (due to his ADHD.)
We wanted the plan put together for next school year as “precautions”. Some of those included that any statements of self-harm or harm to others will result in a phone call home and Blake will have to speak to someone rather than immediately getting suspended. (He is not a violent kid at school, but at times, has difficulty expressing his emotions so rather than get suspended immediately, we want the situation evaluated and handled appropriately for him.)
Another item was that his teacher sends us his schedule for the following day, the night before so we can prepare him if his schedule is off.
We have had issues with him not wanting to go to school and refusing to get up in the mornings. He misses the bus and in turn, misses school. His doctor believes it could be “anxiety of the unknown” because he knows his next day at school is going to be different than their normal routine. With us having a schedule the night before, we can plan and prepare him for the next day.
We are making adaptions for him to remain successful in school.
Blake’s 504 Plan will be passed on to his teacher every year. It will be evaluated annually and if we need to add something to it, we can call a 504 Plan meeting anytime during the school year to make adjustments.
Additionally – something I didn’t know, but people should be aware of – is that all special education students are provided accommodations during state testing! Fortunately, Blake does really well at school and during testing so he did not need the accommodations provided; but it reassured me to know that there are universal accommodations for special needs students.
Like I mentioned, I am not an expert at either of these items, but definitely learned enough to understand them a little better than I did two weeks ago!
Next week, I will share the process of an IEP but in the mean time, if you have any questions; feel free to shoot me a message and I will answer as best as you can!
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