You may have thought about how your child’s IEP is promoting his or her education. As you read through the various areas that the educational staff has deemed as important milestones that your child should meet this IEP period (which can last anywhere between one semester to a whole school year) you might be asking yourself a couple of questions.
1. Is this what I feel my child needs? Is this method the direction in which my child needs to go?
2. Is there anything that I can add to this that will benefit my child?
3. And is there anything I want that I will have to ask for in writing and get a doctor to support?
4. And will you need to hire an Advocate to make sure your child gets the tools that will ensure your child’s success in school.
You may be wondering what the teachers and specialist are talking about and why they use certain terms and what those terms mean.  I will go over those further on. When you go into an IEP meeting there are several things that you will need. Those being:
1. What you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your child’s needs are.
2. Where you think he falls within the educational system.
3. Which section he or she would best fit under.
There are several federal laws in which your child could fall under that can have a major impact on how and what services your child can and will receive. The first law is ADA which is Americans with Disabilities Act this covers the rights that those with disabilities are entitled to. It encompasses accommodations that businesses and employers must do and cannot do in the case of persons with disabilities. It also includes laws that keeps persons with disabilities from being discriminated against. Such as equal opportunity to education, employment, and access to public places

 [The Americans with Disabilities Act, as it applies to public entities, is identical. Subchapter II, Part A, of the  Americans with Disabilities Act at 42 U. S. C. § 12132 and § 12133 states:
Section 12132. Discrimination
Subject to the provisions of this subchapter, no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.

Section. 12133. Enforcement
The remedies, procedures, and rights set forth in section 794a of title 29 shall be the remedies, procedures, and rights this subchapter provides to any person alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of section 12132 of this title]
It is important to understand and know these laws as they pertain to you and your child. The ADA goes hand in hand with Section 504 which is the educational directive that protects your child’s rights as a person with disability. Be aware that Section 504 and IDEA are not the same and do not protect your child in the same manner. Section 504 gives rights to access to equal education. Meaning that if you choose your child should be mainstreamed into the general population or given individual education depending on what is best for the child. And not what is best for the school. This is key. It allows access not allow for individual targeted education plan like IDEA does. It only allows access. It protects the rights of the child to an equal education but not additional services to help them succeed. So if they need to install bigger doors to allow access into the building or the rooms therein, or if they have to have special tables to allow the child to eat lunch. Or if the bathrooms need to be modified to allow access of the child. “To be eligible for protections under Section 504, the child must have a physical or mental impairment. This impairment must substantially limit at least one major life activity. “Major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, writing, performing math calculations, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks. The key is whether the child has an [“impairment” that “substantially limits . . . one or more . . . major life activities”]” (Wright & Wright, 2008).

This is where the differences are clear for those that are on a section 504 IEP. They get no additional services or considerations. Therefore, this is important because if your child has behavior problems and only has a 504 it will not protect them from being held accountable without additional options to draw from.
If you have been to an IEP meeting before I am sure you noticed the delineators that are asked if the child qualifies for. 504 is one of them, and then there are other delineators that fall under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) those are SLD, A, and SLI which are students with a learning disability, Autism, Students with Learning impairment. A student must fall under one of these in order to be protected under the IDEA law meaning you cannot simply be dependent on a wheel chair to get around and other various types of disabilities that do not require special education in order to excel in learning. Physical disability that does not impair learning does not qualify. Related impairments that would qualify under IDEA are hearing and vision impairment, second language, other learning disability, students with specific learning disability, “which includes BR-basic reading, RC-reading comprehension, MC-Math Calculation, MR-Math Reasoning, and WE-written Expression”(Konrad, Walker, Folwer, Test & Wood, 2008), these are all usually presented in acronyms in an IEP. Which of course does not help with your confusion right? However, knowing what they are helps you understand the direction in which the educational staff is going in.
With IDEA there is a wide range of learning disabilities and Learning impairments that can be drawn from to pinpoint the best direction for your child’s success. You as a parent have a say so, you have rights to guide the direction of your child’s education and how it is implemented. This is not to say that you have carte blanch and can demand anything and everything. You have to have a clear plan, you have to have your child’s doctor’s support in the direction with clear and definitive directives in order to get what your child needs. And most of all you need it in writing. I cannot emphases this enough if you do not have this in writing you do not have it. It is as plain as that. If you understand these things and still feel as though you are not being heard you may have to hire an Advocate to go to the IEP with you. This can be costly if you do not know where to find one. Research your local area and find out who does advocacy in your area and find out who does it for what you can afford. In closing if you feel that you can get what you want for your child without an advocate make sure you know what you what it is that your child needs, how it is to be delivered and the duration in which he or she needs these additional devices.

Suggested Reading:

All about IEP’s by Peter Wright, Pam Wright, and Sue O’Connor

Konrad, M., Walker, A. R., Folwer, C. H., Test, D. W., & Wood, W. M. (2008). A model for aligning self determination and

general curriculum standards. Teaching Exceptional Children, Jan/Feb(2008), 55. Retrieved from

Wright, P., & Wright, P. (2008, March 02). Key differences between section 504, the ada, and idea. Retrieved from