Individualized Education Program (IEP)
If you think your child might need Vision Therapy but are unable to afford the therapy, you should consider requesting an Individualized Education Program (IEP) from your child’s school. IEPs can cover the cost of Vision Therapy.
What is an IEP?
A federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools create an IEP for every child receiving special education services. The school covers the costs of an IEP. Kids from age 3 through high school graduation or a maximum age of 22 (whichever comes first) may be eligible for an IEP.
The IEP is meant to address each child’s unique learning issues and include specific educational goals. It is a legally binding document. The school must provide everything it promises in the IEP.
Here’s a quick look at what an IEP must include, by law:
- A statement of your child’s present level of performance (PLOP)—this is how your child is doing in school now
- Your child’s annual educational goals
- Special education supports and services that the school will provide to help your child reach goals, such as Vision Therapy
- Modifications and accommodations the school will provide to help your child make progress
- Accommodations your child will be allowed when taking standardized tests
- How and when the school will measure your child’s progress toward annual goals
- Transition planning that prepares teens for life after high school
Who qualifies for an IEP?
Two things must happen before a child can get special education services.
1. An evaluation. Parents, teachers, a counselor, a doctor or anyone else who suspects a child is struggling can request an evaluation. The school psychologist and other professionals may give your child various tests. They also may observe your child in the classroom.
At Yorba Linda Optometry and Beyond, Dr. Marran O.D. Ph.D. may give your child various tests to determine if your child has a vision problem that could treated by Vision Therapy.
2. A decision. The IEP team, which includes parents and school officials, decides whether or not your child needs special education services in order to learn the general education curriculum. IDEA says that having any of 13 disabilities may qualify a child for special education. The school and parents review the evaluation and determine whether the results show that your child needs services and supports.
If the IEP team agrees that your child needs services, then the next step is to create an IEP. If your child is found ineligible, you can still try to get services for your child. For instance, you might pursue a 504 plan. Click here to read more about a 504 plan. Click here for more information on IEPs.
Here are 6 steps for requesting a school evaluation:
1. Find out where to send your request. Ask your child’s teacher who to address your request for an educational evaluation to. If they don’t know, ask the principal or your school’s special education director.
2. Write a formal letter. Download a sample letter to give yourself a model to follow. Modify it based on your concerns and observations of your child.
3. Be specific about why you’re requesting the evaluation. Write as much as you need to about your concerns. Don’t be afraid to say things like, “I’m requesting my child be evaluated to see if she has vision problems.”
4. Consent to your child being evaluated. Say explicitly in your letter that you are giving consent for your child to be evaluated. Request a “Consent to Evaluate” form to sign.
5. Make sure the letter arrives. Hand-deliver it or send it via certified mail (“return receipt requested”). If you hand-deliver the letter, ask for a date-stamped, signed copy for your records.
6. Follow up. After five days, if you haven’t heard anything, check in with the school. You can do this by phone, but send an email or letter to confirm the next steps that were agreed upon in that conversation.