Back to School with The Arc!

Welcome to the 1st Installment of our new "Alphabet Soup" series, where we will help you make sense of all the acronyms used in our world!  In this post, we'll tackle some of the most common acronyms used in education, like IEP, FAPE and IDEA.  Check back next month for our 2nd "Alphabet Soup" installment, all about Social Security benefits.

Many of us have fond memories of our parents or grandparents giving us a warm bowl of alphabet soup on a chilly fall evening.  Little did we know that when we grew up and became a member of the intellectual and developmental disabilities community, we would be navigating a world of educational “alphabet soup” in the form of IEPs, FAPE, IDEA, OT, PT and more!  While it may feel daunting at first, here are some quick tips to help parents of children with I/DD understand the key acronyms you are likely to see – and hear – at school meetings this year.

IDEA – The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the federal law that requires schools to provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities. Basically, it means a public school system can’t refuse to educate a child because of his/her disabilities.

IEP – An Individual Education Plan is a legal document created by a team of people – you and staff members at your child’s school - that outlines your child’s present learning performance, educational goals, services and supports the school will provide to help your child meet these goals, and how progress will be measured and monitored.  As the parent, YOU are a very important member of the IEP team! 

LRE – The law requires students with disabilities receive their education in the Least Restrictive Environment.  Meaning, to the greatest extent appropriate, your child should be educated with his/her non-disabled peers.  The IEP team – which includes you, the parent – determines the right settings and accommodations for your child.

EC – The Exceptional Children’s Department of your child’s school system is made up of professionals who provide services and supports to children with disabilities.  We recommend you visit the EC page on your school system’s website and download the Parent Handbook of Rights & Responsibilities in Special Education.  You will also be given a copy of this handbook at your IEP meetings.  It includes very important information on your legal rights, and what to do if you have questions or concerns.  And, it has a handy-dandy full page of acronyms and their meanings!

All of us with The Arc of Union/Cabarrus wish you and your family a safe, happy and productive school year.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions about the IEP process, or any of the “alphabet soup” that goes on in our world.  In good times and bad, in challenging moments and moments of immense pride, through a crisis or victory...The Arc is there. 

Welcome back to school with The Arc!