After Five Years in Special Ed, My Child Is Still Behind
By Debra Collins, Family therapist
My oldest child has ADHD and dyslexia. He is in fourth grade and repeated first grade. He is behind in all of his classes, in reading the most. I had a meeting with one of his teachers last week and found out that he is still reading at a first-grade level. He has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and is "labeled" as OHI (other health impaired). I have had many meetings with the school and have been dealing with this for five years. I feel as if he is falling through the system. I have tried everything I can think of to help him. If you know of anything that I might be able to do to help, please let me know.
The IEP is structured to prevent children from falling through the cracks. Depending on the severity of your child's impairments, an IEP meeting can be held once or twice a year, or more frequently if his teachers feel this is necessary. The IEP and his classification/diagnosis allows the IEP process to continue throughout his school years. Having the IEP is a wonderful resource for you to have in place, because it holds people accountable.
Unfortunately, some children don't get to this step soon enough. So, even if it doesn't feel like it to you, you've done a lot for him by getting him to qualify for the IEP.
Since you feel he is not making progress, I would take all the treatment plans and goals you signed at his IEP meeting IEPs and go over them to familiarize yourself with what was supposed to be accomplished and in what time frame. If you no longer have copies, the school should be able to provide them. Once you've examined the full scope of all his IEP goals, you can present your specific concerns to your principal. Ask what other services he is eligible for.
If you are still not satisfied, you can contact your school district's special education office and ask how you might file a grievance. Principals, teachers and special education personnel all have different ideas of how to interpret the laws of special education, which makes it difficult for parents to sort out. You may also want to go to the Web site of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. NCLD is an advocacy center for parents, students and educators to better understand how this system works. You are doing the right thing by advocating for your child and staying on top of it.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.