How an Individual Education Plan (IEP) Aids the Inclusion of Autistic Children

Keeping in mind the importance of education, we observe how big of a role an Individual Education Plan plays in the inclusion of autistic children in society.

What is an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?

An Individual or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a program developed to cater to the different academic requirements of a student with an established disability. It is designed by academic workers from various disciplines, support personnel and the parents of the children of determination. This team comes together to plan out the goals and objectives specific to the child, and jot down an academic route relevant to it in a comprehensive collection of what is termed an Individualized Education Plan.

Introduced in 1975 to school systems around the globe, the IEP is an education plan modified to fit the special needs of a student with a disability, be it either a physical one or one posing learning difficulties. This could imply receiving a personalized curriculum altogether, or getting a time extension for completing assignments so as to not create a stressful environment for the student. The latter makes use of what were once called Resource Rooms (nowadays commonly known as Remedial Classrooms), where children could complete their schoolwork in the extra time they are provided. The time extension could also be received by expanding the course period; for example if the coursework normally spans two years’ time, the student of determination will be allowed to complete said work in three years.

How does it work?

The purpose of the Individual Education Plan is to ensure that persons of determination receive equal opportunity for progress as others, whether they have physical or intellectual challenges. Essentially, the IEP is meant to help each student reach their specified goals and objectives beyond their current skillset.
All Individual Education Plans typically include:
Identifying the student’s present levels of academic performance, particularly with regards to the general curriculum
Specified goals and outcomes for the individual student
All related educational accommodations and relevant services for which they qualify, in order to help the student in the achievement of their specified goals, including teaching strategies and resources
IEPs are not specific to merely classroom routines, but include individual time in measuring progress as well. There are four processes in the development of an Individualized Education Plan:
Gathering and sharing information: The initial stages of planning a modified program, the parents play a valuable part in providing information about the child of determination. This includes the student’s healthcare requirements, their strengths and talents, their interests, learning abilities, family and academic history which may affect their current status, and goals and objectives specific to the student’s personality characteristics.
Setting A Direction: The next step, now, would be to formulate a list of priorities related to the child’s learning needs. The team would, hence, list down the student’s education requirements, rank them by importance, and decide which is to be prioritized for the particular school year. To determine this ranking, the team will take under consideration a few questions:

Does the child require this skill now?
Will this skill be used for other learning?
Will this skill help your child be more independent?
Is the goal appropriate for your child’s age and grade?
How long will it take to learn the skill?
How useful will the skill be for your child in other environments?

Developing and Writing the Individual Education Plan: The team then discusses ideas relevant to the development of outcomes and goals specified for the child. These goals are meant to determine what the student aims to achieve in a select area in a particular amount of time in the school year. They are normally classified by subject areas (for instance, science, linguistics, etc.) or planning domains (for example, social skills, academic, self-help, gross motor skills, etc.)

Implementation and Review: The final stage of developing the IEPs requires a review of the formulated program, and determining how to measure the relevant progress of each child. Assessment strategies are practiced, IEP content is revised in relation to the student’s schedule, and timings for future review meetings are planned.

Implementation in Inclusion Centers

The education initiatives highlighted by the National Policy to Empower People of Determination in the UAE stresses the need to provide each student of determination with “a clear education track”. This notes the significance of an education program particularly designed for every student’s social enhancement and to enable their otherwise suppressed talents. Issuing a mission statement for special education, the Ministry of Education in the United Arab Emirates has maintained the importance of an Individual Education Plan in academic institutions. It is therefore established that inclusion programs in UAE must ensure the provision of IEPs modified to cater to each child’s particular requirements.

In a way, it intends to transform all school systems into Inclusion Centers in UAE through their “Philosophy of Inclusive Education,” which claims every student of determination having the right to an education with their age contemporaries without disabilities in a general academic setting.
Launching the Dubai Disability Strategy, His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum promotes inclusion of those with special needs in education at all stages. In lieu of this, the Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework outlines the principle of individualized education settings across the city, ensured and supervised by governing authorities and leading personnel at every level.
Consequently, inclusion centers in Dubai are legally mandated to ensure the provision of education rights for students of determination.

An Integrated Society

Regions like Dubai are furthering attempts of inclusion of all members of society, stressing their significance as citizens through the encouragement of Individual Education Plans and appreciation of inclusion centers, like Small Steps Big Dreams. This desire for an integrated, disability-friendly system highlights not only an appreciation for people of determination, but also a recognition of their many struggles. With IEPs, governments appear to desire the establishment of a system of equal opportunity for growth and progress, not condescending to an exclusion for those with more requirements than others.

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