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Friday, February 02, 2007

A must read for anyone dealing with IEPs and other fun stuff

I have to say that Charles Fox and company over at the Special Education Law Blog have once again given a voice to an issue that is critical to address for the well being of all children with disability attending school. The use of negative labeling and loaded language reflected in IEPs (Individual Development Plans) demonstrates and propagates a lack of understanding into the behavior of disabled children and people who communicate and act differently.

Two months ago in our final IEP discussion we experienced tension over words used in it that negatively labeled Ellie. We were concerned that any school staff member reading Ellie's IEP in order to understand her would instead be set up to assume she was misbehaving and a difficult child. At the end of the day most of the language was changed because we refused to sign it until it was. That conversation did not go so well - let's just leave it at that...

Here is an excerpt from the Fox post which ends with a practical check list I wish all teachers and school staff had tattooed on their arms:

Avoid use of all charged language like manipulative and intentional. It is rare that children with special needs have a plan and a design that they are following through on to upset the class. The adjectives do nothing to further the discussion and tend to polarize the parties.

I wish Charles had written this a couple of months earlier before we had that difficult meeting. It's a great post and you can read it here.