193. Inclusive IEPs for Children with Complex Needs
If you have ever experienced low expectations at the IEP table as a parent or as a teacher for your child or students who have complex support needs, this episode is for you! I recently read an incredible book called Equitable and Inclusive IEPs for Students with Complex Support Needs: A Roadmap. The authors, Dr. Andrea L. Ruppar and Dr. Jennifer Kurth, explore how educators can create a meaningful and inclusive environment, especially for our learners who have complex support needs.
Students with complex needs have historically been in a separate classroom or, at times, even an entirely separate school from their same-aged peers. In fact, and the book touches on this, special education wasn’t mandated until 1975. That was only 48 years ago! Dr. Ruppar and Dr. Kurth offer practical steps that schools can take to facilitate more inclusive learning for these students to benefit them in all areas of their lives.
One big takeaway I had from my reading (there were several ah-ha moments for me even after all of my years spent in the special education community!) was the 3 core principles that the authors believe should apply to ALL IEPs… the simplicity is beautiful and can easily be applied in all IEP situations.
- Dignity: All IEPs need to be written with the intent to dignify and, in the words of the authors, CELEBRATE each student, acknowledging the intrinsic worth each student holds.
- Inclusive: All IEPs need to be inclusive, not just on a small scale, such as having the student attend a class or two with their peers, but taking into account the bigger long-term picture of the student’s life and future opportunities. This involves limiting the separation from peers and involving the student throughout the day in meaningful ways!
- Ambitious: All IEPs need to be ambitious, maintaining high expectations for our learners with complex needs who are, unfortunately, often expected to meet low expectations when it comes to growth.
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