An IEP must be tailored to each individual student’s needs. Considerations in developing an IEP include assessing the student in all areas related to known disabilities, simultaneously considering ability to access general curriculum, considering how the disability affects the student’s learning, developing goals and objectives that correspond to the needs of the student, and ultimately choosing a placement in the least restrictive environment possible for the student.

Every section must be completed thoroughly in order to have an effective IEP.

Assessments, evaluations – Present levels of performance (PLOP) in every domain that impacts education including:

  • Medical/Physical-does your student have any medical issues that will have to be monitored while at school (allergies, seizures, ADD, any other co-occuring medical conditions, etc.)?
  • General education-how much support does your student need to make reasonable gains in general education, is he learning all the content, what kinds of obstacles does she have, how does he learn best in general education, etc.
  • Social/emotional-how is your student doing with friendships, how is her self esteem, how happy is he going to school, any concerns?
  • Adaptive-How is your student’s adaptive functioning, how did she do on the Vineland? What are his strengths, how does she navigate environments, how independent is he?
  • Behavior-any challenging behaviors, does she drift off & day dream, when he should be attending to salient details in instruction, how is his frustration tolerance, etc.
  • Cognitive– How is her natural learning capacity without supports. Does he struggle with learning or is she able to process information evenly like her peers, what are his strengths, visual/spatial, organizing books on the shelf, help with group activities, following along with the class…
  • Academic-Is he participating in all the learning activities in reading, math, basic science? How much academic supports does she need, what kinds of modifications would make her life easier? does he need help learning new concepts, more so than other kids in his class, how much more? Does she recognize shapes, letters, colors, sound blends, is he forming letters & numbers, color with markers & crayons, can he draw simple pictures?
  • Communication-How is your student’s self-expression, auditory processing, word finding, any difficulties in social communication?
  • Assistive Technology-to assist your student stay successful in general education. This includes augmentative communication and writing devices.
  • Fine Motor-any obstacles with feeding self, grooming, writing, coloring, tying shoes, buttoning up shirts/zippers, etc.

A helpful assessment report should not only contain scores & data, it must spotlight all areas of learning that require remediation & intervention. There is no limit on how much information is shared in each domain.

Measurable Annual Goals

  • typically 1-2 annual goals in each domain that was identified as an area needing remediation in the assessment. Each goal will have short term benchmarks and objectives.
  • how progress will be measured for each goal-data collection, observation, work samples, etc.
  • how often it’s reported. Districts like giving progress reports once every 6 weeks or quarter, along with district progress reports. If your student is really high functioning needs minimal supports, that may be fine. But if there’s any question about how well he’s doing, the more often progress is reported (every 4 weeks), then you can ask for modifications, interventions in order for your student to make steady gains.

Accommodations & Modifications

  • Examples include: preferential seating, visual supports, reinforcement/reward system, organized learning environment, extra transition time from activity to activity, frequent breaks, frequent movement, deep pressure/calming activities, special writing grips, specially lined paper,etc.

Any aide/assistance that improves how your student accesses his/her education is listed & there’s no limit on how many. It’s based on their individual needs.

District wide tests of achievement on basic literacy

This is helpful if you’d like to know how your son/daughter is performing in comparison to neuro-typical students. The performance on these tests is tied to school financing and budgets. As such districts prefer for lower performing students with IEP to opt out of tests. You have to decide whether testing is appropriate for your student.

Special education & related services

  • Services provided by specialists, where they’ll work directly with your student, how often & for how long.
  • Teacher training & consultations – If you want the teachers to learn more about autism or how to work with you student, this is the section you’d advocate for staff training and supports


  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)determination,
  • How long in regular education, regular education with supports,
  • A little bit of pullout time, more pullout time, 1:1 support parts of the day, 1:1 all day etc.

The IEP is a contract. It can be modified as more information becomes available. You can propose, modify and change IEP goals throughout the school year, you can ask for additional assessments, there’s never a wrong that can not be corrected! Don’t rush through the process, it doesn’t have to happen to get done in one hour. A wonderful special education teacher once told me her favorite IEP’s are those that take 12 hours! Review the IEP and ask your independent specialists to review it as well. Always send your revisions and requests for clarification in writing!

Additional Education resources:

Special Education Resolution Toolkit 

Autism IEP Supplement

As of July 2008 OSPI has made this tool available to ESD’s who will in turn voluntarily make it available to all special education directors in WA to be shared with teachers & administrators. OSPI refers to it as Best Practice Guidelines for educating students with ASD’s. The intent is to ensure all key areas of a student’s educational needs are considered during an IEP.

IEP’s vs. 504 plans

Performance Based IEP’s

Response to Intervention (RTI)

Independent Education Evaluation (IEE)

Sample IEP pages

Private schools

Other resources

Including extended school year (ESY), IEP meeting video simulation, Autism Speaks School Community Tool Kit, Governor’s Office of Education Ombuds(OEO) “What Every parent needs to know” & resources from Autism Outreach Project. Sample education letters Sample letters from parent to school



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