More than an IEP: Planning for Special Education Needs Beyond the Classroom and How an Educational Consultant Can Assist

Many special education students with a 504 Plan or an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) have needs that must be met beyond the classroom. It is common for students to face numerous challenges in one or more areas including school, learning, social, emotions, or behavioral challenges. Within those categories are a long list of specific common concerns and presentations or severity that are often unique to every individual.

Understanding Needs and Services

There is a difference between needs and services. Needs are the problems that students are facing while services are the specific practices that educators use to help address the need.

One might need help with learning, and tutoring might be the service selected to meet the need. Another person might need to become emotionally regulated, and therapy, or medicine, or a special camp opportunity, are services that could be selected to meet the need. A 504 Plan or an IEP, referred to by different terms depending on the district or state, are services designed to meet a student’s need for access to an appropriate education and commonly referred to as FAPE.

Identifying the right school-based accommodations or services can be quite a challenge. Life for these families can become even more complicated when a family must access additional services outside of school. It is common for assessments to indicate needs and recommend services that might include occupational therapy, social skills groups, individual therapy of many types, extensive tutoring, juvenile justice system diversion or probation programming, and more. Appointments may occur with various providers and are scheduled both during and after school hours.

Special Education Students and Needs Outside of School

Given the sheer number of programs and options available, It’s easy to become overwhelmed and spend considerable time and energy on services, and yet see minimal results. This can leave families feeling frustrated and even resentful due to being overextended with services that are added to the everyday activities of families and young people today. What is a parent to do with all the requirements, recommendations, and options for services?

Morgan Guidance Educational Consultant Elaine Morgan assists families in creating customized plans designed to work in the local community. 

I provide parent support as well as a concierge-style of case management for families who like to plan services for the maximum benefit. It’s a collaborative approach where parents are experts, and I serve as a sounding board and brainstorming partner. Our mutual goal is to create a clear path forward including a well-thought-out plan with actionable goals and steps. A plan must be sustainable, which can be a challenge for families accessing a number of services for a student or young adult with special needs of some sort. Sometimes the planning includes recommendations of the “right fit” school or program. Planning is strategic, not random. We track success and adjust the plan as often as needed. Professionals appreciate systematic planning that targets barriers to success. Parents and professionals alike value integrated care that supports success.

As with the wraparound model of care, parents and young people lead the planning process. Planning is always customized to the family’s culture and experiences. Morgan offers this level of service at her office and uses technology to plan with families across the country. Do you have a student or client who utilizes special education services? We create comprehensive plans that include school and community services. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation and to learn if this style of planning is right for your family.

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