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The Role of School Counselors in the IEP Process

teacher at desk holding conferenceIf your school-aged child has a disability, you will find yourself involved in the IEP process. An IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is a document, required by federal law, which will follow your child through his or her educational career. You will be involved in many meetings that are attended by various school personnel and professionals, all with the same goal in mind: the educational success of your child.

During IEP meetings, each person will have opinions to offer and information to share with regards to your child. Knowing each person’s role in these meetings will help you understand the process. One of the most important professionals in these meetings will be the school counselor. The following information will help you understand the school counselor’s role in the IEP process:

1.Assessments

The school counselor will deliver several assessments to your child throughout your child’s school career. The counselor may assess your child’s cognitive development, his or her physical development, emotional maturity and, in middle or high school, your child’s work values and post-school goals. The counselor will evaluate these assessments and report findings to you and the IEP team.

2.Assistive Technology

The school counselor will be able to provide opinions and recommendations regarding assistive technology for your child, based on results of any given assessments. Your child may require specialized materials, technological tools with which to complete assignments, mobility devices, or even the use of a personal aid. These assistive technologies, as well as provided accommodations, can help to ensure that your child is able to succeed in an inclusive environment.

girl staring at camera

3.Community Resources

Because your child doesn’t spend 24 hours, seven days a week in school, you may find that you need extra help at home. Whether you need financial assistance, tutoring for your child, or even professional counseling for the family, the school counselor can help you locate resources within the community that will be useful to you, your child and your family. You can expect the school counselor to act as a liaison between your family, school personnel and these community resources. He or she will foster collaboration and a sense of trust, making outside professionals more willing to assist your child as he or she works towards graduation.<

4.Transition Planning

Students with IEPs must have transition goals included in their IEPs by the time they reach the age of 16. These transition goals outline your child’s goals for life after high school. These goals may include, but are not limited to, finding a job, attending college or living independently. The school counselor can help to ensure that your child’s goals are realistic in accordance with his or her abilities. Additionally, the school counselor can start exposing your child to life outside of school by way of campus visits, job training sites and mentorships.

The school counselor is one of the most important persons included on your child’s IEP team. From assessing your child to putting you in contact with important resources, the school counselor has a versatile role in your child’s education. For more information on the requirements for special education as dictated by IDEA 2002, be sure to visit IDEA.ed.gov.

Blogger Vince Gilbert writes about current issues in education. Interested in helping young people achieve their dreams? Wake Forest now offers an online degree in human services that can prepare you for a career as a school counselor.

Images courtesy of ultimatewoodlands and Sara Lafleur-Vetter via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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