Thursday, November 4, 2010

Breaking Down the IEP: Special Factors

In addition to the information that must be considered when developing any IEP document, and in addition to the required IEP content, the IDEA requires the IEP team to take into consideration "special factors" in specifically designated circumstances. Those situations give rise to additional information that often must be addressed and included in the IEP document.

Under 20 U.S.C. section 1414(d)(3), Special Factors to be considered by the IEP Team include the following:

Behavior needs and behavioral interventions

"In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child's learning or that of others, [the IEP Team shall] consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior." 20 U.S.C. section 1414(d)(3)(B)(i).

In consideration of this special factor, the IEP team first has to determine whether the child's behavior impedes his/her learning or that of others. This determination can be based on data from a variety of sources, including teacher input, observational data, or an assessment in this area, such as a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). A child's behavior can be determined to "impede" learning based on a number of reasons. If the child's behavior results in removal from class because of disciplinary reasons, this may "impede" his/her learning because he/she is not available in the classroom to recieve instruction. If the child's behavior is disruptive, it may impede the learning of others because they lose instructional time. The team's determination with regards to this issue should be clearly documented within the IEP, so that information regarding what behaviors specifically exist and how they impede the learning of the child or others is clear to all of those developing and implementing the IEP.

Once the determination is made that behaviors exists that impede the learning of the child or others, then the IEP team is mandated to consider the use of strategies and supports to address that behavior. The IDEA refers to "positive behavior interventions and supports" as well as "other strategies."

Language Needs

"In the case of a child with limited English proficience, consider the language needs of the child as such needs relate to the child's IEP." 20 U.S.C. section 1414(d)(3)(B)(ii)

Instruction in Braille

"In the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, [the IEP Team shall] provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP team determines, after an evaluation of the child's reading and writing skills, needs and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child's future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille), that instruction in Braille is not appropriate for the child." 20 U.S.C. section 1414(d)(3)(B)(iii)

Communication needs

The IEP Team shall "consider the communication needs of the child, and in the case of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the child's language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the child's langauge and communication mode, academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child's language and communication mode." 20 U.S.C. section 1414(d)(3)(B)(iv)

Assistive Technology

The IEP Team shall "consider whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services." 20 U.S.C. section 1414(3)(B)(v).

Assistive Technology services under the IDEA means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. See 20 U.S.C. 1401(2); 34 CFR 300.6. Assistive Tecnology devices are pieces of equipment or other items utilized to maintain or to improve the child's functional capabilities and enable them to access their learning environment and the curriculum. An AT device can be something high-tech, like advanced computer softward or devices, or something as low-tech as a pencil grip.

The IEP team is required to consider the child's unique needs and make a determination regarding whether the child requires AT. If the child does require AT, this must be documented within the IEP. It may not be necessary for the District to write in the exact device name, but enough information should be included to specify what type of device is to be used and what purpose it will serve, as well as what services will be provided to the child (including frequency and duration) related to the device.


  1. My only qualm with the listing of the types of instances necessitating IEP-Special Ed. assignment is behavioral problems being lumped in with physical maladies. Behavioral problems have no place in being classified as anything more than what the definition of such noted i.e. "If the child's behavior is disruptive, it may impede the learning of others because they lose instructional time."

    Behavioral problems should be classified separately - they should not be placed with physical maladies under any circumstance unless a direct physiological connection can be made.

    Understand I am not speaking of severe psychiatric conditions rather disruptive behavior intent on wrecking instructional time for the class.

  2. Brilliant post, nicely done. And thanks for sharing all this information.vBulletin 4.0