How do I write a strength-based IEP?
Creating a strength-based IEP may require the IEP team to shift their mindset and language to not stigmatize disability or ignore your child’s skills, but the actual procedure does not require different forms or documents. Your child’s strengths and needs will be detailed in the Present Levels of Performance (PLOP) section of the IEP. One way to model inclusive language is to make sure the description of your child in the PLOP section begins with listing their strengths (e.g., they are hard working, love science, are always quick to help a friend) instead of describing their limitations (they struggle with behaviors, reading, etc.). Building the IEP around a student’s strengths changes a team’s approach and expectations for that child for the better. The team can employ a strength-based perspective by writing goals that include information about what is already working. For example, a goal might begin by listing specific supports, accommodations, and strategies a child uses successfully, such as a graphic organizer, math manipulatives, etc., that may be incrementally removed or adjusted as the child masters the skill.
For more information about strength-based strategies and accommodations, see our article How to Develop a Strength-Based IEP For Your Child.