Strength-Based IEPs: How Focusing on the Whole Child Can Transform Your IEP
These words don’t have to define our kids. With the support of Dr. Solone and all the parents who joined us, we now have several tools and strategies at hand that we can bring to future IEP meetings. As Dr. Solone said, “Creating strength-based IEPs will help people see your children as individuals who make up an important part of our community and society.”
The first step in building a strength-based IEP is to create a vision statement for your child. We’ll walk you through the steps you need to get there.
LEARN: What Is a Strength-Based IEP?
Because IEPs are the documents that teachers first read when they get new students, IEPs shape their first impressions of our kids. Dr. Solone explained that many educators are trained to write IEPs that only focus on the details of a child’s disabilities and the tasks they’re unable to do, which forms the trajectory of that child’s entire school career.
Traditional IEP language often includes statements like, “Charlotte has a five-second attention span,” or “Annica has severe autism and frequent tantrums, bites and kicks when frustrated, and does not have a conventional means of communication.” Dr. Solone asked, do these student profiles provide information that will help these students thrive? Unfortunately, without showing teachers your child’s entire being, the answer is usually no. And that’s where strength-based IEPs come into play.
Strength-based IEPs foster self-determination, self-efficacy, self-control, and academic achievement.
They are effective because they focus on the whole child — not just a child’s disabilities.
Focusing on the whole child means writing IEPs in a positive way that honors a student’s abilities, possibilities, interests, and support needs.