Gayathri Mahadevan

IEP for the children with Special Needs

Posted On: September 1st, 2023    Posted By: Gayathri Mahadevan  To  Tips For Parents


The individualized education program (IEP), is a program developed for each child with special education need that specifies the student’s academic goals and methods to achieve those goals. It forms the pillar of a quality education for children with special needs.

Learning disability (LD):

LD can be defined as a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to process, retain and reuse information. It is the ineffective communication between the neural networks in the brain that results in difficulty in learning such as reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, memorizing, and doing math.

Comparing LD with AUTISM, ADHD, and Intellectual Disability:


Though children with both LD and Autism may have difficulties in learning academics the key features of Autism such as social communication deficits, restricted interests and routines, stereotypes and in severe cases, maladaptive behaviors are not usually present in children with LD.


Unlike in LD, where difficulties in learning are due to ineffective ‘wiring’ in brain, ADHD occurs as a result of chemical imbalances in brain. The key features such as inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity are not the main area of concern in children with LD.

Intellectual Disabilities:

Most children with LD’s usually have average/ above average intelligence and children with below average intelligence do not fall under the diagnosis of having LD.

IEP for student with LD compared to that of students with Autism/ ADHD:

The most important factor in implementing an IEP for a student with LD is providing the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), where the student is placed in regular class rooms with their non-LD peers as much as possible and benefits fullest from inclusion.

IEP of an LD primarily provides strategies for specific learning problems in a specific subject/ content where the child has difficulties. Whereas an IEP for a student with Autism/ADHD focuses more on  providing the child a learning environment that helps the child to maintain proper arousal level , manage sensory overloads, control impulses, channelize energy level, cope with social communication problems, prevent or control maladaptive behaviors and facilitate learning academics.

Providing an IEP as much at the LRE as that for student with LD would be comparatively harder for the student with Autism / ADHD.

Example to show difference in IEP for students with LD, ADHD, and Autism at Grade 2.





Doesn't do addition in Math

Doesn't learn any math concept in whole group instruction in Math Class

Doesn't score well

Possible causes for the difficulties

Doesn't understand steps in addition

Has difficulty writing numbers at proper place value

Doesn't like math

Fidgets a lot in Math class

Knows all the steps in math concepts

Gets anxious/ lost or upset during tests

Short term goals to include in IEP

Use a place value chart to practice writing numbers in proper place

Teach addition with and without carry over separately

Teach regrouping in addition first and then progress to paper pencil task

During Math class, pull the child to last bench initially to avoid disturbance to the class

Encourage to child to workout simple, well-known concepts and improve the self-esteem of the child

Teach grade level math on one on one basis in a resource room and proceed to gradual integration

Prepare the child ahead with social stories for tests/exams

Reassure the child during episodes of anxiety to changes in routine during tests/exams

Consider the performance during regular classes also to assess the learning.


Gayathri Mahadevan