Students with disabilities who receive special education services and supports have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). This plan includes educational goals related to their school program as well as goals related to their future such as employment and higher education. Students may also have an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) that includes goals outside of school. Both the IEP and the ISP focus on activities required to reach goals. Health-related goals and activities should be included in individualized plans and can often be coordinated with other life goals.
The IEP ensures that a student has the services and supports needed to achieve goals. Starting at age 15 this includes long-term goals for living, working, and learning as an adult. The goals are achieved through result-oriented activities. One of the areas of activities is independent living and community participation. This is a key area where health concerns can be addressed. Any activities that help teens and young adults manage their health better will improve their ability to live and work in the community.
It is important to develop a partnership with the school. To learn more about the role of schools in health care planning, the following resources will help:
- Parent Brief: What does health have to do with transition? (NCSET and PACER Center): Good overview of addressing health care needs in the IEP; includes examples.
- Health and the IEP (The Waisman Center): Includes three PowerPoint presentations on embedding health outcomes in the IEP; includes sample phrases for IEP; discusses partnerships with healthcare providers and schools; shows roles of families, schools, nurse and pediatrician.
- Embedding Health Outcomes in the IEP Process (Waisman Center): PowerPoint focuses on children with special health care needs.
- Preparing Students to Manage Health: A Partnership between Home and School (Parent to Parent of NYS): Includes bulleted points for parents and caregivers to consider and tips for students, parents and caregivers, and educators on putting health care goals into an IEP.
Parent and sibling groups can help you learn how to work with school systems. Many schools have Special Education Parent Teacher Associations. There may be other parent or sibling support groups in your area. Parent to Parent state-wide programs give you an opportunity to speak to other parents who may be dealing with the same issues as you. Regional groups set up by Parent to Parent can help address your local concerns, for example, about your school districts. To find out if your state has a Parent to Parent sponsored group go to:
Resources for siblings include:
Professionals can also provide information and resources about the special education system. Often these professionals are parents or siblings themselves. One example is:
Many young adults have an Individualized Service Plan (ISP). This plan includes goals based on their desires and dreams for the future. Goals usually relate to living or working in the community. Activities are developed to reach these goals. Activities related to health self-management should be included since they can affect the ability to live and work independently.