Is there a stigma with an IEP/504?

Because I’ve been in the IEP/504 world for so long, I sometimes forget that there are parents who are concerned about the appearance of their child having an IEP or a 504, because of stigma or because the parents view the assistance as a “crutch”. I want to address that a little.

The idea of an IEP or a 504 is for the help to help. Some students will always need accommodations. My daughter is one of them. But the goals she had in kindergarten are not the goals she has in 8th grade, because the help helped. Students have goals so that they can achieve them, and move on. Oftentimes, that will allow a student to outgrow the need for accommodations at all. Students with 504 accommodations often have them with the expectation that they will learn to self advocate as they grow older, limiting or ending the need for support.

You have of course heard the adage about early intervention. It’s trite but it’s true. The earlier kids get support, the sooner they learn to do the things they need to, to achieve their goals in life. Denying your child access to support and guidance that is being offered doesn’t make the disability or challenge go away. It just prolongs your child’s struggle.

Statistically, around 24% of kids in public school are on an IEP or a 504. This covers everything from kids with asthma to kids who need nursing care at all times, kids who are non-verbal, have mild speech impediments, to the 20% of kids with some form of dyslexia. My point is this: there’s only a stigma if you let there be. Your child, if they’re past around 3rd grade, realizes that there are differences between them and typical kids. Give them the tools they need to level the playing field.

I know it can be hard to hear the word disability associated with your child. Believe me, I shed tears over that frequently. I still cry in her IEP meetings. But if I let my ego get in the way of helping her, I am not being the parent I need to be to help her succeed. There are skilled people who know how to help. They want to help. It is important to put ego aside, and let them.

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