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  • Cynthia Yoo

ADHD & Learning Disabilities - Individualized Program Plans

What are IPPs?

Children diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders are entitled to support for their learning differences and special needs within a classroom setting. If your child is diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and/or a Learning Disability, they have the right to have an Individualized Program Plan (IPP) created and delivered by their teaching team. An IPP will help to identify your child’s unique strengths, developmental capacities, learning needs, and realistic goals for the school year in order to maximize their learning and success. Common components of IPP plans involve classroom accommodations and modifications to the curriculum.

What are IPP meetings?

IPP meetings typically take place 3 times throughout the school year, sometimes more. These meetings allow for regular communication among your child’s teaching team, yourself, and your child. The purpose is to create an IPP plan, implement it, then come together continually to revise it as necessary so that it remains meaningful and relevant to your child’s emerging needs. It’s helpful to clarify from the outset what everyone’s expertise and role is in supporting your child in order to understand who is responsible for what pieces of the plan and who to communicate with when there are questions or concerns that arise throughout the school year.

Who attends IPP meetings?

It is important for teachers and other professionals who are supporting your child to attend your child’s IPP meetings. This ensures that the information gathered and discussed at these meetings is comprehensive. Additional people may include school counsellors, student support administrators, resource teachers, behavioral consultants, occupational therapists, and/ or psychologists. If your child has a close connection with a teacher (even a previous teacher), it could help to ask that person to participate in your child’s meetings as this person may have helpful information to contribute around your child’s strengths and serve as a great collaborator with other teachers who struggle to connect with your child.

It is important for you and your child to participate in their IPP meetings so that relevant information is exchanged in the spirit of collaboration. It is important for your child’s learning team to get a full picture of what your child is going through - including what is working and what is not. You and your child can speak to their interests, skills, strengths. Also, you can both discuss any challenges around home life, homework, reading, friendships, emotion management, physical and/ or mental health concerns, medication, sleeping or eating challenges, and more. You don’t need to share extensive personal details - just enough so that the team is aware of what is going on for your child so they can brainstorm how to support them appropriately. You are your child's best advocate.

What do children gain from attending IPP meetings?

It is empowering for children to see how many people stand behind them and come together to rally for their success. Further, when your child is an active participant in their IPP meetings, they become more aware of their strengths and learning needs, how to problem-solve and work through their struggles, how to regulate and effectively communicate with others, and how to advocate for their rights and needs. These are critical life skills that will help your child maximize their capacity and success beyond their school years and into adulthood as they navigate their way in the workplace.

Your own self-care

Caring for a child with ongoing developmental needs and challenges is a full-time investment of love, time, and energy. It is a challenging, emotional, and exhausting journey, as much as it is rewarding and fulfilling. Supporting your child requires you to show them understanding, patience, and compassion - even when you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and frustrated. As you keep showing up for your child, remember to show up for yourself. In order to be the best parent you can be for your child, you need to prioritize your needs. Make time to connect with others, rest, take part in leisure activities, and do things that contribute to your personal sense of life meaning, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Children watch what we do - you will be setting an excellent example for your child and teaching them that self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity.

- Written by Cynthia Yoo, Registered Psychologist -



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