Traits, personality traits, or characteristics … no matter what you call them, if ignored, it is almost a guarantee that your child’s IEP goals will fail. What are these traits you ask?  They are the immeasurable qualities that make your child who they are.

Things like:

  • Your child’s learning style
  • Your child’s interests
  • Your child’s anxiety triggers or fears
  • Your child’s view of themselves

Knowing and documenting these characteristics will help everyone on the ARD committee understand how best to provide services to your child. It will also help you determine if a particular intervention or accommodation is right for your child. For example, because my son is a visual learner, with auditory processing and concentration issues, having read-aloud as an accommodation is counter-intuitive. Because I know this, I would ask that the accommodation be adapted (i.e, giving my child a book to follow along with or using turn-taking during read aloud).

You might be thinking to yourself, ‘Where in the IEP do you document this information?’ and ‘What amount of information is appropriate?’. You can have it listed in the General Information or Parents Concerns section. In addition, I suggest that you create a ‘profile card’ of your child that you share with their teacher whenever they move on to the next grade. The amount of information included depends on what you believe is critical to their IEP goals. Just ask yourself, “Which trait will alter the way your child is taught or cause one service to be provided vs. another?” One trait that you should never forget to list is your child’s learning style.

It’s very important that we keep in mind the things that make our children who they are. They can be our guide to successful achievement of IEP goals. Otherwise, we may be trying to squeeze a round peg into a square hole. Even though it will fit, there will still be gaps.

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