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Writing an Individual Education Plan (I.E.P.)

Writing an I.E.P. can be so daunting. I have put together this blog post to hopefully make the IEP process clearer and less daunting for some. I have divided this blog up using the headings: Steps to Writing an I.E.P., Gather Information About The Child, Assessments, Writing the I.E.P. Targets, The I.E.P. Meeting, Who Attends?, When Are The Meetings?, What’s Involved?

Steps to Writing an I.E.P.

This is the layout of the I.E.P. I use. If you would like a copy of it here is the link to my store:

Page 1: Pupil Information

All Pupil Information at a quick glance, handy for contact details, handing over to new teachers or to outside agencies.

Page 2: Outside Agencies

Keep a list of up to date outside agencies the children are working with or have worked with in the past.

During IEP meeting parents can double check the contact details you have and update you on any sessions the children have for the upcoming term.

Pages 3 & 4: Pupil Profile: Learning Characteristics

I have broken this down into sections to make the information clearer and more organised. It is easier to scan through and find something you need during a meeting etc. These are the headings I find work best for me in the ASD class setting

Page 5:

Pupil Interview: if applicable questions could be asked to the pupil about their learning and how they feel about school etc.

Parent Input and Record of Meetings: In this section I like to include the dates and times of IEP meetings and who has attended from the school (e.g. teacher, SNAs, mainstream teacher) and the family members that have attended. I also include any big decisions made at a meeting or any new targets for the child. It is handy to have as a quick reference.

Page 6: Specific Long Term Learning Targets

On this page I have space for 4 learning targets. I fill in the child’s long term targets for the year here as an easy reference and guide for their short term targets.

Pages 7 – 10: Short Term Targets

I like to have this section landscape and have one page per target to include as much information as necessary.

I include any strategies/resources I plan on using and add to these during the IEP meetings. It is handy to look back on when planning lessons as you may not remember all of the ideas you had.

At the end of each term, I write a short reflection at the bottom. This helps to inform the target for the new term or the next target a child might work on. It is also helpful information for the teacher who will have the class the following year or the mainstream class teacher to see the pace the child progresses at.

Gather Information About The Child

I like to start by gathering as much information about the child as I can. I like to get information from anyone who has worked with the child most recently. Every year, I send home a parent/guardian questionnaire to find out what targets the parent would like their child to work on and to find out how the child is at home. An input from a parent is invaluable as they know their children the best. This helps you to form an idea of the child’s strengths and needs in your mind if you haven’t met them before. If you have an opportunity to meet with the parents/guardians before the school year starts, then even better, it is a great way to begin to build a relationship, get to know them and find out as much about their child as you can. I like to send home the questionnaire before the meeting and gather info about the child beforehand. That way, I am going into the meeting prepared, knowing some things about their child and we can have a much more productive meeting than if I didn’t know anything about their child at all.

Link to the parent questionnaire on my store is here:

Chat to the child’s previous teacher or SNAs that have worked with the child. Ask them lots of questions about what strategies worked, what didn’t work, what the child liked and disliked. Ask what targets they think the child should move onto next. If the child attends any public or private outside agencies e.g. Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, CAHMS, Behavioural Therapists etc. I would contact them and ask for their most recent report or recommendations for the child. This information might already be available to you but it is nice to start a relationship with the outside agencies that work with the children in your care. Personally, I find their advice invaluable and use their knowledge and advice to plan targets for the children in my class. Once you have chatted to some of these people you should have some ideas for some targets for the child you are working with.


At the start of the school year, I tell parents/guardians that we will spend the first month getting to know the children, helping them settle into their new class and routine and carry out assessments. I let them know that we will have our IEP meeting in early October. This has worked well for me for the past few years. If I have worked with some children the year previously we might have the meeting a little earlier or have decided on some of their new targets for the school year previously. We still need to carry out up to date assessments incase anything has changed over the summer months.

There are specific assessments you could carry out for children with Special Educational Needs. The SESS (Special Education Support Service) run courses on these assessments, they haven’t announced their calendar for 20/21 yet but here is a link to their website if you want to have a look:

Examples of some assessments (shown in the photos) the SESS run courses on are: VB Mapp (Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Program), The ABLLS-R (The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised), The ALFS (The Assessment of Functional Living Skills Guide), Pep-3 (The Psychoeducational Profile-Third Edition)

If you can’t get your hands on these assessments or do the trainings before the school year starts, an assessment book I have found useful in the past is ‘The Basic Skills Checklist’. It covers a lot of skills that children should be taught, it is short and it is user friendly. Some examples shown below.

Writing the I.E.P. Targets

Once you have gathered as much information as you can and have carried out an assessment on the child, you should have enough information to fill in the ‘Pupil Profile’ section.

For writing the I.E.P. Targets, when doing the Post Grad in Autism it was suggested that a child with autism’s I.E.P. should nearly always include a ‘Communication and Language’ target and a ‘SPHE’ target as these are the areas a person with autism may typically have difficulty with. Since this, I always ensure to have a target on both of these topics, where appropriate. I also like to include a target on a strength or interest a student has e.g. if a child has an interest in cooking, I would include a target around this that might relate to maths, fine motor or to furthering their cooking skills. I think it is so important to remember to include a target based on an interest or strength as sometimes we can be too focused on the child’s weaknesses. Using a strength or interest to teach other topics or subjects to the child can be so effective.

I like to use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to help write my targets and success criteria, shown below. This ensures that anyone reading the target could begin to work on it and knows exactly what the target and the success criteria are. Example of vague target: John will stop pulling hair. Example of SMART target: John will reduce the amount of times he pulls hair by 20%

The I.E.P. Meeting

Before the I.E.P. Meeting: If it is my first time working with the child or it is the first I.E.P. meeting of the year, I would go through the ‘Pupil Profile’ section during the meeting to make sure everything that is included is up to date and we have a true picture of the child at home and in school.

If it is my second year working with the child or the 2nd or 3rd I.E.P. Meeting of the year, I will make changes to the ‘Pupil Profile’ sections and send a copy home for the parent to have a look at to see if there are any changes that need to be made. I ask the parent/guardian to return it with any notes so I can update the I.E.P ahead of the meeting and to include any topics they would like to discuss in the meeting. I find this makes the meeting much more productive. It gives us time to prepare for anything the parent would like to chat about e.g. If a parent would like to talk about a particular behaviour a child is engaging in e.g. biting, I can gather all of my observations and reports about that behaviour to have ready to hand if needed in the meeting. I can also prepare resources or strategies for that behaviour to discuss with the parent.

Who Attends?

In our setting, the Teacher and the Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) working with the child attend the meeting. It helps to ensure everything is covered, For example: there are some points of the day where the Teacher may not be with the child and the SNA is. It also helps to ensure everyone working with the child is on the same page and having an input into their targets, the strategies/resources that are going to be used etc. Having this many people at the meeting also means that someone is able to take some informal notes. If the child integrates for part of their day to mainstream, the mainstream teacher may attend the meeting too. I always make sure the parent is aware there will be this many people at the meeting as it can be intimidating. Sometimes depending on the situation, the mainstream teacher may have a separate meeting with the parent.

When Are The Meetings?

We have 3 I.E.P. Meetings per school year in our setting. This isn’t compulsory but it is what works best for us. We have the first meeting at the end of September/start of October. In this meeting we decide on the targets for the year and break them down to decide on what part of the target will be worked on for the first term. We have our 2nd I.E.P. Meeting in February to review the target we had been working on and to decide on the target to focus on for the rest of the year. In general, this meeting is much shorter and really just a check in as if there are any issues throughout the year, I would phone the parents or arrange a meeting if appropriate. Our 3rd and final I.E.P. Meeting usually takes place in June, we review how the child got on with their targets for the year and discuss any possible targets that they could work on in the next year. If appropriate, the child’s teacher and SNAs for the next year might attend this meeting too. We don’t always know who it will be at this stage but it is a nice way to transition to the next school year if we do.

What’s Involved?

I would always ensure to have extra pens, paper, water and some treats left out. Incase a parent or staff member forgets a pen or needs anything while we are there. We have general chat at the beginning and then we go through the I.E.P. I print a copy for the parent, a copy for myself and depending how many others are attending, some might share a copy of it. I will ask the parents to double check the child’s information on the first page and the details of the outside agencies the child uses, at this point I would always ask about any upcoming appointments the child has or any previous appointments the child has attended. As I mentioned above, if appropriate, we will go through the ‘Pupil Profile’ section.

We go through the long term targets, I like to have suggested targets ready for the meeting, depending on how well I know the child I might have 3 or 4 suggested targets. We discuss if they are appropriate or adjust the success criteria if necessary, we then move on and decide which aspect of the target will be focused on for the first term in the ‘Short Term Targets’ section. Again, I will have suggested targets ready here. This is a personal preference, I think it makes the meeting more meaningful and productive, other people prefer to start with a blank slate and come up with the targets at the meeting. I would of course let the parents/guardians know that I will have some suggested targets ready and ask if they have any in mind beforehand. This question is also included in the Parent Questionnaire I send home.

If you’re still reading well done for making it this far, that was a long post. I hope it is helpful to anyone writing an I.E.P.

If you would like some more information here are some useful links:

Special Education Support Service (SESS): Powerpoint on the I.E.P. Process:

NCSE: Guidelines on the I.E.P. Process:

If you have any questions or comments please contact me I would love to hear from you.


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Morning Work-Packs

What do the children in your class do first thing in the morning? Sometimes the morning can be a little be unstructured with children arriving at different times, some children needing a movement break or OT straight away, some needing to eat etc. Morning work-packs are something that have worked well for me to bring everyone together in the morning time with some groups I have had.

How to structure?

Each child has their own morning routine unique to them to help them settle e.g. unpacking their bag, using the toilet, eating, having a movement break or some quiet time. Once the children are settled, next on their schedule is morning work-packs. We all sit together at a group table doing our morning work-packs. If it suits your child or setting better, they could sit in pairs or individually.

What’s the function?

When the children are sitting at a group table to complete their work-packs, we can work on some targets from children’s Individual Education Plans (IEPs). For example the children may be learning to tolerate others sitting near them, they may be learning to sit and work as part of a group for X amount of minutes or to complete X number of tasks in a group setting. The children could be learning to work parallel to another child, to tolerate others in their workspace or to concentrate on their own work while being part of a group.

Because we use this time to work on some of those targets for the children, we ensure to include tasks the children have mastered before with some variety or change in the tasks. I find getting the children to start with these kinds of activities helps them to focus and settle into the school environment and their day. 

What to include?

Depending on the needs of the children I am working with, I include a variety of different tasks. Some children may have one or two tasks to complete, some children may have a full work-pack of tasks and others may have a choice of tasks to complete. I have included some photos of each activity I mention.

Some general things I like to include are: Calendar related activities, day, week, month, weather. This gives the children a chance to process and figure out what to put onto the calendar before doing it as part of our morning circle.

Questions about the child: ‘How am I feeling today?’, ‘What colour ___ am I wearing today?’

Identifying, matching or sorting tasks, e.g. shapes, emotions, upper and lower case letter matching.

Practice writing their name, making marks or drawing lines, shapes. I laminate these pages and keep a small whiteboard marker with the child’s work-pack so this task can be repeated or swapped with other children’s work-packs.

The ideas for these work-packs are endless, these are just some of the activities I have found have worked well.

Here is a link to the morning work-packs I use, made using Smarty Symbols:

If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you.


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Puberty & Autism

“RSE is a necessity to improve overall quality of life in adolescence and adulthood, and minimize the risk for abuse.”

Tullis and Zangrillo, 2013

I am going to start my blog posts with a topic that can be considered a complex, ‘touchy’ area for some, I know it was for me at the beginning. It is a topic that I am passionate about after teaching in an ASD class with some older boys and girls. I had no idea how to approach the topic and the mainstream Relationships Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum was much too complex for the children I was working with. Anyone I spoke to wasn’t too sure how to advise me or wasn’t overly comfortable talking about it.

I ended up completing some amazing CPD courses about the topic, met some lovely teachers in similar positions and have been passionate about the topic since. I have complied some info and tips about how I approached the topic in the ASD class I was working in.

Where to Begin: Preparation is Key

I felt more comfortable approaching parents and other staff members about this topic with some knowledge behind me. I would definitely recommend courses with the SESS, they run a course in conjunction with Middle Centre for Autism called ‘Puberty, Relationships, Sexuality & Autism’ which is so informative and a great opportunity to meet other teachers who are planning for the same topic. If you are starting in an ASD class or setting I would recommend completing this course regardless of the age of the children. They talk a lot about how preparation is key and the benefits of teaching children about public and private from an early age.

‘RSE, Preventing Problems Before They Happen – Lynne Moxon’ run by Middletown Centre for Autism. This course was open to both professionals and parents. A lot of examples were used and a lot of situations were discussed that I wouldn’t have thought about before. Would definitely recommend attending this course if it is run again. I understand a lot of these courses unfortunately may not be run this academic year, I will be keeping an eye out for any online training that comes up.

School Policies

Definitely check your school policies about RSE or have a chat to your principal/SEN coordinator. Check if the policies are adapted to suit children with autism, particularly if you are working in a new ASD class in a mainstream school as it might need to be reviewed or updated. Ensure anything you plan to teach is in line with your school policies incase any issues were to arise. For example; child protection issues, if the parents/families have any issues or concerns.


This is without a doubt, the most important part of the preparation. RSE and puberty are complex areas for everyone involved. Ensuring there is a partnership between home and school is essential in the effective teaching of this topic. Communication with parents is so important for a consistent approach for the child in all aspects of their education but in particular puberty and RSE. What I found worked best for our class, was letting the parents know at the beginning of the year that it will be a topic we will be covering during the year. This way they had time to think about what topics were important to them, get their own heads around it all, consider possible Individualised Education Plan (IEP) targets and do some of their own research.

I let the parents know about the Lynne Moxon RSE workshop that was being run by Middletown for both professionals and parents. A lot of parents and staff members from our class attended this together prior to beginning the topic with the children. We all found it so beneficial. When we began teaching RSE, we were able to refer back to items that were mentioned on the course. This also meant that someone else introduced all of the ‘tricky topics’ to parents so when it was time for me to bring them up, they knew the conversation was coming, any awkwardness was over and they were already aware of the benefits of the teaching the topic. There were some parents who weren’t able to attend the course. I found once some parents in the class were onboard and involved, this encouraged others to want to become involved or to find out more.

Another idea for introducing the topic to parents is having a group meeting to discuss your intentions for the RSE curriculum. In the current climate, I wonder could something like this be done over Zoom. This meeting gives you as a teacher and paraprofessionals a chance to explain everything clearly to the parents and for them to have a chat to eachother about it or ask any questions and raise any concerns in a safe environment.

Whatever way you prepare for the teaching of RSE ensuring there is open and regular communication with the parents is key for ensuring consistent approaches for the children.

Teaching Younger Children

Topics that I have taught from a younger age, in line with the curriculum are: public and private behaviours, public and private places (school, home, community) proper names for body parts, emotions, food and nutrition, personal care and personal space. I have really enjoyed teaching children these topics, the children can really relate to them and become so interested. I normally spend a fortnight on a topic in school, ensure the children can generalise it in school with different adults. After this, send home any activities that have been mastered in school to the parents to work on generalisation at home.


I use the same strategies for teaching this topic as I would for teaching any other topic to children with autism. In particular strategies I found that have worked well are: visuals, schedules, work systems, social stories, line drawings and backward chaining. One piece of advice I received when completing CPD was to only teach the children about their own gender. Depending on ability some children could be taught about what changes will happen to the opposite gender. Use both proactive and reactive strategies, if possible, try to ensure that the majority of teaching time is proactive strategies. For reactive strategies, we found it beneficial to sit down as a team and decide how we would try to react to unexpected/inappropriate behaviours to try and minimize the likelihood of them happening again. Sometimes our reactions can encourage the behaviours to happen again so it was definitely important for us to have a plan in place.

When teaching older children about puberty, I found teaching the girls in a group and then teaching the boys in a separate group worked best. To ensure it was a safe space for the children and to ensure younger children didn’t hear anything that they shouldn’t, I had to work on my timetabling to ensure the group I was working with were the only ones in the room at that time. I scheduled the group around times other children would be in mainstream, on movement breaks etc.


There are a lot of amazing resources for teaching RSE for children in the mainstream. I find that some of these resources didn’t suit the children with autism in my class as they required a theory of mind to get the benefit from them. I ended up making a lot of my own resources instead.

Here are some resources I did find useful and some further reading if this topic interests you too.

‘What’s Happening to Ellie?’ – Kate E. Reynolds

‘What’s Happening to Tom?’ – Kate E. Reynolds

‘Thinking About You, Thinking About Me’

‘Talkabout Relationships’ – Alex Kelly

SPHE Support Service link:

Further Reading:

‘Sexuality and Relationship Education for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders’ – Davida Hartman

‘Hidden Curriculum’ – Brenda Smith Myles

‘Autism and Appropriate Touch’ – Abigail Werner James

Thank you so much for reading, I hope this has been beneficial to you in some way. I know I found this a difficult topic to approach at the beginning so if anyone would like to ask any questions, help with resources or would like to chat about it, I would love to hear from you.