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Demitri Papolos, M.D. and Janice Papolos
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Model IEP

Individual Education Plan (IEP) Model for Bipolar Children

Each child is an individual with different social, emotional, and academic strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, their educational needs may vary from one season or school year to the next.

In the first section of our chapter, "School: A Child's World Beyond Home" we cover the legal evolution of the Individual with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA 2004) and advise a parent how to initiate an Individual Education Plan (IEP), prepare for the IEP meeting (including rehearsal strategies), and locate educational consultants and attorneys.

But the more we talked to people in preparation for this chapter, the more we came to understand that both parents and educators were confused about the construction of an IEP for a student struggling with a bipolar disorder. A model IEP--one that specifically addresses the seasonal variations in mood, energy, attention, motivation, and behavior, as well as one that addresses the frequently co-occurring executive function deficits, needed to be developed.

Therefore, we asked special education advocate, Anne Marie Smith, M. Ed., from Agawam, Massachusetts, to construct an IEP that might provide guidelines for educating a middle school student throughout the school year.

With the hope that the following information is helpful to parents and educators alike, we excerpt the following from The Bipolar Child (pages 305-311.) Also see pages 295-303 in the book for a highly focused and very comprehensive list of accommodations, modifications, and special services that can be incorporated into an IEP.

From The Bipolar Child by Demitri Papolos, M.D. and Janice Papolos (Broadway Books, 2006). All rights reserved.

Read about the new DVD "24: A Day in the Life of Bipolar Children and Their Families" and start an IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting with a video presentation that explains factors that could be affecting your child's schoolwork, with a host of strategies to help ensure success.

Click here to learn more about the DVD

 

Hypothetical baseline information and draft IEP for a student with bipolar disorder in middle school

Joseph is an extremely likeable student who was diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder three years ago. Early-onset bipolar disorder is a medical illness--a brain disorder that renders Joseph's academic and emotional availability variable and often unpredictable. His moods may veer from feeling hopeless and negative and depressed (typically in the fall), to times in which he will appear energized, grandiose, and superior to some of his classmates (typically in the spring).

Joseph sees a psychiatrist for medication, and has had extensive independent neurpsychological testing that has pinpointed strengths as well as weaknesses. Both the psychiatrist and neuropsychologist have made recommendations for program modifications and remediation. The school has conducted its own assessments and has amassed much information about his functioning in all domains: academic, social, and psychological.

Joseph has been quite stable on medications, but side effects such as fatigue and cognitive dulling can impact his availability and ability to learn. He has trouble getting up in the morning (due to his medication regimen, if he is depressed, and sleep inertia), and tends to do well if his more difficult academic subjects are scheduled later in the day when he is more alert.

While Joseph is a bright student and wants to do well, he can appear, at times, bored, irritable, and oppositional in the classroom. He is somewhat inflexible and experiences extreme anxiety if he is unprepared for changes in his schedule. Transitions are difficult for him.

Joseph has executive function deficits that impair his ability to concentrate for long periods of time compared to his peers, and he is disorganized and cannot complete homework in a timely manner. He often turns it in late, or forgets to turn in assignments that have been completed. Often he forgets to take needed materials home in order to finish assignments and projects.

Joseph can be impulsive and has poor judgment and decision-making skills. He lacks interpersonal skills and has difficulty making and maintaining friendships. He needs instruction to improve social interactions and a social skills class and counseling to support success in these areas.

Joseph has very poor self-esteem and he needs calm, reassuring, and understanding teachers if he is to do his best.

 

Present Level of Performance

Joseph can attend to independent structured learning tasks for a maximum of 15 minutes and then requires a short physical break before he can complete any given assignment.

Annual Goal:

After being provided a cue by a staff member to take a break, Joseph will return to task and remain independently on task for structured independent learning for thirty minutes:

Objectives:

  • Joseph will remain on task for structured independent learning 20 minutes for the first marking period 80 percent of the time.
  • Joseph will remain on task for structured independent learning twenty-five minutes for the second marking period 80 percent of the time.
  • Joseph will remain on task for structured independent learning thirty minutes for the third marking period.
  • Joseph will maintain the thirty-minute time frame for staying on task for structured independent for the fourth marking period.
 

Present Level of Performance

Joseph has anxiety that expresses itself in school whereby he becomes oppositional and irritable, disruptive, and unable to stay in the classroom. This is not Joseph's regular demeanor; these traits become observable when he is extremely anxious.

Annual Goal:

  • Given a visual cue by staff, Joseph will utilize the permanent pass in his possession and seek out either the school guidance counselor or the school psychologist to utilize relaxation tools and strategies to reduce his anxiety, and to reduce the chances of his becoming irritable, oppositional or disruptive. He will do this without protesting or complaining 80 percent of the time.
  • Objectives:
  • Given a visual cue by staff, Joseph will utilize the permanent pass in his possession and seek out either the school guidance counselor or the school psychologist 20 percent of the time for the first marking period.
  • Given a visual cue by staff, Joseph will utilize the permanent pass in his possession and seek out either the school guidance counselor or the school psychologist 40 percent of the time for the second marking period.
  • Given a visual cue by staff, Joseph will utilize the permanent pass in his possession and seek out either the school guidance counselor or the school psychologist 60 percent for the third marking period.
  • Given a visual cue by staff, Joseph will utilize the permanent pass in his possession and seek out either the school guidance counselor or the school psychologist 80 percent for the fourth marking period.
 

Present Level of Performance

Reports from Joseph's psychiatrist and parents show Joseph to have very low self-esteem. He often makes negative comments about himself or his work, and parents and staff are concerned about the impact of this low self-esteem on his academic and social engagement.

Annual Goal:

When Joseph makes a negative or self-deprecating comment, he will be redirected with a verbal cue to reframe his comments in a more positive light 50 percent of the time.

Objectives:

  • Joseph will convert his negative talk to positive commentary 25 percent of the time for the first quarter.
  • Joseph will maintain the elimination of the negative commentary, replacing it with positive statements 25 percent of the time for the second quarter.
  • Joseph will convert his negative talk to positive commentary 50 percent of the time for the third quarter.
  • Joseph will maintain this 50 percent measurement for the fourth quarter.
 

Present Level of Performance

When presented with a change in routine, or a novel situation, Joseph can become overwhelmed, confused, and anxious. Because he has difficulty with transitions and anxiety, he resists engaging in any new event for which he is not prepared. He made progress this year when an appointed staff member reviewed his daily agenda before his first class, mid-day, and toward the end of the day whereupon they discussed the upcoming school day. He feels more organized and in control, and certainly less anxious. This routine is to be kept in place.

Annual Goal:

Prior to any known change in schedule, routine, or curriculum, Joseph will be alerted and the assigned staff member will ensure that he marks the change in his daily agenda, and is cued to the change prior to its happening. This should reduce his anxiety and Joseph will be able to transition through a change in schedule and participate in the event(s) 90 percent of the time.

Objectives:

  • Given a change in schedule, Joseph will participate in the new event(s) 30 percent of the time in the first marking period.
  • Given a change in schedule, Joseph will participate in the new event(s) 60 percent of the time in the second marking period.
  • Given a change in schedule, Joseph will participate in the new event(s) 90 percent of the time in the third marking period.
  • Joseph will maintain this 90 percent or better participation in the fourth marking period.
 

Present Level of Performance

Joseph has no real friends at school. His mother brings him to school each day instead of his riding the bus because some of the kids tease him and he ends up fighting with them. He is viewed by some of his peers as bossy and authoritative. He does not seem to know how to access a social group, and has trouble with the give-and-take of relationships. Joseph has told his counselor that he very much would like to be a friend, and that he would like to have friends like the other children in his class.

Annual Goal:

Joseph will accomplish four out of seven of the following social skills on 80 percent of trials, data taken and observation to be done by the counselor on a weekly basis.

Objectives:

  • Joseph will meet one new friend who he does not know presently.
  • Joseph will be able to demonstrate two characteristics of friendship learned in his social skills group in the school setting.
  • Joseph will be able to demonstrate two characteristics of sharing learned in his social skills group in the school setting
  • Joseph will utilize one or two methods of anger management learned in his counseling session as an alternative to engaging in an argument with peers.
  • During lunchtime Joseph will make three genuinely pleasant remarks to his peers over the course of a week.
  • Joseph will choose to do one thing for some one else each week, inside or outside of school, without being asked and to record this act in his counseling journal.
 

Present Level of Performance

Joseph does not complete all of his schoolwork on a daily basis. He is having trouble completing it because he cannot organize and plan, and work efficiently due to executive function deficits. Joseph also has trouble remembering to bring needed materials home, and returning homework to school.

Annual Goal:
Given teacher assistance, Joseph will be able to utilize a homework journal to record and keep track of all assignments and necessary tools to complete the assignments 70 percent of the time.

Objectives:

  • With teacher assistance, Joseph will utilize his homework journal 50 percent of the time for first marking period.
  • With teacher assistance, Joseph will utilize his homework journal 60 percent of the time for second marking period.
  • With teacher assistance, Joseph will utilize his homework journal 70 percent of the time for third marking period.
  • With teacher assistance, Joseph will maintain his utilization of the homework journal 70 percent or better for fourth marking period.
 

From The Bipolar Child, Third Edition by Demitri Papolos, M.D. and Janice Papolos (Broadway Books, 2006). All rights reserved.