IEP and research findings on services for bipolar type kids


New Member

OK by now you are all sick of me trying to figure out what to do with my oldest going into middle school next year. I hope to have an IEP meeting the week after next.

One of his biggest problems is that he shuts down very easily when he perceives the work is hard. He has ex. functioning difficulties, along with dysgraphia, anxiety (partly separation) --the not unusual constellation of bipolar learning difficulities. He is quite bright.

This year he has had a classroom aide, who works with him individually or in small groups. This aide has very little Special Education training, but is quite good. Even so my son typically gets about halfway through the school year and then really shuts down.

I am trying to figure out what kind of classroom would be best for him. My district has no Special Education classroom of any sort in middle school. There is only one therapeutic day school (for children up to 12, my son is now 11 1/2) and basically serves poor kids who don't have the resources to get mental health services privately.

One of my concerns is that if we go the aide route, that the aides are not trained to deal with kids who shut down, recognize and deal with learning disabilities etc. Their basic function is to try to keep kids on task as far as I can see.
If we do go this route, what kind of training should we ask that the aide have?

I was reading about IDEA where it says that services should be guided by peer-reviewed research programs whenever possible. Is there any research that shows that this approach to dealing with bipolar kids is the effective, or most effective? Do I have any basis in asking that he be provided with very small classroom services by a certified Special Education teacher? If we go this route, then my fear is that my son will be put in a classroom with kids who are struggling due to low IQ issues. They may also want to place him in a 45 day behavioral program, but in my view that is not appropriate. By and large he is not particularly disruptive.

Any guidance you can give would be much appreciated. Is there anywhere that reviews research findings on the type of programs or services that relates to the difficulties that bipolar or similar kids typically have?




I can answer one part of your question: there are almost NO peer-reviewed articles on the effectiveness of ANY educational intervention with bi-polar kids. There are peer-reviewed articles about Learning Disability (LD) kids but not with the constellation of symptoms your oldest presents.

It is easier by far to get an IEP team to address learning than emotional issues. I struggled with this whole concept for years and was not terribly successful except with individual teachers who "got it." When a child CAN do the work, but periodically won't for emotional reasons, the school seems to have a very hard time responding flexibly. I wish I knew why the idea of "can but can't right now" is so difficult for them to grasp.

You can ask that an aide receive specific training. This is most often done in my experience for aides of kids on the spectrum. In your situation, I guess I would try to hammer out a BIP with positive behavioral supports and then try to make sure the aide follows the plan. Your chances of getting a certified teacher in a small class size would be nil in IL unless your child were in a therapeutic day school. By law in IL, such classes are limited to 5 students with one teacher or 10 with a teacher and an aide. Thing may be better where you are. IL is the pits in just about every category of service.

Perhaps someone else will have more concrete suggestions about what you should propose at the IEP meeting.

I'll check this thread again to see if anyone has good suggestions.



I can sympathize with an anxiety/shutting down problem. Our difficult child does this. The only thing that seems to help him is time. It usually takes him 3 to 4 weeks after school is out for the summer to regain his footing.

"One of his biggest problems is that he shuts down very easily when he perceives the work is hard." Yep, yep, yep.... And often it is just perception. If difficult child responds to, "Yes, you can. Come on, just give it a try," it usually works out. But it's a balancing act -- too much pressure to perform and he'll shutdown.

Said in a very, very soft voice, this is the first year since 1st grade that we haven't had the shutdown problem. He's in the 6th grade. I attribute it to his IEP meeting (and resulting IEP) which involved about 20 sd personnel and the MDE team leader attending. He presented difficult child's problems and solutions in a way they can understand.

I'm not sure this is the IEP info Marti was talking about. addresses aides vs paraprofessionals. You shouldn't have to "ask," but if necessary, request that your difficult child's aide be trained in bipolar disorder.

I've read where sd's Staff Developments include ADHD. You may want to consider requesting one on bipolar.