IEP for 3-year-old with non-specific diagnosis?

Hi everyone, I am new to this board and I am hoping that you can help me out. My son, Connor, will be turning 3 soon. (I posted a long introduction in the Primary group if you want to read that.) Anyway, he has been evaluated twice but wasn't diagnosed with anything specific except a rule out of 3 conditions: Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified, ADHD, and ODD. He has been getting ST for the past year and Occupational Therapist (OT) for the past 6 months from the country Early Start program, and now it is time to transition him to the school district's Early Intervention program and do an IEP.

I have been reading up on this board about IEPs but most of the information I have read seems relevant to school-age children. Can any of you give me any advice or information on link relevant to an IEP for a pre-schooler? Our situation is made more complicated by the fact that he wasn't actually diagnosed with anything; he didn't meet the diagnostic criteria for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), but he clearly has something going on. The Doctor (paid for privately) did recommend ongoing ST and Occupational Therapist (OT) as well as a social skills class.

I am trying to figure out what should I expect and what should I ask for as we go into this IEP? The sd is going to do their own evaluation also. I am told that ours is a good sd and they have a set of good programs for children with disabilities, but I don't even know if Connor technically qualifies.

Also, if he is just below the diagnostic criteria for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) but that is WITH interention for the past year, wouldn't it stand to reason that if he didn't have intervention he would be worse? It's not that I want Connor to be labeled, I just want to get the best possible services for him. Any advice would be most appreciated.

Hi Kathy

I posted to your PZ thread. Did you find anything helpful on preschool IEP links? If so, let me know. I'd like to add them to my link "collection." LOL

Your child is not required have to have a diagnosis to be eligible for an IEP. The sd will of course want to do an evaluation to determine eligibility and educational need. They are required to evaluate in all "suspected" areas of disability. Hopefully, you have notified them IN WRITING of the possibilities already set out by your private evaluation, therefore, the school district is put on notice to a broad "suspect" range.

While the sd will perform their own evaluation(s), keep in mind that they must also take into consideration your private reports and the recommendations therein.

As a parent, you are a member of the IEP team. If you haven't prepared a parent report, I urge you to do so.

All this information cumulatively should be used to determine eligibility and appropriate services -- inclusive of your parent report.

Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy is a related service under IDEA/IEP. You'll want to make sure these items are included in the event your child qualifies.

Alisha, thanks for the quick reply. No, I haven't found anything on pre-school IEP yet but I haven't had a chance to peruse your latest links in your latest post. I will let you know if I find anything good. But I was also hoping that since there are so many Moms of school-age children with problems on this list that some of them might have had personal experience with the IEP when their chilren were pre-schoolers. The few things I have found that relate to pre-school age children and an IEP described children with more profound difficulties than Connor has, where there is a definite diagnosis and a clear need for immediate action. Connor's case is not so cut and dried. For example, at the end of your posting (can't see it now so I can't quote) you said something about "if he qualifies." But I don't even know how they will determine if he qualifies. The private doctor recommended ST, Occupational Therapist (OT), and a social skills class, but does that mean that the school district has to provide these things? Could the school district say, well yes he needs those things but he doesn't meet some (unknown) criteria for getting special services, so you have to pay for them yourself? Or does it work that if they recognize and agree with the need then they have to pay for it? Sorry for the newbie questions here but I really am a newbie. Oh, and yes, I have tons of stuff in writing. I am pretty paranoid about putting all my communications in writing, even if it is just a follow-up from a verbal conversation. Thanks.

Fourteen thumbs up on putting things in writing!!!! Can't tell you how many times children have lost out because communication was via phone or at a meeting, the parents have no hard proof, and school district "doesn't recall" that plan or promise. Also, use Certified Mail liberally. LOL

While the regs state that the child shall be evaluated in all "suspected" areas of disability, it's been my experience that that rarely happens. A common scenario would go like, "We performed the WIAT and/or WISK. They show no problems significant discrepancy. Child doesn't qualify." (These are educational evaluations -- and do not include evaluations for Speech/Language, Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), Occupational Therapist (OT), ADHD, etc.)

You need to find out what your school district classifies as a "significant discrepancy." Write the sd and ask for their written information.

As an example, sometimes one standard diveation (15 point spread in IQ's) is classified as "significant discrepancy," sometimes it's 2 standard diveations. Standard diveations point to learning disability/disabilities. Sd's tend like to use a standard diveation as the thresh hold for "significant discrepancy."

In actuality, "significant discrepancy" is not defined by the federal law. The sd's are suppose to evaluate all info to see if there is an impact on education.

I'd recommend you print out the whole Federal IDEA law, whole punch it and put it into a 3-ring binder. Likewise, for your state regs. Put it's importance just beneath "the bible."

There are areas of fed regs that the feds allow states to create policy/criteria. However, the state law can not fall below what is set out in the fed regs, i.e., the states can provide for more than the fed regs stipulate, but not less. When there's a conflict, Federal law supercedes State law.

Read up also on interpreting evaluations and what discrepancies within an educational evaluation should be telling you. You'll find some of this type info on my home page. There's more on the library page. (URLs below) Based in part on what the evaluations tell you, if there is a processing problem highlighted, specific learning disorder, etc., that info will help the IEP committee determine what assistance your child needs.

Keep reading. You're doing an excellent job.

I want to tell you a story. It's a little bit funny now -- wasn't funny at all at the time.

Back in the spring of this year, I had finally gotten in most of the evaluation reports for my son: school district's, STs, OTs, audiologist, etc. I was excited -- now the sd would be able to see what my son's needs were. But there was one thing missing -- who puts it all together so that the IEP committee can design an IEP? It was clearly evident the sd personnel couldn't.

So I posted to the board something like, "Ok, I have all these reports -- who do I call that can put it all together?"

Fran's post stands out vividly in my mind. Went something like, "You are the captain of the ship -- there's nobody that can put it together but you." I felt physically ill. Took a couple of days for me to get over the shock. LOL now -- but I sure wasn't at the time.

Fran's right -- you're the captain. Surround yourself with-knowledgable professionals, take in as much as you can, educate yourself, ask questions. Your child is young -- he'll benefit 1 million times over from it.


New Member

For a child of 3 with no diagnosis but clear developmental problems, you will get a IFSP just as you would if you had a diagnosis. /importthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif /importthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif /importthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Until a child is 8, there is no requirement to "fit" him/her into a category. After age 8, the child must be found eligible for one or more of the identified categories.

IFSP stands for Individual Family Service Plan--and it is like an IEP that also includes parents, sibs if appropriate, etc. also grandparents, caregivers --anyone who interacts with the child.

Services may be at a preschool center ("going to school" in a small class or 1:1) or at home. The centers may also have support groups for parents with same age children and GENERALLY preschool Special Education. is more child centered, more preventive in orientation, and more wholistic than at any other age. Another nice advantage is at the tender age of 3, your child won't care about being in "Special Education." Just make sure that somewhere he is exposed to normally developing peers. Early Special Education. tries to be a coordinated "one-stop" for parents and have eliminating or reducing the need for Special Education in school as an explicit goal. While this is not always realistic, take a look at my easy child's experience below:

My easy child received hundreds of hours of language therapy from age 17 months to 6 years. She never received special education academic services and is now editor-in-chief of her high school year book supervising a staff of about 20 kids. Fortunately for her, she read early and has no Learning Disability (LD) but when she wasn't making a sound before 2 nor talking at 3, she stood an 80% chance of having a significant language-based Learning Disability (LD). It didn't happen--but in this case, I wouldn't have wanted to bet her very life that she would "outgrow it." She didn't outgrow anything--she received appropriate intervention! MANY people told me not to push her but I KNEW that she couldn't (rather than woiuldn't) talk--and this was going to cause LOTS of emotional problems if not corrected. She was born under a lucky star and is a far better student than ANYONE would have ever predicted based on her first three years. Sigh...she got all the luck and my difficult child got none.

I am aware because I am in this field that easy child's outcome is not typical but nevertheless,I am a VERY firm believer in early intervention--I have the proof living in my house that IT WORKS. Your observation is correct in my opinion: if your child had not received intervention already, he would not be developing as well as he is and thus not meeting a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnosis fully. The early years are a one time opportunity to intervene--take advantage of them because you can never go back and re-do this time.

Take care,

Both of my younger two were Special Education with IEP's from age 3. The IEP classification as to whether or not they qualify is a lot of math. they do intelligence and functional testing. If he tests x% below average then he qualifies. It's obviously much more complex but I never bothered understanding it. My kids got IEPs and I was happy. The only concern I had was if they were in the right school. I spent at least an hour sitting in on each class. I observed many programs/ classes. I went back to the SD and said, this is the one I think most suitable. As your child is borderline Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) your issue is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) class or "normal" preschool Special Education. Look at both and decide which you want. honestly, once you sit in on a couple you'll get a feel for it. Just imagine your child sitting in that class, can he manage it? My recollection is that there's no such thing in NJ SDs as just speech or O/T. If the child needs those services they put them in pre-school. by the way- in case you haven't already looked- don't waste your time on ABA schools. Your child is not on that end of the autism spectrum! A "normal" pre-school Special Education class may give him better socialization opportunities than a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) class!

Kathy, you'll find ISPF on the link I gave you in PZ re: Children 0 to 3 yrs old.

laura mz

New Member
my experience with-spec needs preschool is from fostering in jersey. they also did not use what we think of as an IEP...they were instead looking for the *fringe* kids...those that are a little behind but don't necessarily need full blown services. the idea is to pick them up & shore up their skills in hopes that they won't require as much Special Education in the future. their paramiters were actually much more liberal than a standard IEP evaluation. hope that helps.

/importthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif kris