Special Factors in IEPs: What You Need to Know

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The IDEA requires IEP teams to consider and address several Special Factors that affect children’s ability to learn, including:

Behavior: If your child’s behavior interferes with his learning or the learning of others, the team must devise strategies to address this behavior. These strategies include positive behavioral interventions and supports. See Kids with Behavior Problems: What Are Schools Required to Do?

Limited English Proficiency: If your child has limited proficiency in English, the IEP must identify and meet his language needs. See Identifying and Meeting a Child’s Language Needs

Communication Needs: A child with a communication disorder has trouble communicating with others. The child may not understand or make the sounds of speech or may struggle with word choice, word order, or sentence structure. There are many types of communication disorders including (but not limited to):

  • Mixed receptive-expressive language disorder
  • Expressive language disorder.
  • Speech-sound disorders
  • Childhood-onset fluency disorder
  • Social communication disorder

If your child has communication needs, the IEP team must address these needs. See Discipline, Suspensions, Expulsions of Child with Language and Communication Problems by Bob Crabtree, Esq.

Deafness / Hard of Hearing: If your child is deaf or hard of hearing, the IEP team must identify her language and communication needs, including her opportunities to communicate with her classmates and school staff, her academic levels, and opportunities for direct instruction in her language and communication mode.

Blindness / Visual Impairment: If your child is blind or visually impaired, the IEP team must provide for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille, unless the Team determines — after an appropriate evaluation — that the child does not need instruction in Braille.

Assistive technology: Many children have difficulties with reading, writing, and math. Some children have problems with vision, hearing, listening, and/or communicating. Others have physical, mobility, and motor problems.

The IEP team is required to make decisions about assistive technology devices and services based on your child’s unique needs so the child can be more confident and independent. If the IEP team determines that your child needs assistive technology devices and services, the school district is responsible for providing these and cannot use lack of availability or cost as an excuse. See Assistive Technology Devices and Services.

IDEA statute: 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(3)(B), Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd edition, page 103.

IDEA regulations, 34 CFR §300.324, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd edition, page 249-250.

  1. My son currently has a behavior treatment plan listed in current IEP. The school is wanting to remove behavior plan and say that his behavior does not impede his learning or that of others. They told me there was a new law that said the box could not be marked without a FBA is that true?

    • Walter, Chuck is right. The folks at your state Parent Training Center will know if there is a “new” law. Our books cite federal law because federal law is supreme. States and school districts cannot offer fewer services than federal law. The federal special education law hasn’t changed.

      If school staff tell you there is a new law or a new policy that allows them to change your child’s special ed program, we recommend that you document their assertions with a short letter or email about what you were told and that you request a copy of the new policy.
      Take care,

  2. If a student who receives speech therapy services in the area of articulation has “mastered” their goals and speech testing is recommended, would you still check “yes” to special oral communication needs?

    My district is requiring that I check yes, when the student clearly does not require special oral communication needs (due to mastery of all phonemes).

    Thank you in advance!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please help us defeat spam. Thank you. *