Can my child get an IEP for slow processing speed?

Slow processing speed can be very hard on kids. It doesn’t automatically qualify them for an IEP, however. Processing speed issues must impact their ability to learn and perform at school in order for them to get an IEP based on slow processing speed alone.

An IEP is part of . To get one, your child must be evaluated and found to have one of the 13 conditions that qualify as disabilities.

Slow processing speed isn’t one of those conditions. But if it’s having a big impact on your child’s ability to learn, it might fall under something called “other health impairment.” On occasion, a child’s challenges might fall under if they’re impacting other areas like math or reading.

Kids with slow processing speed often also have learning disabilities and . Either one of those conditions can lead to an IEP.

Even if your child’s school used an intervention system like MTSS (multi-tier system of supports) or RTI (response to intervention), if they’re still struggling, it’s a good idea to have your child evaluated. You can do that at school for free or pay for a private evaluation.

The school needs information from you, too. The more they know about how your child’s issues are affecting their progress at school, the better able they’ll be to provide support. Here are some things to think about and relay to the team:

  • Is your child spending hours completing homework every night when other kids can do it much more quickly?

  • Is processing speed an issue all the time or only during school?

  • Have teachers repeatedly reported that your child doesn’t finish classwork?

  • Is your child beginning to misbehave at school to avoid assignments or to avoid embarrassment because they can’t keep up?

If the school team decides your child does not qualify for an IEP, your child may qualify for with a . Accommodations like extra time, shorter assignments, and not having to copy from one paper to another can make a big difference.

Many kids with slow processing speed start to feel bad about themselves and dislike school because of the pressure to work within a certain period of time. It’s important to help kids understand that slow processing speed doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. You can also tell your child that it can improve with the right support.

Find out what to do if your child doesn’t qualify for an IEP. You can also learn more about 504 plans and see examples of accommodations for slow processing speed.


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