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Should GPS Trackers Be Included in the IEP?

August 27, 2018

Should GPS Trackers Be Included in the IEP?

If your organization supports families who have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, you are already very familiar with Individualized Education Plans (IEP). IEP meetings happen once or twice a year, perhaps more often, depending on the child’s needs. Hopefully, you have a great team of people working diligently to prepare the children on your caseload for their future, but not every meeting is easy. Download our free IEP guide that can help with every step of the IEP process.

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As the team discusses progress, goals, concerns, and the unique needs of each child and student, it may be difficult for parents to advocate for their child. As the person who knows their child best, and especially if the child with autism is prone to wandering, they may be the only person capable of making safety the top priority for the child. Rarely do IEPs address the considerable number of wandering incidents that children with autism are prone to.

Parents and advocates for special needs children are within their legal rights to request the implementation of any adaptive skill critical to the development and safety of your child, GPS trackers included.

Why should the IEP include reference to a GPS tracker?

As any parent of a child with autism will tell you, the risk of elopement for most children on the spectrum is high. In fact, wandering is a top concern for the parents of many autistic children, and even in supervised areas, like schools and daycares, there are still risks. Children with autism can take off without warning, and many parents report “close calls,” where children are found near bodies of water or high-traffic areas. If schools partner with parents in location monitoring, it does more than offer peace of mind – it reduces risk for the school.

Are discussions of GPS trackers allowed in the IEP?

Absolutely! Safety is a vital health and adaptive skill for students, and although this would be considered a non-academic goal, it is all about functional performance. Asking to utilize a GPS tracker does not create helicopter parents; it can and often is a matter of life and death. Leaving out this safety discussion would be negligent on the school’s part. GPS trackers are classified as assistive technology, which is always welcome in the classroom in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

How to get buy-in from the school district

Encouraging parents to have an open conversation about their concerns and why they think the tracker is important for the safety of their child is the place to start. They can share examples of previous wandering incidents they have experienced with their child. The fear of wandering is stressful on everyone, teachers included. This technology could ensure that a child is everywhere they are supposed to be when at school, from getting off the bus to making it to lunch on time. Schools may come to embrace this technology, having faced tremendous pressure from families in cases where children have been lost.

“I use an AngelSense GPS Tracker for my son in his program. He has learned to tolerate wearing the device and participates in putting it on and taking it off. AngelSense provides me and his team peace of mind regarding his safety.” – Julie Swanson

IEPs are a special needs child’s map to success. They should include everything that will help the child be a successful student and adult once they graduate. Both academic and non-academic goals are critical to development, and for children with autism, a GPS tracker contributes to overall well-being and helps foster independence. There is no reason to avoid this discussion in the IEP, and AngelSense has this guide that can help parents through every step.

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