Adulting Shorts: The Tea on IEPs Part 1

Comic story board. Comic focuses on two people:

·         Mateo, A 16-year-old high school student, Latino male

·         Ms. Simmons, teacher, Black woman, middle-aged

Panel 1

Illustration of a classroom. There are two characters in the scene. A student, Mateo, and his teacher, Ms. Simmons. Mateo is playing on his phone and appears to be bored. Ms. Simmons is standing at the front of the room. “Planning for Your IEP Meeting” is written on the board.

Panel 2

Ms. Simmons: Mateo, today we’re going to focus on starting preparation for your next Individualized Education Program meeting. Also known as the IEP.

Mateo looks bored and looks away from Ms. Simmons

Panel 3 and Panel 4: Split panel

Panel is split and divided into two close ups. One of Ms. Simmons and one of Mateo.

Ms. Simmons: This is an important year for you Mateo, we are starting to plan for your transition from high school to college or a career.

Mateo looks bored and rolls his eyes.

Mateo: This is pointless, I never get to make the decisions anyways. My parents and the school always end up having the final say. No one cares what I think.

Panel 5

Ms. Simmons and Mateo are now sitting next to each other in the classroom.

Ms. Simmons: Mateo, having an active part in your IEP meetings is important. Your IEP is supposed to help you.

Panel 6

Mateo: I don’t get how the IEP is supposed to help me. I don’t even know what it is. Besides, my parents always do the IEP with the school anyways.

Panel 7

Ms. Simmons: Well…An IEP stands for an Individual Education Plan written for public school students between the ages of 3 to 21. By law, it helps students who’ve identified with a disability, like a severe mental health condition, ADHD or autism, receive special education services to help them achieve their educational goals. Transition plans are a big part of the IEP, and they address your specific needs to meet your post high school goals.

Mateo is starting to look interested.

Panel 8

Ms. Simmons is still sitting next to Mateo but with different body language.

Ms. Simmons: A transition plan includes your goals for after high school, like going to college or finding a job. Then it helps you identify what resources or help you might need to achieve those goals. It can even help you find adult services if you want to wait on furthering your education or getting a job. Think of the IEP as your train ticket to wherever you want to go.

Panel 9

Mateo: That sounds lit, but my parents told me I would just go on disability after high school, and I don’t even know what I want to do after I graduate. 

Panel 10

Ms. Simmons smiles warmly.

Ms. Simmons: Mateo, you are smart and gifted young man. I have no doubt that you can do whatever you put your mind to.  How about we work on the IEP together, and explore some of your school and work interests?

Mateo: *smiling* Okay, I think I’d like that.