What Should Parents Know About Special Education?

To ensure that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education, special education is in place (FAPE). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act places regulations over special education under the purview of the federal government (IDEA). “Specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability” is how the IDEA describes special education.

There are thirteen categories of disabilities under IDEA that qualify for special education services:

Deaf-Blindness Autism
Delay in Development
Emotional Unrest
Deficit in Hearing
Mental Illness
Different Disability
a disability related to orthopedics
Additional Health Problems
Particular Learning Disability
Impairment of Speech and Language
Brain Trauma
Visual Disability

How do services for special education look like?

Services are given to special education students based on their requirements. An Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, is a plan that includes all of these services (special education loves acronyms).

Services in elementary schools typically involve pull-out periods when students are grouped with a special education teacher outside of their normal classroom. For instance, a special education instructor and a small group of pupils may take a struggling writer from the classroom during a spelling test to concentrate on writing skills.

Special education instruction may be provided in a classroom reserved for such pupils in secondary schools. It could also happen in a class that is co-taught. There is a mix of special education pupils and general education students in these classes. To address the requirements of pupils who might require specialized teaching, the classroom has both a general education teacher and a special education teacher.

Pupils who face more complex difficulties could be assigned to a classroom reserved for those facing comparable difficulties. For instance, certain school systems might offer classrooms designated for students with intellectual disabilities or students with autism. Students with disabilities may engage in some activities with their mainstreamed peers in these classes, which are frequently still located in schools.

Students must be put in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) according to law. Accordingly, if a student is able to study and operate in a mainstream classroom with just one hour of pull-out services each day, then this is more appropriate—and less restrictive—than having learning-disabled pupils in a classroom all day.

a special education referral.

Special education services may be available to students with disabilities who are between the ages of three and twenty-one. To find out if their child qualifies for special education testing, parents who are worried about their child may send them. You must get in touch with your child’s school if you have any concerns about your child’s capacity to learn due to a disability. Have the medical history of your child and any diagnosis with you at the ready.

“Identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, aged birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services,” is what the IDEA demands of states. Child Find is the name of this procedure. Many school districts will assess preschoolers as a consequence of Child Find to see if early interventions are necessary. When children do not seem to be progressing at a sufficient rate despite interventions, teachers and administrators keep an eye on their test results. To find out if your child qualifies, your child’s teacher might suggest that they be evaluated for special education. But testing and placement never happen without your permission.

Evaluation for special education and meeting for eligibility.

You will be prompted to agree to the many areas that require evaluation if a child is recommended for a special education assessment. The “special education team,” which often consists of your child’s general education teacher, a school psychologist, a special education teacher, an administrator, and additional service providers like occupational or speech therapists as needed, has forty-five school days to finish all required tests.

The areas of concern for you and/or your child’s teacher determine which areas are included in the assessment. An IQ test, academic assessments, adaptive skill evaluations, behavioral assessments, classroom observations, social skills evaluations, speech and movement assessments, and other tests are examples of testing. The team will typically request details regarding the medical and developmental histories of your child. In order to get medical records, the team can need you to sign a medical release.

The team, which includes you as a parent, will convene following the assessment to ascertain if your kid satisfies the legal prerequisites for special education status. They will try to determine whether your child falls into one of the thirteen categories and whether or not their handicap has an impact on their academic achievement.

Parent advocates are available in many places and are willing to accompany parents to meetings so they can get assistance navigating the system. Parents can always speak with a doctor or seek test findings for their own records. Parents need to be aware that they are taken into account when determining whether a child qualifies for special education. They can influence some decisions made during an eligibility meeting. To be eligible for assistance, a student must, nevertheless, fulfill a few prerequisites.

If a kid is eligible for special education, the team will meet every three years to examine the student’s progress and make any necessary adjustments. If you believe there is a need for testing before then, you can request it as a parent. When the data is reviewed, you ought to be able to assist in determining which tests are required.

customized lesson plan (IEP).

When it’s established that your child is eligible, the team will convene once more to develop a strategy. The Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, is the name of this program. A statement outlining your child’s present levels will be included in the IEP. The goals the team will assist your kid in achieving over the year are then outlined in the IEP. The IEP also includes accommodations. These can include more time, fewer assignments, less distractions, changing the way students are grouped, etc.

The length of time your child will get assistance should also be included in the plan. What these services entail should be able to be explained to you by the special education teacher or other providers. Class time may be missed by your kid if they are receiving services such as speech or occupational therapy.

You can offer suggestions on the objectives and service hours as a parent. Never be embarrassed to request changes or to pose queries. The IEP team will get together once a year to discuss progress and establish new objectives. If you think more meetings are necessary, you are free to ask for them.

Throughout the year, you ought to be provided with progress reports on your child’s IEP goals. In addition to report cards, some schools also send home progress reports for students receiving special education services. IEP modifications should only be made with your consent and typically only when the team is present.

Important information to be aware of.

Your IEP team ought to provide you with procedural safeguards at every meeting. These are the legal rights for your child in special education. They also advise you on what to do in the event that you have a complaint.

You have the right to request a review of your child’s tests, call an IEP team meeting, and even ask to have your child’s special education services terminated. You, as the parent, get to decide how your child’s needs are met and what the team does.

Records pertaining to special education are stored apart from your child’s other academic records. You, the parent, have access to these special education records and can ask for copies to see if you qualify for additional services.

A copy of your child’s eligibility documents and IEP should be kept on file. These can be useful when submitting applications for additional services, such as vocational rehabilitation, or even when visiting university disability centers.

Students who need specialized instruction are placed in special education. Consider a 504 plan if you believe your child might only require minor accommodations, such as extra time for exams or having them read aloud.

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