Children with special needs face a range of physical, emotional and behavioral challenges. These may affect their ability to learn, communicate and socialize. But they - and you - don't have to face these challenges alone.
In school, your child may need a little extra help. This might mean adaptive technology to process information, extra time to take a test or a teaching aide to help with class work. Many services are available, but not always easy to get. Parents need to take charge to make sure their child receives proper support.
Know the law
For more than 30 years, federal law has required that every child receive a free, appropriate education in the "least restrictive environment." This marked the end of keeping some children apart in "special ed" classrooms. Today, they are "mainstreamed" with other kids. The law also entitles children with special needs to have access to support services for learning.
Each state has its own programs, procedures and eligibility rules. Check with your State Department of Education for details.
Steps to take
To get the right help for your child, begin with a full evaluation.
- Talk with your child's teacher. Identify any concerns you may have. Let the teacher know about anything important you or others have observed about your child.
- Ask the school's child study team to make an assessment.
- Put all requests for evaluations and services in writing.
- Date your requests and keep copies.
- Keep records of everything reported by your child's teachers and written correspondence between home and school.
- If you would like, request your own evaluations from a pediatrician or psychologist of your choice.
Evaluations are important. They determine whether your child is eligible for services. Based on these assessments, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed. This is a cheap viagra black prescription for the services your child needs, such as occupational or physical therapy, speech and language therapy and/or a classroom aide.
Parents can take part in planning the IEP, but can't determine whether their child is eligible for services. The evaluation team's findings are not final, though, and parents can appeal the decision.
If you are turned down
Parents have options when a child is denied services. If this happens to you:
- Ask for a copy of your school district's Section 504 plan. This part of the federal Rehabilitation Act requires that schools provide reasonable accommodations (e.g., a seat in front of the class or modified homework) for children with special needs. Under this plan, any child with problems that severely limit a major activity (such as learning or social development) is considered disabled.
- Contact a U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights Regional Office if the school district doesn't respond to your request.
- Challenge the decision through a due process hearing if your school refuses services under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Section 504, or both.
- Get a lawyer if you want to appeal the decision. You might find one who specializes in these cases at no or low cost through a nonprofit group.