In the spring of 2016 I did a special education series. I thought I would try my best to do another special education series since it is back to school time:)
I receive messages from time to time from parents asking me questions about their child and the special education program. Therefore, in this post I want to concentrate on some of the most basic principles of special education. Hopefully, if you have a child that is in special education or who will be evaluated for special education, you find something in here helpful.
Every school district hast he legal responsibility to identify, locate, and evaluate children who may be in need of special education.
Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) was first enacted in 1975 because public schools were ignoring children with disabilities or shunting them off to other programs. IDEA has a list of disabilities that fall in the regulations and autism is one of them. For your child to qualify for special education services, your child needs more than a diagnosis. There must be evidence that your child's disability adversely affects his or her education. Therefore, your child has a right to an evaluation by a psychologist that works in the school district. An important note to make note of is that the school district will not take a diagnosis from outside sources. It has to be done specifically through the psychologist that works in the school district. If you are new and entering the school systems this year please know that if you child has an autism diagnosis from an outside source, it won't qualify your child for services. You have to go through the school district.
If your child is evaluated by the team of professions, a meeting will be held, called the IEP, to figure out the correct placement of your child and education program. IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. Every child who qualifies for this has a right to an individualized education plan that best meets their needs. No part of an IEP can be implemented without the parents approval.
A school district can not force anything on your child, the parents have the ultimate choice in your child's education process as to the type of classroom and how their education plan will go.
IDEA states that your child should be in regular classroom unless the child cannot be educated satisfactorily there, even with the use of supplements and aids and services. Although it is recommended that every child be educated in a regular classroom, it is necessary that some children's disabilities are too severe and require to be in a self contained special education classroom.
Your child may just need some support services such as occupational, therapeutic, physical therapy, etc. The school districts provide various services in this area. You can also receives assistive technology and transition services for your child as well.
A great thing that IDEA provides is the right for your child to be placed in a nonprofit or private school if your school district cannot provide an appropriate program. This may be hard to fight and win through the school district. However, if you are proactive and have all of your documentations together, you can get your child in the correct private school somewhere that meets their needs more appropriately than the school district.
If you have a child who has severe needs, I would contact the school district before school even starts to get an evaluation done on your child and an IEP set in place to start the school year off right. I did this for Trenton and started on it the past spring and we had our final meeting this summer. His IEP is set and ready to go on his first day of school. Being a former special education teacher, you can betcha that I will make sure it gets followed to the T!! (A parents needs to be active in their child's education and ensure that their child's teacher is following the IEP and giving your child exactly what they need.) Children with disabilities have a right to an education that meets their needs just like a typical child does.
Stay tuned for more special education post. Please let me know if you have any questions or any suggestions that you would like a post on. There is a lot of information in the special education world and I know it can be very overwhelming at times.