Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Introduction to Special Education

I've decided that besides educating on autism, I am going to start educating on special education as a whole. I had an advantage over many special needs parents because my bachelors is in special education. I wrote two articles for Autism Parenting Magazine  about special education that will come out in a few months. However, I would like to go ahead and do a little educating on here to help other parents who may not know what their rights are.

Enrolling your child with special needs into school is not easy for parents of kids with disabilities. Most of the time, the parents do not understand special education. I hope to help you start understanding that:)

Congress first enacted Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975 because schools were ignoring students with disabilities. This act established a process for evaluating children with disabilities and providing them special services in order to meet their needs. Under IDEA the program that your child receives is determined through an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Your child's future depends on how involved you are. The parent or legal guardian must understand and be actively involved in  order for your child to get the best education possible.

I understand that you may not have a clue when it comes to IEPs and meetings. However, just simply ask your child's teacher. Build a strong, firm relationship with your child's team and you will be just fine.  Trust me, your child's teacher wants you to ask questions and to be involved! I had the pleasure of having a fantastic teacher and team when Trenton was in Early Childhood. As many of you know that school is not appropriate for Trenton right now which is why we are concentrating solely on ABA.

It may be difficult but you need to have a broad understanding of special education laws. IDEA is for all states! Therefore, each state must adopt the IDEA laws and implement them.

IDEA was revamped in 2004 in order to ensure that children with special needs receive an appropriate education. In order for IDEA to do this they required the school districts to have certain requirements.  For example, the one requirement that I will talk about in this post is ELIGIBILITY.

IDEA defines children with disabilities as individuals between the ages of 3-22 who have one or more of the following conditions:
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Visual Impairment
  • Serious Emotional Disturbance
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Autism
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Multiples disabilities
  • Specific learning disability
  • Other Health Impairment which may include ADHD
In other words, in order for your child to be in special education between the ages of 3-22, they have to meet one of the above and there must be evidence that your child's disability adversely affects his or her education.

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