Special needs education: what to expect

As we count down the days to back to school, the Daily Buzz talks with moms and public school teachers about what you and your child can expect in the coming year.

Today a CafeMom special education teacher and behavior consultant gives us the inside scoop about what to expect with special needs education.

If a parent thinks her child may have special needs or a learning disability, what should she do?

Set up a meeting with the child's teacher to discuss your concerns. The teacher will be able to direct you from there.

What do parents need to know about special needs education in public schools? What resources are available for special needs kids in public school?

At every Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting, the parent receives a handbook that explains in detail the rights they have. READ IT! Special Education is broad in the services it can provide, and each child is different. The IEP team, which includes the parent, will work together to determine the best services for the individual child. Resources vary by district, school, and exceptionality. If a child truly needs something to "level the academic playing field," the district will provide it, usually.

What is an Individual Education Program (IEP)?

An IEP is a plan that has been laid out by the IEP team that says what the school and district is legally bound to do and provide for the exceptional child. It contains several parts including basic info on the child, evaluation information, behavior info, health info, goals and objectives, accommodations and modifications the child needs, all related services a child receives, and who is responsible for what, as well as the placement in the least restrictive environment and the number of minutes the child receives services. There are other little things on the IEP as well, but those are the main things.

If your child has already had a special ed referral, what can you expect in the first few weeks of school? How often should parents be expected to connect with the school going forward?

The Pupil Appraisal office has timelines they work by, so if a child has been referred and school is starting back up, you can expect that your child will begin to be evaluated and administered a diagnostic test by a school psychologist or educational diagnostician. These people will contact the parent, but if a parent wants to call and check in right as school is beginning, that's fine.

Communication is a very good thing and doesn't hurt anyone. This is something that takes a little time, so a phone call every day is not needed. However, maybe after the initial phone, call to get an overview of what will happen with your child. You can follow up as the estimated timeline you were given for the evaluation to be complete draws to a close.

(...feature continued on CafeMom's Big Kid Buzz)

Written by Sheri Reed for CafeMom's Daily Buzz

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