Is a Special Education Program Right For My Child?

How do you know if your child needs Special Education Services?

If thier diagnosis interfers with their learning.

When you have a child, like mine, that doesn't have a clear diagnosis, then your therapist or doctor has to look at specific behaviors to determine if they impair function at school.

There are many types of special education services available to children ranging from a separate school to an aide that comes into a regular classroom.

The level of services you qualify for depends on your diagnosis from either a health care professional or the school psychologist.

The special education team is compromised of school psychologists, RSP teachers, speech teachers and regular classroom teachers. As a team, potential problem areas are identified and testing takes place to establish a level of need. Your child may qualify for any one of the following types of plans or services.

An Individual Educational Plan or IEP

If your child has an IEP, it means that there are goals that your child will need to meet that are different from the rest of the class. It is a document that addresses the unique needs of your child. It may include health, behavioral, or intellectual needs.

Remember, you are a very important part of this process, and it should never take place without you. When you have a good fit, everyone is working as a team with the needs of your child in mind.

A 504 Plan

Any disability can interfere with your child’s’ ability to learn. The 504 plan comes from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is designed to help children who have special needs, usually behavioral, that do not qualify for an IEP.

RSP Program

The RSP teacher is a special education teacher who is credentialed to work with students on their specific needs. He or she follows the goals of the IEP or 504 Plan, and with either pull your child out on a daily or weekly basis to work on those specific goals, or put someone in the room to assist them as needed.

Speech Teachers

Speech is often a special education service your child may need, even if they appear to speak clearly. Articulation is spoken language, and is the most frequent reason children see a speech teacher. However, there is a whole second layer of language, the nuances, the unwritten rules, and unstated connections in language that may be a great struggle for your child to understand. The speech teacher can help them to learn the unwritten laws of language.

Instructional Aides

Instructional Aides are trained by the special education program to work with specific children or specific issues. They work under supervision, and often will go into the classroom.

Occupational Therapists

If you are lucky, you might live in a school district that provides an occupational therapist. The OT can provide a multitude of services pertaining to your child’s IEP or 504 plan often including what is called play therapy. OT’s use play as a medium to address the unique wiring issues in the brain, retrain the brain to respond differently. It’s amazing!

How Does This Apply To My Child?

Having a detailed IEP or 504 Plan in place if your child is struggling in school will greatly help them to succeed.

For example,if your child has ADHD, it could state that your child is not to sit on the wall at recess for misbehavior, as that would be like throwing a match on gasoline. Instead, it may state that your child is to walk a path for time out or do push ups, or something else that will allow them to serve the time without doubling the future sentence!

If your child has sensory integration problems, the IEP or 504 Plan details how your child’s unique sensory issues can be accommodated in the classroom.

Your child may need to use noise blocking headphones, have a quiet place to retreat to when they get over stimulated, or have fidgets to hold to ground them during class. Once again the possibilities are endless and need to be customized to the needs of your child.

In my bookshelf

I have several books that address the issues of the ADD/ADHD and Sensory Sensitive child at school. However, school is close to my heart and much of my information comes directly from my experiences as a classroom teacher.

The Out-of-Sync Child is a great book that explains how a child with Sensory Processing Disorder views life, including school.

Driven To Distraction is a good book if you have a child who leans towards ADHD. It was a huge bestseller, and well worth the read.