After an IEP meeting, have you ever left your school wondering:
Special education is a broad term used by public K-12 school districts and the law (IDEA) to describe specially designed instruction that meets the unique needs of a child who has been identified as having a specific learning disability. If a student is found to have one or more of the 13 qualifying conditions, any services deemed necessary are provided free of charge by the public school system. Learning disabilities cover a wide spectrum of disorders ranging from mild to severe and can include mental, physical, behavioral and emotional disabilities.
GOALS of SPECIAL EDUCATION
Special education makes it possible for your child to achieve academic success in the least restrictive environment despite their disability. The federal law overseeing special education is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. IDEA entitles all children to a free appropriate education (FAPE). Examples of "appropriate" programs include:
There are hundreds of unfamiliar terms and acronyms in the IEP process. When you have time, I encourage you to review the terms and definitions appendix. One thing to remember is that APPROPRIATE does not mean BEST. Every child would benefit from receiving the best of everything. This is an important distinction to remember.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
If your child is struggling in school, having social or behavioral problems, or if you suspect they have one of the 13 categories of special education, you can request an evaluation. Some school districts request that you meet with your school's student study team (SST) before conducting an evaluation. If your child does not qualify for services under IDEA, they may qualify for modifications under Section 504 of the American Disabilities Act of 1973.