Finding individualized education for your child: Part 3

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on August 30, 2017 # Mobility, Caregiving

Hello and welcome to the last section of Special Education Tips. As you are wrapping up your initial meetings and start the school year, we want to share some advice on how to deal with special circumstances within the school environment and transitions.

Getting the tools & aide your child needs…

  • Before requesting assistive technology (AT) or an aide for your child, create a plan: Speak with your child's teachers to determine the tools needed, research options, brainstorm alternate solutions with current resources, and provide a written summary to your CST.
  • Define the need. It is extremely important that the IEP, assessments, and annual reviews state a clear need for an aide or AT and how it will assist your child in achieving his IEP goals.
  • The Centers for Parents Information & Resources created a great toolkit that provides directions from considering to implementing assistive technology.
  • If you are looking for an aide, remember to emphasize how the aid will allow your child to have a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). This article provides a comprehensive look into requesting an aide.
  • Be prepared to get some push back from the CST and don't accept excuses (we don't have the budget or we don't provide those services). Remember that your child's education should be geared towards him, not the school's constraints.

So, your child wants to go on the field trip?...

  • Extracurricular activities, such as field trips, after school programs, and sports are covered under IDEA, Section 504, and ADA. The Pacer Center's fact sheet on Extracurricular Activities provides information on how these laws protect children from discrimination.
  • A few weeks before or at beginning of school, request a tentative schedule of the extracurricular activities and field trips that will occur during the school year. This will allow you to plan ahead and make the school district aware of the accommodations they may need to provide your child.
  • Many parents with children who need special or medical supervision can act as chaperones during field trips and after school activities. If you are not able to attend, the school must provide these services.
  • During your IEP meeting, make sure to discuss and add implementations for any extracurricular activities. If you didn't, contact your CST and request a meeting. Remember, it's best to do this at the beginning of the school year.
  • Equal access does not equate to participation. Some sports or nonacademic activities may have standards that cannot be lowered. Nevertheless, your child has the right to be considered in the same manner as his peers.

What's next?

  • Starting on his or her 16th birthday, your teen will be eligible to participate in transitional discussions during his or her IEP annual meetings. Encourage your teen to actively participate, if feasible, in the meeting and start considering goals for post-secondary education.
  • The Department of Education has an article on Preparing for Post-Secondary Education which provides information in a Q&A format.
  • The CST and guidance department should provide your teen with services such as counseling, educational and/or vocational planning, skill training, goal planning, and referrals to programs and services for further assistance.
  • Remember that as your teen works on his educational goals within the IEP, he should also work on home and community skills that will allow him to live independently in the future. Several school districts provide assistance with this type of training.
By Patricia Correa. Patricia has worked in the Early Intervention System for over 6 years and is the mother of a child living with a disability. She is an Information Specialist at the Paralysis Resource Center.