If your child is struggling in school for reasons such as: learning disabilities, ADHD, emotional disorders, mental retardation, autism, hearing or visual impairment, speech or language impairment, or developmental delay, they may qualify for special services that will help them adapt better in their classroom. These services provide an individualized education program in their public school at no cost to you.
Understanding how to access these services can help your child achieve greater success in the classroom and help you be effective advocates for your children. If you or one of your children’s teachers is concerned that your child is having trouble in the classroom for one of the reasons stated above, ask that specific data be gathered regarding your child’s progress or academic programs. This can be done through a conference with parents and teachers, observation of the student, or analysis of your child’s performance (tests, class work, homework, behavior, etc.). Once the relevant data is gathered, parents and teachers can use strategies specific to the student to help them achieve more success in the classroom.
However, if your child’s disability is still affecting his/her functioning in the classroom, request your child be tested for a specific learning disability or other impairment to determine qualification for special services. Once requested, a multidisciplinary team of qualified professionals will observe and test your child and decide what services your child needs to better succeed in the classroom. Services can include: more time to complete assignments and tests, speech or occupational therapy, counseling, behavioral therapy, tutoring, or even a personal aid.
Once relevant services for your child are determined, an individualized education plan (IEP) meeting will take place. At this meeting, the multidisciplinary team and parents will decide what will go into the plan and discuss how the plan will help your child’s progress in the education curriculum. The IEP should outline the support services your child will receive and how often they will be provided. The purpose of the IEP is to help your child learn at a rate that is equal to his/her piers and provide a better educational experience for both you and your child.