The process of navigating special education services can be very overwhelming. Families that have never had to seek special services for their child before are often particularly confused about where to turn for help. Children who receive special services through a public school district generally have either an individualized education plan (IEP) or 504 plan in place.
An IEP is an individualized document established by school team members and families that specifies the goals for a child’s education and services the school will provide to assist the child in meeting those goals. Services may include special therapy services (e.g., speech/language therapy) and/or classroom accommodations, such as math intervention or extended time for tests. A child with an IEP is entitled to services provided by the school district under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which became effective in 2005. A 504 plan also documents services provided by the school for a child who has a disability that “substantially limits one or more major life activity”, provided under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A 504 plan is often appropriate for children with identified disabilities that do not meet requirements of IDEA or who are receiving informal support through the school.
The school will hold a meeting to establish or review plans for special education services, and families are invited to attend and participate in these meetings. This is a great opportunity for various members of the school and family to communicate about a child’s needs. That being said, it is easy for a family to feel overwhelmed by the process, which is why it is so important to be familiar with your child’s rights. It is also often challenging for families and schools to identify how to best support a child. A comprehensive evaluation of reasoning abilities, academic skills, learning and memory, attention and executive skills, fine motor skills, and other factors may illuminate unique learning patterns and provide suggestions to support a child’s individual needs. Dr. Young has experience conducting assessments and often accompanies families to their child’s IEP meeting to help them to be their child’s best advocate. Call the Center for Neuropsychology and Behavioral Health today to discuss your child’s needs.