We posted an answer to a question yesterday. As a result, we have been contacted with additional questions leading us to realize that many of our readers are in the dark about special education services. We thought we would provide readers with some background information as well as some additional resources to put in your tool chests.
Eligibility for Special Education Services
If an individual between age 3 and 21 years of age has one of 14 diagnosed disabilities and that disability impacts that person’s ability to benefit from education, he or she may be eligible for special education services from the Local Education Agency (LEA–usually the school district).
The 14 conditions include Autism, Deaf-blindness, Deafness, Hearing impairment, Mental retardation, Multiple disabilities, Orthopedic impairments, Other health impaired (which includes ADD and ADHD), Emotional disturbance, Specific learning disability, Speech or language impairment, Traumatic brain injury, Visual impairment, including blindness, or Developmental Delay (but only up to age 9).
Developing the IEP
Once the child has been determined eligible for services, the team (including the parent/guardian) work collaboratively to develop a plan for services. This plan is called the Individualized Educational Program (IEP).
The IEP is made up of several important parts including goals and objectives, type and amount of special education services, need for assistive technology, need for behavior support, and list of related services including type and amount.
As we discussed yesterday, the federal law lists a number of possible related services. These services include: Audiology, Counseling, Early Identification and Assessment, Medical Services, Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT), Orientation and Mobility, Parent Counseling and Training, Psychological, Recreation, Rehabilitation, School Health, Social Work, Speech Pathology, Transportation, Interpreters, and Assistive Technology.
It is important to note that the federal law specifically states that the services include those listed but that services are not limited to those listed. What does that mean…Not limited to?
Well, that means that your child may receive other services under Related Services. As we mentioned yesterday, the services are determined based on your child’s needs. Thus, the IEP should carefully document what your child needs in order to benefit from education. Some examples of other related services include:
- Medical services that are not limited to an MD
- Music therapy
ABA as a Related Service
And of course, our favorite related service is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Yes, ABA may be listed in your child’s IEP as a related service. In fact, so many children in Connecticut have ABA as a service that the state actually has a law that will go in to effect this year related to who must supervise the individuals providing the ABA services to children with IEPs.
As we approach IEP season, make time to participate actively in the development of your child’s IEP. Work diligently to ensure that the document carefully reflects all of your child’s needs. Make certain that your child receives all of the related services that he/she (or you) need in order to benefit from education.
If you like the information here, you may find other resources on this same topic to be helpful.
- Wright’s Law
- PACER Center
- The Council of Parents, Attorneys, and Advocates (COPAA)
- National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICCHY)
- IDEA (the government’s website on special education law)