The ABCs of Advocacy for Children With Special Needs (page 2)

By — NYU Child Study Center
Updated on Jul 9, 2010

Eligibility for services

In order to be eligible for an Individual Education Plan (IEP) a child must have a disability that affects his/her ability to learn. A child must be classified in one of the following categories of disability: Autism, blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic disabilities, other health impa irments, specific learning, speech/language, traumatic brain injury, or visual impairment.

Note: IDEA04 requires that states develop and implement policies that would prevent school personnel from requiring children to take prescription medication, such as those commonly prescribed for children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperacitivity Disorder (ADHD), as a condition for attending school, undergoing an evaluation for special services or receiving special services.

When appropriate, a Section 504 Accommodations Plan is suggested instead of an IEP. Section 504 is a disability law separate from IDEA and requires all agencies receiving federal funds to allow children access to educational programs and services. Any child not entitled to services through IDEA and an IEP must be considered for educational modifications under Section 504.

Individual Education Program (IEP)

The IEP must take into account the results of the evaluation, including the child's strengths and weaknesses, results of state or district wide tests, the unique needs and/or special equipment, long and short-term goals and the least restrictive environment.

Note: IDEA04 requires that short-term goals be specified only for those children with significant cognitive disabilities.

The IEP must be reviewed at least once a year. Every 3–5 years a new evaluation must be completed to determine eligibility and classification.

Note: IDEA04 authorizes a new pilot program that will allow up to 15 states to offer parents the option of a multi-year IEP, not to exceed 3 years.

The effect of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and IDEA04

All children with disabilities are included in the annual statewide assessments required by NCLB. IDEA04 allows states and school districts to use funds earmarked for special education to assist students who have not been found eligible for special education but who may need additional assistance to succeed in general education. IDEA04 also requires all special education teachers to be certified in special education.

What if parents don't agree with the school? Options to resolve disputes

  1. Mediation—Parent and school district meet with neutral third party who tries to help them come to an agreement.
  2. Due process hearing—Parent and school district present written and oral testimony of disputed issue to a judge.

Enhancing advocacy skills of parents

Parents must know when to advocate for their child and when not to step in. At times it may be preferable to let a child learn from failure. For example, a child who forgets to complete his homework, may be able to discuss and arrange a make-up assignment with the teacher on his own. However a child who forgets assignments repeatedly may need parental intervention to determine the source of the problem and ways to rectify it.

Children should be assured that their parents are their allies. Parents should openly communicate to their children that they are advocating for their educational needs.

Parents should ask, listen and answer questions about their child's concerns during this process, and create an atmosphere of respect and affection.

Parents may need to select teachers and supportive assistance agents through face-to-face meetings to discuss shared goals. It is important to document dates, long and short- term goals and other points made during the meeting.

Establish and document at least a tentative time frame for goals to be achieved, make specific plans for follow-up meetings, and obtain contact information.

Local and national advocacygroups should be supported when possible.

View Full Article
Add your own comment
DIY Worksheets
Make puzzles and printables that are educational, personal, and fun!
Matching Lists
Quickly create fun match-up worksheets using your own words.
Word Searches
Use your own word lists to create and print custom word searches.
Crossword Puzzles
Make custom crossword puzzles using your own words and clues.
See all Worksheet Generators