Education Services for Children with Cancer
Special education covers all the special services children may need, from gifted programs, to children with special health care needs, to children with special learning needs. Making special educational services available to children with special needs is required by Federal and State law. Some children with cancer may require a specialized education plan to meet their individual needs. Enrolling in special education services begins with an evaluation, used to create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). An IEP may be appropriate for children who are out of school for an extended period of time due to illness.
Children who have already been receiving special education due to a learning disability, a developmental delay, or speech and/or language problems can also benefit from a new IEP that takes into account new educational needs due to the illness. An IEP may also be useful for children who have been out of a regular school schedule and are about to return; during the transition, they may require extra assistance.
Special services provided through an IEP may include: extra educational help and coordination, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and special transportation.
An IEP typically includes the following components:
- Assessment of the child’s current level of educational performance
- Impact of the illness on learning, thinking, energy/fatigue
- Medical precautions and special needs (if any), for example: central venous access device, extra bathroom breaks, drinking water during class, snacks, limited sun exposure, modified physical education, etc.
- Statement of goals to be achieved under the IEP
- Statement of educational services that the child needs
- Date the educational services will begin
- Description of the extent to which the child will participate in regular education programs
- Justification for the type of educational placement the child will have
- List of individuals responsible for the implementation of the IEP
- Objective criteria and evaluation procedures
To obtain an IEP and establish eligibility for special education services, you will need to deliver or send a request letter to the school principal that outlines the help you believe your child needs. This help could be as simple as assistance with schoolwork, help with going back to school, or extra help in the classroom.
Once the school has reviewed the letter, it will be forwarded to the school district’s Department of Special Education. Next, an evaluation of your child’s needs will be scheduled; school districts are required by law to conduct this evaluation within a reasonable period of time. After the evaluations are completed, an IEP Meeting will be arranged including the parents/guardians, the individuals who performed the evaluation, a representative from the Dept of Special Education, the school administrator(s), teacher(s) and a hospital representative (if you request this). The meeting will determine whether your child is eligible for special services, which specific services will be needed, and will provide the input for writing and implementing the IEP. Children with cancer qualify for special education services under the category of “Other Health Impaired (OHI)”
Keep in mind that the IEP is a working document which can be revised as your child's needs change, whenever you request it.
Reprinted with the permission of CureSearch. © 2005 CureSearch
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