Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Special Education Accommodations Assist Students to Access the General Education Curriculum

Special Education accommodations are a very important part of a child's Individualized Education Program (IEP). There is a section of the IEP for accommodations and modifications. It is important for parents of children with special needs to know this section exists and to know how accommodations may help their child. An accommodation is a sensible adjustment to teaching practices to make school more equitable for a child with special needs. There are three primary types of accommodations: setting, response method and presentation.

Setting accommodations are changes made to the environment to help a child with special needs be more successful. Many children with special needs have issues related to attention and group size. Seating a child in a certain area of the classroom or away from certain distractions in the classroom, such as a door or a loud heater can have a significant impact on a child's ability to listen and follow along with the lesson. Some children with special needs get lost or overwhelmed in a large classroom and need to receive instruction or take exams in a smaller setting.

Response method accommodations are variations in how the child with special needs will complete assignments. Many children with special needs have fine motor delays and using a computer or dictation software is the only way they write legibly. Some children with special needs have excellent comprehension of material but struggle to complete worksheets or tests so they may be allowed to complete some assignments or tests orally rather than in writing. Many children with special needs are not able to read on grade level so they may be allowed to listen to an audio presentation of a book instead of physically reading.

Presentation accommodations are things the teacher does to assist a child with special needs to access the curriculum in a more understandable way. Many children with special needs struggle with note taking and knowing what to study for a test, so they may receive a copy of the teacher's notes and a study guide for a test. Another area that many children with special needs have difficulty with is spacial awareness so they may have special paper to assist them in writing correctly or graph paper to help them line up their problems correctly.

Accommodations are strategies used to help children with special needs have the ability to achieve a level of success in school similar to their neurotypical peers. Accommodations are often referred to as ways to level the playing field so that children with special needs can experience progress at an acceptable rate. Which accommodations are used for your child depends on their disability and their areas of significant deficit.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Parental Rights in Special Education

Parental rights in special education in the United States are called procedural safeguards. The federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) lays the foundation for parental rights. Each state adopts their own procedural safeguards based on the guidelines laid out in IDEA. I am asked quite often about three parental rights. One of your parental rights is the right to ask for an independent educational evaluation if you disagree with an evaluation that the school district conducts. Another parental right afforded to you is your right to review your child's educational records. Another parental right is the right to file a due process claim and have an independent hearing if you disagree with the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or the IEP process.

When your child is initially referred to special education and you give permission to the school district to evaluate your child, several formal and informal assessments are conducted to determine if your child meets the criteria for receiving special education services. Re-evaluations to determine if your child remains eligible for special education services are also conducted every three years or more often if the parent requests it or the school district feels it is necessary. If you disagree with an assessment completed by the school district, you have the right to request that an independent evaluation be completed at no expense to you. You must have a valid reason for your disagreement with the evaluation and you need to follow the district's process spelled out in your procedural safeguards handout to receive the independent evaluation.

You also have the right to inspect and review your child's educational records. There are often many records kept on your child other than the formal reports you receive such as the IEP progress reports and the report card. You may put in a formal request to view all of your child records. This could include observations of your child, classroom data regarding behavior and academic progress, informal assessments, discipline records, parent contact records and staff records. If you wish to review your child's records, you usually need to submit your request in writing per the procedural safeguards protocol.

Another procedural safeguard is that you (or the school district) have the right to file a due process claim and receive a hearing by an unbiased hearing officer if you disagree with something in the IEP or during the IEP process. If you have a disagreement with the school district about the IEP or the IEP process, it is best to attempt to work it out with the district. If you do not believe that your disagreement was adequately addressed and you still believe that part of the IEP is inappropriate or inadequate, that the IEP is not being followed, that the IEP process was not conducted according to the law and/or that you or your child were denied something that is your right follow the district's procedure for filing a due process claim.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Learning in a Special Education Environment

Any child that has a need for guided education whether it is because of a mental or physical disability deserves to have the same chance in life and school as other children. Sometimes when a parent knows their child needs regulated special guidance on education, they don't want their child to be singled out. They don't want to have to have special arrangements. They want their child to be given attention without losing the same equality as other students.

Learning in a regulated special guidance on education is often required. It is design though not to restrict the children, but give them all the opportunity to succeed. Parents can rest assured that often it is the law that all children will have the best opportunities to succeed in education even if special education is needed. Sometimes students needing education need a complete special education curriculum while others just need various elements with education.

The student might have learning disabilities and needs extra attention to help them understand the lessons, to stay up with other students. Other students could be emotionally challenged and need special attention to help them accomplish goals. Then there are various physical disabilities that can cause the student to need more extensive assistance for their special education curriculum.

Often the definition of those being eligible for specialized education is provided by the state as well as the federal government. Depending on the disability there are various services available. Parents are asked to keep in mind that education environments are set up to benefit the child with a disability and provide them with more of an advantage than they would have otherwise got.

A specialized education environment is set up to benefit the classmates. It might be that is it more wheelchairs accessible to having equipment to help students with certain issues along with a teacher trained to help with these issues. Having specialized training will best benefit the child as an individual compared to a teacher in the traditional classroom with 19 other students that don't have a disability or a class room with a few others that need special attention as well.

There is often an Individualized Education Plan put in place for the student. This allows the student to get assistance and education that is geared toward their needs in a way that will best benefit them. Talk with the school administrators, teachers and your child's teacher to help design the best options for your child.