Special Education Resources
For Teachers, Parents and all other Professionals too
Special Education Resources –
Everyone will probably agree with the statement that life today can be quite complicated even for those of us without disabilities or special needs.
So it’s difficult to imagine what children with brain development disorders must cope with regularly.
Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) face real challenges just trying to process information most of us take for granted.
And it certainly becomes more difficult when they encounter more complex information.
Can you imagine someone talking to you while you experience sensory overload just trying to interpret the meaningless words?
Special Education Questions
Q) How can teachers and parents instruct children who cannot learn through traditional means?
Q) What about the public school system’s role as the primary educating system? A) Promoting Educational Excellence For All
Q) Are there laws governing special education ? A) Wrights Law
Q) And what other resources might be available ? A) Additional online special education resources
These are the kinds of questions parents and teachers of ASD children ask. It can be confusing and overwhelming trying to assist an autistic child while at the same time continuing to handle everything else life requires.
But everyday, millions of parents do exactly that! They spend hours working with their autistic child while coordinating the many special education resources that require their attention.
The legal landscape involving issues revolving around the education of special needs children changes all the time. Special education resources are in constant demand and adequate funding can be a recurring challenge. Special needs children include all children meeting certain guidelines as defined by specific legislation and interpreted by responsible agencies. In addition, there are frequent lawsuits, often filed by parents trying to cope with cash strapped public school systems and their children’s educational needs, that make it all the way to the US Supreme Court and serve to define the intent of the laws.
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Rights and Challenges of Special Education
The United States has some of the most comprehensive laws and programs that are designed to insure children requiring special education access are able to get the help they need. These laws protect the rights of people with learning disabilities and those who have difficulty learning or accessing special education resources due to emotional or physical differences.
The number of children diagnosed with ASD continues to increase rapidly. Many medical researchers don’t believe the actual rates per 1,000 children are rising but rather that better diagnosis techniques are producing more accurate counts.
As doctors learn more and more about autism or ASD and certify increasing numbers of school aged children as having ASD, the school systems struggle to provide the expensive special education resources and services these children need.
The US laws are clear that public school systems must provide reasonable accommodation to children with special needs. The court rooms are full of parents who are demanding the courts force schools to adhere to the law and provide the special education staff and resources needed.
Though some people believe the parents have unreasonable expectations, the fact is that it behooves society to provide these children the educational intervention they need to succeed as adults.
It costs much less to provide learning disabilities resources the child needs rather than have to care for the person throughout their entire adult life.
What many people don’t understand is that in many cases early intervention can help ASD children become productive adults able to function in the world.
Effective programming for children with special education needs requires a team approach. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is the result of a joint effort among parents, teachers, counselors and doctors. The school must be willing to cooperate to its fullest extent to provide the educational tools and access to specialized educational services.
Laws, Rules and Regulations
The United States laws protect special needs children under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act first passed in 1975 as the Education for Handicapped Act. It was then re-authorized and expanded in 1997 as the Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. Referred to as the American Disabilities Act, it also goes by the acronym IDEIA. The concepts that are most important to special needs children in this act are the following.
• All individuals are entitled to access to a “free and appropriate education” (FAPE)
• States may expand but not limit the federal law
Many of the court cases deal with these two issues. First is the question of what is considered “appropriate.” Second is the issue of imposed state limitations that do not seem to meet federal law requirements.
One of the special education resources that should be checked regularly for updates is the US Office of Special Education OSERS.
It is also advisable to keep up to date on state specific information and resources applicable to the particular school system where a child is enrolled. This is a great special education teacher resource.
The reauthorized IDEA act passed in 1997 requires that a student with disabilities be placed in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This has been another source of many court cases filed by parents who believe their ASD child is not being allowed to participate in the LRE. The idea is to mainstream disabled children as much as possible in the classrooms rather than segregate them into special classes.
There is one other important law that was passed regarding special education called the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).
The critical component of this law for special education needs children is that federally funded schools and states are not allowed to exclude students with disabilities from testing. This provision insures parents and teachers periodically assess a child’s progress.
Individualized Education Program
Authorized by the original IDEA law is the concept of the Individualized Education Program (IEP). This is a valuable resource for both parents and educators because it is a formal evaluation of special education needs. This plan is the blueprint a school and parents use to determine needs and eligibility for special education resources and services.
• Assessments in multiple education areas
• Identification of assistive technology needs
• Needed therapy services including occupational or physical therapy and speech therapy
• Special instructional needs
• Integration opportunities
The costs of special services are high of course, but parents and schools have legally defined obligations and rights. The keys to protecting those rights and fulfilling the obligations are to remain knowledgeable of the laws and to take advantage of advocacy group services.
Every US state has an agency that advocates for special needs children within the public school system.
In addition, the Department of Defense initiated the Department of Defense Educational Assistance (DoDea) program designed to assist the children of military personnel in need of special education services. The children must be between 3 and 21 years of age.
• MedPage Today – Medical News by Speciality.
• Education Week – The latest articles regarding the education of children with mental, physical, emotional and behavioral disabilities.
• ADD / ADHD Learning Center – ADD / ADHD resources and related topics
• Wrights Law – dedicated to advocacy, resource identification and tracking laws
• Autism Society Of America – lists state agencies handling special education advice and advocacy
• Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) – nonprofit organization dedicated to securing needed special education services for children with disabilities
• US Department of Education – discusses No Child Left Behind Act
• SERI – comprehensive list of resources for parents and educators managing special needs programs for children
• Department of Defense Educational Assistance (DoDEA) – Teaching the children of Department of Defense military and civilian families worldwide.
- NAPSEC The indispensable voice and premier resource for the private special education community.
- The Vincent Curtis Educational Register The oldest free guide to private independent schools, summer schools, and summer camps.
- Final Part B Regulations of the IDEA (22-Aug-2006; PDF; Outside Source)
The official copy was published in the Federal Register on August 14, 2006.
In very simplified terms, schools must provide children with disabilities, reasonable access to educational services that includes placing the child in the least restrictive environment. Once the IEP has been established, teachers and parents have the guidelines needed to provide the best educational opportunities possible.
It should be mentioned there are a number of wonderful private schools for children with learning disabilities.
Parents and teachers should be aware of the different provisions for children enrolled by their parents in private schools.
Deciding a child is autistic may not be easy despite the impressive list of associated symptoms. That’s because children develop at different rates and in different ways, so some symptoms go unnoticed at first. For example, an autistic infant or toddler may avoid eye contact and is called “shy”. Or a child refuses to be hugged and parents think the child is simply not the “cuddly” type.
Special education resources can help teachers and parents determine the best course of action to help promote a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle for the learning disabled.
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