Questions and Answers
You are the voice for your child in the education system. Most parents are unprepared for this role at first, but the more you know, the more you will be able to do for your child.
Click below for answers to the following questions about advocacy:
How do I set up an IEP for my child with ADHD?
All parents should start in the school's front office. Ask to speak with an administrator and bring any type of documentation and work samples you may have. In order for an individual to receive any type of accommodations, the individual must provide documentation of a specific disability. For a valid and accurate diagnosis, an individual needs a full psycho-educational evaluation through a licensed or otherwise qualified professional. Ask the school for this type of screening/evaluation.
I suspect my child might have dyslexia. What should I do?
After the evaluation process is completed, you can use the information from the evaluation to help you make a decision about the next step in your child's educational path.
I feel as though my child's skills are regressing. What should I do?
It is alarming to feel that your child is no longer making progress and may even be losing skills, but it will benefit him if you recognize this early and intervene.
Speak with his teachers about your concerns and share any samples of his work that reflect these concerns. Together, you can decide which step should be taken next. If you and his teachers feel that the level and amount of services and accommodations your child is receiving need to be revisited, then an IEP meeting should be convened.
You may also consider asking that the concerns you have about your child’s academic progress be discussed at the school's next local screening meeting. At this meeting, you and the other members of the local screening committee will decide if further evaluation for your child is warranted.
At both meetings, it is important to discuss the possible reasons for your child's current struggles in helping to determine the next course of action. For example, perhaps your child was able to compensate for his disability before, but now that he is getting older and the schoolwork is getting more challenging, his ability to compensate is being strained and the achievement gap between your child and his peers is widening. His apparent regression may also be signs of stress from knowing that he is falling further behind. It is imperative that the emotional component of your child's educational experience be addressed.
You and your child's teachers should be able to work together to develop an educational program that will meet his needs and help him reach his academic potential.
My child's school says that my child is very bright, but they want to hold him back because of his poor reading skills. I want him tested for a reading disability. What should I do?
Because your child is so bright and is still struggling with reading, he may very well be exhibiting some of the characteristics typical of students with a learning disability. It may be helpful to look at the following articles, which describe characteristics that some children with learning disabilities exhibit:
Whether or not he is found eligible for special services, the evaluation, among other things, will help determine your child's academic strengths and weaknesses and how best he learns. This should make the decision about how to help your child in subsequent years seem clearer.
Because your child is bright, he may be able to compensate, at this point, for any learning difficulties that he might have. But as he gets older and the reading material in school gets more challenging, your child may find it increasingly difficult to compensate and he may fall further behind. This is why the earlier the cause of his reading weaknesses is determined and addressed, the better chance your child has of truly reaching his academic potential.
I don't feel like my child has received the kind of help that she needs in the public school, so I've put her in private school. How can I get the public school to pay for it?
Public schools will only pay for private placement if they feel they cannot meet a child's educational needs in the public system. At this point, it would be beneficial for you to arrange to meet with one of the heads of the special education department in your school district to discuss your concerns.
One aspect of the laws governing special education is that all children are entitled to a free, appropriate public education (also known as FAPE). The key is for you and the school district to come to an understanding about what FAPE means for your child. What can sometimes be frustrating for parents is that a free, appropriate public education must also be balanced with the least restrictive environment (LRE). This means that there needs to be the right balance between providing your daughter with the educational services, supports, and accommodations she requires to reach her academic potential and giving her access to the general education setting as much as possible.
Intuitively, it would seem that it would benefit almost all children to be in a self-contained, center-based, or other, more restrictive environment, particularly because of the low teacher to student ratio. But there are many factors to consider when determining appropriate placement. The questions of FAPE and LRE as they relate specifically to your child should be addressed.
You may wish to request that the head of the special education department also arranges to meet with you and the other members of the IEP team in order to create a new IEP that will address your child's needs in a way that is satisfactory to both you and the school. As the parent, you have the final say in all aspects of your child's education. The school cannot implement any IEP that you do not agree to and sign.
What should I do if my child has an IEP but is not making any progress?
Because you feel that your child is not making progress, it is important to request an IEP meeting as soon as possible. At this meeting, there should be a detailed discussion about the type of assistance your child is receiving and for how long each day. You should also ask her teachers if your child is making progress toward meeting her IEP goals and objectives. Request documentation, such as your child's work samples and assessments, to support their claim.
You can also contact the Parent Advocacy Resource Center in your state. They may be able to provide you with information, suggestions, and guidance specific to your child's needs.
Parents can be the strongest and most knowledgeable advocates for their children, so trust your instincts and don't give up until your child receives the type of education that she needs and to which she is entitled!
How do I teach advocacy skills to children with LD?
There are also excellent books available for children. The LD OnLine Kids section features a large selection of good books to help children handle learning and attention issues. For example, youll find Survival Guide for Kids with LD by Fisher and Cummings and The Creeps in Room 112 by Bennett, as well as books for much younger students. You can also find excellent articles written by children.
I am concerned my child's school is not really following her IEP. What can I do about this?
In addition, you may wish to explore LD OnLine's directory of Parent Advocacy Resource Centers.
Lastly, if your childs IEP is still not being followed, contact an educational advocate or special education lawyer. LD OnLine has a Yellow Pages directory that might be helpful to you and the Wrightslaw website has useful information. Remember to listen to your instincts and trust that you have tremendous insight and knowledge about your child.
How do I know when my child no longer needs an IEP?
Children with IEPs should be reevaluated at least every three years. This evaluation is often called a "triennial." Its purpose is to find out if the child continues to be a "child with a disability," as defined by IDEA, and what the childs educational needs are.
IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to make sure that children with disabilities had the opportunity to receive a free and appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has been revised many times over the years. The most recent amendments were passed by Congress in December 2004. Because the law is continuously changed and updated, school districts must modify how to determine if a child has a disability. Check with your childs school to see what eligibility criteria they are currently using.
- The local educational agency (your childs school) is no longer required to consider a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation, or mathematical reasoning.
- A school may use a process that determines if a child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as a part of the evaluation process.
My child was tested in kindergarten for dyslexia but they didn't find anything. What should I do now that he is in 3rd grade and still struggling with reading and writing?
As your child gets older, it may be increasingly difficult for him to compensate, so the gap between his ability and achievement may be widening. If your child does have a learning disability, it will be easier to detect now than when he was in kindergarten. The following articles describe characteristics common to children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. You may want to look through them to see if you recognize some of your childs challenges in these descriptions:
If you see some of these characteristics in your child, you may want to request that his school give him an educational evaluation. It is within your rights as a parent to request this free evaluation and to have a vote throughout the evaluation process.
Remember that you can be the strongest and most knowledgeable advocate for your son, so trust your instincts and dont give up! The sooner your son receives the assistance he needs and the quicker you and his teachers can work together to develop a plan for helping him at home and school, the better his outcome for truly reaching his academic potential.
My son's school would like to place him in a self-contained classroom. I don't agree. What can I do to make sure my child has the best possible learning environment?
School districts are required to educate students with disabilities in regular classrooms with their non-disabled peers in the school they would attend if not disabled, to the maximum extent appropriate. This is commonly referred to as the least restrictive environment (LRE).
My son is far behind in school both academically and developmentally. Should he stay back a grade?
If your school is one in which 1) at-risk students are given intensified learning experiences; 2) differentiated instruction is provided; 3) teachers are continually improving their skills; 4) lessons are geared to ongoing performance assessments; and 5) very young students receive the help they need early and often you can safely support promotion for your child. If you are not convinced that your child will get the support he needs to succeed in the next grade, you may want to strongly support his retention. In addition to academic factors, it is important to weigh the child's age, size, emotional maturity and physical development when considering retention. Also examine the program that will be offered it should be a new, challenging experience not a repeat of the same lessons and texts.