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Parents tend to ask the same questions about special education, since learning about this complex system can be quite challenging. After writing the Top 10 FAQs About Special Education, I have been asked so many more questions. This post is a summary of the special education questions that I have been asked the most. Hopefully, your question has been answered.
can I do to help my child prepare for an independent future?
Preparing your child for an independent future starts when they are young.
You want to encourage as much independence as possible to prevent learned
helplessness. Once your child becomes of age for transition planning, make
it a priority to be involved. Talk with your child and family to plan for the
necessary life skills and financial resources needed for the future.
should I do if I think my child has special needs?
If you believe your child has special needs, you first need to have them
evaluated. If your child is under 3 years old, contact your state’s Early
Intervention Program. They will be able to conduct an assessment by gathering information
about your child to determine a possible disability or delay, therapy needs and
strengths and weaknesses. If you believe your child needs some type of
assistance at this age, please do not hesitate. Early intervention is very
important in helping infants and toddlers with delays catch up to typical
development. If your child is already enrolled in school, then you can
request an evaluation from the school district by writing a letter to the
How can I get my child evaluated?
If your child is between 3 – 5 years old and you believe that your
child needs to evaluated, you should contact the school district’s Special
Education Department and submit a written letter. If they are 5 years old or
older, you should submit a letter to your child’s school, addressing the letter
to the school principal. Make sure when you submit your letter, it is
stamped with the date that it was received. This is your proof of when you
submitted your request, as the school district must follow a specific timeline
for all evaluations.
long does it take for my child to get evaluated by the school district?
Most school districts follow a timeline for all evaluations:
15 days to provide parents with a written assessment plan after receiving a request for an evaluation
15 days (at a minimum) are given to parents to sign the evaluation form and give their consent for testing
60 days for the school to conduct an evaluation and hold an IEP meeting to discuss the results and determine eligibility
It is good practice to check with your state to see if there are any changes
to this general rule.
is an IEE?
An IEE is an Independent Education Evaluation. According to IDEA, “a
parent has the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation at
the public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the
This means that as a parent, you may
wish to obtain an IEE if:
you believe the school district’s evaluation was not thorough;
you are in disagreement over the specific nature of your child’s disability, present levels of performance and/or goals;
or you believe that more or less services should be offered.
IEEs include psychological testing, education testing, therapy evaluations
(speech and language, occupational therapy and physical therapy) and behavior
assessments. To obtain a list of qualified evaluators, you can request
information from the school district. If you decide to obtain an IEE, know
that even though school districts are required to pay for an IEE, they can
delay authorizing the payment, which can cause a delay in your child obtaining
their evaluation. In addition, even after you obtain an IEE, school districts
are not required to use the information or recommendations in the report. If
you are having difficulties obtaining an IEE or with the school district’s
policies, you should contact an attorney or advocate that specializes in
special education law.
I need an attorney or an advocate?
It depends. To determine if you need an advocate, read Choosing the Right Special Education Advocate. Advocates can be essential in getting the services that your child needs and they can provide extra support for your family as you navigate through the special education process. Attorneys can also help with complex situations when there are issues with special education laws and regulations.
resources are available for children with special needs?
I created Beyond Special Education to provide parents with a plethora of resources to learn more about special education. In addition to this site, you should also check out disability advocacy groups in your state which can provide you with advocacy information and resources to help your child. Another great website is provided by Autism Speaks and lists a variety of resources for children with autism and other disabilities.