Are you a parent who has found themselves in the following situations?
- You suspect that your child might have a learning disorder
- Your child has already been evaluated and diagnosed with a learning disorder
- You are just beginning with the Individual Education Program (IEP) process
- Your child already has an IEP but the services are not being provided.
If you suspect your child is having difficulty learning here are the five steps you can take immediately:
1. Don’t wait to take action
- Don’t think your child will grow out of her difficulties
- Don’t give it to the end of the next semester to revisit
- Three months, six months, one year is a significant amount of time to let pass in your child’s education
2. Meet with your child’s teacher immediately
- You do not have to wait for parent/teacher conferences to raise your concerns
- Don’t accept the teacher’s recommendation to wait until the end of the semester or that your child will grow out of it
3. Have your child’s vision and hearing screened
- Often time a child’s learning difficulties can be caused by a hearing or visual impairment
4. Request an evaluation
- Schools will provide a “Core Evaluation” at their expense, which can give a baseline on your child’s cognitive ability, academic achievement, and emotional health
5. Request accommodations through Response to Intervention (RtI)
- Schools are using a process called Response to Intervention (RTI) to see if a child might have a learning disability.
- Response to Intervention provides specially designed instruction for children who have scored low on general tests. The students are tested – sometimes as often as every week – to measure progress.
- Those who improve after the instructional intervention go back to their normal classroom activities. Those who do not improve receive additional testing to confirm the presence of a disability.
If you don’t ask (or know what to ask for), school districts may not tell you what services your child is entitled to if they are not already provided. Hey it’s a lot of work for them and it costs the school district a lot of money. But it is your child’s right. Unfortunately they might not publicize it and some systems will create so much red tape that they are hoping that you will get frustrated and give up…..
It’s not because they are evil or mean, but because of the unfunded mandate of No Child Left Behind under the Bush administration. School Districts are protecting their too few resources. I’m certainly not letting them off the hook because by law if a child is found eligible for special education services, they must provide them. Although we are experiencing tough economic times, I am cautiously optimistic that under the Obama administration unfunded mandates will be a thing of the past.
Mindy Mazur is a certified Educational Therapist who works as a Special Ed Parent Coach and Advocate. She has recently joined Susan Epstein’s Powerful Parenting team. She has been in private practice since 2004. Prior to this she worked in the field of Children’s Mental Health and has had a 14 year career in the AIDS Bureau and Bureau of Family and Community Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Her advocacy and coaching experience ranges in special education, early intervention, public health, and children’s mental health. She assists families in obtaining and organizing information, preparing for team meetings and navigating the special education process and other state agencies.