Sunday, June 7, 2009
SEEKING ASSISTANCE THROUGH THE IDEA
WHAT IS THE IDEA?
IDEA stands for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It was devised to provide federal financial assistance to state and local education agencies to guarantee special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities, including ADHD. With the re authorization of the IDEA in 2004, schools may now provide "early intervening services" prior to initiating a request for special education, and may initiate the implementation of a "response to intervention" process to address your child's needs at the first sign of problems.
Pursuing assistance through the IDEA is more involved than with SECTION 504. Overall, the IDEA requires a higher degree of participation from parents, school personnel and the Department of Education. The request and evaluation process is more complicated. However, the benefits are also more comprehensive, often involving the placement of students in special classes with a modified curriculum. The IDEA is the appropriate route to take if your child's ADHD symptoms make academic progress in a regular class setting difficult, thus creating an adverse effect on learning, resulting in an educational need. Individuals with ADHD may be eligible for special education under the IDEA category-Other Health Impaired (OHI).
below is an example of how a request for an initial evaluation letter to school officials might read. Your request, of course, would include specifics regarding your child's ADHD and academic situation and whether you are requesting an evaluation under the IDEA or SECTION 504.
Name of Principal or Director of Special Education or District Section 504 Coordinator.
I am writing to request that my son/daughter, (full name and student ID# or date of birth), be evaluated for eligibility for special education services under (specify the IDEA or Section 504). I have been concerned that he/she is not progressing well in school and that he/she may need some special help in order to learn. He/she is in the (grade level and name of current teacher) and attends (name of school).
I understand that the evaluation is to be provided at no charge to me. My reasons for requesting this procedure are (...keep this paragraph short, but give one or two reasons for your concern about your child).
I would appreciate meeting with each person who will be doing the evaluation before he/she tests my child so that I might share information about (child's name) with him/her. I will also expect a copy of the written report generated by each evaluator so that I might review it before the IEP meeting.
For the IDEA letter only:
It is my understanding that I have to provide written permission for these tests to be administered. I will be happy to do so upon receipt of the proper forms and explanation of the process.
I appreciate your help in this matter and look forward to hearing from you soon.
(return 4 times then continue typing. When printed out this is where you will provide signature.)
THE IDEA REQUEST PROCESS
Seeking assistance through the IDEA begins much like it does with SECTION 504--with a written request to school officials requesting that your child be considered for an initial and individual evaluation for special education services.
Once your request has been made, you will be notified as to whether your child is to receive an evaluation for the IDEA services, or if your request has been denied. If your request is denied, you can appeal the decision.
An evaluation must use a variety of assessment tools to assess behavioral and developmental information about your child, including what has been provided by you, teachers, counselors, and/or doctors. Your child should be assessed using formalized tests in all areas related to his or her disability, including general health, vision, motor skills, language emotional status, academic performance and general intelligence and/or behavior. The IDEA district committee (IEP team) must ensure that the evaluation is comprehensive enough to identify all of your child's special education needs.
THE IEP MEETING
Within 30 calendar days of completing your child's evaluation, school officials must schedule a meeting to discuss the results of the testing (parents have the right to receive a copy of the completed evaluation prior to this meeting so that they may prepare questions or comments). At the meeting, the development of your child's Individual Education Plan (IEP) will begin.
Decisions must be made by a team which includes you, your child (if appropriate), general and special education teachers, local school district officials and other individuals who have expertise regarding your child's condition. You can also bring someone you consider knowledgeable about the situation, including your child's doctor.
IEP PREPARATION AND PARTICIPATION: A CHECKLIST
Your child's Individual Education Plan is vital to the kind of educational assistance he or she receives at school. So it is important to be prepared and to actively participate in the IEP process, before, during and after the meeting. The following checklists will give you a basic understanding of what to expect at the IEP meeting and how to proceed once things are underway.
A. BEFORE THE IEP MEETING
Read your meeting notice to see what issues will be discussed and who will attend. Be sure enough time is allotted.
Ask the school for copies of any relevant information you do not already have, including:
*Latest Full and Individual Education and any new testing the school has done.
*Teacher progress notes (if necessary, talk with the teacher(s) and others for information on the student's progress).
*State curriculum for your child's age-appropriate grade level.
*Student Code of Conduct (discipline code).
*Blank IEP forms and/or any drafts of IEPs the school may have done for your child.
*Gather any reports you have from outside therapists, tutors, consultants or doctors.
*Make a list of your child's strengths and talents.
*Study the Department of Education curriculum guidelines for your state and list the curriculums you think your child should undertake-both "as is" and with modifications.
*Make a list of other things you want your child to learn during the year. How is this going to help him/her? Will your child be able to participate more fully in school life? Will your child become more independent? How will your child's life change or improve?
*Review the lists and mark 4-5 things you think are most important for your child. These will be the basis for developing the IEP goals and objectives during the IEP meeting.
*Decide who you will bring to the IEP meeting. Be sure to bring a spouse, friend or advocate along with you for moral support.
B. DURING THE IEP MEETING
Be sure the following items are discussed and incorporated into your child's IEP Meeting:
* A statement of progress about your child regarding previous IEP objectives as well as a list of specific goals and objectives for the coming school year.
* Information about your child's current educational performance and how ADHD is affecting your child's progress.
* Specific special education services and/or behavior modifications programs, if needed.
* Modifications in curriculum, special materials, equipment, resources and/or computer-assisted technology needed to help your child participate in the same learning activities as other students his/her age.
* A statement of any academic or extracurricular activity in which your child will NOT participate with non-disabled students, and the reasons why.
* Any accommodations your child needs to take state or local assessment tests.
* Signatures of the IEP committee members and statements of your agreement or disagreement with any part of the IEP.
C. AFTER THE IEP MEETING
Once your IEP meeting has been completed, you want to make sure that your child's education plan is implemented and that your child is making progress. Here are some ways you can stay involved to ensure effective implementation:
* Stay in contact with members of your child's IEP team and offer your help.
* Give positive feedback to teachers and administrators about things that work well for your child during the school year.
* Get involved at your child's school: volunteer in the classroom, library or other school programs; attend school function; join the P.T.A. and participate in meetings and special events.
* Communicate regularly with teachers throughout the year (notebooks, phone calls, emails, meetings and conferences).
* Share articles and other resources of interest with teachers and other school personnel.
* Review your child's progress reports and bring questions, concerns and/or praise to the parent/teacher conferences.
* Make sure all your child's teachers have received a copy of the most current IEP report, and that it is being implemented as written and being monitored on a regular basis.
* Save your child's IEP and progress reports each year to help monitor progress.
* IEPs should be reviewed at least once a year. However, they can be revised by the IEP team at any time during the year if your child isn't making the expected progress or is doing so well that new objectives need to be developed.
There are advantages to both SECTION 504 and the IDEA. At first it may seem confusing as to which direction is best for your child. SECTION 504 often provides faster, more flexible accommodations for children with ADHD. The fact that SECTION 504 is more flexible may enable more children to receive its protection who may not be eligible under the IDEA. Also, because its regulations are less specific, it may be easier to qualify under SECTION 504. Many parents of children with less severe disabilities often choose this route.
The IDEA, by its very nature, offers a more comprehensive range of services for children with disabilities. However, procedural safeguards and procedures for parent participation are also more specific, extensive and complicated.
Your choice to pursue SECTION 504 or the IDEA comes down to your specific situation. There are many factors to consider, such as your school district's history of providing services for disabled children, specifically those with ADHD, as well as the depth and range of services your child needs to succeed within the classroom. As a parent, the ultimate decision will be yours. But remember to incorporate all the people within your support team including your doctor, teachers and school officials. They are all there to help you.
SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND HELP
Information contained in this brochure has been obtained from: SECTION 504 and the IDEA: Limited vs. Substantial Protections for Children with ADHD and Other Disabilities by Matthew D. Cohen; and the Educational Rights Information and Consulting Center.
I'm reminding you, that I didn't write that, I obtained that from a brochure as I mentioned in the previous post. It was free to me. I am making this information available to you so you will know. Hopefully it helps, and I did mention all the information as to who made the brochure so I'm not plagiarizing.