When your child struggles at school, you can feel like you have failed them as a parent. Getting them an accurate medical evaluation and diagnosis when appropriate can really turn things around for a child with special needs.
Whether your grade school student is dyslexic or you have a middle schooler recently diagnosed with ADHD, their medical conditions probably affected their academic success up until now. Finally understanding what is causing your child’s difficulty in school is half the battle.
The next step is getting the school to support and accommodate your child. What supports can your child with special needs have when attending public school in Pennsylvania?
Children with special needs have the right to individualized services
There are many medical conditions that affect children’s education. Even those with specific diagnoses may have vastly different needs and experiences. In order to best support children with special needs, the schools create individualized educational plans (IEPs).
An IEP addresses your child’s needs by outlining the best way for the school to accommodate and support them. Sensory breaks, de-escalation tactics and support during testing are just a few examples of how the school can help a child with special needs succeed. In some cases, one-on-one support in the classroom or the placement of a paraprofessional may be necessary.
The school may need to do its own evaluation first
While you may already have a diagnosis from a medical professional, it is possible that the school will need to do its own testing. That could mean a delay of weeks or even months before you can finalize an IEP for your child. Even after you meet to create an IEP, you will also need to request updates, changes and proof of compliance with its rules. You may discover that the school is not fulfilling its obligations to your child.
Patience and proactivity must be carefully balanced for parents trying to get the support that their children with special needs require in school.