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San Diego Education Law Blog

What limits exist in special education?

No matter the unique qualities, gifts and talents your child possesses, parenting is challenging. For parents of children with special needs, questions related to safety, inclusion and abilities are often more pronounced.

Special education laws require school districts to provide services for students with a wide range of special needs. Whether your child suffered a birth injury, has a neurological disorder or exhibits undiagnosed atypical behaviors, you rely on educators to help your child improve communication, manage their emotions and decrease escalations. Through it all, you have the right to know, and agree with, the behavioral interventions used when your child is not in your care.

Is ECSE worth the cost?

Parents of children with special needs typically appreciate all the support they can get. Certain programs offered through the school district help students focus on their abilities, develop communication skills and learn through individualized plans. They also help parents understand their child’s capabilities.

The personalized attention provided through special education programs can weigh heavily on district resources. Potential cutbacks recently raised concern among parents involved with San Diego’s Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program. While administrators may have financial concerns, you may question the potential long-term effects budget cuts could have on children’s development.

A focus on ability can improve outcomes

As a parent of a child who has special needs, you have probably received countless sympathetic looks from bystanders. Those who lack experience interacting with people with disabilities often think about everything a person “cannot” do.

However, despite your child’s challenges, you understand his or her unique gifts. With the support of your local school district, strengthening your child’s abilities can help position your son or daughter for a bright future.

Education and the autism spectrum

Every parent worries about their children. You want the best for your kids, so you love, protect and guide them as they explore the world in which they live.

Children often do not know how to express themselves or handle their emotions, so you might consider their efforts to communicate as behavioral problems. However, if consistent patterns arise, you might question whether a neurodevelopmental disorder factors into your son's or daughter’s actions. If that is the case, you should see what kind of services your school district provides.

Parents fight back after a school converts bathroom to classroom

Early in the school year, a middle school boy from a nearby state was shocked and embarrassed to find that someone moved his desk into one of his school's restrooms. This was not an elaborate prank cooked up by his peers. It was an intentional learning space set up by his teacher to accommodate his need for quiet.

The boy's mother asked the school to provide a quiet place where her son could complete his schoolwork because he has autism and loud noises bother him. This prompted his teacher to place the boy's desk over a toilet and a camping mat on the bathroom floor for naps.

What if my gifted child has a disability?

With an individualized education plan (IEP), a student with an intellectual, cognitive or behavioral disability receives an education made for his or her special needs. Sometimes the IEP has the student in the classroom with other students. Sometimes it takes the student out to a specialized classroom. But how do IEPs address students with both disabilities and gifted academic talents?

Gifted children with disabilities - often called twice exceptional, or 2e - make up about 6% of all students with disabilities. These children excel in certain academic areas but struggle with a disability that may prevent them from learning in a regular classroom.

Should your child have an IEP?

All children have a right to education. You want your child to learn necessary life skills, become familiar with social interaction and hopefully enjoy learning. Depending on your child's needs, he or she may qualify for an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

You can request an evaluation of your child's learning needs or the school can request one. If your child's school has recommended an assessment, you need to follow up. A school staff member can make a recommendation based on:

Study rejects claims over Rapid Prompting Method for autism

A new study finds no basis for the controversial Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) that some claim helps autistic people communicate. Proponents say RPM aids communication with autistic people or others with special needs through pointing, typing or writing.

Critics say it resembles another discredited technique, called facilitated communication, where an autistic person shares their thoughts using a board or tablet after another person applies pressure to their hand or arm. Studies conclude the results are controlled by the facilitator, sometimes with harmful consequences.

What can I do if I suspect my child has special needs?

If your child is struggling in school, you are probably exploring all your options to help your child find success. If your child’s challenges could be caused by a mental or physical disability, he or she may benefit from special education services.

Professionals who work with your child, such as a teacher, school psychologist or physician, can request an assessment. However, if you are noticing signs that your child may have special needs, you yourself can request the assessment to see if your child is eligible for special education services. Requesting an assessment is the first step you can take toward acquiring these services.

Should children in special needs programs be taught separately?

Some parents don’t know if they should put their child into a special education program because they’re worried it may separate their child socially.

If you’re noticing disability symptoms in your child, you should consider whether special needs education might help. In some cases, that may mean a separate learning environment.

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