Generally, the team established in the child’s individualized education program (IEP) works together to help bolster the student’s development and learning. The members of this team often include the teachers, educational experts and the parents themselves.
However, many parents might also hear about paraprofessionals providing support to students with disabilities. Paraprofessionals can indeed provide helpful services, but parents should understand what these professionals do.
How do paraprofessionals help students?
First, it is critical to note that paraprofessionals are not teachers. These professionals primarily:
- Work with teachers and other educators to support learning
- Work one-on-one with students who receive special education services
This one-on-one support often takes the form of:
- Instructional supplements
- Behavioral intervention and support
- Even medical support, if necessary
- Assistance with related services, if qualified
They often work with the child regularly in the special education or general education classroom to note their progress and provide individual and personal assistance to students who need it. This personal support can be crucial for many students with disabilities.
How can parents request a paraprofessional’s aid?
Obtaining the aid of a paraprofessional for one’s child is often challenging. Their services are based on the child’s needs. Therefore, parents often have to explain their child’s needs as well as why they would benefit from a paraprofessional’s assistance. The more details this explanation has, the better.
It might also help to define:
- When the paraprofessional’s aid would be the most effective in the school day
- How a paraprofessional would assist the child and the type of support needed
- Other steps parents and the IEP team have taken to meet the child’s needs
Parents should conduct careful research and make sure they are specific in their requests.
Even so, the IEP team or the school may deny this request. There are many reasons that California schools may deny requests, including lack of finances or lack of evidence. But parents should not give up if they believe their child would benefit from this service.