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A Parent's Guide to Special Ed / Special Needs

Appendix

Disabilities covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

If a child is determined to have one or more of the following disabilities, the school district can obtain federal and state funding for services it provides for the child.

Autism

  • irregularities and impairments in communication
  • engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements
  • resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines
  • unusual responses to sensory experiences

Chronic or Acute Health (Otherwise Health Impaired)

  • limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems, such as limited alertness, heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia or diabetes, based on physician's opinion regarding existence of disability that affects the student's ability to function
  • may include children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Cognitive Impairment

  • student's performance falls at or below 2.0 standard deviations in basic skills and aptitude, and
  • student shows significant deficiencies in adaptive behavior, including social adjustments inside and outside school

Emotional/Behavioral Disorder

  • inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors
  • inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers
  • inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
  • general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
  • tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems

Hearing / Visual Impairment

  • as determined by audiologist or otologist, student's hearing is at or below a 20 decibel HL threshold (ANSI, 69) or worse for one or more of the frequencies 500-4000 Hz
  • residual hearing is not sufficient to enable student to understand the spoken word and to develop language normally
  • hearing loss prevents full awareness of environmental sounds and spoken language, limiting normal language acquisition and learning achievement
  • corrected visual acuity poorer than 20/70 in the better eye, cortical blindness, and/or no apparent response to visual stimulation and
  • sensorineural hearing loss or a permanent conductive hearing loss with aided sensitivity of 30 DB or worse bilaterally

Learning Disability

  • severe discrepancy between normal or near normal potential and academic achievement in at least one of the areas of basic reading skill, reading comprehension, written expression, expressive language, mathematical reasoning or calculation, or listening comprehension, that is not primarily due to visual, hearing, orthopedic, cognitive, or emotional/behavior disabilities or to environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage
  • "severe discrepancy" means at least 15 points on standard score comparisons of ability and achievement or a minimum of 1.75 standard deviation difference, taking regression and 1.65 standard errors of measurement into account

Orthopedic/Health Impairment

  • impairments caused by congenital anomaly, disease, and other causes (e.g. cerebral palsy, amputations, fractures or burns which cause contractures)

Speech / Language Impairment

  • speech-language impairment in articulation, language, voice, or fluency, as determined by a certified speech-language pathologist on the basis of results from a complete speech-language assessment

Traumatic Brain Injury

  • injury to the brain caused by external physical force or internal occurrence (e.g. stroke or aneurysm), resulting in mild, moderate, or severe impairments in one or more areas, including cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech
  • does not include brain injuries that are congenital, degenerative or induced by birth trauma

Visual Impairment

  • as determined by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, central visual acuity is 20/;70 or worse in the better eye with correction or the peripheral field subtends an angle not greater than 20 degrees at its widest diameter

Protections and Accommodations Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, prohibits public schools from discriminating against students with disabilities and imposes an affirmative duty on schools to ensure that students with disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education. Section 504 defines disability as "physical or mental impairments which substantially limit one or more major life activities".

  • "Physical or mental impairments" means any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigure-ment, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the follow-ing body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities (as defined in the IDEA)
  • "Major life activities" include such functions as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Since all disabilities covered by IDEA fall within this definition, students with an IDEA disability are protected by both IDEA and Section 504. Section 504's protections apply to a wider population. Therefore, if a child does not have an IDEA disability, s/he is covered under Section 504 and entitled to protections and accommodations to ensure s/he receives a free, appropriate public education. However, the Rehabilitation Act does not provide funding to school districts to provide special education or related services.

Related Services Provided Under IDEA and/or Section 504

The following is a partial list of related services that may be provided under IDEA or Section 504.

Audiology. Audiometric testing, recommendations for amplification systems, hearing aid orientations, habilitative activities (language habilitation, auditory training, speech reading, hearing conservation), counseling and guidance of children, pupils, teachers & staff regarding hearing loss.

Braillist/Reader. Aide for students with visual disabilities, who augments the educational program, i.e. reading/taping materials, brailling or thermoforming materials, etc.

Counseling Services. School guidance counselors, social workers, or psychologists provide guidance directly in small groups or individual sessions, through consultation with teacher, or through crisis intervention

Adapted Driver Education. Specially designed course to teach student with a disability to operate a car

Adaptive Technology. Specially designed devices or processes that enable a student with a disability to perform tasks more independently

Interpreter. Specially trained individual either interprets or translates

Occupational Therapy. Services designed to improve, develop, or restore functions impaired or lost through illness, injury, or deprivation, improving ability to perform tasks for independent functioning; or to prevent, through early intervention, initial or further impairment or loss of function

Orientation and Mobility. Services designed to increase a visually disabled child's ability to perceive and move about within his/her environments with a goal of independent movement and living

Parent Counseling and Training. Assistance to parents in understanding and managing the special needs of their child and providing parents with information about child development

Physical Therapy. Services recommended and prescribed by a licensed medical examiner as necessary for student to benefit from an education

Recreation. Activities which are therapeutic to accomplish behavioral or cognitive goals and objectives or which develop the constructive use of leisure time

Rehabilitative Counseling. Services focused specifically on career development, employment preparation, achieving independence, and integration in the workplace and community

School Health Services. Administration of medication necessary to maintain the student during school hours

Social Work. Addressing problems in student's living situation that affect his/her adjustment in school and mobilizing school and community resources enable him/her to receive maximum benefit from his/her educational program

Speech and Language. Habilitation or prevention of communicative disorders

Transportation. Services different from those normally provided are required due to student's disability

Sample Letters

Whenever you send a written request, keep a copy for your records.

Request for a Case Study Evaluation

If you are the child's parent, send a copy of the child's birth certificate with your request. If you are the child's guardian, send a copy of the Letters of Office (court order appointing you guardian). If you are the child's surrogate parent, send a copy of the letter of appointment from ISBE.

[Your name]
[Your address]
[Date]

[Name of principal]
[Name of school]
[Street address]
[City, state, zip code]

Dear [Name of principal]:

I am the [parent/guardian/surrogate parent] of [Child's name]. His/her date of birth is [date of birth]. [He/she] [will be/is] attending [name of school].

I am requesting that [child's name] be tested to see if [he/she] needs special education services. I am concerned because [describe the problems you have observed in the child and/or those others have reported to you].

Please inform me in writing when a case study evaluation of [child's name] will begin. Thank you for your assistance and cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,
[Your name]
[Your phone number]

Request for Independent Evaluation

[Your name]
[Your address]
[Date]

[Name of principal]
[Name of school]
[Street address]
[City, state, zip code]

Dear [Name of principal]:

I am the [parent/guardian/surrogate parent] of [Child's name]. His/her date of birth is [date of birth]. [He/she] [will be/is] attending [name of school].

I do not agree with the conclusions that were made at the Multidisciplinary Conference for [name of child] that was held on [date of MDC]. I request that an independent educational evaluation be done on [name of child] within the next 30 days. I also request that the results of this independent educational evaluation be considered at a new Multidisciplinary Conference.

Please inform me in writing when the independent educational evaluation of [child's name] will be done and when the new Multidisciplinary Conference will be held. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

[Your name]
[Your phone number]

Request for new IEP

[Your name]
[Your address]
[Date]

[Name of principal]
[Name of school]
[Street address]
[City, state, zip code]

Dear [Name of principal]:

I am the [parent/guardian/surrogate parent] of [Child's name]. His/her date of birth is [date of birth]. [He/she] [will be/is] attending [name of school].

I am requesting that a meeting be held to review the Individualized Education Plan for [name of child]. Please inform me in writing when the meeting will be held. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,
[Your name]
[Your phone number]

Request for Due Process Hearing

[Your name]
[Your address]
[Date]

[Name of superintendent of school district where child resides]
[Street address]
[City, state, zip code]

Dear [Name of superintendent]:

I am the [parent/guardian/surrogate parent] of [Child's name]. His/her date of birth is [date of birth]. [He/she] [will be/is] attending [name of school].

I am requesting a due process hearing on behalf of [Child's name] because [give reasons why you are asking for due process hearing]. I can be reached at [your area code and telephone number]. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,

[Your name]


Council for Disability Rights

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