Learning Disabilities 102

November 14, 2010

 

What to do if you suspect your child may have a learning disability?

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) every child has the right to a free assessment to determine whether they have any disability that may interfere with learning.  If such a disability is found, states are mandated to address the disability.

This applies to children from age 0 (yes, zero) to age 18. 

From 0 to 3, Early Intervention is the governing body that addresses these issues.  Some states arrange for interventions to be done in the home while others have you bring your child into a clinic type setting for services.  But know that the state is mandated to provide services, so there is often little or no fee.  Some examples of interventions a child may need at this age may be speech therapy, occupational therapy (which usually focuses on eye-hand coordination issues), or behavioral interventions.

I strongly advocate for Early Intervention services as they are free or low fee and address learning issues early on, which may help close the gap or eliminate the problem as the child approaches school age.  With some issues such as autism, early intervention can have a profound impact.  They are also good because a caregiver is present and monitoring the situation as well as maybe learning ways to help the child.

Records are sealed after the child turns three so that schools will not have knowledge about your child’s involvement in Early Intervention unless you tell them.

Beyond age three, Special Education may become involved.  If parents ask for a child to undergo an assessment for a learning disability, the district must comply.  I would suggest having the child privately assessed in addition, however, as district evaluations are usually limited in scope and interpretation.

Depending on the school district, some special education programs are good, and others not so good.  Parents participate in the planning for children when they are to enter Special Education.  If there is anything you disagree with you have a right to refuse services, such as if the child is not receiving interventions to address his disability. 

http://www.disability.gov/education/laws_%26_regulations

http://idea.ed.gov/

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