Posts Tagged ‘IEP’

April brings showers and IEP meetings

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

worried-womanthmApril is a time when most school systems schedule meetings with parents to review all of the services their child is receiving and to establish a plan for the next school year. If you have a child with a developmental delay, disability or birth defect, he may be eligible to receive services. But often there is so much to learn that it can seem overwhelming.

As a parent, it is important to know the programs or services that may benefit your child. It is equally important to understand the system. Our blog series can help you sort it all out.

If your child is receiving services at school, it is a good idea to learn the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan. This post breaks it out into a chart and explains the vital differences. Another great place to go for clarity is Understood, a website dedicated to helping parents with children who have special learning needs.

In addition, we suggest you contact the Parent Training and Information Centers in your state, which offer free guidance to parents. Find your center and learn more about these vital resources.

If your child is still a toddler, he may be able to receive help through the early intervention system. Children are eligible up until their third birthday.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We’re here to help.

 

January – a time to get your child’s records organized

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Binders of child's recordsIf you have a child with special needs, you will find that you collect enough reports, medical statements, doctor’s notes, school IEPs or 504s, and a host of other paperwork, to fill a room. Keeping it organized is very important as you learn to advocate for your child. Even if you are not a neat-nick or haven’t been organized up to this point, this is a great time to get started.

Commit to being organized from today onward (don’t think about the papers from yesterday yet). Get yourself a binder or a file cabinet and label it 2016. As you get each item, file it chronologically in your binder or file folder.

Once you have your method for collecting items from today and for the rest of the year, you can go back and organize your files since the birth of your child. See this post to learn what you should include in your binder, how long you should keep materials, and where to go to learn essential tips.

Some parents separate their files according to topics: medical reports, school, etc. I have always found it easiest to simply have a binder/folder and add items as I get them, separated by year. Either way, you can tag items as you get them, for quicker retrieval. For example, if your child had an evaluation for physical therapy, you can put the report in the binder/folder and put a “PT Eval 2016” tab on it.

You have enough to do just caring for your child. Keeping track of your child’s records should not be something that adds stress to your life. Check out these tips and see what works best for you. The goal is to be organized enough so that when you need an evaluation, report, or your child’s latest IEP, you can find it quickly.

Being organized will decrease your stress and anxiety – a great gift to give yourself.

Note:  The mini-series on Delays and Disabilities has lots of info to help you if you have a child with special needs. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions.

 

Learning differences, disabilities and disorders – are they all the same?

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

girl at schoolIn a word…no.

People learn differently. Some people need to hear information in order to learn it; others need to see or write down items in order to remember them. Yet other people need to physically DO the activity in order to learn it completely. And then there are those people who need a combination (seeing and hearing and doing, etc.) in order to fully learn a new subject or task.

These different types of learning styles – visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and kinesthetic (physically doing) – are called learning differences. Once you understand the kind of learner your child is, the easier it will be to help him learn.

A learning disorder or disability is a bit different.

When a child is exposed to typical teaching methods repeatedly, yet he struggles and cannot learn material in a way that is similar to his peers, then he may have a learning disorder or learning disability. The two terms mean nearly the same thing, but come from different places:

Learning disorder is the medical term for the diagnosis of persistent difficulties in reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic calculation, and mathematical reasoning. The DSM V (the official diagnostic manual) states that “Specific learning disorder disrupts the normal pattern of learning academic skills; it is not simply a consequence of lack of opportunity of learning or inadequate instruction.” A child with a learning disorder is bright – he has average or above average intelligence – and he is NOT lazy. He tries hard but struggles to learn.

There are different kinds of learning disorders, and a qualified specialist can test your child to determine the kind of disorder your child may have. A specific learning disorder is biologically based, and is usually discovered during formal years of schooling. It often runs in families, too.

Specific learning disability (SLD) is the term that is found in our special education law – IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). IDEA’s defines SLD as “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations…The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; of intellectual disability; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.”

In other words, SLD is the legal label that is necessary in order for your child to receive special education services.

Which term should you use?

In a world that is becoming more and more sensitive towards individuals with differences, it is logical that we would gravitate toward using “learning difference” when we talk about our kids who are struggling in school. And it seems that even professionals use the terms “disorder” and “disability” interchangeably. However, it is important that the correct term be used in the right situation, so that you give your child the help he needs in order to be able to learn.

For example, special education services are available only to children with disabilities. If your child has a specific learning disability, he may qualify to receive specialized educational instruction, accommodations and curriculum modifications in school. In order to be considered to receive services, he must have the “disability” label. If your child qualifies, the special education team at your child’s school will meet with you to discuss and implement an individualized educational program (IEP) to meet your child’s needs.

Even if your child does not have a disability or disorder, he may still learn differently from his friends. It is important for your child to be taught in the way in which his brain learns. If he is in a classroom where all information and directions are given verbally, he may only process part of the information and the rest may not be absorbed or be easily forgotten. If the auditory directions are combined with a visual direction and/or perhaps even a kinesthetic direction, there is a greater chance that your child will learn and master the information.

For example, to learn the letter “C,” a child can say “C” out loud, while tracing a large, colorful letter C with his finger. His brain is taking in the information visually, auditorily and kinesthetically, and is able to process it the way his brain works best. The result is that your child will have a better chance of remembering the letter C. When different senses are used to activate learning, it becomes more fun for the student and it also makes it more likely that your child can learn and remember the information.

Try not to get hung up on the labels. As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog post – everyone learns differently. But, if your child is struggling, consider having your child evaluated to determine whether he qualifies for specialized help. The earlier he gets the help he needs, the better off he will be.

Learn more about the different kinds of learning disabilities, as well as what they ARE and are NOT.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

See other topics in the Delays and Disabilities series here.

 

Kids with special needs head back to school

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

school-bus-and-stationeryThe start of school is an exciting time for most children and their parents. Many children with special needs eagerly anticipate the start of a new school year. But lots of kids are incredibly anxious at the thought of all the unknowns: new classroom, teacher, friends or school.

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, how are you feeling about the start of the new school year?

Are you…

Scared or fearful – Will your child’s particular needs be met?

Afraid – How will your child react to new smells, lights, sounds and routines?

Overwhelmed – Is your child going to a new school? Are you wondering whether he will be able to handle the transition?

Unprepared – Do IEP meetings make you feel like you don’t know what you are doing?

Alone – Do you feel like you are the only parent with your concerns?

Worried – Is your child going to do well in a class with “typically developing” peers?

Insecure – Are you wondering when to swoop in and help your child versus sitting back and watching him and the school handle any hiccups or problems?

Nervous – Will your child make friends? Will he be by himself on the playground?

If you are experiencing any or all of the above emotions, you are not alone. There is no doubt that starting a new school year is hard on students AND parents. But, when you mix in the complications of dealing with a disability and the necessary accommodations or supports that need to be in place in order for your child to succeed, it can be very stressful!

This blog series, and all of the resources listed in each post will help you tackle whatever comes your way. By being prepared, you will calm your nerves. Hopefully, you will become excited, confident and in-control. Your little one will sense your positive outlook and enthusiasm, and it will rub off on him, too.

Check out these tips to smooth the back to school transition for your child. Learn helpful ways to make the transition from summer to school do-able and realistic, including changing bedtime hours, adjusting meds and meeting your child’s teacher.

Please share your feelings about the new school year – good, bad, up, down, and anything in between. Got any tips? Let’s hear them. We all learn from each other.

 

Have questions?  Text or email them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We are here to help.

How to find camps for children with special needs

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

summer campIt’s the time of year when school is wrapping up and kids of all ages are looking forward to summer fun. Children with special needs are no exception.

Recently, a mom wrote to us asking for help locating a camp for her four year old child with speech and language issues. After a bit of research I came up with this list. It is by no means exhaustive, but it will get you started if you are trying to find a place where your child can get the attention he needs and have a fun camp experience. Although it may be a bit late to find a camp for this summer, keep this list handy as you will no doubt want to use it next year.

Remember, if your child has an IFSP  or an IEP, he may be eligible for extended school year services (ESY). Learn more about ESY and speak with your IEP team about options.

Most of the following resources list camps by specialty (condition or disability) and region. You will need to investigate and decide what is best for your child.

Camps for kids with special needs:

NCHPAD – National Center on Physical Activity and Disability’s Fun and Leisure section on camp resources

Discover Camp  -a booklet on sending your child with special needs to camp for the first time

My summer camps resource guide

CampResource.com

Choice Camps

Diabetes Education and Camping Association

Easter Seals – a directory of day and residential camps

Special needs in NY Metro area

Gallaudet – summer camps for deaf and hard of hearing children and teens

Cancer – lists camps for kids and adults with cancer, as well as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia.

Amputees and children with limb differences

Bottom line

marshmallow on a stickWith a little research and planning, your child will soon be able to enjoy all the joys of summer in a safe and supportive environment.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org

For other posts on how to help your child with a delay or disability, view the Table of Contents.

 

 

From summer to school – the big transition

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

preschool classThe transition from summertime to the school year can be a daunting one for any child. For a child with special needs, it can be especially difficult. And, for her parents, this journey can be very stressful and anxiety provoking. Whether your child is returning to preschool or elementary school, there is so much to think about.

In two prior blog posts, I shared tips on how to survive the transition from summer to school, especially if your child has trouble transitioning from one activity to another in his daily life:

•    Re-entry: life after vacation will help you cope with the changes of re-establishing your “old” routine after having been away on vacation. Creating a memory book to document last year’s successful transition to preschool/school will help your child realize that he can do this…again.

•    Summer to September covers topics such as meeting the teacher, changing bedtime hours slowly, making medication adjustments, and learning to cut YOURSELF some slack. If your child has an IFSP, IEP or 504, it is very helpful for your child to meet her teacher and for you to hold planning meetings before school starts. It is also helpful for your child to visit the classroom.

Here are some other ideas to help ease the transition.

Create a “cheat sheet”

The first week of school is hard on teachers, too. One teacher may have 25 students to get to know. To help ease the transition for your child, and to keep it manageable for her teacher, create a “cheat sheet.” This short page of bullets will describe your child’s toughest challenges, and what the teacher can do to help ease the transition. Depending on whether your child has a formal diagnosis, an IEP or a 504 plan, or if she is just extra sensitive to change and transition, a “cheat sheet” can help your child’s teacher deal with the rough patches during the first week of school. It should include certain triggers and the most obvious areas of difficulty.

For example, if your child has sensory issues and hates sudden loud sounds, you might have a bullet that says “Diana has a hearing sensitivity. The popping of balloons, sound of fire drills or kids screaming will cause her to put her hands over her ears or cower underneath her desk.”

Likewise, if your child needs extra time to process speech, you can say “Speak directly and slowly to Diana and wait for her to process your words before expecting her to reply to you. If Diana is quiet, she is processing your sentences. She needs extra time to understand all of your words.”

Keep the page short, with just the most important items listed in bullet form. You want the teacher to be able to know the most important tips without having to read pages and pages about your child. Then, follow-up later in the week and ask for an appointment to have a conversation.

Use a communication journal

Often parents and teachers use a daily communication journal to discuss your child’s day. The teacher or classroom assistant jots down any issues (or achievements) that occurred that day. It is a way for you to learn about your child’s day without depending on your child to tell you. You can then add your own comments about homework issues, sleep problems (which may affect mood or attention span the next day), or achievements that occurred at home. Communication journals are often a part of an IEP, so that both the parent and teacher are fully aware of a child’s day/evening, which will take the guesswork out of figuring out why your child is acting in a particular way. A journal can be a way of identifying small problems before they become big ones.

Be patient

It may sound obvious, but patience is paramount. Heading to school is very, very hard for a child with special needs. The changes in routine, scenery, friends and personalities is a lot to take in! Your child may hold it together while at school and then have an enormous meltdown the moment she gets home. Try to understand that she is coping as best she can and try to have patience.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Click on “Help for your child” and scroll down to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

IEP reviews in April

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

meetingIf your child has a disability and has an IEP, you may already know that April is usually the month when mandatory yearly reviews and IEP updates happen.

An IEP is short for Individualized Education Program. It is both a process and a written educational plan for a child with a disability age 3 and older. It is a document that lists all of the educational services that your child will receive, if he qualifies. Here is a quick review and resources to help you with the process. (See prior posts, for info on IFSPs for babies and toddlers.)

The IEP is:

INDIVIDUALIZED – specific for your child’s needs. It is not one size fits all.

EDUCATIONAL – it should look at three main areas of your child’s life:  the general education curriculum, extracurricular activities and nonacademic activities.

A PROGRAM or PLAN – all of the services your child will receive are laid out and detailed in writing.

What’s in an IEP?

The IEP may include special education, related services and/or supplementary aids and services. The IEP is first based on your child’s “present levels” which is a snapshot of your child’s function. In other words…what he is able to do now as compared to his non-disabled peers. Then, based on his present levels and his delay or disability, the IEP sets measurable annual goals.

The IEP should specify:

• Who will provide the service (eg. the speech therapist, regular ed teacher, special ed teacher, reading specialist, physical therapist, etc.).

• What kind of service will be provided, such as curriculum modifications or adaptations, the types of related services or aids- (eg. specialized reading curriculum, speech therapy etc.).

• Where the service will be implemented (eg. the regular ed classroom, playground, counselor’s office, etc.).

• When parents will receive reports on how well your child is doing. By law, you need to receive progress reports at least as often as children without disabilities. Often a school system will send home the IEP progress reports with Report Cards.

• When the goal will be achieved (eg. by the end of the marking period or by the end of the year).

• How the goal will be measured and how you will know the goal has been achieved (eg. a benchmark, such as a test score that shows if the goal has been reached).

Remember, an IEP is a living document that can be changed or updated by the IEP team, of which parents are members! It must be reviewed by the IEP team at least once a year, but it can be reviewed and updated more often if necessary.

Need more help?

A great place to go to understand your options and how to prepare for IEP meetings is on the website of the Center for Parent Information & Resources (CPIR). In particular, you can find guidance on how an IEP team can write IEP goals.  Fortunately, you can find help by visiting your state’s Parent Training and Information Center (PTI), which is an information resource for parents of children with disabilities. Every state has at least one PTI. Each one has a different name. For example, one of the PTIs in California is named Matrix Parent Network and Resource Center while the PTI in New Hampshire is called the Parent Information Center. Whatever the actual name, each is commonly known as a PTI.

Some states also have Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs). CPRCs do the same work as the PTIs, but they focus on reaching underserved parents of children with disabilities, such as those living in a specific area in the state, those with low income, or those with limited English skills. Locate your state’s Centers  and read more about how PTIs and CPACs can help you.

You can also find excellent guidance on how to write IEP goals at Wrightslaw.

Lastly, review previous News Moms Need blog posts to zero in on where you need a refresher. Here is a Table of Contents of many prior posts, including several on IEPs.

Bottom line

April not only brings showers for May flowers; it is the month when most school systems begin reviewing and tweaking IEPs. With the resources in this post, you will be prepared and ready to play an active role in the process.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input. If you have questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

IEPs on TV

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

child-frustrated-at-schoolIt used to be that the term “IEP” was unknown to most people. If you mentioned it in conversation, most people would not know that you were referring to a document that outlines the program a school will provide for a child with special needs. For the first time, I tuned in to Parenthood, a weekly show on TV where I heard the phrase “IEP” and almost fell on the floor!

The show is about the lives of an extended family. One of the story lines of Parenthood is about Max, a middle school student with special needs. His history teacher claimed that Max was acting-out during class which was preventing him from being able to teach his other students. The teacher sent Max to the library every day during the class. Max’s parents were upset and tried to advocate on Max’s behalf. In this episode, Max’s mother also accompanied another parent to an IEP meeting to support her as this overwhelmed mom tried to advocate on behalf of her daughter. The anxiety and frustrations of both mothers’ journeys was evident. It struck home with me as well as other parents of kids in special education (according to the show’s Facebook page).

The remainder of the episode zeroed in on the frustrations of both the school and the parents, and the resulting difficulty in providing Max with an appropriate education. The solution in the eyes of Max’s parents was for them to start a new school, from scratch, where Max could be himself and still receive an education. You should know that this is not a typical response from a typical parent (and future episodes will reveal if they are able to pull this off or not).  Most parents do not have the wherewithal or ability to start a school for their child (although I do know of one parent who did this and succeeded).

The vast majority of parents with a child who has an IEP (and thus a documented disability) advocate on their child’s behalf and work with the school system to provide an appropriate education.  Note the term “work.”  It takes work, and lots of it. You need to understand what your child is entitled to (by law) and then work with the school to put an appropriate program in place. It takes collaboration, time, patience and often creativity… and then more time and more patience, etc.  But most of all, parents must know their child’s needs and understand what their child is entitled to.

The law says that your child is entitled to FAPE – a free appropriate public education – in the least restrictive environment (LRE), which is usually the regular education classroom, but can be in other places. For example, often a child’s disability is such that he can not learn properly in the regular ed classroom, or he needs specialized instruction which needs to be delivered in another room (such as the Resource Room or a computer lab).  It can also be another place entirely. It is important that parents work with the school to figure out the appropriate place for their child to be educated. No two kids are exactly alike. And each program must be individualized to meet a child’s unique needs.

My daughter (who has learning disabilities and an auditory processing disorder) had trouble learning in the regular education classroom in elementary school.  With 25 other kids squirming and making noise, it was next to impossible for her to pay attention and absorb a lesson. Going to the Resource Room (with only three other students, taught by a special education teacher who understood her learning challenges) was a relief for her. She made gains, and her anxiety lessened. She was not in the Resource Room for her entire day – only for subjects such as math or reading. Eventually, it was necessary to place her in a school for kids with learning disabilities for a few years. She absolutely adored her new school, and made incredible gains – both academically and socially. Later, she transferred back to the local high school and was completely mainstreamed. She graduated from high school and even college!

The point I am trying to make here is that every child is unique, and every child keeps changing. This is why parents need to stay on top of the changing needs, and continue advocating for their child. You know your child best! An IEP that worked well one year may not work the next. In fact, the IEP may need to be changed and tweaked in a couple of months! The advantage of having an IEP is that you can individualize your child’s learning experience.

Although I have only seen one episode of Parenthood, I am definitely going to check it out again. If nothing else, this show illuminates the difficult journey our kids with special needs are on, and brings to light the challenges that their parents face. The parents are truly special indeed.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. To view past posts, go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” under Categories on the right side. The archive of prior posts will pop up.  As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What is peer-reviewed research?

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

teacher-and-childYou may have heard that your child’s program should be based on “peer reviewed research.”  But, what does that mean?

Peer-reviewed research is when research is reviewed by respected colleagues in a specific field (their “peers”), before it is considered acceptable to publish. If the method or research has been peer-reviewed and was published, then it is much more likely to be of high quality and reliable. The process of going through peer-review lends validation to published work – it makes it more believable and credible. It is considered solid and effective.

How can peer-reviewed research help your child?

If you use a therapy that has already been tried, tested, and proven successful, it is more likely to help your child. By using peer-reviewed research as the basis for your child’s therapy or intervention, it increases the chances that your child will improve. For example, if your child has a specific diagnosis of dyslexia, using a reading program proven to help children with dyslexia would be appropriate for your child. Why use another program if one exists that is validated through peer-reviewed research? In other words, why spend time using an untested instructional method when a tried and true method is available? It just makes sense. It also is the law.

Do peer-reviewed methods always HAVE to be used? What does the law say?

If you have a baby, toddler or child with a delay or disability, IDEA (the law that governs early intervention and special education services) says that the services your child receives should be based on peer-reviewed research whenever possible. In fact, the language used in the law is “to the extent practicable.” This will ensure that your child receives a method of service or therapy that is appropriate for her. Of course, there will be times when it is not practicable to use a particular method, for various reasons, but if it is possible, it should be used. Here is what the law actually says…

• For infants up to age 3, IDEA says: “The individualized family service plan (IFSP) shall be in writing and contain a statement of specific early intervention services based on peer-reviewed research, to the extent practicable, necessary to meet the unique needs of the infant or toddler and the family, including the frequency, intensity, and method of delivering services.”

• For children ages 3 – 21, IDEA says: “A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child, and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child.”

Peer-reviewed research is a win-win for the child, parents and schools

Wrightslaw has a discussion on why peer-reviewed research is a win-win for both child and school system. They say that in 2004, when IDEA was re-authorized, “Congress clarified that IEPs must include research-based methodology. Including methodology in the child’s IEP will benefit the child’s parents and teachers. As participants in developing their child’s IEP, parents will benefit by having input into the instructional methods used to teach their children. The teachers who implement the IEP will benefit by having guidance from a team of professionals who are familiar with the child and who have reviewed the research to determine the interventions and instructional methods that are most likely to provide the child with educational benefit…This is a win, win situation for all – especially for children who will benefit when they receive effective instruction from teachers who are trained in research-based instructional methods.”

Bottom line

Before you and your IFSP or IEP team decide on the services that your child will receive, (parents are equal partners of the team), see if it is possible to use an instructional method based on peer-reviewed research. Hopefully, the method will be appropriate and meet your child’s unique needs.

 

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side, to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Turning 3 – the leap from early intervention to special ed

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

3-year-old-birthday-cakeIs your little one currently in an early intervention program but going to “age out” because her third birthday is fast approaching?  If so, here’s what you need to know to make the leap as smooth as possible.

It really all boils down to planning. ..or rather, planning ahead.  If your toddler has been receiving early intervention (EI) services for a developmental delay or disability, when she turns 3 the service provider will change to your local school district. The part of IDEA (the law) that supports these services changes from Part C (early intervention for babies and toddlers) to Part B (special education for children ages 3 – 21).  Part C is very family focused, while Part B is more school district focused. The result is that you may feel like you are not as much a part of the process, but you still are – most definitely!

How does the change take place?

While your child is still in Part C’s EI program, her service provider should refer her to the Part B system coordinator to start the process. Your school district will need to see if your child still qualifies to receive services. Determining eligibility may include observations, testing or evaluations, and meetings to discuss her current and future needs. If she meets criteria to continue receiving services, her IEP should be developed while she is still in her Part C program, so that when she turns 3, her IEP takes effect immediately.

To help ensure a smooth transition, the law requires that transition planning begin at least 90 days (and not more than 9 months) before your child reaches her third birthday. The transition plan must be outlined in your child’s IFSP (her early intervention plan). Ideally, the transition plan should begin much earlier than 90 days – perhaps 6 months before her birthday. For a sample of what transition goals would look like on your child’s IFSP, see Wrightslaw’s Model IFSP . You can read more about what is required by law in the transition process, in the Part C Final Regulations, starting on page A-8.

What will help your child handle the change?

Include your child in the process, to a degree. Visit the new site once or twice before the first day of school and have your child meet her new teacher. This visit can be tremendously helpful in lessening fears of the unknown.

The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) has a great page on smoothing the transition from EI to preschool. Be sure to check it out. In particular, they recommend the article Entering a New Preschool: How Service Providers and Families Can Ease the Transitions of Children Turning Three Who Have Special Needs. It includes tips for before, during and after the shift to the new placement and explains LREs. It even has a list of recommended books that you can read to your little one to help prepare her for the transition. It may be an “oldie” but it is a “goodie” when it comes to the timeless information it provides.

What should you look for in a new placement?

• The least restrictive environment (LRE), where to the extent possible, your child is educated with children who are not disabled; and
• A place where your child’s individual needs can be met.

Remember, an IEP means Individualized Education Plan/Program. Individualized is the key word here. It should be designed to meet your child’s unique needs. It should also be provided in the least restrictive environment. This LRE may be your child’s day care center or preschool, if possible. (Learn more about LREs here).

Where can you find support and resources?

Again, CPIR has gathered support and resources for families, childcare providers, and educators here. They discuss services that are available for preschoolers who are experiencing developmental delays and disabilities.

Bottom linefrogs-leaping

Life is full of change and transitions. The leap from EI to special ed is definitely a big one, but with careful planning and preparation, it can be a smooth journey. By being an informed and educated parent, you will help to make the process easier for your little one, and yourself.

Note: This post is part of the series on Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your childSee the Table of Contents to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Updated October 2015.