Posts Tagged ‘special education’

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.

 

Prematurity, disabilities and special education

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Preemi in NICU_smA mom recently wrote to AskUs inquiring about services for her child who was born 12 weeks early. Her child was now in elementary school, had a hearing impairment, and was falling behind in school. She wanted to know how she could help him.

Research has shown that children born prematurely may have difficulties with learning, experience developmental delays, or have a disability. But, whether your child was born prematurely or not, if he is evaluated and has one of 14 conditions, he may be eligible to receive special education and/or related services. Often, a “developmental delay” is enough for a child age three or older to be eligible for services. In order to qualify, a child’s educational performance must be adversely affected due to the disability.

The 14 qualifying conditions are:

Autism
Deaf-blindness
Deafness
Developmental delay (subject to each state’s specific criteria, and usually only up to age 9 and sometimes younger)
Emotional disturbance
Hearing impairment
Intellectual disability
Multiple disabilities
Orthopedic impairment
Other health impairment
Specific learning disability
Speech or language impairment
Traumatic brain injury
Visual impairment

Next steps

You can request an evaluation (which is free to you) through the special education administrator of your school district or the principal of your local elementary school. Sending the request in writing is always a good idea – such as an email. Then, the school should contact you to set up an appointment for an evaluation.

Learn more about who will test your child, the steps involved in the process and what happens next, in this blog post. If your child qualifies for services, they could be life changing. The first step is to seek help and ask for the evaluation.

Find other relevant posts in our series on Delays and Disabilities: How to get help for your child.

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

 

Prematurity, learning disabilities, and ADHD

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

birth announcementPremature birth is a leading cause of lasting childhood disabilities. October is Learning Disabilities and ADHD Awareness Month – a good time to become familiar with the effect prematurity can have on learning and behavior.

Of course, many babies who are born prematurely do very well. We hear stories of preemies who had a rough start in life, spent days, weeks or even months in the NICU and years later have no serious issues to report. But, some preemies will have long-term challenges with learning or behavior.

LD and ADHD

Learning disabilities (LDs) are persistent difficulties in reading, writing and/or math skills. They are not the same as learning differences. In order to help your child with learning struggles, it is important to first understand what LDs are and are not.

Kids with LD see the world in a slightly different way. Check out this post which describes a great resource from Understood.org to give you insight into your child’s world.

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors or be overly active.

What are the numbers?

  • Globally, 5 million babies are born too soon every year.
  • Babies born prematurely are more likely than babies born full term to have learning and behavior problems throughout childhood. About 1 in 3 children born prematurely need special school services at some point during their school years. Learning problems may not appear until elementary or even middle school.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Education, 1 in 5 children in the U.S. has learning and attention issues. “Approximately 2.5 million students in the U.S. are identified as having a specific learning disability—such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia—and as many as 6 million students are identified as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”
  • The CDC reports that in 2012 more than 5 million children aged 3–17 had ADHD (10%). Boys (14%) were almost three times as likely as girls (5%) to have ADHD.

Resources to explore

If your child struggles with learning or behavior, where should you go for reliable information?

  •  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers articles for parents to better understand ADHD.
  • Parent Training and Resource Centers, available in every state, offer information and support to families. Find your center.
  • The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) has hundreds of easy-to-read articles on disabilities, special education and the law – including how to obtain school services for your child.
  • The Understood website provides a wealth of information and support to individuals and parents of children with learning and attention issues.
  • The State of Learning Disabilities, 3rd Edition, 2014, is a downloadable review of LD. It is available on the National Center for Learning Disabilities website where along with the statistics on LD, it describes public attitudes towards people with LD, characteristics of kids with LD, employment issues, and lots of other information.

Students with LD and/or ADHD may face challenges, but they also have strengths and may possess outstanding abilities in certain areas. Understanding your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and focusing on proven educational methods and therapies will help your child be as successful as possible.

Bottom line

Babies born prematurely are more likely than babies born full term to have learning and behavior problems. But help is available. Check out our table of contents for more information.

And if you have any questions, email or text AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

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.

 

Children with Congenital Heart Defects and Their Use of Special Educational Services

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

A guest post by Coleen Boyle, PhD, MSHyg
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Teacher and studentsSome new research gives us encouraging information showing that children living with birth defects are getting the services they need. Specifically, several of my colleagues and I found that children with congenital heart defects (CHDs) received special education services more often than children without birth defects.

This is important news, because earlier studies have shown us that children with some types of CHDs have a greater chance of having problems with brain development and function as compared to children without birth defects. Knowing that children with CHDs may benefit from—and are receiving—special education services is reassuring. Special education services are those specifically designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

So what do these findings mean? They demonstrate the importance of developmental screening—short tests usually conducted by a child’s doctor to determine if their basic learning skills are where they should be—for all children with CHDs to ensure they receive the services they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all children receive these screenings at 9, 18 and 24 or 30 months of age during well visits with the doctor. Screenings may include observing, talking with, or playing with the child to see how he or she plays, speaks, behaves, and moves.

CHDs are heart problems that occur before birth and are the most common type of birth defect in the United States. About 1% or nearly 40,000 births each year are affected by CHDs. Of these, about 1 in 4 is considered a critical CHD, in which surgery or other procedures are needed within the baby’s first year.

Some of the specific findings from the study show that
• Children with CHDs and no other birth defect were 50% more likely to receive special education services than those children without birth defects.
• This increased use of special education services occurred in children with critical CHDs and in children with noncritical CHD.

For this study, we looked at information about children born with a CHD from 1982 to 2004 in metropolitan Atlanta; we also examined a similar sample of newborns without a birth defect. After linking information about these children to special education services they later received (from 1992 to 2012), we determined that children with CHDs more often received those services than children without birth defects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our partners not only conduct research such as this to identify the scope of the issue and how it is being addressed, we also
• Fund programs and conduct research to help us determine where and when birth defects occur and whom they affect;
• Track CHDs among teens and adults to learn more about their health issues and needs; and
• Collaborate with partners such as the March of Dimes to provide information to families, experts, and organizations to address CHDs.

We at CDC and in particular the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) along with our partners, including March of Dimes, strive to help ensure individuals born with these conditions get the care they need throughout their lives.

To learn more read the Key Findings document and the research article abstract.

dr-coleen-boyleThe March of Dimes wishes to thank Dr. Coleen Boyle for this guest post. Dr. Boyle is the Director of NCBDDD and has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed and other scientific publications.

Helping babies with FASD

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

baby in distress

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause your baby to have serious health conditions, called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Alcohol can also cause your baby to:

• Be born too soon (prematurely)
• Have birth defects (heart, brain and other organs)
• Have vision or hearing problems
• Be born at low birthweight
• Have intellectual disabilities
• Have learning disabilities
• Have sleeping and sucking problems
• Have speech and language delays
• Have behavioral problems

What can you do?

The earlier a child is diagnosed with FASD, the sooner interventions can begin, and the child can start making progress. Special services that can help a child with FASD include early intervention, special education, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other services. This blog series can help you learn how to access services for babies and toddlers or children ages 3 and older.

Not all babies born with FASD will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. According to Mother-to-Baby, “There are reports of withdrawal symptoms in infants whose mothers consumed alcohol near delivery. Symptoms included tremors, increased muscle tone, restlessness and excessive crying…Once your baby is born, it is also recommended you tell your pediatrician about your alcohol use during pregnancy. Your baby can be evaluated for effects of alcohol exposure. Services and support are available for children with alcohol related problems.”

Additional resources

The FASD Center for Excellence has information, including screening, diagnosing, intervention programs and resources.

The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) has a resource list and several fact sheets that may be very helpful to parents of children with FASD, such as FASD Identification.

March of Dimes’ role

In 1973, March of Dimes grantees were the first to link drinking alcohol in pregnancy with a specific pattern of birth defects and intellectual disabilities they called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since then grantees have continued to study how alcohol harms the developing brain, and to discover better ways to prevent and treat FASDs in alcohol-exposed babies.

Here is more information, including resources on how to quit drinking alcohol. The good news is that FASD is entirely preventable by avoiding alcohol during pregnancy.

If you have questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. View other posts in the Delays and Disabilities: How to get help for your child series, here.

 

IEP season is here

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

kids at schoolIt’s April. Finally. This was one winter that I thought would never end! The beginning of spring usually signals the start of beautiful weather as well as IEP meetings, if your child is receiving special services. If you are new to this process, read this post to learn about IEPs.

The law says that your child’s IEP must be reviewed every year. Usually, schools start this process in the spring, so that they are all set to start services in the new school year. However, you should know that you can ask for a meeting to review an IEP at any time. You do not have to wait until the spring to review or change your child’s IEP. It MUST be done at least once per year, but it can be done more often, too.

Here are two great resources to help you through the process:
All About the IEP  and What You Need to Know About IEPs & IEP Meetings.

If you have questions, send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

You can also view other posts on IEPs in the Delays and Disabilities: How to get help for your child series, here.

The special language of special needs

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

kayak without a paddleIf you have a child with special needs, you have no doubt heard tons of words, initials or acronyms that you did not understand. You may have had to stop and ask for clarification or a definition. Or, even worse, you did not ask and were lost as the conversation zoomed on and you kept trying to make sense of it all.

The world of special needs, including delays, disabilities, early intervention and special education, has its own language. The sooner you familiarize yourself with the many acronyms, the easier it will be to navigate your child’s world and be an effective advocate. Without this info, it is like being in a boat (or a kayak) without a paddle.

Just to drive my point home, here is an analogy. Would you ever take an upper level language class without first taking the introductory course? Would you take Algebra II without first taking basic math? Would you take your driver’s test without looking at the manual first? You’d be lost (or at least I would be), and nothing would make sense to you. This is why you need to get the basics down, especially before you go into meetings that pertain to your baby or child’s intervention services.

Help is here

Here is my blog post with tons of acronyms to use as a cheat sheet. It is appropriately called Learning the Lingo.

Next, you can find many more on the CPIR website, where the NICHCY materials have migrated. Their Alphabet Soup has an exhaustive list of words with their meanings.

Lastly, Words and terms – a whole new world breaks out the terms pertaining to early intervention and then for special education.

So check them out, click on the highlighted terms to learn more, and print out the acronym sheet for your reference. You’ll be glad to have this info in one tidy place. Then, when the conversations turn to IFSPs or LREs, you will know exactly what everyone is talking about. Soon, you’ll be paddling upstream with confidence!

 

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. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also see a Table of Contents of prior posts, here.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Good-bye NICHCY. Hello CPIR.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

waving goodbye or helloLike most people, I am resistant to change. Once I get used to something, I am irked when it is re-arranged or changed, or worse, eliminated. But, today I am writing about a change that made me unhappy at first, but in the end, I feel good about.

In many of my blog posts, I have directed parents to NICHCY (the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities), where hundreds of helpful articles on early intervention, special education, disabilities and the law can be found in an easy to read format. The bad news is that in less than one week, NICHCY’s website will be closed. The good news is that most of the information has been moved to CPIR – the Center for Parent Information and Resources. Thankfully, the valuable information that NICHCY has created over the years will still be accessible on the CPIR site.

I recommend that you go directly to the CPIR page, Quick Find/NICHCY Resources, which links you directly to a roadmap of NICHCY’s topics. You can also access information through their alphabetical listing.

NICHCY’s specialty was helping parents access and navigate the early intervention and special education systems. They have important information on creating an IFSP and IEP. They also offer information on the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) which is the law ensuring that children with delays or disabilities receive a free, appropriate education. You will also find fact sheets on specific disabilities as well as materials in Spanish.

So, as sad as I am to see NICHCY go, I am thrilled that this information is not lost, and it will continue to be kept current by the good folks at CPIR. This is the kind of change that I can bear quite easily.

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. While on News Moms Need,  select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date.

If you have comments or questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We welcome your input!

Table of Contents for the Delays and Disabilities series

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

If you are new to this series, or if you want to catch up on posts you may have missed, this is a good way to see all the posts. They are grouped by topic to help you navigate your way.

Table of Contents

Why this blog series?
A new blog series is here

How to get early intervention and special education services
Babies and toddlers:

Understanding Preemie cues

Understanding developmental milestones and delays

Vocabulary at age 2 may predict kindergarten success

Preemies- adjusted age and delays

Here’s a tool to monitor your child’s physical development

Early intervention for babies and toddlers

From NICU to EI services

What is an IFSP?

Guest post from the CDC on early intervention

Don’t delay with delays

How does your state define developmental delay?

Kids ages 3 and older:

Prematurity, disabilities and special education

Turning 3 – the leap from early intervention to special ed

Early intervention and special ed for children ages 3 and older

What is an IEP?

What are related services?

IEP or 504 – that is the question!

IEP reviews in April

IEPs on TV

April is IEP month

IEP season is here

What is Prior Written Notice or “PWN?”

IEPs and LREs – the nitty gritty

An easy way to find resources for kids with special needs

Summer programs for kids with special needs

Delays, disabilities and the law

Learning the lingo

Words and terms – a whole new world

Changing a program for a child with special needs

What is peer-reviewed research?

Keeping track of your child’s records

How to get your child’s records organized

The special language of special needs

Happy 25th Anniversary ADA

Good-bye NICHCY. Hello CPIR.

Pediatric medical specialties

Getting to know your NICU healthcare team

What are pediatric specialties?

Finding pediatric specialists

What is a developmental behavioral pediatrician?

What is a child psychologist?

How to find a specialist for a birth defect or rare disease

Therapies and Treatments

What is physical therapy or “PT”?

Physical therapy – can it help your preemie?

What is occupational therapy, or “OT”?

What is speech therapy?

Respiratory therapists help babies and families breathe easier

Pragmatics – helping your child learn the rules of social language

What are hippotherapy and therapeutic riding (THR)?

What are recreation services?

Kids with challenges zoom on souped up kiddie cars

Sensory issues

Light and sound in the NICU

Sensory difficulties in children

Everyday tips for dealing with sensory special kids

Help for sensory issues

Changing seasons can be tough for a child with sensory issues

Fireworks are not fun for kids with sensitive hearing

Fourth of July – fabulous or frightful for kids with special needs?

Sensory friendly malls

Halloween ideas for kids with food allergies or sensory challenges

Heavy backpacks hurt- Here’s how to lighten the load

Understanding the diagnosis – in preemies and babies with special needs

Preemies and asthma – how to help your child

RDS and BPD – breathing problems in preemies

Pneumonia and preemies

Brain bleeds in premature babies

An allergy or a cold – learn how to tell the difference

Preemies and hearing loss

Hearing loss in babies

Did you hear me? What is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?

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

What are learning disabilities (LDs)?

LDs – What they ARE and are NOT

What is dyslexia?

What is dyscalculia?

What is dysgraphia?

What is dyspraxia?

Prematurity, learning disabilities and ADHD

Understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities

Oh to be understood! Learn what your child with LD experiences

Parenting your child with a heart defect

Preemies as adults – are their health problems due to prematurity?

Helping babies with FASD

Talking to your child about his medical condition

How knowing your family health history may help your baby

Tracking birth defects helps states help you

Thalidomide and Dr. Frances Kelsey

Coping – day in and day out

Staying positive in the NICU

How to cope when your baby is in the NICU

Skin to skin contact helps your baby AND you

When can your baby go home from the hospital?

NICU parents can develop PTSD due to stress and trauma

Caring for yourself as you care for your preemie

Recognizing families who care for preemies 

The NICU dad – Superman has nothing on him!

Do you know your baby’s different cries?

Breastfeeding a baby with a cleft lip or palate

Parenting your child with a heart defect

Medication mistakes are common

It’s good – no, great – to read to your baby

Avoiding and handling tantrums

More resources for handling meltdowns

Positive reinforcement – the power of one M&M’s® candy

Positive reinforcement – fortune cookie advice

Caring for your sick baby (understanding signs of illness and learning when to call the doctor)

Flu can be serious for kids with special needs

Flu is dangerous for certain people

Shingles, kids and pregnant women – know the facts

Can sleep affect your child with special needs…or you?

Research shows a consistent bedtime routine can help your child sleep

A social skills tip for kids with special needs

Apps for math LD and other disabilities

There’s an app for that (for kids with learning challenges)

Knowing your family health history  may help your baby

Getting through transitions, holidays, vacations and disasters

A transition tip

Bracing for the holidays

Spending holidays in the NICU

Holidays and your child with special needs – tips for the NICU, visiting Santa, dinners and traveling

Taking Thanksgiving in stride

Holidays 🙂 or 🙁

Visiting Santa is do-able for kids with special needs

Toys glorious toys! (for kids with special needs)

New Year’s Resolutions – good or bad for kids with special needs?

Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! (an inspirational holiday poem)

Adjusting to life after the holidays

Getting back in the swing (after a holiday)

Camps and vacations

How to find camps for children with special needs

Tips for family travel when your child has special needs

Vacationing with your child with special needs

Accommodations help vacationers with special needs

Re-entry: life after vacation

Back to school

Kids with special needs head back to school

Summer to September

From summer to school – the big transition

Back to school is hard on kids and PARENTS!

Shopping for toys for kids with special needs

Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs

Surviving and thriving – Your child with special needs, your other children, and YOU

Stop. Rest. Relax…Repeat.

Getting guilt-free time off – what worked for one mom

Special moms need special care

Caring for the caretaker – put on your oxygen mask

Caring for yourself as you care for your preemie

Caring for the siblings of a child with special needs

Having a baby in the NICU can be stressful for siblings

Sibling visits to the NICU can be helpful

Do siblings of children with disabilities need help?

Fathers help mold their children’s future

Avoid a tragedy – learn safe sleep strategies

Laughter helps your body, mind and mood

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Resilience. When struggles can be a good thing.

Have you found your child’s passion?

Brace yourself: the ShareUnion message

Living with loss

What’s Happening

World Birth Defects Day gets the word out

First ever World Birth Defects Day

You can also see all of the blog posts by clicking on Help for Your Child under “Categories” on the menu. Scroll down to read the blog posts in reverse chronological order. If you have comments or questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We welcome your input!