Children with special needs face unique and difficult challenges on a daily basis. Your child’s rights are protected under federal and state laws. I recommend you get copies of all the federal, state and local laws that apply to special needs children. All children, but especially children with special needs, need advocacy. Remember, under the laws our children are afforded the right to a free and appropriate public education. Appropriate meaning you can not always put a child with a disability in a main stream classroom. With the state of the economy the school system is cutting back and getting services for your child keeps getting harder and harder. Special needs kids need an education plan tailored to them.
As parents, you must advocate for your child’s rights in the public school system. There are several online sources the National Center for learning Disabilities website, it explains your child’s rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.gov) is a good source. On both websites you can learn more about the Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA). You probably have more rights than you realize. The more information you have the more services you will b able to advocate for.
Adding further wood to the fire, special education law is extremely complicated and confusing. A lot of parents get discouraged by all the information out there but there are offices that can help you. Most counties have a disabilities services office. You should be able to find more information about your child’s rights, workshops that you can go too. In some instants they can assign you a case worker to help you advocate for your child. You will hit a lot of roadblocks before you reach the right people to talk to. Keep asking questions and you will persevere.
It has been my own experience in advocating for my child that knowledge is power. If you don’t know the laws and what your child is entitled to, how are you going to convince the public school system to pay for extra services? It is cheaper for them to tell you no, they have thousands of kids to worry about. Don’t take no for an answer, make the school district show you why they can not provide a service. In the same aspect, you need to be able to show why your child needs a specific service. The only person that will be concerned about your child is you. The squeaky wheel gets the oil!