Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Help is Needed?

What kind of help do parents of children with special needs want and need, with regard to the education of their children?

There is a huge amount of information available from many resources. So much information is available that parents often do not know where to start. At the same time, many parents are so overwhelmed with day-to-day caring for and providing for their children that they do not have time, energy or expertise to investigate the resources available to them.

Needs are often so complex that careful evaluation is needed to design just the right educational package. State and Federal laws are in place to guarantee certain rights.

As one wise person said a while back, "If you don't know what your rights are, you don't have any."

School personnel should be in one of the best positions to know the educational rights of a student in a special education program. After all, who should know the rules better?

Unfortunately, while personnel may know the rules, they may be under pressure to refrain from providing complete information and services to a special education student because of the cost involved. The old "We can't afford that" routine.

While schools might be caught between a rock and a hard place, they don't have a choice. If a special education student needs a service, then the law says he is to have it. The law does not say, "If the school district can't afford it, it does not have to provide a needed service."

In following articles I shall write about some of my experiences with the Woodstock (Illinois) District 200 Schools from 1996 to present. It may appear that I am "picking" on them, but I have no doubt that what I have experienced has been experienced by tens of thousands of other parents across the United States.

Along the way I'll share resources that you may find valuable as your child and you go along the special education highway.

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