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Special Needs Elementary Education

Helping Your Special Needs Child At School

"Special education" may be something of a mystery to those who've never experienced it -- or those without a special-needs child -- but it's pretty simple: It allows students with a wide range of disabilities to be educated in the "least restrictive environment" that can meet their needs. Federal law dictates this concept. It means that even students with severe disabilities should be included with general-education students when appropriate (e.g., during lunch, assemblies, and recess).

Special education can include a student with a mild learning disability, or speech and language impairments, who spends all of his or her day in the general-education classroom but with accommodations. It can also include a student with multiple severe disabilities who requires significantly more intervention to learn basic skills.

Students must qualify for special-education services provided by a multidisciplinary team that, at a minimum, includes parents, the school psychologist, an administrator, a general-education teacher, and a special-education teacher.

Parents have rights related to the education of their child and have to give consent for any services provided, including placement in a special-education classroom for any part of the day. If you're in this situation, it's important that you ask questions and do some research to ensure that you understand your rights, the nature of your child's disability, and the ranges of services provided at your school.

Some helpful resources are:

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