Special education is the practice of differentiated teaching that addresses the individual differences, difficulties and obstacles that some students face. Using individualized teaching programs, applied according to the profile of each individual, tries in every possible way to guide the student to discover and apply these methods, which he/she will feel comfortable to use to be able to accompany his peers, and eventually complete his/her education in the general school. (For more information on Special Education click here)
When your child is having difficulty at school, it is important to look for the reasons and find out why. If his/her performance is affected by a disability, then he/she will most likely qualify for special education or even related services that can help improve his/her performance. Initially the school should test adequate interventions in the regular classroom and modify teaching practices before referring your child for evaluation of special education.
You can ask the school to evaluate your child. Contact your teacher or school principal, describe your concerns about his/her educational performance, and ask for an evaluation to see if a disability is involved. The school may also be concerned about how your child is learning and developing and if they believe there is a suspicion of a disability, then a formal evaluation by a school psychologist should be done. The school must ask for your permission and obtain written consent before the assessment can take place.
If after the evaluation, the results show that your child needs some help, either from a qualified educator or another specialist, while you disagree, you can also ask for a second opinion / evaluation from another school psychologist of your trust. If the results remain the same or similar, then it would be better to start looking for the right specialists and provide as much help as you can to the child to start filling the gaps that have been created so far. You can obviously stop the special education, or other related services at any time you wish, always taking into account the impact it will have on your child. You also need to know that if you later change your mind and want to restart the interventions, the evaluation process should be repeated, taking into account the new parameters of the given time and development of your child.
The next step is to visit a specialist educator, who after consultation with the school psychologist, your child’s class teacher and you, will write the long-term and short-term goals in a personalized training program commonly called IEP (Individualized Education Program).
The acronym IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. It is a document that describes the educational program designed to meet the individual needs of a child. Every child receiving special education must have an IEP. The IEP has two purposes: (1) to set learning goals for your child and (2) to create an opportunity for all professionals involved with the same child, as well as parents, to work together to improve his/her performance in maximum. The IEP includes academic and operational performance levels, long-term and short-term goals set by the team, specific training and related services to be provided, schedules, dates, location, assessments and frequent measurement of progress. It is very important that your child participates as much as possible in the general curriculum of the school but also in extracurricular activities.
It needs to be re-evaluated at least every three years, or at the end of the school year if the child makes a significant improvement in less time. The re-evaluation is similar to the initial evaluation. It starts by looking at the already known information about your child, examining whether the goals have been completed, and whether your child is able to follow the general classroom teaching without additional help.
Always remember that you, the school and the professionals who work with your child will make decisions about his/her education, in groups, for as long as the child goes to this school or as long as he/she receives special education or related services. . Good communication, teamwork and cooperation between all, is very important before, during and after. So when disagreements arise, try to process them within the IEP team before resorting to outside agents or seeking third-party mediation. They all have the common goal of improving your child and only with cooperation can this be achieved and become reality. If your child meets the requirements and has started receiving external intervention from experts, then the school and the experts have the responsibility to constantly inform you about his/her performance and guide you accordingly, because you also play a vital role in education and upbringing of your child.
The existence of any disability or difficulty should never prevent anyone from conquering the world. Both children and adults with disabilities should be given every opportunity without being stigmatized or marginalized. People who need special treatment and training should always be treated according to their requirements, despite the difficulties they have, and be able to adequately develop their cognitive skills. The general development of the wider education system with teachers who have specialized training is urgent, perhaps even necessary. Learning should be a fun and adventurous activity for both children and adults with or without difficulties or special needs.