How to Advocate for a Child with a Learning Disability and Get School Support
Legally, if your child has a learning disability or developmental delay, he or she is entitled to extra support from the attending school. The beginning of the school year is the best time to garner school support for your child's learning and behavioral challenges. Read on to find out some of the best ways to get school help for a learning disorder or other childhood developmental issue.
IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that makes sure public schools meet the educational needs of learners with disabilities. Certain criteria have to be met, and identification of learning disabilities may vary by state.
Section 504: Section 504 falls under the umbrella of civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. A child who does not qualify for IDEA-related services will often be eligible for Section 504 services, which include extended time during tests, extra tutoring or permission to use technological aids in class.
Parent to School Communication is Key
It's important to realize that schools do not "cure" learning disabilities; instead, they aim to provide a stimulating environment to meet the unique learning needs of each child. Before you approach a school, make the decision to work with the school and not against it. Focus on the opportunities, which is often to help get your child to the point where he or she is able to function as independently as possible in an educational setting.
Communication is key when working with your child's school. Remember, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) members interact with many children, and to get their attention focused on your child some preparation is required. Try these "back to school" tips:
- Know your goals and make a list.
- Listen as well as talk; be composed and optimistic.
- Research what other schools are doing so you can offer new ideas.
- Persevere, even if it means meeting separately with various school staff.
Once assessments have been completed and your child is granted disability status, you will be required to meet with the school at least once per year to assist with designing the IEP. Parents are often anxious about attending these meetings, but it's important to go with the attitude that you are an integral part of the process and your input is highly valuable.
Preparation for the meeting includes writing a list of:
- Your Child's Strengths
- Your Child's Urgent Needs
- Future Goals for Your Child
- Effective Rewards for Your Child
- Educational Services Available to Assist Your Child to Complete Assignments
- Any Other Relevant Information
Additional Resources for Education
School, albeit an extremely important part of your child's life, is not the only way that your child learns. Life experiences and positive role modeling also have a profound impact on your child. Do your best to make sure that your child is getting all the support available from school and take advantage of school resources for ADHD and other learning disabilities. Make school a positive experience for both you and your child.