Some families know their child has a disability before they enter school. They have a physical disability and may have received services from an early age. They start school with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in place.
But what happens when a parent suspects a disability after their child is in school? What steps should they take to find out if their child needs special education services or other support?
How can you help your child? Talk with their teacher. Discuss ways the school is working to support your child. The law now requires the school to give supports through a process called Response to Intervention (RtI). The school must provide extra help to meet the student’s needs. You can find what must be provided on the Texas Project First website.
This might include tutoring or support in a different setting. Remedial or other services may also be used. School plans must be based on data. The school must notify parents if their child receives RtI. This notice must be in writing and explain what service the child receives and how long it will be provided.
You may request an evaluation for special education. The request must be in writing. Send the request to your child’s principal and the special education section of your child’s school district. The school has 15 school days to respond to your letter. You must give your written consent for the evaluation.
If the school refuses the evaluation, they must provide you a written Procedural Safeguards Notice advising you of your rights. Learn more about the timeline for initial evaluations.
If the school agrees to the evaluation, they have 45 school days after your consent to complete the Full Individualized Evaluation (FIE). An Admission Review Dismissal (ARD) committee must meet within 30 calendar days after that.
The committee will decide if the student qualifies as a student with disabilities, which means that your child has a disability and an educational need for services. After disability and need are decided, the committee develops your child’s IEP.
More tips for helping your child:
The Education and Schools section of this site provides information on school processes for determining the educational needs of your child.
Critical thinking and problem-solving skills go beyond academics. Everyday life provides opportunities to apply these skills. During my son’s educational career, a lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills was often noted in his Individualized Education Plan paperwork. While he may struggle with these skills academically, he solves problems all the time in his daily life.