Education and SchoolsResources & Services for Students with Disabilities
It’s exciting to watch your children as they play and learn in school. The time they are in school can make life a little bit easier, especially if you have supportive school staff. On the other hand, it seems like we are navigating new territory every step of the way. Each transition – whether it’s a new teacher, school year, or school campus – presents opportunities and challenges.
When you’re first starting out with your child’s educational experience, you might feel like there are so many acronyms and programs to keep up with – it can feel like you are drowning in alphabet soup! You might hear terms like “IEP,” “ARD,” “IDEA,“ Section 504,” and “special education,” along with many others. And as your child gets older, you might have to tackle an entirely new set of subjects, like state standardized tests or bullying, to name a few.
Connecting with other parents from your school (or even in another district) is a great way to get support. Other parents of children with disabilities are generally very open about sharing their experiences and lending an ear, because we all just want what’s best for our children.
Here are some of the terms or acronyms you will see often throughout your child’s education:
Special Education: Special education is not a place but an umbrella of services with dozens of ways to give children the best education possible. Special education services might include specialized instruction, modified curriculum, learning accommodations, or therapies, just to name a few.
Section 504: This federal law enables your child to get accommodations and modifications that help them learn when they're at school. They do not have to qualify for special education services in order to get 504 services. These accommodations and modifications might include assistive technology, sitting in the front of the class, reading materials printed in Braille or with large print fonts, and many more.
ARD: The ARD, or Admission, Review, and Dismissal process, is a meeting at your child’s school between you (and any family members, friends, or people you want to bring who know your child well), your child’s teacher, therapists, and other school or district staff who support your child. This team makes a program for your child’s education, called an IEP, in these meetings.
IEP: Your child’s IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is an education program made by your child’s ARD team, which you are a part of. You might hear parents call this the Individualized Education Plan, but it is really a full program of services to help your child. The IEP maps out needs, goals, and objectives to help your child learn and eventually transition out of school.
IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is a federal law ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Learn more about IDEA on our Your Child’s Right to a Public Education page.
FAPE: This stands for “Free Appropriate Public Education.” It means that students can get the resources they need free of charge – things like accommodations, modifications, and services to support their education. Learn more about FAPE on our Your Child’s Right to a Public Education page.
LRE: Students with disabilities have the right to learn in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) possible. This means that, if they are able to stay in the general education classroom, they should. Learn more about LRE on our Your Child’s Right to a Public Education page.
Did you know that the TEA has a hotline to help English- and Spanish-speaking parents – and answer their questions about special education programs and services? To reach a statewide resource center, call 1-800-252-9668. If you have a hearing impairment, call 512-475-3540 or 7-1-1 for a relay agent.