My Child and Disability Part II: Education
If you want to learn more about this topic and Family Law,
contact Angela Larimer at 773-370-0600.
As stated in the previous blog (Disability Part I): The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) forbids discrimination against anyone with a disability. This act ensures that individuals with disabilities are granted the same rights and equal opportunities as everyone else. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) specifically covers the rights of students in elementary and secondary school with disabilities. It ensures school’s provisions of equal and fair student accommodations or other educational services in order to make schools more inclusive and effective in educating students with disabilities. Some differences to note, Section 504 and ADA covers all students covered by IDEA but not all students covered under Section 504 and ADA are covered under IDEA.
How can you and your child’s school provide a better educational experience for your child?
Over the years, there has been an abundance of misguided information, fear of diagnosis, and the overall avoidance of seeking professional help for children. There has been a higher amount of stigma and misunderstandings placed on children with regard to understanding and providing for mental health and behavioral disorders. Over time, the education model has progressed to not only advocate for students with disabilities, but also to educate parents and the student body as a whole.
While it may feel overwhelming to navigate your child’s educational accommodations, it is not as complex as one might think. Upon providing medical documentation to the school, you can request that your child receive a 504 plan or IEP depending on their needs. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) provides specific instruction or amenities for students in grades K-12. A 504 Plan can serve both K-12 and college level students. As a parent, you can request an IEP and transition your child to a 504 plan in high school or in college. These plans are adjustable based on your child’s needs and provide services and specific accommodations for your child to aim to succeed regardless of their disability.
An IEP is more formal and involves the parents more direct involvement in the process and allows students to have more specific needs be met. For instance, if a child needs individualized meetings with the school counselor or psychologist during classroom hours, you can specifically include in the IEP that your child has those accommodations provided for them. The 504 plan provides provisions to a student in a more general classroom or setting. For example, a 504 plan can allow your child to have extended time on an exam and/or on a homework assignment. If your child has testing-anxiety it can allow your child to take their exam outside of the classroom (i.e., at the teacher’s office, after class, or scheduled with the disability center on campus).
Review each plan with your child and your child’s doctor. Ask their doctor(s) what their recommendations are for your child. Also, remember to ask your child what they think they might need and what can help them better their educational experience.