Some special kids in special education

Alissa Kuk, Staff writer

Kids in special education require more help than the average child. Children with special needs have rights that need protection like the rights of any other citizen. They have special plans put in place and programs that help protect those rights.

What is the plan?

When it comes to having a child with special needs it is important to understand what kinda programs are in place to protect their rights just like you would with any other child. First, there are the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This passed in 1975 and its sole purpose is to make sure children with disabilities can receive the same free public education other children receive. This law protects the child from birth to when they are 21 years old.

Then there are certain plans that a parent can get for their child. There are two main plans. These are an IEP or Individualized Education Plan and a 504 plan. An IEP sets out a specific list of goals for the school to help the child reach. On the other hand, a 504 plan makes sure that the child gets extra help within the classroom. Examples of extra help they can receive are more time on tests and homework or just normal accommodations. 

How can I help?

Of the many ways to help a child the best way to help a child with special needs is an occupational therapist evaluating your child. This type of therapist helps a child build social and motor skills. They use sensory toys or tools during their sessions of therapy. Lauren Vetter, an occupational therapist that works at the center of childhood development, said that “weighted blankets/lap pads, therapressure brushing, therapeutic listening, sensory bins, and sour candy/gum” are her go-to therapy tools.

Laura Allison, a Speech-Language pathologist at the center of childhood development, said “There are so many ways but the most important is to be patient and try to see things from their perspective. Look at behaviors as communication: what is this child telling me? What is causing this behavior? They don’t always have the language to tell us so it’s up to us to figure it out sometimes” is the best way to help a child who has trouble.

Legal rights

Sometimes a school can take action into their own hands. “They legally have the right to seclude or restrain a child with special needs”, says Andrew M.I. Lee a Juris Doctor. They can as long as they follow a few guidelines. One would be they can not restrain a child who has an IEP if they wouldn’t do the same to any other child. Another one is they can not restrain or seclude a child if doing so would have a greater impact on kids with special needs than it would with another child.

If secluding or restraining a child with an IEP impacts their learning or restrain them from their Free and Appropriate Public education. In an IEP, you can make sure that a school isn’t allowed to use these methods. If a school does use these methods you can call and file a complaint with the state or federal officials (School’s Discipline Rights). “Parents can get lawyers involved if schools are not following the IEP or 504 Plan set in place. They are legally required to provide the supports named in the plan” said Ms. Vetter.

Last thoughts

Every child deserves the same rights and privileges as the student next to them. If a child is the smallest bit different it shouldn’t matter. Every parent with a child with special needs only wants their child to receive treatment no different than any other child. Ms. Vetter said “Join their world– try to understand what they are seeing, feeling, and thinking. When we try to bring them into our confusing world, the relationship falls apart”. 

Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way”

— George Evans