The Pennsylvania Parent Guide to Special Education for School Age Children from the Pennsylvania Department of Education outlines how a child’s need for special education is determined, how a child’s program is developed, the responsibilities and protections guaranteed to parents and children, and the resources available to parents of a child with disabilities. The guide provided in the link reflects the most current Chapter 14 regulations.
Does My Child Need Special Education?
As a parent, you are uniquely qualified to know your child’s learning strengths and weaknesses. If it is determined that your child is eligible for special education services, school professionals will utilize your knowledge in designing a special education program for your child’s benefit. Your child may be eligible for special education if your child:
· Has an intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, an orthopedic impairment, a hearing impairment, deafness, a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment (including blindness), autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities and
· Needs special education, as determined by an evaluation team.
Your child must meet both qualifications in order to be eligible for special education. In Pennsylvania, all children eligible for special education have the right to a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE).
NOTE: Children with disabilities who are not eligible for special education may qualify for accommodations in the general classroom under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Chapter 15 regulations apply for these students. Chapter 14 regulations apply to those students who qualify for special education services by meeting the two-part criteria listed above.
Signs of Physical, Sensory, Intellectual, or Emotional Disability
Some indications that your child may have a disability that meets the first part of the two-part criteria are:
- Consistent problems in getting along with others
- Difficulty communicating
- Lack of interest or ability in age-appropriate activities
- Resistance to change
- Difficulty seeing or hearing that interferes with the ability to communicate
- Health problems that affect educational performance, including attention problems
- Difficulty performing tasks that require reading, writing, or mathematics
- Chronic behavior or social problems that affect your child’s ability to learn
Your child may need specially-designed instruction to make progress in school. This need for special education is the second part of the two-part criteria to be eligible for special education services.