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Monday, March 28, 2011

School Bell: Special Ed? Learning Disability?

Many parents who know I am a former school teacher come to me when they are worried about a lack of progress by one of the kids. They wonder how to know when you need to have a child evaluated for possible special education needs. There are many reasons for receiving special education, but the one most people don't understand well is learning disabiities. Learning disabilities may start to show up at any time, but the the most common sign is that a gap develops between your child and the rest and the gap gets wider and wider and wider. There is no simple answer but here a few typical red flags:

• your child is working hard but making little progress
• your child does noticeably better in one area than another
[ex: struggles to read but does fine in math]
• when you help or teach your child something one night, your child does not seem to remember it the next
• your child makes a particular kind of mistake over and over
[ex: mixing ps and bs or ds or 6s and 9s]

Bottom line.... 
                     Trust your gut! 

And by the way, ...
if it is a teacher suggesting testing to you, trust your teacher's gut and have the testing done. They really do want your child to succeed.

If you decide you want testing:
Make your request in WRITING..

In your letter it is most important that you:
       1- Date the letter.
       2- Identify your child.
       3- Specifically request testing for special education.
       4- Give a few specific examples of how your child struggles.
       5- Provide contact information
       6- Ask who to follow up with later.

                                           SAMPLE LETTER

April xx, 201x
Dear Principal So and So,
My daughter, Sally Struggles is in the third grade in your school in Mr. Teacher’s class. She is having problems at school and I think she might need special help to succeed at school. I am writing to officially request the school test Sally to see if she needs and qualifies for special education services.

Sally works very hard on her homework every night, but just doesn’t seem to understand what she is supposed to do. She does ok in reading, but seems to be totally lost in math. I try to help her but even when she finally gets it, the next night it seems like she has forgotten all we did the night before.
How long will it take for Sally’s testing? Do you need my signature for anything regarding testing? Who should I talk to about some questions I have? Please call me in the next 10 days. You can reach me at home at 200-100-1234. Thank you for your help.
Yours sincerely,
Mrs. Struggles

Any other questions??   Remember that early intervention is best.  Good luck!!

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  1. This is a great article! My 18-month-old is already falling way behind. We've already called in Early Childhood Intervention.

  2. Smart! Keep me posted on how s/he is doing. Be sure to start a folder for all the dated paperwork and reports. Good luck!