Speech therapy is a treatment that can help improve communication skills. It’s sometimes called speech-language therapy.Many people think that speech therapy is only for kids with speech disorders that affect pronunciation. But it also helps kids who struggle with spoken and written language. That includes those with language disorders and reading challenges like dyslexia.The specialists who do this type of therapy are speech-language pathologists (SLPs). They start by identifying what kind of speech or language problem a child has. Then they determine what’s causing it and decide on the best treatment. In addition to speech challenges, therapy can target problems with:Receptive language (understanding language)Expressive language (using language)Social communication (using language in socially appropriate ways)Reading and spelling (including dyslexia)Therapy can happen one-on-one or in small groups. It may last from a few months to a few years. The earlier therapy begins, the more helpful it is. Language difficulties are usually lifelong, but skills can improve with the right support. Speech therapy may help some adults, too. But it’s not usually covered by insurance, so adults don’t often seek treatment.
The evaluation report is done. Now what? Learn about eligibility determination meetings and different kinds of supports for struggling students. Adverse impact. Eligibility determination. IEPs. 504 plans. things? evaluations? episode Understood Explains covers school evaluation teams decide kids need kinds support.Host Dr. Andy Kahn psychologist spent nearly 20 years evaluating kids public private schools. first guest episode special education teacher Lauren Jewett. They’ll explain:What happens eligibility determination meetingHow schools decide qualifies Individualized Education Program (IEP) What kinds support help struggling studentsAndy’s second guest parenting expert Amanda Morin. They’ll share tips say child eligibility meeting — say.Related resourcesWhat expect IEP eligibility meetingThe 13 disability categories IDEAThe difference IEPs 504 plans10 smart responses school cuts denies servicesParent training centers: free resource stateEpisode transcriptLeslie: Hi, I'm Leslie Little Rock, Arkansas. second grade, within first couple weeks, decided evaluations Sarah needed speech therapy, occupational therapy, think physical therapy. wasn't holding pencil right, wrist turned wrong way, speech impediments. would receive results eventually reached milestone kind fell away. always receive accommodations reading math, evaluated every semester. IEP followed second grade graduated Central High School 3.5 grade point average last semester.Andy: Understood Podcast Network, "Understood Explains." You're listening Season 1, explain evaluations special education. 10 episodes, cover ins outs process school districts use evaluate children special education services. name Andy Kahn, I'm licensed psychologist in-house expert understood.org. I've spent nearly 20 years evaluating kids public private schools, I'll host.Today's episode happens evaluation. testing data collection done, evaluation report done. next step real mouthful; it's called eligibility determination. evaluation team meets decide student eligible special education. Today's episode going cover three key things: eligibility determination process works, kind supports schools offer students — including what's available kids don't qualify special education — say child eligibility meeting, say. first, let's hear another parent story.Jennifer: Hi, name Jennifer live Atlanta, Georgia. So, eligibility report, enter testing information program, automatically determines categories student could potentially qualify under. so, one categories son like, brain something, can't remember. wish could remember called. something like crazy. like, "Wait minute, what?" It's even meeting, they'll tell you, know, "This automated, like flags doesn't mean we're really considering it, talk it."Andy: Jennifer describing jarring part eligibility determination meeting. part meeting team goes dozen disability categories see child qualifies special education them. folks, know, name category Jennifer trying remember called traumatic brain injury. We're going talk disability categories key parts eligibility determination process.To help explain this, want bring first guest. Lauren Jewett special education teacher elementary school New Orleans. She's also special education case manager, means she's part lot evaluation teams. She's also national board-certified teacher, Understood teacher fellow. Lauren, it's great us today. How're doing?Lauren: I'm good. Thank show.Andy: So, Lauren, evaluation, school team holds important meeting called eligibility determination. team uses evaluation report help decide student qualifies special education. So, student qualifies, next step develop IEP, stands Individualized Education Program. So, part process, determining eligibility special education developing IEP, covered IDEA. Lauren, remind everyone IDEA stands for?Lauren: IDEA federal special education law stands Individuals Disabilities Education Act. covers ways student would get special education servicing, different disability categories could qualify under. evaluation period process, could get, know, terms IEP looks like legal procedures student.Andy: Gotcha. So, states follow federal law, but, know, different states may handle eligibility determination slightly different ways. I'm located state Maine. So, Maine, determine eligibility, actually use specific form eligibility determination, use call adverse impact form. purpose, really, see whether someone eligible services, based data have. use adverse impact form go series checklists. different states, it's done different ways. guys Louisiana?Lauren: So, process covered state bulletin; state bulletin called Bulletin 1508, Bulletin 1508 covers ways people appraisal school psychologists qualify student different disability categories. So, IDEA, talked about, law bunch different disability categories. bulletin, 1508, outlines different procedures one would look use determine category classification student would qualify under.Andy: OK, taking look big picture, you're talking state regulations make evaluation team fill checklists answer specific questions. determine child meets IDEA’s two important requirements eligible special education. Number one, child disabling condition, number two, disabling condition must adversely impact child's education. So, talk adverse impact, like example, let's say we're looking specific learning disability, child let's say, half grade level behind, would typically adverse impact, would enough?Lauren: usually, know, I'm thinking example like, specific learning disability, know, state, order qualify specific learning disability, area strength, area student is, know, struggling. look standard deviations mean, mean.Andy: OK, I'm going decode information. again, it's really, really helpful. talk things like standard deviations, we're talking is, you're comparing child's piece information large group, far fall large group, it's far enough away, would something might considered adverse impact, meaning adverse impact really refers child able they're needing do, like students age grade level? adverse impact would "I can't dyslexia," can't focus engage participate way would manageable severe ADHD disabling condition. adverse impact's really there's functional thing isn't happening. could diagnosis, necessarily show adverse impacts. confusing people. go explaining adverse impact families you're talking that?Lauren: Yeah, think I'm thinking adverse impact — especially look write IEPs, right? — think disability impact statement, kind similar, know, like, disability impacting student class? So, example, student dyslexia, affecting they're class across different subjects day? So, student specific learning disability reading, two three grade levels behind, thinking about, OK, student's disability, affects ability read grade level texts going provided given class. reading class, content areas lot academic domain vocabulary, lot reading comprehension needs.And so, break down, I'm trying give applicable information family, know, again, there's much jargon. let's, like say, let's take step back look going look like classroom? affecting day-to-day basis?Andy: Gotcha. really, adverse impact important you're talking th
My 3-year-old is really struggling in preschool. I’ve heard that some kids get free speech therapy in the public elementary school. Do we have to wait until then? Or can my preschooler get free speech therapy and other services now? Some preschoolers can get free services, including speech therapy. Just like early intervention for babies and toddlers, there are special services for young kids (ages 3–5) who qualify for special education. In fact, your child doesn’t even need to be in preschool. Kids in daycare and at home may be able to get services, too.Not every child qualifies, though. Your state will have specific rules to decide who’s eligible. In general, your child must be delayed in development to qualify. Or your child has to have a disability in one of 13 legal categories.There are two ways you can get the ball rolling. One way is to talk to your medical provider. Your doctor, nurse, or clinic is likely to have experience working with kids to get services. At the very least, they can connect you to the right resources.The other way is to contact the local school district where you live. The district is required to evaluate kids who may qualify for services, even if they aren’t in school yet.The evaluation helps the district understand kids’ needs to decide if they qualify. As part of the evaluation, school staff may look at your child’s communication skills. They may also speak with you about your child’s challenges, and how they impact learning.If your child qualifies for services, then you may have some choices to make. If your child goes to a private preschool, you may want to think about switching to a public school. Some public grade schools have preschool programs for kids who qualify for special education. (Kids in daycare or at home have this option, too.)If your child goes to a private preschool and you decide to stay there, you may get some free services. But your child might have to travel to the public school for them. And you’d likely get fewer services in a private school than if your child attended a public school.Lastly, every state has someone called a 619 coordinator who can help you. (The number “619” comes from the name of the law that funds these services). If you need help getting access to services, you can always call this person to ask questions. Find the 619 coordinator in your state.
What happens during the evaluation? And what role do families play? Learn how to help shape the evaluation plan and help your child get ready. happens evaluation special education? plans assessment activities? role families play? This episode Understood Explains covers more.Host Dr. Andy Kahn psychologist spent nearly 20 years evaluating kids public private schools. first guest episode Brittney Newcomer. nationally certified school psychologist. Andy Brittney explain:What expect evaluationWho plans assessment activities How help shape evaluation plan childAndy’s second guest parenting expert Amanda Morin. They’ll share tips help child get ready evaluation. (Hint: answer involve studying.) Related resourcesPreparing evaluationThe school evaluation process: expectWho’s evaluation team child’s schoolShould child study special education evaluation?Download: Sample letters things like accepting rejecting evaluation planVideo: Inside dyslexia evaluationEpisode transcriptJaime: Jaime. living Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania, right outside Philadelphia. son Jonah; ADHD. visual impairment, general learning disability basically every subject. So, whole process getting Jonah evaluated acquiring necessary materials school needed complete mess. Every time thought done, good go, called said, "Oh, need another document" "Oh, need another record." felt like never-ending.Andy: Understood Podcast Network, "Understood Explains." You're listening Season 1, explain evaluations special education. 10 episodes, cover ins outs process school districts use evaluate children special education services. name Andy Kahn, I'm licensed psychologist in-house expert understood.org. I've spent nearly 20 years evaluating kids public private schools. I'll host. Today's episode expect evaluation itself. We're going explain help school get ready evaluate child help child get ready. No, promise won't involve studying. First, let's hear Jaime's story.Jaime: So, way involved evaluation planning process sent home basically like questionnaire parent fill terms behaviors happen home child — guess tight tied towards ADHD diagnosis, know, asking sorts questions impulsivity social interactions people. actually remind several times, "By way, Jonah different children visual impairment, please test see qualifies vision therapy know get vision therapy public schools." also, said them, know, "At previous school, speech therapy." remind pushed hard wanted make sure got tested things got supports found necessary.Andy: It's common families wonder worry happens evaluation. shouldn't surprises child. member evaluation team, right know help shape evaluation plan child. first guest going help unpack this. Brittney Newcomer nationally certified school psychologist based Houston, Texas. Like me, she’s schools quite long time. She's also mom two Understood expert, master's degree special education. Brittney, welcome.Brittney: Thank you, Andy.Andy: So, let's start big picture. Different kids need different evaluation plans, right? So, example, kids need evaluated speech therapy, kids don't. many evaluations tend one thing common. that's educational evaluation, sometimes hear called psycho-educational evaluation. psychologists like me, Britt, cognitive testing areas like reasoning, memory processing speed. also look like academic skills, reading, writing, math, look social, emotional, behavioral functioning. So, key areas mind, academic, social-emotional, behavioral, go personalizing evaluation plan kids?Brittney: Yeah. So, approach planning evaluation, start referral reason. requesting evaluation? really clear picture referral reason is, that's start plan evaluation. So, gather much data first, know, school records, information teacher, typically talk parent. sit down, plan evaluation, essentially looking broad measures first, really give us big picture student performing. So, say broad measures, I'm talking things like behavioral scales look broad spectrum behavior.Andy: So, like questionnaire kind scales?Brittney: Yeah, exactly.Andy: right, let try sort break down. So, talk like referral reasons, questions you're trying answer?Brittney: So, first referral question usually ask is, ways student struggling? also ask, flip side, ways student successful? struggling? also look factors could contributing student struggling. So, could include things going home, could include global pandemic, really looking factors could influencing student's performance time.Andy: So, think know use word like comprehensive, know, idea we're looking lot bits pieces child's whole life about. families, that's little bit anxiety-provoking, right? they're challenges, let's say school, come big broad question like this, navigate families you're looking big picture? might thinking, "Oh, thought looking kid's reading" specific challenge.Brittney: try approach evaluations working families sometimes explain them, know, we're using analogy, like jigsaw puzzle, know problem is, end evaluation, really want kind comprehensive, full picture what's going child. way us get different pieces put together able see full picture what's going child. again, emphasizing we're talking areas need, disability, we're also talking strengths well. so, emphasize families right bat. order us get comprehensive picture, side well, could impacting child. that's, opinion, one important pieces input family.Andy: Yeah, think makes lot sense. talk evaluation team, also members like teachers team? else table outside those, know, multidisciplinary, evaluators, perhaps?Brittney: Yeah, ideally, teachers would table. Speaking reality, teacher schedules, it's often difficult get initial meeting. input always provided; teachers provide input via writing, call meeting via Zoom allow share input classroom teachers seeing day-to-day basis. It's huge piece puzzle need consider initial referral meeting.Andy: Absolutely. depending upon state, may requirements people around table. So, example, state Maine, required regular education teacher, special education teacher, administrator around table. Brittney, timelines guys honoring Texas? know, Maine, 45-day timeline day referral signed completed evaluation. think federal law, maybe 60 days, folks use timelines Texas?Brittney: 45 days complete evaluation report written, additional 30 calendar days, 30, school days, 30 calendar days first meeting, IEP meeting, review results determine eligibility.Andy: So, folks concerned individual states, know, take look page podcast you'll see we've got state-specific information folks. see, there's little bit variation across states. little bit confusing, certainly get information school staff. So, let's move the, know, some, brief conversation kinds tests you've using. maybe talk process might look somewhat differently different kids. know, don't take tests. we're looking different things, maybe talk little bit specific kinds tests.Brittney: school psychologist, given many different types cognitive intellectua
“I don’t want to go to speech therapy,” says one student. “You’re not my teacher. I don’t have to listen to what you say!” cries another student to a paraprofessional. Speech therapists, ESL teachers, paraprofessionals, and school counselors are just some of the adults who support my students each day. I see them as my support team, and they help me create a classroom filled with respect, empathy, learning, and fun. But my students don’t always see the importance of these other teachers. As a special education teacher, one of my goals is to support my students in developing genuine relationships with all the adults who support their learning. Here are four ways I help my students see support staff as their teachers, too: 1. I refer to them as teachers. When introducing students to someone from my support team, I refer to them as a teacher. “What did you learn with your speech teacher today?” sounds very different from, “What did you do in speech therapy today?” It changes students’ perspectives on their relationships with support staff. I recognize that these adults need to build their own relationships with my students. But this small shift in language can be a start. 2. I help students’ families understand the role of my support team. I want my students’ families to see my support team as teachers, too. This helps create a cohesive experience between home and school. I also want families to feel comfortable asking them any questions they have. Families may not always understand why their child needs services and who provides them. So at the beginning of the school year, I communicate with families, sharing bios (translated into various home languages) and photos of my support team. I reinforce that this staff person is a teacher and encourage an open line of communication with all their child’s teachers, not just me. 3. I regularly consult with my support team about our curriculum. When my students work with paraprofessionals, specialists, or other staff members, I don’t want it to feel like a separate lesson. Rather, it should be an extension of what we’re learning in the classroom. I do this by making sure my support team understands the curriculum and students’ progress with it. Before each new unit, I meet with my support team. I explain the curriculum, ways to support students, and how a specific specialist’s goals might align with what we’re working on. I do this outside of teaching time like at preps, lunches, or before or after school. I know it can be challenging to find this extra time to meet, but it has been a worthwhile investment for me. Here’s an example of how I make working with support staff an extension of our classroom. My student had a session with the occupational therapist. I said to the student, “In class, we’re working on publishing our writing. You’re going to work with Ms. A. on making sure that this published piece is clear so your friends and family can read it.” Before the session, I talked with Ms. A., the occupational therapist. We discussed how the student’s fine motor skills prevented publishing legible work, which was one of their IEP goals. Because of our discussion, the student was able to publish the essay while working on pencil grip and legible writing. 4. I make sure all work matters in our classroom.My students know that their work is an important step toward completing a goal. When they know that all their work matters — no matter who supports it — they’re more likely to engage. They also know that we’ll share and reflect on completed work, regardless of the support received to produce it. It changes how kids feel about a session with a specialist or small group time with a paraprofessional. It may have felt like a chore before, but now it’s something they’re more eager to do.For example, when my students were working on verbal responses, one had prepared hers with a speech teacher. She knew that the next day the class would be practicing their responses with peers. Because the student prepared and practiced during her speech session, she felt ready for the next day. The same applies to my support team. They know I appreciate what they do and that I support their work. They know they can count on me to reinforce the skills and strategies they teach. Even though I’ve worked hard to develop strong relationships with my students, those relationships don’t automatically transfer to the other adults my students interact with. These strategies help me foster relationships between my students and my support team. They help students see that each teacher — including paraprofessionals, specialists, and other support staff — guides them in their learning journey. Any opinions, views, information, and other content contained in blogs on Understood.org are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions, or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood.
Debunked! Learn five common myths about special education, and find out how families can help kids of color get the support they deserve. Debunked! Learn five common myths special education keep kids color getting support deserve. Host Julian Saavedra expert guest Christina Gutierrez explain common misconceptions offer tips help child thrive.Christina mom child IEP. She’s also former special educator. Find five top myths “gets skin” most — one crept thinking son struggling.Related resources Common myths special educationWhat people don’t believe child learning thinking differenceHow get past parenting guiltWunder, first community app parents kids learning thinking differences, like ADHD dyslexiaEpisode transcriptChristina: Smart special education — they're mutually exclusive. don't get put special education you're smart. Julian: Understood Podcast Network, "The Opportunity Gap." Kids color ADHD common learning differences often face double stigma. there's lot families address opportunity gap communities. podcast explains key issues offers tips help advocate child. name Julian Saavedra. I'm father two assistant principal Philadelphia, I've spent nearly 20 years working public schools. I'll host. Today's episode busting myths. lot myths special education, myths keep kids getting services support deserve. help explain common myths, want introduce today's expert guest. Christina Gutierrez mom New York City. son IEP, she's special education process personally. Christina also spent nearly decade working public schools special education teacher RTI coordinator, helping schools decide kids need evaluated special education. Hey, Christina.Christina: Hey, Julian. Julian: jump in, I'm going start us question could break ice. saving life? thing that's saving life right now? could book. could friend, TV show, hobby, favorite ice cream. Like something right that's really saving life. would be? Christina: Meditation. Julian: Meditation. Christina: I'll put meditation find YouTube. I'll listen calming music. I'll listen River Sounds, even unwind end day. like knowing mind wandering taking minute, even it's 2 minutes, sit, still, quiet, life-changing me. Julian: Wow. OK, everybody, listen. Especially parents there. Meditation works. dive really common myths keep hearing parents, wanted really jump personal experience. you're mom child IEP. So, know, you've sides table teacher mom. Anything kind jumps out — myths, stigmas, thought traps, misconceptions noticed thinking went process parenting side. parent, anything kind jumps you? Christina: definitely fell trap believing failed child, done something wrong, especially teacher, right? pressure like comparing children. something could done? meantime. Julian: mean, parents, know. know feeling, us. Let's dig common myths special education. know, I, we've worked thousands families years. Let say make real. Thousands, right? We're old we've game while. there's common themes constantly emerge really want jump debunk them. we're going go back forth top five. first myth, one personally hear lot experience lot work side families come say, "I'm worried child's going feel treated differently, like they're going treated everybody else. really worries me." Sometimes might worried kids going completely separate classroom. sometimes might think teachers find child IEP receive services, they're going treated differently. know, heard one couple days ago initial IEP meeting parent. worried college aspirations. "Mr. Saavedra, don't think they're going able go college this. do?" thinking worries, true?Christina: No, completely myth. think often growing up, right, phrase like, oh, "They're special bus," like "They're cheese bus." Especially New York City, children get specialized busing. There's like, families New York States long time, Black families, Latino families, Puerto Rican particular. us New York longer time, stigma, IEPs weren't always beneficial thing. often over-generalized students. example would mom lot stigma IEPs sister bilingual English Spanish, quiet child automatically tried put special education. mom's relationship special education one like, don't want teach you. And, know, truth '70s, was. Like isn't anymore. found relationships families color particular, debunk myth lot. child treated differently. fact, legal document requiring teachers spend extra time child meet needs have. piece it, think, been, experience, comforted parents. myth existed one time treated differently. think experience well, something helped parents, you're affirming you're right hesitation, years ago experience sister's experience brother's experience. special education changed lot. Julian: I'm Philly, lot parents come that's worry. also might siblings even school, services provided, would segregated different room. automatically come worrying that's what's going happen kid. Christina: truth is, cases, children spend day classroom separate, necessarily separate it's like shun. students self-contained classrooms day. students require needs don't — think me, framing parents isn't bad thing. giving kid need. taking parents the — like OK, tried services, right? We're going give related services. speech. occupational therapy. OK, didn't work. went integrated co-teaching. OK, didn't work. point, student still struggling X, Y, Z. lot students like that. break parents, like look, this, this, we've done things, don't try? separate setting thing, like child 12 1, 12 students, one special education teacher, one para, child receiving education academic support needed level functioning. empowering parents I've able succeed most. Julian: think that's key said, there's levels support. know, want make sure point vast majority students IEPs general education classrooms. It's much more — smaller percentage different situations like described. vast majority students get accommodations modifications within general education setting. no, child treated differently. bottom line, myth debunked. Christina: debunked. Julian: Let's go myth number two. Christina: Myth number two: "My child smart, smart kids don't need special education." There's huge misconception special education child put special education may lead family refuse services supports fear "Oh, means kid dumb." students twice exceptional, really gifted, maybe ADHD put special education. I've always explained parents simplest form, obviously it's nuanced this. giving child like script need learn best. figure teamwork. Smart special education — they're mutually exclusive. don't get put special education you're smart. Julian: find lot conversation revolves around helping parents understand even word "smart" nuanced thing. Like, mean? know educational training there's multiple ways display intellige
Maybe public school isn’t working for your child. The evaluations, the IEP, the small classes, speech therapy, and accommodations are all in place. And yet, your child is still falling behind. You feel you’ve got to make a change — and you’ve found a special private school with a great track record of working with children like yours. You want to move your child to a private school. But will the public school district pay for the hefty tuition? The answer is maybe. Federal law guarantees a free appropriate public education to children with learning and thinking differences. So if your child isn’t making progress in public school, the question is, Is the education “appropriate” — in other words, is it working for your child? When a parent moves a child to a private school to get better special education, that’s called “unilateral placement.” But if you don’t get the public school’s approval ahead of time, the school district doesn’t have to pay for private school. It’s important to do your homework before you make a change. A little extra research could give you the best chance of having the public school district pay for private school. Getting adviceYou might want to talk to an advisor at your state’s Parent Training and Information Center. Or get in touch with a parent advocate or lawyer before you make any move. They can explain your rights and share information about other cases like yours. Notification requirementBefore you enroll your child in private school, tell the public school about your plans. The best way is to send them a written letter 10 business days before you make the switch. This is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act if you want the public school to pay for the private school. A school can legally deny funding if you don’t share concerns in advance. So it also makes sense to tell the school at an IEP meeting or a progress meeting that your child isn’t making progress and you plan to switch to private school. It’s always a good idea to document your concerns in writing, too. There’s still no guarantee the district will agree to pay, but at least you’re following the law. Emergency placementIf you can prove that you needed to make an emergency move to private school, the school district might consider your request to pay for it even if you haven’t given the 10-business-day notice in writing. Such cases, however, are rare. Private school, public funds A due process hearing will be held by a hearing officer or a court to decide whether the school district should pay for your child’s private school education. You’ll be asked to prove your child was not learning in public school and wasn’t getting FAPE — a free appropriate public education. You will want to hand over school records, such as progress reports, report cards, emails to teachers and anything else that supports your claim. Another idea is to wait until you can prove your child is doing well in private school before you ask the public school to pay. Often, school districts fight requests to pay. But if the hearing officer or court sides with you, the district will have to pay.
What rights do families have in a school evaluation? Learn how special education law protects your rights during the evaluation process. rights families school evaluation? episode Understood Explains highlights five key ways special education law protects rights evaluation process. Host Dr. Andy Kahn psychologist spent nearly 20 years evaluating kids public private schools. Andy’s first guest episode lawyer Andrew M.I. Lee. They’ll cover key areas:What rights evaluation processWhy helps polite assertive partnering child’s schoolWhat think school isn’t following rulesAndy’s second guest parenting expert Amanda Morin. She’ll give tips avoid saying child disputes school.Related resourcesEvaluation rights: need knowYou disagree school’s evaluation results. what?Independent educational evaluations: need know10 smart responses school cuts denies servicesDownloadable letter templates talking pointsSample letters requesting evaluations reportsSample letters dispute resolutionSample scripts dispute resolutionEpisode transcriptLisa: Hi! name Lisa, son first public school evaluation sixth grade. looking back, wish, one, known rights push school demand tested, despite fact shouldn't demanding shouldn't aggressive school get need. wish known right that.Andy: Understood Podcast Network, "Understood Explains." You're listening Season 1, explain evaluations special education. 10 episodes, cover ins outs process school districts use evaluate children special education services. name Andy Kahn, I'm licensed psychologist in-house expert Understood.org. I've spent nearly 20 years evaluating kids public private schools. I'll host.Today's episode focuses legal rights. We're going cover three key things: rights evaluation process, advocate think school isn't following rules, say say child disputes school. first, let's hear another parent.Jennifer: I'm Jennifer, Atlanta. son Nathan 11, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD. requested evaluation, knew time could request evaluation report five days prior. that, thankfully. knew ask that. know time could ask draft eligibility report beforehand, game-changer.Andy: evaluation process feel complicated overwhelming students families. lot rights protect families along way. starters, school can't evaluate child unless give permission. disagree evaluation results, right ask independent evaluator another evaluation public expense, means cost you. help explain evaluation rights, want bring first guest today. Andrew Lee editor Understood. He's also lawyer expertise disability law, including federal state special education laws. Andrew also key player Understood's Podcast Network, including helping launch first season "Understood Explains." Andrew, welcome show.Andrew: Thanks me. Super excited here.Andy: Andrew, let's start talking hugely important federal law families need know about. Give us quick overview IDEA.Andrew: Yeah, IDEA Individuals Disabilities Education Act. That's quite mouthful. IDEA nation's special education law. law grants students disabilities one important rights, that's right free appropriate public education. includes basically supports services student might need make progress school. Along special education, determine who's entitled rights. covers evaluations, you're going ask here. that's IDEA important law child disability, including learning thinking difference school.Andy: talking evaluation rights, know, one things that's awesome that, Andrew, wrote really great article Understood called "Evaluation Rights: Need Know." folks, access show notes. Now, article includes 11 evaluation rights — specific rights. know, we're going cover today, hoping maybe could pick top five, maybe talk top five important rights want share audience today.Andrew: Yeah, pick five evaluation rights think impactful, I'd start right number one: right ask evaluation. think parents lot times think wait school start process off. that's correct. right ask evaluation time.Right number two top five evaluation rights would right comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation. That's lot words, basically means evaluation can't use one test measure determine child qualifies special education. involve variety tests data. goal really get full picture what's going on.Right number three right involved. Again, think schools sort always come us parents anything happens. within context special education evaluations, right parent attend meetings, see evaluation reports. right things explained you, part process. that's important.Right number four, would say, right prompt evaluation. means evaluation doesn't go forever. federal law, IDEA, mentioned, timeline 60 calendar days. Now, states specific rules sometimes change number days account vacations, etc., important thing date. know end, can't go limitless amount time.And right number five, would say, that's among top five evaluation rights, right disagree challenge evaluation process itself. Even you're involved evaluation meetings, right say, "Hey, know what? don't think best way things." Or, "I think testing reading also focus. think looking this." That's really important right know about. formal processes involved that, like independent educational evaluation, ask someone outside school evaluation school's expense. due process, involved — it's kind like mini trial school really get kind loggerheads happen. top five evaluation rights. many more, think ones want remember.Andy: Perfect. let circle back second. used term talked comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation. think talked "comprehensive" terms of, know, variety different kinds tests, use words "tests" "measures," talking specific activities child would evaluated. When talk "multidisciplinary," think it's important parents know might mean someone's academic evaluation, look specific skills. psychological, we're looking mental health behavioral questions. speech language, occupational therapy. considered discipline, speak. idea get best image child across useful areas school. So, Andrew, think steps learning rights, families think school district isn't following rules? suggestions point even start conversation?Andrew: rules schools sometimes don't follow, though think schools always try best, teams best. I've seen number ways parents react, two ways want highlight aren't helpful really important know. first one parents kind go flow don't like conflict. I'll see sometimes parent part evaluation process. They'll — may think themselves, know, "This doesn't seem right, but, uh, I'm gonna, seem like know they're doing. know, this, I'm really comfortable this, don't want raise it, don't want make waves." And think issue type reaction that's best way advocate child. doesn't help team either. doesn't help evaluation process you're — need to, think there's something wrong, think know something important child what's happening, expert shouldn't go flow. raise voice say, "Hey, know, don't think right." And, that's really important
Our son started off in a local private preschool. He was bright, energetic and engaged. But his teacher noticed that he didn’t always follow directions. She thought he might have a hearing problem.So we took him to our county’s early intervention program and had him tested. His first diagnosis was “pervasive developmental delays.” He was 2½ years old, and we were in shock.My husband and I rushed to get him every type of support available. There was physical therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration sessions and speech therapy. We played with him, read with him and loved him.We started him at a public preschool program for kids with special needs in the morning. In the afternoon, he continued at the private preschool. There, he could see his friends and interact with kids who were more developmentally typical.We also hired an educational consultant to learn about our school options. By the time our son reached age 5, he had a new diagnosis: “Asperger’s syndrome.” We knew about learning and thinking differences, of course. But we’d never heard of Asperger’s.When it came time for our son to enter first grade, he was academically on target with his peers. At that time, little was known about Asperger’s in our school system. Most of the programs for children on the autism spectrum were for kids who didn’t communicate verbally. But our son was very verbal.My husband and I were really afraid of his being labeled or limited by how others viewed him. So we wanted to have him taught in general education classes when possible.When he wasn’t in a mainstream class, we pushed to have him in a class for kids with learning disabilities (LD), not one for kids on the autism spectrum. Again, we worried about the assumptions that came with the label. But we also thought people understood more about LD than about Asperger’s.But while Asperger’s and learning and thinking differences share some common symptoms, they aren’t the same. A child with Asperger’s may need different supports. We realized this quickly. The LD class didn’t have the help he needed for his particular issues.Fortunately, the school district was able to create a new class just for students with Asperger’s. It was the right fit for our son—along with spending part of his day in a mainstream class.We learned some valuable lessons from our experience. Yes, labels can be scary. But worrying about a label or about what others think is no reason not to get the right services and support. And while a child with Asperger’s may have learning and thinking differences, such as ADHD and dyslexia, there can be big differences.Our son is unique. He deserves the right help to succeed.Any opinions, views, information and other content contained in blogs on Understood.org are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood.
How do schools evaluate kids for special education? Season 1 of our new Understood Explains podcast answers these questions and more. schools evaluate kids special education? What’s process like? families get started? Season 1 new podcast, Understood Explains, answers questions more. In bonus episode, Amanda Morin Gretchen Vierstra talk Dr. Andy Kahn, psychologist spent nearly 20 years evaluating kids schools. Andy shares he’s excited host Season 1 Understood Explains, breaks special education evaluation process families. Tune learn podcast, evaluations, misconceptions families often special education.Related resources Listen: Understood Explains podcast Learning evaluations FAQs school evaluations Episode transcriptAmanda: Hi. I'm Amanda Morin. Gretchen: I'm Gretchen Vierstra. Amanda: hosts "In It," Understood Podcast Network. Gretchen: Officially, we're seasons right now, you're hearing us want share sneak preview new Understood podcast we're excited about. Amanda: It's called "Understood Explains." It's hosted Dr. Andy Kahn, Andy sitting right next tell us it. Andy, welcome "In It." Andy: Thanks. Gretchen: Yay Andy! Amanda: So, Andy, get podcast, maybe briefly tell us little bit yourself. Andy: Sure. So, I'm licensed psychologist I've practice 20 years. spent better part 20 years working within school systems. So, evaluations, consultation, supporting families within communities. So, came Understood become subject matter expert learning psychology. Gretchen: So, tell us little bit new podcast you're hosting? Andy: So, there's lot say podcast. purpose podcast really two major points. We're breaking special education evaluation process primarily parents give information about, know, look like? referral process work? make decisions? evaluation? not? Helping parents learn rights. second, really important part is, helping communicate kids process. That's fold Amanda, joins us talks things. say kids? make part process? Amanda: Andy, also know you've really wanted something like long time. Tell why. Andy: Yeah. So, know, done evaluations years, I've done thousands evaluations. easy decision walk away schools kind work. word, really focused impact. idea process families years something highly cooperative collaborative. much giving information could involved could calm process feel relaxed enough know, for? going make really work child? So, me, much taking felt really proud many years evaluations putting together podcast could help parents, know, learn things process really maximize impact absolutely reduce anxiety. So, psychologists, school psychologists, special ed teachers, administrators, come give us input process bounce you, Amanda. know, parent perspective, plus talk kids. Gretchen: Yeah. give us sneak peek topics different episodes? Andy: We've got 10 episodes, episodes start things like understanding, making decision want evaluation process? understanding evaluation process start parent requesting school saying, "Hey, we're seeing something. We'd like request process." talk parents' rights know, allowed do? right receive? schools supposed process protect rights? know, one's going assume school looking anything best kids. sometimes things go wrong parents, knowledge, really keep process honest track. Amanda: speaking knowledge, keep using word evaluation. tell us means? realized haven't even covered yet. Andy: Yeah, yeah. think evaluation one words use. use evaluation assessment. People might say testing know, words become really highly charged. evaluation really we're looking child's skills certain areas, could anywhere academic skills, social-emotional skills, overall behavioral functioning, professionals, things like speech language evaluations occupational therapy even physical therapy. So, there's lot bits pieces go understanding child successful things could factors daily functioning. Gretchen: Certainly one little test child takes it's done. It's process, right? Andy: Absolutely. it's process lot moving parts lots people. So, think that, know, parent might room kid's assessment, know, comfortable feel input have. So, it's yeah, unpack that's great question. Amanda: talk little bit sorts misconceptions parents caregivers might bring process understand it? Andy: Yeah, sure. know, everyone enters process, parent perspective, something learned really came home many assessments, parents students. So, experience students — maybe challenges learning thinking differences — things changed lot years. experience people age going school could different kids going right now. Amanda: It's good point, right? think lot parents, especially certain age bracket, think special education means you're separate room, you're separate place building, don't get kids age, it's different kind instruction. that's case anymore. Andy: was, know, kid going New York City schools young, know, kid got identified services, really might seen again, except maybe school way school. So, parents might might had, know, positive experience education, really becomes loaded process. take account. know primary thing think always echoed parents responding process? lead feel emotionally? turn, know, child like heart outside chest. Amanda: Oh, yes. Andy: So, know, child asked go process, maybe you've went things have, know, beliefs based went school really, really unsettling. give parents right information know they're charge making decisions incredibly powerful. Gretchen: parents often struggle around process? tends bumpiest parts along way?Andy: parents much younger children — one thing I'll say noticed entire career — little kids don't mind leaving classroom. don't mind getting extra support.Amanda: love it. kindergarten teacher, tell loved one walking person, loved it.Andy: know, many parents, it's often idea "I don't want kid labeled. don't want kid look different. don't want kid picked find something need that's different kids." think people perceive process outcomes public, somehow you're it, everybody knows. Amanda: It's permanent record thing people think about, right? There's permanent first one admit parent, know fear. teacher, educator, special education. first first child, went evaluation, like, "Nope, nope, don't want that. Don't want label, don't." But, know, people like Andy make easier us understand like it's permanent record situation. Andy: think us would say that, know, we're building idea expectation that's realistic putting people position ask questions builds comfort. think itself, you're comfortable enough say, "I don't understand this" "This scares me," "Heck no, don't want kid get that," gives us opportunity make... process therapeutic, right? be, we're going process together we're learning child together, come conclusion "Wow, know, kid wasn't refusing work they're naughty they're pain momentary frustration
My Story I’m a Texas-based mom to two kids who learn differently. Since kindergarten, my daughter has struggled with learning letters, sounds, spelling and basic reading.What I Was Doing: Questioning My Instincts When my daughter entered kindergarten, her father and I suspected something wasn’t quite right with her learning.Since preschool she’d been having trouble remembering the names of friends, learning the words to nursery rhymes and memorizing the alphabet. She had trouble connecting the right sounds to letters. Even simple words like “cat” and “the” were a challenge. Plus, she had trouble pronouncing words and needed speech therapy from the age of 3. In our hearts, we felt these could be early signs of a learning difference, like dyslexia.We looked for answers. First we went to my daughter’s school. They told us to wait until second grade to test her. They explained that children often struggle with phonics and reading during kindergarten and first grade.We also talked to our friends. Some of them had similar experiences with their kids and also got conflicting advice. To make things more confusing, our online research revealed that in our state of Texas, all students with signs of dyslexia must be tested for the condition starting in kindergarten.What I Wish I’d Known Sooner We had to make a decision. Go with our school’s suggestion—wait and see if things would improve with time and maturity? Or go with our gut and pursue testing?Thankfully, we didn’t wait long. We trusted our instincts and moved forward with testing for our daughter. As it turned out, our daughter does have dyslexia. She was identified at the end of kindergarten.Thanks to her early identification, our daughter got help for her dyslexia at a young age. She receives special education services at school that support her in reading. And we continue to work with our school to get the right services for her. If we’d waited longer to pursue testing for learning or thinking differences, we know our daughter would have continued to struggle in school.In my experience, schools try to do their best. But in the end, I know my child better than anyone. And so when it comes to a decision, I do my research, listen to what people have to say and then I let my gut be my guide. Trusting my instincts has made all the difference for my child.Any opinions, views, information and other content contained in blogs on Understood.org are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood.
How often do kids need to be reevaluated? Find out what to do about losing IEP services and how reevaluations can help teens get ready for college. often kids need reevaluated special education? schools looking assess students already IEP? episode Understood Explains covers basics key details, like process extra important high-schoolers may want go college.Host Dr. Andy Kahn psychologist spent nearly 20 years evaluating kids public private schools. first guest episode special education teacher Kate Garcia. They’ll explain:What reevaluations look like How often happen whyWhat expect reevaluation Andy’s second guest, Amanda Morin, share tips help kids families get ready reevaluation. Worried school might cut child’s services? Get advice avoid passing feelings child.Related resourcesWhat reevaluation special education?What child losing IEP servicesEvaluation rights: need knowEpisode transcriptHaizel: Hi, name Haizel. I'm Bronx, New York. I've multiple kids IEP focus today Sayeira, still IEP junior high school. Sayeira evaluated reevaluated school district several times. believe least twice request. Even though she's expected reevaluated every three years, use parental rights evaluated sooner felt one, needs met. two, felt like something missing. believe total since started kindergarten, reevaluated five times within school district externally.Andy: Understood Podcast Network, "Understood Explains." You're listening Season 1, explain evaluations special education. 10 episodes, cover ins outs process school districts use evaluate children special education services. name Andy Kahn, I'm licensed psychologist in-house expert Understood.org. I've spent nearly 20 years evaluating kids public private schools. I'll host.Today's episode reevaluations. We're going cover key things: reevaluations look like, often happen why, expect reevaluation. We're also going share tips help kids families get ready reevaluation, including say child getting reevaluated — say. first, let's hear Haizel's story.Haizel: requested reeval, sent letter school. send email directly person knew would responsible team. would specify reason wanting reevaluated look areas. One areas concerns memory would learn something able retain information. I'm like "Can please look memory?" would look information get information try focus letter wanted consider question I'm writing letter.Andy: Haizel describing important evaluation right many families don't know about — ask school reevaluate child time reason. Another thing parents need know law, kids IEPs, Individualized Education Programs, need reevaluated least every three years see needs changed. Over years, I've worked lot families nervous reevaluation process. I've often heard things like, "Man, first evaluation stressful. school putting child again?" "My child older sensitive seen different. don't want reevaluation hurt child's self-esteem make feel bad themselves." families really concerned school evaluation take away child services. While valid concerns, really everyday concerns family share me, hope first guest today going help address this. Kate Garcia special education teacher high school near Philadelphia. She's also special education case manager, means she's part lot evaluation reevaluation teams. she's also Understood Teacher Fellow. Kate, welcome show. Thanks much here. Kate: Hi, Andy. Thank much me. Andy: today I'd really like first talk like purpose reevaluations. explain students families school wants reevaluation? Kate: Right. purpose reevaluation determine first whether additional information needed see student continues disability requiring specially designed instruction, things teachers classroom support students. see related services necessary add take away supports. also want see nature extent special education related services altered changed, potentially student qualifying different disability category.Andy: talk related services. mean families might know means? Kate: Sure. related services things like speech language. could also occupational therapy, physical therapy. student showing signs handwriting difficulty, want occupational therapist come evaluate student, would part related services portion reevaluation,Andy: OK. big picture, we're thinking everything that's student's IEP, we're looking changes student functioning. Basically, we're looking what's different evaluation compared previous one. hopefully we're seeing progress. kids get older, sometimes new challenges may emerge need addressed IEP. Give examples kinds things might added result reevaluation,Kate: We're looking additional needs, maybe counseling services. also look additional supports teachers put place every day classroom. look things like would preferential seating — working certain classrooms implemented others? kind take cross-section. We're getting input teachers, course, family student. piece together what's working here, what's working there? need start implementing of? maybe need take away? Andy: So, take another second that. need take away — that's big trigger phrase lot families. would lead child maybe services changed taken away? would typically justification that? Kate: Right? first all, order conversation reevaluation, data support that. we're looking things like student meeting goals? accessing accommodations, services, supports independently? think that, think students understanding disability impacts classroom, access supports need identifying support, access help they're trouble support? And would come student, hopefully, we're hearing student voice particular area. also educators may give feedback student accessing supports without prompts. ideally, someone going observe student collect data support fact accommodation might still necessary, might something every teacher implement, student implementing own. Andy: Gotcha. really, we're looking tear away services kid needs it. talking about, we're looking evidence they're making progress things independently. Kate: Yeah, absolutely. that's goal. Disabilities don't disappear. means teach students understand need access it. Andy: we've talking kids need reevaluated understanding reevaluations happen every three years identified kids special education due law. reevaluations look like? explain families kids themselves? Kate: first step always going school psychologist reaching family, letting know, know, reevaluation period coming up. Either need permission access testing, we're going complete records review. point, student possibly undergoes testing school psychologist. would likely get observed school psychologist couple different settings. input gathered teachers professionals student sees, speech language, counseling, occupational physical therapy — people providing input. Our school psychologist compiles document. IEP team, document finalized, we'll look recommendations place. IEP meeting held following evaluation. like tell parents especially high school level, student's voice critical this, there's always going data different perspectives.
When you hear the term speech-language pathologist (SLP), you might think of professionals who help kids with speech difficulties. And that’s not wrong. SLPs work on challenges like stuttering or trouble pronouncing word sounds.But SLPs also work on challenges that are related to language. That includes problems with communication and reading.These specialists are trained to work on many types of learning differences, including:DyslexiaAuditory processing disorderLanguage disordersSocial communication disorderSLPs (also known as speech-language therapists or speech therapists) often work with kids at school, where therapy is free. But some SLPs work in private practices. Speech therapy is tailored to meet a child’s needs. So, SLPs address specific skills. For example, they might help a child who has trouble with social skills make appropriate conversation. Or help a struggling reader connect letters to sounds.SLPs don’t only help kids. Speech-language therapists who work privately may also treat adults with some language challenges. But it’s less common.
Host Laura Key and the team share ADHD stories from listeners who have written in. Host Laura Key ADHD Aha! team blown away thoughtful candid emails get listeners ADHD “aha” moments. permission, we’re sharing episode. Find ADHD symptoms listeners struggled with — path ADHD diagnosis like.Take listener surveyHelp us make podcasts better. Take listener survey.Related resourcesADHD symptoms different agesFind ADHD personal stories Medium publication, for/by.Share story, too! Email us [email protected] transcriptLaura: Understood Podcast Network, "ADHD Aha!," podcast people share moment finally clicked someone know ADHD. name Laura Key. I'm editorial director Understood. someone who's ADHD "aha" moment, I'll host.Hi, everyone. special episode week. fact, I'm thrilled say it's episode you. Since started "ADHD Aha!," we've gotten much wonderful feedback listeners. Hearing much relate learn stories we're sharing truly favorite part hosting podcast. reminds created show, motivates team keep going. episode, I'd like share excerpts letters. letters, mean emails we've received. You're going hear new voices. Understood team members speaking, they're going reading excerpts author's permission.Our first letter Melissa. Melissa wrote us saying grew quote, goody two shoes unknowingly struggling perfectionism anxiety. Hey, sounds like me. like many us, pandemic heightened mental health struggles point sought therapy. even though felt like anxiety depression improving, something else bothering her."Melissa": One day, scrolling Instagram, stumbled upon post woman gotten diagnosed ADHD age 26 sharing experiences struggles. first thought was, "How come took people long notice? find 26?" 24-year-old preschool teacher five years. bothered nobody raised concerns. Little know boat. investigation, realized could relate 90% ADHD symptoms found women. dumbfounded. I'm supposed one professionals recognize looks like others yet couldn't see myself. evaluated therapist psychiatrist, confirmed: still crazy "aha" moment. still trying understand myself, I'm sure half time. stories inspired hope mine inspire others too.Laura: Melissa basically summed call show "ADHD Aha!" It's easy overlook brush aside ADHD symptoms, matter much knowledge ADHD. often takes hearing someone else's story, someone relate to, spark "aha" moment, essentially we're trying podcast. Thanks much writing Melissa.Before get next listener letter, request. way, don't love podcast hosts chime ask something? episode we've hearing you. hear, better make show. That's put together survey that's really easy quick fill out. You'll find u.org/podcastsurvey. That's letter U, dot org, slash podcast survey. Check can. thanks again. back listener letters.This one comes Terry, got ADHD diagnosis summer starting graduate studies become pediatric speech-language pathologist. Terry told us started stopped college many times finally managed finish by, quote, white-knuckling way sheer force will. Right on, Terry. waiting hear she'd gotten grad program, decided time get evaluated ADHD."Terry": remember thinking, something wrong me. may sound completely politically incorrect, especially coming someone specializes working children disabilities. let explain. grew home self-taught engineer dad fourth-grade teacher mother, told us smart could accomplish anything set minds to. part, we, believed them. parents, all. struggles homework, math, writing, felt extremely real too. couldn't figure reconcile seemingly true contradicting facts myself. felt like unsolvable math equation. two plus four equals eight. diagnosis justified said yes, two plus four never equals eight. here's two parts. equal eight. You're whole. Well, never really great analogies, hopefully able follow one. diagnosis made sides equation make sense, reconciling two irreconcilable pieces — smart struggle things. home head, believed could one other. never occurred could both.Laura: Terry's email reminds stories bunch guests we've show. think about, example, Dr. Kojo intensely pushed work harder harder harder got diagnosed. think writer mom four Jen Barton, coping anxiety still sense equation, Terry calls it, also diagnosed ADHD. think ways, never giving break telling try harder. getting anxiety control find still simply couldn't focus. Thanks writing Terry.Our next letter Taryn, says recently diagnosed ADHD 33. describe starting medication as, quote, single life-changing decision ever made, they're grateful it. say they're also grieving deeply years feel they've lost."Taryn": first asked doctor help mental health age 12. told teenage hormones. high school, spent much time counselor's office. college, started therapy medication. I've tried least eight medications, I've gone many diagnoses. think things could different gotten right help sooner. could better friend, better partner, better child, happier me. Part really sad really angry, feel super left ADHD narrative. Everywhere turn, people talking ADHD positive ways. feel ADHD almost entirely destructive me. thank podcast. I've listened half episodes far, it's helpful.Laura: Taryn's letter important. try show diversity experiences show. positives, course. don't want gloss hard stuff difficult feelings come ADHD diagnosis. thanks, Taryn, candor.This next letter comes Daisy, tells us started process evaluated ADHD two years ago. says trouble managing emotions ADHD symptoms made hard grow family prided unemotional and, quote, strong."Daisy": Rejection sensitivity one emotion constantly could never explain people. Whenever somebody said me, "The worst say 'no,'" would immediately respond with, "Exactly. That's absolute worst thing say me." could never understand word "no" like knife heart caused immediately start crying. felt silly childish could handle rejection, basic life skill. something inside could connect logic mind physically felt heart rejected. two years ago, randomly came across blog talking rejection sensitivity, term hadn't heard time, relation ADHD. soon read person's experience, "aha" moment. I'm young adult female, everything known ADHD based typical myths stereotypes dominate much public perception. explanation entire life, afraid ask help, could never focus lecture minutes time, constantly forgot things people asked do. also explained intense passions things love, experience wide range emotions, feel uniquely me.Laura: haven't talked lot rejection sensitivity show yet, talked lot we'll talk ADHD girls women symptoms often get overlooked swept rug. Trouble managing emotions lesser known symptom ADHD. girls women struggle it. They're far often labeled sensitive dramatic emotional. Thanks, Daisy, letter.Hearing means much me. love community we've built around show. go, amazing producer, Jessamine, makes sound way better sound real life, going join us quickly something fun. Hey, Jes
Sometimes, kids fall behind in areas like physical skills, language skills, and performance at school. Your state or your local public school may be able to help.Depending on your child’s age, here’s where to get help if your child is behind.Birth through age 2Where to get help: Early intervention from your stateDoes your baby or toddler seem to be behind other kids in development?You might see your child…Not rolling overNot making soundsNot looking at adultsNot being curious about the worldYour child may qualify for free early intervention services from your state. This could include physical therapy and speech therapy.Ask your doctor or health clinic to find out how to qualify for early intervention.Age 3 until starting schoolWhere to get help: Special education from the local public schoolDoes your young child not seem ready to start school?You might see your child…Not speaking many wordsNot counting or naming colorsStruggling to hold a fork, spoon, or crayonNot getting along with other kidsYour child may qualify for free special education services from the local public school. This could include free preschool or therapy to get your child ready to start school.Contact your local public school to find out how to qualify. Your doctor or health clinic may have information, too.Listen to a mom telling how early intervention services helped her son.Ages 5 through 8 (kids in early grade school)Where to get help: Early screening from the public schoolIs your child at risk of falling behind in school?You might see your child…Struggling to keep upFalling behind in one or two areasHaving trouble with behaviorNot liking schoolYour child may qualify for extra help from the school. This could be small group teaching or learning strategies.Many, but not all, schools automatically screen kids. Contact the school and ask about early screening.Kindergarten through high schoolWhere to get help: Special education from the public schoolIs your child having difficulty and not making progress in school?You might see your child…Not reading or doing math at grade levelDisrupting class or not behavingNot holding a pencil correctlyStruggling to follow directionsYour child may qualify for an IEP with free special education services. This could include instruction tailored to your child’s unique needs. Another option is a 504 plan with accommodations, like technology or extra time, to help your child work around barriers to learning.Write a letter to your public school to ask for your child to be evaluated.If your child is falling behind in school, find out what to do next. And read about developmental milestones for kids to understand how your child is doing.
How might ADHD affect your sex life? Find out from sex therapist Catie Osborn on this bonus episode. might ADHD affect sex life? Host Laura Key chats sex therapist Catie Osborn, time executive function challenges affect sex intimacy. Spoiler: Sex task, people ADHD struggle task management. Related resourcesADHD hormones (Catie’s story)ADHD, loving intensely, impulsivity (Ange’s story)8 dating trouble spots teens ADHDEpisode transcriptLaura: Hi, everyone. Laura bonus episode. last episode, great time talking sex therapist neurodivergency specialist Catie Osborn ADHD "aha" moment. check haven't already.But interview that. Catie also talked ADHD sex, we're sharing part interview now. conversation isn't graphic way, speak openly ADHD symptoms create challenges around intimacy sex. there's heads-up. Catie shares great insights hadn't considered before. really enjoyed conversation, hope do, too.I'd love hear talk ADHD affect someone's sex life.Catie: Oh, God, long have?Laura: Big giant question.Catie: I'll say — I'll do, like, little mini introductory elevator pitch. ADHD often affected affects executive function, things like task management, task prioritization, finishing tasks, starting tasks, emotional regulation, remembering stuff, sort things like brain get day. Well — spoilers: Sex task.Sex thing remember exists. Sex thing often linked focus emotions kind stuff. so, yeah, 40 50 percent people ADHD struggle sexual disappointments and/or "differences" I'm going say. think, like lot people used hearing like "sexual dysfunction." reason like distinguish disappointment dysfunction dysfunction often like something medical, like there's something prohibiting like climax something like medically. Whereas sexual disappointments like, oh, neighbor started mowing lawn it's taken completely moment. going able focus intimate exchange I'm partner. sad disappointed. know mean? it's like medically anything happened. It's focus attention got pulled direction it's going disappointing.Laura: That's great reframing. That's really helpful.Catie: Right? It's really helpful. that's something actually learned working getting certification certified sex educator. really like journey came — is, think, maybe really good sort like framing entire conversation — is, take lot classes. lot different classes talking sex sexuality stuff.Because didn't go becoming certified sex educator specifically talk neurodivergency. happened lack education happening training basically happened. wanted educate sex sexuality think it's fascinating. started realizing classes, conversation always sort like, nobody struggling executive function. Nobody conversation struggling memory issues time perception issues rejection sensitivity whatever may be.And really came head one class professor extremely neurotypical, talking like something lot clients come talk sex gets interrupted. isn't awkward strange sex gets interrupted? like, reassure them, tell it's big deal, know? said — part seared consciousness — said, moment precious. pee, neighbor starts mowing lawn, moment isn't precious. jump right back doing. remind moment precious.And back like raised whole ass hand like — that. realized. like, every moment living life ADHD, moment precious moment — like don't want speak group, least experience, live like razor's edge precipice "Am going finish thought? going stay task? going get distracted? going notice dog bowl needs water neighbor going mow lawn whatever?"And like, conversation? conversation people every day moment precious, might even realize moment exists? Like, conversation? like, well, guess I'm going it.Laura: Good you.Catie: so, yeah, mean, I'm like — want clear, I'm person work. many incredible educators people it. honor privilege of, think, good talking it. get this, know. thankfully like lot great work done past decade so. Again, terms like, even studying ADHD sex kind new thing. there's like new information coming time like there's much good stuff happening.But yeah, mean, sex complicated it's big don't think think terms much physical emotional stuff go right get moment intimacy. add ADHD top, holy cow, challenging.Laura: random thing compare to. mean, we're talking parents trying build empathy kids ADHD may going through, like say "Go get dressed," seems like it's simple. go get dressed. break set visual instructions? Oh wow, like seven steps involved, right?Catie: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Sex series tasks. know, joke always make like, especially ADHD brains, like, brain doesn't really make distinction between, know, remembering sex exists remembering make chicken salad sandwich. Like it's information. emotional weight ascribe that, separate process brain, know.But even that, like past initial complication ADHD, also remember 40 60 percent people ADHD also struggle depression anxiety. Ninety-five percent people ADHD, give take, struggle sleep issues. People struggle rejection sensitivity. struggle food issues, sensory issues, different things. it's like ADHD effect sex, it's like people ADHD also dealing co-morbidities time also go sex life, also affect things.You know, you're dealing anxiety depression, might less likely want engage intimacy. you're dealing sensory issues, might less likely find intimate activity enjoy. you've got sleep issues, know, you're trouble sleeping partner, build, know, sense disconnected far away. Like keeps getting bigger bigger bigger sort like pull thread, know.Laura: I'm sure give different types advice different types people different struggles whatnot. like, one top piece advice piece information keep mind, addition sex actually series tasks.Catie: two pieces advice. first one sounds like little bit like flowery speech, promise point. one things many people ADHD deal idea all-or-nothing thinking, it's worth perfectly, it's worth all. also interesting — it's think one counterintuitive ideas ever introduced society — prevalent idea, think, due present love romance intimacy movies, "if love me, would know." really love me, really perfect partner, would know, know, need hear "I love you" every day. would know want touched way. would know I've come climax sex.And there's kind way say this. lie. Like real intimacy, real communication partners comes get rid idea "if loved me, would know." allowed advocate needs. allowed look partner say, "I need tell love every day leave work. really important hear words validation." OK show partner body like touched, enjoy touched. OK look partner say, "I sensory issues really don't enjoy kissing, things instead."But take idea like mind-reading, "if love me, would know," tie idea all-or-nothing thinking, think sometimes there's lie tell perfect way conversation, tha
It’s never too early to get help for a child with developmental delays or learning and thinking differences. Your child must be at least 3 years old to qualify for an IEP. But even before then, your child may be eligible for special education services.What to Do If Your Child Is Under Age 3From infancy until age 3, children can receive help through early intervention services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law, requires that every state provide early intervention. You don’t need a referral. You can request a free evaluation from your state’s early intervention services program.If your child is found to have a disability or serious developmental delay, services such as speech therapy or occupational therapy will be provided in your home, at no cost to you.If your child qualifies for these services, you’ll work with a team of educators to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for your child. The IFSP is a legally binding document that specifies which services and supports the state will provide to your child.“There’s no benefit to waiting if you’re concerned about your child. Getting answers as early as possible can help keep your child from falling behind.” What to Do If Your Child Is Between Ages 3 and 5IDEA guarantees that eligible preschoolers, ages 3 to 5, can get an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and special education services through the public school system. Like an IFSP, an IEP is a legally binding document. It spells out the services and accommodations the school district will provide to meet your child’s needs.If your child qualifies for an IEP, she’ll most likely be offered a free spot at a preschool run by the district.Here’s how you can try to get an IEP for a child between the ages of 3 and 5:Look, listen and list your concerns. Observe your child and keep a list of behaviors or other examples that make you wonder if there’s a learning or thinking difference. Your list will help you present your concerns to people who can help.Talk to the pediatrician and/or the preschool teacher. Share your observations and concerns with your child’s doctor and teachers (if your child attends preschool or daycare). Ask if what they see is typical for children that age. They may assure you that your child’s development is on track.Get a referral for an evaluation. If the doctor or teachers share your concerns, you can ask for a referral to your state’s Child Find program. Child Find provides free screenings and evaluations for children who show signs of a developmental delay or learning differences. You also can send a letter to the school district’s special education director, requesting a (free) evaluation.Your request for an evaluation can be denied. That’s why it’s important to describe in detail the reasons for your concerns. You also may want to include copies of any tests or doctors’ notes that support your concerns.After a complete evaluation, your child will qualify for an IEP if she meets these criteria:She’s at least 3 years old.The evaluation shows she has a disability or delay covered by IDEA.She needs special education services to address those issues before she starts kindergarten.What If Your Child Is Already in Kindergarten or Grade School?The process of getting an IEP for a grade-schooler is similar to the process for a preschooler. Whether your child attends a public or private school or is homeschooled, you can request an evaluation by contacting your local school district.There’s no benefit to waiting if you’re concerned about your child. Getting answers as early as possible can help keep your child from falling behind. You’ll also understand your child better. This will help you find strategies such as assistive technology and any other accommodations she needs to succeed.
Michelle started to notice her own ADHD symptoms when her son got evaluated. And they’re bonded by their shared challenges and strengths. Like many parents, Michelle Lassiter started notice ADHD symptoms son’s evaluation ADHD. episode, Michelle, whose mom Dominican Republic, looks back ADHD impacted growing Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico. connects son’s experience ADHD — confusing signs, feeling “stupid,” strengths share. Michelle also talks parenting child ADHD ADHD yourself: “When you’re also lacking skills, tough.”Related resourcesIs ADHD hereditary?8 things go ADHD evaluation childWhat child says “I’m dumb”Episode transcriptMichelle: reading book trying learn ADHD son. me, emotional realizing me. struggled things school, that's didn't like school. report cards where, know, "She's sweet girl. needs work harder."I always felt smart, always felt like something wasn't really working. I'm reading, realizing ADHD, started realizing struggling thing was.Laura: Understood Podcast Network, "ADHD Aha," podcast people share moment finally clicked someone know ADHD. name Laura Key. I'm editorial director Understood. someone who's ADHD "aha" moment, I'll host.I'm today Michelle Lassiter. Michelle bilingual speech-language pathologist who's lived many places, including Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico. Michelle ADHD, son, Aidan. She also happens one colleagues Understood. I'm grateful work her. I'm grateful she's today. Hi, Michelle. Michelle: Hi, Laura. Thank much sweet introduction. Laura: tell Aidan? like growing up? Michelle: Oh, so, Aidan always huge personality, huge presence. remember coming home hospital mom saying, "Oh gosh, child live wire," just — presence filled room moment born. smart. sweet, active, physically — he'd climb me, never still. wouldn't sleep. he's always joy have. Laura: ever notice ADHD symptoms early him?Michelle: speech pathologist 25 years, brand-new speech pathologist Aidan. always extremely active, wasn't 18 months — felt like something right. talking, wasn't using language, putting words together. noticed didn't interest sitting book, learning little songs. enjoyed singing them, wasn't learning words. So, want say 18 months, went back pediatrician like, "I'm really worried this. I've seen children referred me. think might spectrum?" remember pediatrician saying, back then, "Michelle, he's excitable. He's spectrum." first time somebody alerted fact might ADHD. Laura: weren't board first. didn't believe it. young. Michelle: was, definitely signs symptoms. definitely knew something off, wasn't ready hear yet. It's tough process, you've got beautiful baby, think it's going everything hoped planned for. new parent, it's definitely daunting journey know. "I'm seeing things; they're raising concerns. typical?" think that's really still.Laura: later, preschool, started notice doctor — Dr. Vasquez, no? — Dr. Vasquez noticing?Michelle: Yes. point time, moved Puerto Rico, put bilingual school. preschool teacher started telling us, "He really doesn't like color within lines, doesn't grasp crayon well, can't sit still. really need evaluated OT." Laura: OT occupational therapist. Michelle: That's absolutely right. time, occupational therapist told us, "You know, pencil grip isn't great. He'd much rather outside riding bike. mean, definitely doesn't attention sit dedicate this."So felt like lot fine motor skills impacted preferred gross motor things outside. him, chore sit try small fine motor movements. moved forward kindergarten school. that's first time teacher approached us said, "I 20 students classroom. Aidan probably smartest class, take aside, teach anything grasps it. there's 19 kids classroom, can't sit still enough pay attention, know, everything distracts him." really first time sit, think about, OK, clearly intelligence isn't issue, he's definitely struggling pay attention.Laura: feeling time? Michelle: clearly something didn't control over. parent, heartbreaking knew friendly and — sorry, wanted liked. know, wanted please. That's wanted. could tell, wasn't working, couldn't figure wrong.So was — parent, — oof, I'm sorry, emotional see child struggling, know intentions loved, something getting way that. Laura: think, Michelle, aware something getting way that? Could express all?Michelle: couldn't. decided do, Laura, around time moved back stateside, decided, "Well, let's hold back year. know he's smart. Maybe give year mature, maybe help." was, moved, put back preschool half year, made aware. So, very, aware of, "Wait minute. kindergarten there, I'm back preschool." explained learning different language, learning Spanish, things different stateside, know, time, good enough explanation him. us, really wanting successful. clear even though grasping concepts quickly, definitely struggling things required sit pay attention, like reading, coloring, writing. Laura: happened? get evaluated? Michelle: still weren't there. let finish preschool Virginia, went kindergarten sweet, sweet teacher, brand spanking new, Mrs. Smith was, know what, mean everything thought would great someone like Aidan, cause bubbly, young, kept going parent-teacher conferences saying, "So, how's doing?" kept hearing, "Oh, he's great." we're like, "Hmm, maybe wrong. Maybe giving year would help helped him." we'd keep going parent-teacher conferences asking, "Hey, tell us what's going Aidan." "Oh, no, he's great. He's smart. He's smartest one classroom. knows everything needs know." want say, spring, Aidan first said, get really emotional story. apologize. Laura: it's child. don't need apologize. Michelle: sure. first time felt like, "Oh, we've got something this," we'll never — I'll never forget. came home, said, "I'm stupid. never make recess." broke heart. So, asked, "Well, hey, what's going here? making recess ever? mean, he's definitely starting feel like he's smart. whole purpose us holding back year." said, "He's really smart, can't ever finish work time. really strict class. students need see somebody doesn't complete work, can't go recess." it. like, "Yeah, need get diagnosis get accommodations made him, that's we're going do."Laura: can't imagine must felt, Michelle, hear Aidan say you, "I'm stupid," observing smart, excelling many subjects. mother two children myself, mean, just — difficult. respond? Michelle: went mama bear school. probably started advocating son, advocated school, probably first time. receive diagnosis ADHD time. sat principal said, "Listen, OK. needs complete work home, send homework, cannot miss recess. Quite contrary. Somebody like Aidan absolutely needs recess, better recess." Laura: Right. brain break, release energy. Michelle: Oh, absolutely.Laura: learn Aidan's evaluation process? Michelle: time tumultuous me. think ver
No matter how good your relationship with a school, there may come a time when you and the school disagree about your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Conflicts can arise over the amount or type of help in the IEP. Or you may not agree about your child’s placement.The good news is that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives you several ways to resolve disputes. Here are six options for resolving an IEP dispute.Option 1: NegotiationYou’re part of the IEP team. In fact, you can call an IEP team meeting at any time. This brings together you, your child’s general and special education teachers, and the school to discuss your child’s education.Just calling this meeting is a powerful way to jump-start a solution. Perhaps your child’s IEP requires an hour of speech therapy a week. But you find out that the school has skipped several weeks of therapy. You can call an IEP team meeting right away to discuss how to fix this problem.Option 2: MediationIf the IEP process isn’t working, you can ask for mediation. This is a free, confidential, and voluntary process where you sit down with the school and a neutral third party to work out a solution. (The third party is called a mediator.)The mediator doesn’t take sides or tell you what to do. Instead, the mediator tries to help you reach a solution with the school that works for everyone. You can ask for mediation at any time. The decisions are legally binding.Option 3: Due process hearingDue process is a formal way to resolve disputes under IDEA. You start this process by filing a complaint. This is a written document that spells out your dispute with the school. The complaint must state a violation of IDEA. You might argue that the school wrongly denied your child special education. Or you might say the school isn’t providing appropriate services.Learn about the details of due process, including your rights. You can also take a look at a sample due process complaint letter. Find out what happens at a due process hearing.Due process is a serious and involved legal process. It’s a good idea to speak with a special education advocate or attorney before you file a complaint.Option 4: LawsuitIf you don’t win the due process hearing, you have the option of filing a lawsuit in state or federal court within 90 days. (The school can also file a lawsuit.) This is a very serious legal option and requires a lawyer. You can only file a civil lawsuit after you’ve gone through due process.Option 5: State complaintIn addition to the options above, you can also file a state complaint about a school’s violation of IDEA. You have to file within one year of the violation. The complaint is a letter to the state department of education asking for an investigation.Organizations and groups of parents can also file state complaints. For instance, you can get together with other parents and file a state complaint if you see a situation at school that affects more than just your child. Once a complaint is filed, the state may investigate and decide if the school violated IDEA. States have their own rules on how these complaints are handled.Option 6. Office for Civil Rights complaintAnother federal law — Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act — also protects students with IEPs from discrimination. Section 504 gives you even more options. The most important is a complaint to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education. An OCR complaint has to be filed within 180 days of the school’s violation. Just like with a state complaint, an OCR complaint may lead to an investigation of the school. Visit OCR’s website to learn more.Knowing your options for dispute resolution is important to effectively advocate for your child. Get tips on how to negotiate with the school about an IEP. And get an overview of laws that protect your child's rights.
When my son Henry was 18 months old, I took him to our pediatrician for a regular checkup. She asked if he was speaking yet. He wasn’t, so she recommended I take him to a specialist.This referral led to that referral, and before I knew it, my son was sitting through a screening for early intervention services. He also sat through testing by a speech-language pathologist. These would turn out to be the first of many evaluations he’d have over the years.The results were heartbreaking to me. Henry had both expressive and receptive language delays. He also had delayed fine motor skills and a host of other issues.So I followed the recommendations of experts and began treatment. Twice a week he went to an occupational therapist. And once a week, he went for speech therapy.The treatment seemed to work. A year later, my son was talking up a storm and hitting most of his developmental milestones.So when he was almost 3, I decided to have him reevaluated by the same speech-language pathologist to ease my mind. Now that my son knew more than 200 words and was stringing together simple sentences, I hoped an evaluation would show that he was now on a “normal” developmental curve.But that didn’t happen.This time, the evaluation found that Henry talked excessively and had trouble with transitions (read: he pitched a fit when it was time to move from one activity to the next). He also wasn’t making eye contact. And in the evaluation report, there was a statement I’ll never forget: “It may be prudent to consider whether Henry will be capable of participating in a ‘regular’ preschool program.”I cried myself to sleep that night. I couldn’t come to terms with the report. My once cantankerous toddler had, in my eyes, blossomed into a joyful and adventurous 3-year-old.Despite what felt to me like a gloom-and-doom report, I chose to enroll him in a “regular” preschool. As his very first parent-teacher conference approached, I braced myself for the worst.But to his teachers, who knew nothing about his history, he was just a typical 3-year-old. All of the things that were flagged as issues — difficulty with transitions, excessive talking, and lack of eye contact — didn’t seem to register any warning signs for his teachers.I wish I could tell you that that was the end of my worrying. But it wasn’t. Years later, through a private evaluation, my son was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD.And since starting kindergarten, Henry has had three school-based evaluations. (He needs to sit for them every three years to keep his IEP.)Each evaluation has been hard for me as a mother, but I’m glad we’ve done them. Without them, my son wouldn’t qualify for accommodations such as extended time. Nor would he get curriculum adjustments like not being marked down for spelling errors in his assignments. The evaluations also allow him access to a keyboard to help with writing and basic computation.Today, Henry is thriving. Nearly every teacher who has ever taught Henry has made a point of telling me just how bright he is.“He’s extremely articulate,” they’d say to me. “He often grasps concepts that are way above the other students’ heads.” What’s more, he finished the seventh grade with the reading comprehension of an 11th grader.Yes, he has deficits. His spelling and writing are atrocious, and the ADHD makes it difficult for him to stay on task.I left his most recent school evaluation feeling very calm. Not much had changed.Afterward, I called my husband and we laughed: “I guess we just have to accept that Henry is never going to win the spelling bee.”But to me, the fact that Henry is doing well is a sign of how far he’s come and how powerful his mind truly is.
Do you feel like you constantly have to explain or defend your child to people? Use these tips to respond when people say insensitive things about your child who learns and thinks differently.1. Don’t overexplain.Sharing some information about how your child learns and thinks differently can be a good thing. But giving too much detail can be confusing. Keep it short and simple.2. Talk about strengths.Pointing out your child’s strengths can cut down on critical comments. The more people know about those strengths, the more likely they are to see your child’s abilities before the challenges.For example: “Isla is a great soccer player because her motor is always running!”3. Don’t say more than you want to.Imagine a parent you know stops you at the store and asks how your child’s speech therapy at school is going. Is that real concern, or is that parent being nosy or gossipy?If you’re not comfortable, you can stop the conversation right there with a simple, “It’s going well, thanks for asking.” Or say, "Thanks for asking, but we don’t really talk about it.”4. Don’t discuss it at all.No matter how well you know someone or how politely they ask, it’s your choice about whether to talk about your child’s challenges. If a friend asks if you’ve considered a new ADHD pill, you can say, “We’ve looked at a lot of things that might help. Thanks.”5. Be blunt, if necessary.Sometimes even well-meaning people cross the line when asking or talking about your child. In those cases, consider saying, “Thanks for your interest. We’re going to deal with this ourselves.”
A new study of kids struggling in school shows that a formal diagnosis—like ADHD or dyslexia—may not always capture all the challenges a child has. Although small, the study suggests it’s important to go beyond a diagnosis to understand all the ways your child struggles.The study was published in Developmental Science journal. It was conducted at the Centre for Attention Learning and Memory, a research clinic at the University of Cambridge, England.Researchers studied 530 kids who had been referred to the clinic by educators. They were sent for attention or behavior issues, language problems or trouble in school. Researchers purposely chose kids with many types of learning challenges. Some had a single diagnosis like dyslexia, ADHD or autism, while others had multiple diagnoses or no diagnosis at all. Some were also in speech therapy.The study collected data for each child. The kids were evaluated on their listening skills, spatial reasoning, problem solving, vocabulary and working memory. They were also given an MRI brain scan, and their parents completed behavior questionnaires.We asked Understood experts Bob Cunningham, Ellen Braaten, Nelson Dorta and Ginny Osewalt to weigh in.Key FindingsUsing the testing data, the researchers placed the kids into four groups, called “cognitive profiles:”Kids with broad cognitive difficulties, and severe reading, spelling and math problemsKids with typical cognitive abilities and learning for their age groupKids with phonological difficultiesKids with working memory issuesThe researchers found that a child’s diagnosis didn’t predict their cognitive profile. In other words, diagnoses didn’t match up with patterns of test scores. Nor did diagnoses correlate with brain function shown by the MRIs.For example, kids who had ADHD fell into all four cognitive profiles. Some seem to struggle with working memory, others with phonological processing, and yet others struggled in all areas. Some performed like typical learners. The researchers didn’t find this surprising since kids with ADHD often have other learning differences.Key Takeaways for ParentsThe study is valid, but it has some flaws. “The researchers took about 500 kids from one clinic in England,” says Dorta. “That’s a narrow sample, so we should be cautious about generalizing conclusions.”Another issue is that diagnoses were parent-reported. “The researchers relied on parents to know exactly their child’s diagnoses, when they might not have known,” says Braaten.Yet, there are some important takeaways. “A single diagnosis is very reliable. The pattern of symptoms that kids have is similar, especially in the case of dyslexia,” says Dorta.Most kids have more than one issue, however. “Comorbidity (or co-occurrence) is the rule, not the exception for learning and thinking differences. This is true for mental health issues in general,” observes Braaten.“One child who has been diagnosed with dyslexia may have problems with phonological processing, short-term memory, and math,” says Braaten. Another child diagnosed with dyslexia “may have problems with phonological processing, written expression, and fluid reasoning.” This is why the researchers found that diagnoses didn’t match with cognitive profiles.Osewalt, who teaches grade school, agrees. "Kids with the same diagnosis can have a wide range of challenges, as well as strengths, in different areas,” she says. “The research reflects what we see in our classrooms every day."While a diagnosis can help guide treatment, all the experts advise diving more deeply to understand all your child’s struggles. “A comprehensive evaluation is best,” Cunningham says. “It’s important to look at all cognitive, academic, communication and behavior information. Doing so will help determine what will be most helpful to your child.”“You also shouldn’t limit choices for interventions to the ones most common to any diagnosis,” he cautions. “Instead, look for what will help address areas where your child struggles and also capitalize on your child’s strengths.”Read more about evaluations and the process for getting one for your child. Learn about co-occurring learning and thinking differences in kids. And find out what to do if you child was just diagnosed.Any opinions, views, information and other content contained in blogs on Understood.org are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood.
Dyscalculia isn’t as well-known as other learning and thinking differences, such as dyslexia. In fact, many parents never hear of this math issue until their child is evaluated and found to have it. But it’s important to know there are ways to help kids with dyscalculia succeed in school and in life. Follow these steps to help your child get the support she needs, both in class and at home.Find out all you can about dyscalculia.Learn about skills dyscalculia can affect, including number sense and visual-spatial processing. Dyscalculia can also impact your child’s social life. Debunk common myths about dyscalculia. You can also explore expert answers to common questions parents have about math issues and find out how signs of dyscalculia may look over time.Investigate dyscalculia treatments and therapies.Talk to your child’s doctor about treatment options. These may include speech therapy, which can help kids who struggle with the language of math. It may also include educational therapy or occupational therapy, depending on your child’s specific needs. Ask any questions you have about other therapy options. And become familiar with the terms you might hear from teachers, doctors and specialists.Discuss dyscalculia supports and services with the school.Schedule a meeting with the school and provide a copy of any reports from specialists or pediatricians. Even if the school has done its own evaluation, having an outside evaluation and recommendations can help with the IEP or 504 plan process. Discuss which informal supports or classroom accommodations might be appropriate. You can also ask about assistive technology and tutors.Teach your child to self-advocate.Talk with your child about her learning differences. Discuss ways she can ask for help for her dyscalculia in grade school or middle school. Learning to self-advocate is a skill that can offer benefits throughout her lifetime.Understand the possible emotional impact.Kids with learning and thinking differences can have a higher risk for mental health issues. Learn about the signs of anxiety and depression. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have any concerns.Learn what you can do at home.There are lots of fun ways to build in stress-free math practice after school and on weekends. Tap into her interests and use her strengths. Explore ways to build her self-esteem and help her stay motivated.Master homework help.Create a homework space that works for your child. Learn about why your child may get tripped up on math assignments and discover ways to help your child with tricky math homework. If your child is in grade school, explore tips to help her learn multiplication.Find support.Contact your local Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) to learn about helpful services near you. And connect with other parents of children with dyscalculia in our community.Keep in touch with the school.Ask questions about the school’s math instruction and about how your child is doing in class. Staying in contact with your child’s teachers will also help you know whether her supports and services are working.
To get special education services for a child, you have to follow a legal process. The most important law for this process is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA is the nation’s special education law. It gives rights and protections to kids with disabilities. It covers them from birth through high school graduation or age 21 (whichever comes first). Parents and legal guardians also have rights under the law. IDEA places two big responsibilities on states and their public schools.First, school districts must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to kids with disabilities. And these kids must learn side by side with peers as much as possible — something called the least restrictive environment, or LRE. Schools must find and evaluate students who may have disabilities, at no cost to families. This is known as Child Find. If a child has a qualifying disability, schools must offer special education and related services (like speech therapy and counseling) to meet the child’s unique needs. These are provided through an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The goal is to help students make progress in school.Second, schools have to give parents a voice in their child’s education. At every point in the process, IDEA gives parents specific rights and protections. These are called procedural safeguards. For example, one safeguard is that a school must get consent from parents before providing services to kids.The reach of IDEA goes beyond traditional public schools. It includes public magnet and charter schools. The law also provides early intervention services to infants and toddlers up to age 3. Finally, IDEA may impact some students in private schools.
If you just found out your child has a language disorder, you might have a lot of questions about what to do next. Whether your child has receptive language issues, expressive language issues, or both (mixed receptive-expressive language issues), follow these steps for ideas on how best to support your child.Learn all you can about your child’s language disorder. Understanding how your child’s language disorder affects her makes it easier to know how to help. Maybe she has trouble following directions or seems uninterested when others are talking. Or she might have trouble finding the right words to say and explaining something that happened in a sequential way. Learn more about how expressive language issues and receptive language issues can play out in everyday life. And explore terms you might hear from teachers and doctors about language disorders.Investigate treatments and therapies for language disorders.Talk to your child’s teachers and doctors about treatment options for language disorders. Speech therapy can be especially helpful. Learn more about what speech-language pathologists (SLPs) do and terms they use.SLPs can help kids learn to speak in longer, more complex sentences and explain events in a logical sequence. They can help kids learn the vocabulary of everyday directions and improve active listening skills. SLPs can also show you how to work with your child at home. If your child is in preschool, find out how preschoolers may be eligible for free speech therapy.Look into school supports for language disorders.Schedule a meeting with the school to talk about whether your child might be eligible for special education services. Bring any reports you may have from doctors or specialists. These could help with theIEP or 504 plan process. (Learn more about how to work with the school to use outside evaluation results.)Talk about what supports and services might be helpful. An IEP might include speech therapy or social skills goals. If your child doesn’t qualify for an IEP or a 504 plan, talk to the school about informal supports that could help. And if the school hasn’t yet evaluated your child, find out how to request a free evaluation.Help your child be a self-advocate.It’s important to help your child develop the ability to ask for what she needs, both in and out of school. This might take a lot of practice, especially if your child struggles with spoken language. Help her recognize her strengths and challenges. Then discuss what self-advocacy can look like in grade school, middle school and high school.Your child can also try these self-advocacy sentence starters.Understand the possible emotional impact.Having a language disorder can make it hard to engage in everyday conversations. Your child might have trouble putting thoughts into words or misunderstand what others are saying. These kinds of obstacles can impact your child socially—and emotionally. So it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of anxiety and depression. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s doctor if you have concerns. Learn how to help your child at home.How to help your child will depend on your child’s age and specific struggles with language. If you have a young child, for example, it may help to repeat back short phrases she uses, and then expand what she says into a longer sentence. You can ask the SLP for more strategies.Give your child plenty of time to respond to questions, and try to resist the urge to jump in and fill silent moments. Role-playing is another great way to help your child practice what she can say in different situations. Help your child practice picking up on social cues, like facial expressions and voice pitch. Explore hundreds of age-specific tips for helping kids with social challenges, like interacting with kids and adults. You may also want to use apps to help with spoken language and listening comprehension.Find support.Connect with your local Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) to learn about potential services near you. And consider reaching out to other parents of kids with language disorders in our online community. They can share helpful tips and experiences, and you can ask questions (and get answers from experts).Keep in touch with the school.Staying in contact with your child’s teachers can let you know whether her supports and services are working. Try these conversation starters, and see how to write an effective email to a teacher. You may also want to download a parent-teacher conference worksheet and a school contact list. A strong partnership with your child’s school allows everyone to work together toward your child’s success.
If your child has a 504 plan or is being evaluated for one, you have legal rights. Here are the most important ones to know. The right to free appropriate public education (FAPE)Kids with disabilities have the right to a free appropriate public education. The school must meet your child’s educational needs just as it meets the needs of other students.The right to accommodations and modifications A 504 plan can include accommodations, which are changes in school and the classroom that allow your child to take part in learning. For example, to meet the needs of a child who struggles with writing, an accommodation might be a computer for typing. A 504 plan may also modify or change what your child is expected to learn. This is called a modification.The right to instruction and services To give your child an education comparable to that of other students, a 504 plan may include specialized instruction. The plan can also provide related services, like speech therapy, occupational therapy, or even counseling. The right to notice Schools must tell families about significant educational decisions that impact their kids. You have the right to know about things like identification, evaluation, and classroom placement. The right to challenge a school’s decision If you disagree with a school’s decision about your child’s education, you have the right to challenge it. You can ask for a hearing where an impartial officer decides your case. You can also file a complaint with the federal Office for Civil Rights.Learn the steps to take to get a 504 plan for your child. And read about your options for resolving disagreements with the school about 504 plans.
Students with disabilities have a legal right to a free appropriate public education. It’s often called FAPE (which rhymes with cape). This article breaks down what this important term means. And you can also download a handy one-page version to share with others.F is for free.Free means the government pays for the education of students with disabilities. There’s no cost to families. However, families do have to pay the same extra school fees — for example, sports and club fees — that all students pay.A is for appropriate.Appropriate means that kids who qualify get an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with services to meet their unique needs. Other students with disabilities may get a 504 plan that gives equal access to learning.P is for public.Public means supervised by the public school. An IEP team — teachers, parents, and others — decides what services and support the student gets. In a few cases, the government may pay for kids with disabilities to attend private school.E is for education.Education can include special education. It can also include related services, like speech therapy, counseling, or even transportation. The goal is for kids to make progress in school and be prepared for the future. Dive deeperThe right to FAPE is guaranteed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Learn more about: What is and isn’t covered under FAPEIEPs and what they offer Important legal terms to know
Everyone keeps talking about how schools are closed, but that wording isn’t quite right. School buildings are closed, but teachers keep teaching. In a shout-out to schools and teachers everywhere, this coronavirus roundup highlights a few of the ways schools are stepping up during the pandemic. Also included: new community groups for families, a new resource for special education teachers, and a smart take on how COVID-19 is speeding up the “inclusion revolution” in the workplace.6 Ways Schools Are Stepping UpGiving students laptops and wireless hotspots: New Orleans is one of many school districts that has started providing laptops and wireless hotspots so students can access distance learning. Using school buses to deliver Wi-Fi access and food: Wi-Fi-enabled buses are helping students download and upload assignments—and pick up meals and paper packets, too.Partnering with public TV: As some school districts align their lesson plans with upcoming PBS shows, other districts are producing new programming on local TV stations.Easing restrictions on teletherapy: States like Kentucky are making it easier for schools and other organizations to provide speech therapy and other services on video platforms.Prioritizing mental health: School districts like the one in Parma, Ohio, are making counselors available to their entire student body for kids experiencing pandemic anxiety.Providing grief counseling: Schools like the Mary Louis Academy in New York City are making grief counselors available to students when faculty members pass away from COVID-19.New Understood Community GroupsUnderstood just launched two new communities. Privacy settings for the groups mean that only fellow members can see who’s in the group and what they post:A Facebook group where you can connect with other families who know what it’s like to raise a child who learns and thinks differentlyA COVID-19 Resources & Support group on Understood where you can get urgent questions answered by families like yours and by our team of expertsNew Resource for Special Education TeachersUnderstood is proud to partner with Educating All Learners, a coalition committed to sharing free resources to help meet the needs of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The site includes:Practical tools, tricks, and resources for students who need extra support in the era of remote learningTechnology that can help meet the needs of students with IEPsDetailed examples from educators about how they’re moving from face-to-face to at-a-distance learningEvents and webinarsThe “Inclusion Revolution”The World Economic Forum is shining a light on how the rapid shift to working from home could benefit people with disabilities. “What I call the ‘inclusion revolution’ has been gaining more and more momentum,” writes disability rights advocate Caroline Casey. “Many of the practices we’ve seen so quickly drafted in over the last month are the same ones that allow those with disabilities to not only participate, but to thrive, in business.”Get more coronavirus updates and tips for people who learn and think differently.
For kids under age 3, an evaluation for early intervention services requires a multidisciplinary team of professionals. The members of the team may vary depending on your child’s needs. Each member plays an important role in evaluating your child. Here’s who is likely to be involved. Early Intervention Case ManagerCase managers get the evaluation process started. They lead the team’s meetings and know which resources—like types of evaluators, services for your child, and training for you—are available if needed. ParentsAs a parent, you play a key role by providing information about how your child is doing at home. It’s important to share your concerns and give updates about your child’s progress. Together with the team, you review test results and help create an early intervention plan. As part of this plan, you may be asked to practice certain skills with your child at home. PsychologistThe evaluation team must have someone who can assess your child’s overall development. The psychologist observes your child, gives tests, and also looks at social and emotional milestones. Psychologists interpret the results of the team’s evaluations. They may recommend speech therapy or other services to address your child’s needs. PediatricianA medical doctor examines your child to see if any physical factors may cause or contribute to your child’s developmental delays. The doctor checks hearing and vision, and may refer your child to specialists for more testing. Speech TherapistThis type of specialist is often part of an evaluation for early intervention services. Speech therapists observe your child and look at current speech and language skills. They also talk to you and other caregivers to find out how your child’s communication skills have been progressing. SpecialistsDepending on your child’s needs, the team may bring in other specialists to evaluate different skills. Your child may see occupational therapists, physical therapists, vision and hearing specialists, and more.Read about the specialists who work with babies and toddlers. Get details on what to expect during an early intervention evaluation. Learn more about how to help kids with developmental delays.
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