(1) Seek independent, unbiased evaluations for your child in every area of concern from the top pediatric specialists in your area to be used in creating best education plan for your child. You can’t ask for any service that hasn’t been recommended by an accepted, standardized assessment that has been administered by a licensed medical doctor or therapist.
(2) Remember that your public school is a business first. To stay within their budget, school districts have to choose evaluations that will recommend the supports and services they already provide. Your IEEs will provide the proof your district needs to qualify for emergency OSEP earmarked for providing public school services for children with specific disabilities.
(3) Document everything, and make sure you have the paper trail to back up every conversation. Ask for every notice in writing. Choose email correspondence over phone calls.
(4) Your school is only required provide the specific therapy services (OT, PT, Speech, Social Skills, Counseling, etc., etc..) written on the “Special Education and Related Service(s)” page of your child’s IEP. Pay special attention to this page, noting the specific terminology, provider, frequency, and location used to describe the service being provided to your child. You don’t have to accept the IEP if you don’t agree with the services to be provided to your child as they are exactly written.
(5) Your school is only required to provide the exact instructional modifications and environmental accommodations written in the “Supplemental Aids & Services” section of your child’s IEP. Pay special attention to the exact instructional modifications (any change to the strategies for presenting curriculum instruction, ie: extended time for processing directions or completing assignments, reduction in workload, graphic organizers or other assistance with organizing or sequencing instructional materials for class and homework assignments, testing, or projects) AND the exact environmental accommodations (ie any change to the environment where the curriculum is presented, ie: preferential seating, the use of assistive technology, sensory breaks, specialized chairs or desks, writing implements or assistance, any device to help your child hear the teacher or see the material better) your child needs to access and progress in the general curriculum in the same manner as their non disabled peers. You don’t have to accept the IEP if you don’t agree with the supplemental aids and services to be provided to your child as they are exactly written.
(6) Remember that school districts get separate funding for Assistive Technology. As defined in the Assistive Technology Act Amendments of 2004 (or the “AT Act of 2004"), Assistive Technology includes “any device or adaptation to existing devices that facilitates activities of daily living to significantly benefit individuals with disabilities of all ages… by increasing involvement in, and reduce expenditures associated with, programs and activities that facilitate communication, ensure independent functioning, enable early childhood development, support educational achievement, provide and enhance employment options, and enable full participation in community living for individuals with disabilities.”
(7) Remember that social skills groups are only effective if the group is appropriate for ALL of its members. This is the only way to ensure that evidence based, researched and proven social skill interventions are accurately targeted and matched to specifically identified deficits at a therapeutic frequency and duration that can be structured and embedded into both special and general education programs. You have the right to know exactly which reliable interventions, methods and strategies are being used to increase and monitor the progress of your child’s social language and social skill development.