A child's unique needs can manifest themselves in multiple different varieties. One specific child may have difficulty maintaining attention while in class, which can subsequently affect his/her academic progress, and create a need for special education services. Another child may have difficulty with auditory processing, which may be affecting his/her ability to understand teacher instruction or directives, and subsequently create a need for special education support. Another child may have difficulty interacting with peers, or be exhibiting signs of depression in school, which can subsequently affect his/her ability to progress with regard to their social emotional present level of performance, and also create a need for special education services.
Special educational evaluations are crucial in determining and understanding what an individual student's unique needs are. Examples of educational evaluations include: Psychoeducational Assessments, Language and Speech Assessments, Occupational Therapy Assessments, and Functional Behavior Assessments, among many others.
When your child turns three years old their resident school district becomes the responsible entity for providing any necessary special education and related services. Local school districts have a duty under "Child Find" to seek out children with suspected disabilities, but as a parent you should not sit around and wait for this to happen. If you suspect your child has an applicable disability get them assessed by their local school district prior to turning three years old so services are in place by the time they turn three.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and its relative, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is characterized by lack of focus, restless, impulsive behaviors. For a child dealing with ADHD, school can be an extremely frustrating place. However, if your child has ADHD or even if your child has symptoms that seem like they might have ADHD, your child may qualify for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
You might be wondering when the school district becomes responsible for providing your child with a free and appropriate public education, or a FAPE. Both federal and state law provide that children who have been found eligible for special education services (or who are suspected to need such services), are entitled to receive them beginning at age 3. If your child has been receiving early intervention services prior to turning age 3 (through regional center or another organization), those services will be the responsibility of the school district beginning on your child's 3rd birthday.