Helping Students-Special Ed Part I

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Want to help your child achieve their dreams?

You might have a child that has been diagnosed with a disability, or you might have a child that has had an accident or chronic condition, and they might be entitled assistance in school. While not all medical diagnoses nor all conditions trigger assistance, you’d be surprised at the range of conditions that might qualify for recognition and be able to be leveraged to help your child achieve their greatest potential.

What follows is an incomplete list of conditions that might qualify a student for assistance: concussion, chronic asthma, autism or autism spectrum, anxiety, tourette’s, limited mobility, limited sight or hearing, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cancer, depression, dyslexia, oppositional defiant disorder, heart disorders, HIV/AIDS, severe allergies, broken arm or limb, and many other conditions that affect a student’s ability to access education in a variety ways that might not be visible to others.

There are a variety of types of assistance, from individualized health plans (IHP) or medical managements plans, 504 plans, and individualized education plans (IEP). Each type of assistance has a different eligibility guideline and provides a variety of rights assured to each students and obligations on the part of the school and the parent/caregiver.

Schools even have an obligation to “find” or determine if each student has a right to assistance, but caregivers often realize their child needs help before the school does.

Your school’s special education director might be able to help you determine what type of evaluation and assistance your child qualifies for, but you might also want to consult an independent resource.

To locate the contact person for your school, check out the Indiana Department of Education’s “”Special Education Contacts” list located here.

Hoosier caregivers have some great local AND free resources that can also help you understand your rights and even navigate the process, including the school conferences and meetings. The Joseph Maley Foundation supports families and educators with quarterly information sessions, camps (for siblings too!), and even referrals for volunteer attorneys. Your first stop should definitely be INSOURCE, a wealth of information for families, individuals, and service providers who work with children with disabilities. INSOURCE has sample letters, sample plans, pamphlets, training (even online), and parent advocates that can work with your family.

Check back soon for a more in depth discussion of special education laws. In the meantime, if you’re curious, check out the following sites for more information on the differences between 504 Plans and IEPs, 504 Plans in particular, the overlap between individualized health plans and 504 requirements, and for a great explanation on Indiana’s special education rules.


Photo courtesy of and Pexels.

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