Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Feb 29
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by Jess

The Mayo Clinic recently reported that researchers have found that children exposed to anesthesia multiple times before the age of 3 have double the incidence of ADHD than those with no exposure to anesthesia. You can read the report here. In a 2009 report Mayo linked multiple anesthesia exposures before age 4 to learning disabilities.

Great. My son, has arthrogryposis and had three major surgeries and at least four smaller surgeries before age 3. Nothing we can do about that now. He has had many more surgeries since then. We have long noticed that he is inattentive. We also see that his memory suffers after surgeries. Nevertheless, without those surgeries his ability to walk, run, write, and feed himself would all be more severely impacted.For my child, and many like him, surgery is a necessity.


Reading the Mayo report only confirmed what some of us in the Arthrogryposis community have been starting to suspect. Children who everyone confirms are extremely bright, but yet have difficulty staying on task. Other parents say that they're children are being "docked" for being distractable during school. And, often their IEPs only address the orthopedic aspects of their disability.

Can the IEP help our children and their distraction?

The first step in the IEP process is to evaluate the student to determine eligibility. If the child is deemed eligible, or a "child with a disability" they should be assessed for the areas of suspected disability to determine the appropriate interventions or supports. The team could also look at speech delays or inattentiveness. But I'm hearing from other parents that this is not happening.

What does the law say?

The IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is the program that is developed for a 3-21 year old to insure that a student with a disability receives a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) under Part B of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

A child must first be evaluated before the team can develop an IEP. There are three purposes to an evaluation:

  • to determine if the child is a "child with a disability" as defined under the law;
  • to gather information that will help determine the child's educational needs;
  • to guide decision-making about appropriate educational supports and services.

For those of us who are seeing ADHD symptoms in our children who have had many surgeries it is important that we raise those issues during the evaluation process.  We can write our concerns down when we request the evaluation. What if we already have an IEP in place to address the orthopedic impacts, but we're seeing ADHD symptoms that are preventing learning? What can we do? We can ask for an additional evaluation. 

We can also remind our team that OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs) has stated in this letter, that the provision of services that are appropriate for an individual child must be based on the child's unique needs and not on the disability category in which the child is classified. There is also a letter stating how a local educational agency (LEA) may address the needs of a child with a neurological impairment.

I want to thank the folks at NICHCY for helping me to locate the appropriate IDEA guidance letters.

Maureen Casey is the Parent of 3 including one with a disability.



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