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

Feb 14
Avatar of Dennise Goldberg

by Dennise Goldberg

We are a society of labels and the school system is no different. Parents love to hear when their child is labeled “Gifted” and cringe if their child is labeled “Special Needs.”  I’m writing this to help parents overcome their disdain for the “Special Needs” label.  If you have been told by your school that your child should be tested for Special Education services, then your child is most likely Not Able to access the curriculum in school successfully.  If that is the case, then you as the parent have a responsibility to find what is going on with your child; even if that means he/she could be given the label of “Special Needs.”

As an advocate, I have heard from many parents who have been told by their school to have their child tested for Special Education Services and the parent is refusing to do so because they do not want them to be labeled.  If the student doesn’t receive help in their current grade, they are still passed on to the next grade because of the law “No Child Left Behind.”  As time goes on, the student falls further and further behind and before you know it, they are 16 years old and still doing 7th grade math and 8th grade English.  What happens then?  You are short on time to catch your child up to grade level standards.  When that happens, it affects their ability to succeed in college or obtain a job after high school graduation.  Our job as parents is to prepare our children for adulthood; the way to do that is to address educational problems as soon as possible.

You must adopt the philosophy “sooner, rather than later”; because the educational struggles your child demonstrates in 1st or 2nd grade will not go away.  As a matter of fact, they get worse because the curriculum becomes harder.  The only way to stop this from happening is early intervention, even if that means your child’s records say “Special Education Services.”  Always remember, it is easier to obtain services at the elementary level versus middle or high school level.  Another important detail to keep in mind is that by the time the student has reached middle or high school, they may not be receptive to services because they are embarrassed.  Also, if your child receives services in elementary school, by the time they reach middle school, they may not need them anymore.  Again, the philosophy “sooner, rather than later” works for several reasons.

You are the best advocate for your child; making sure your child is successfully accessing the school’s curriculum is a crucial part to their road to adulthood.  My suggestion to you is to focus on the label of “Independent Adult” instead of “Special Education.”  Helping your child with their academic struggles is the key. If you look at the big picture, we as parents all have the same goal; to help our children obtain the skills to lead an “Independent Adult Life.”

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The IEP Label: Just Get Your Child Some Help, 5.0 out of 5 based on 4 ratings
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8 Responses to “The IEP Label: Just Get Your Child Some Help”

  1. Great blog post! I too share your opinion that although it is hard for parents to accept the “special education” label, the most important thing to do as a parent, is do the thing that is not right for you, but right for them.

    It is our expeience with a son with special education needs from a speech language disorder that it is vital to ensure he has the right accomodations to learning and assessement that enable him to demonstrate his learning in the best way possible. That is achieved through the identification of his exceptionality and a good IEP that outlines his strenghts, needs, accomodations. This actually helps ensure that only what is necessary is modified from the grade level curriculum. I view it as helping level the playing field.

    Crawford Dedman
    Special Education Advocacy Consultant

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  2. Hi Crawford,

    Well put….I couldn’t agree with you more!!!

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  3. Hi. My first comment here.

    Brief intro (for more, see my website). I am a learning disabled adult. I’ve got something like NLD. At age 5, a psychologist told my parents I would never go to college; I got my BA at age 20 and now have a PhD. (hehehe)

    On to my response

    Labels. if your kid is going to get a label from a department of education, then I can GUARANTEE that this will NOT be the only label your kid gets. And, unless they get that label very early, it won’t be the first label, either. Those other labels will be given by other kids and other adults. Labels like “lazy”, “crazy” and “stupid”. Like that. Me? I’d rather be called learning disabled.

    Labels. Labels can be useful. They can help us find resources, they can make us feel less alone.

    But labels can become boxes. And, while labels can be useful, boxes are for groceries.

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  4. Dennise: Love your site – and love your honesty. My daughter has Down syndrome – so needless to say I am not a lover of labels.
    However, she needs additional supports so I will do what I have to to ensure she has a successful school year.
    I’m also not a big fan of IEP’s, Case Conferences, and all that other stuff that seems so sterile when you are actually dealing with a young person’s life.
    So I am working with my school to kill the verbiage and anything else I can think of which takes the humanity out of the process.
    When you take away all the legalities – it all seems just a little more palpable and not quite so threatening.

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    • In our area though, if you take out the legalities, there would be no special education for our special needs kids. They do as little as they can even with the threat of courts and public humiliation at a board meeting. I’m glad that you can manage with little legality but I am thankful for it. I am thankful that a group of legislators realized that putting money and resources into our kids can help them to be empowered to participate fully in society when they are grown.

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  5. Hello, I have a daughter who is very smart. She has no physical or mental handicaps. She is nine and wants to be nine.. She has no real interest in learning or studing. She would rather play pretend and make-up stories. She had cancer when she was two so I never made her do anything. Also, never put her in preschool. She never had friends until she went to first grade. Now, the first grade teacher called her (slow poke) and said she was selectively autistic. I moved her schools.. after that I was told she has adhd. Another lie. Then her older sister passed away from the same kind of cancer she had.. now they are tring to get me to have her tested for an IEP.. I know there is nothing wrong with her. She is simply had a hard start in life and a easy one by not ever being made to do anything.. (spoiled) I am tring to get her tutoring and extra programs to help her find the want to study. However, I’m afraid the school is tring to pigeon hole her before I can. I do not want her to use the excuse ” oh I am just learning handicap” and not even try… Help.

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    • I would let the school do the testing myself. If you don’t agree with their findings you can always ask for an Independent Educational Evaluation at public expense to have an expert in the field do a more comprehensive look at shat’s going on. I would then ask for a Neuropsychological evaluation as chemo and radiation can cause brain issues that the school will not find. There may be strategies that can be used that they don’t even know about. I think we often think that a kid is lazy or spoiled when in fact there is an issue that we can deal with and the child will be able to move on with the proper help.

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  6. ok so my son was diagnosed with adhd in elementary school is not overly hyper but has very severe issues with keeping his focus on the task at hand. he has had help and and iep since kindergarten. he saw the label special education on his paper work and freaked out. he was really upset that he was labeled considering he is a teenager at this time. children can be very cruel he does not understand how he got the special ed status he says he is not disabled and does not need special ed classes. he is not in any *special classes. so my concern is how do i handle this? is my son special? oh and he was born with a heart defect and has had open heart surgery twice i was informed by one of the cardiologists that being on the heart lung machine affects children and learning later in life.
    confused yet i want the best for my son. i want to see him succeed!!!

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