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A Tutorial on Special Education Terminology
If you’re baffled by all the terminology thrown around in meetings and paperwork regarding your child’s special education, these 16 “lessons” will teach you what all those words and acronyms mean. Follow the links and read the articles, then take the quizzes to test your knowledge. Study up!
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Lesson 1: The IEP
The IEP is the master document for determining your child’s special education program. Learning all you can about what it does and how it’s created can help you be a better advocate for your child. Visit the IEP FAQ to get all your questions answered.
Lesson 2: The 504 Plan
IEPs aren’t the be-all and end-all of school accommodations and modifications. Though they’re concerned more with civil rights than educational ones, 504 plans outline assistance to be provided to let students with disabilities fully participate in the classroom. Find out more in the 504 FAQ.
Lesson 3: OT
Occupational Therapy is a service often provided to special education students, but do you know what it is? Check this definition to make sure.
Lesson 4: PT
If you’ve only heard of Physical Therapy in the context of injuries or strokes, it may seem odd to see it on your child’s school plan. Find out what those school PTs are up to. Then take a quick quiz to see how much you’ve learned from Lessons 1-4.
Lesson 5: Speech Therapy
If your child has a hard-to-understand way of talking or a limited vocabulary, chances are speech therapy is in his or her IEP. Open your Web browser to a definition of speech therapy to find out who’s doing it and what’s happening.
Lesson 6: Adaptive Physical Education
Along with OT and PT, Adaptive Physical Education (APE) helps kids with motor skill problems work on developmental goals in a safe and fun environment — or at least, not get creamed by the other kids in dodgeball. Read the definition to learn more about it.
Lesson 7: IDEA
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act is the law from which all special education blessings flow. What’s this bright IDEA? Read the definition, then follow the links to learn more about two of its most essential and slippery concepts, FAPE and LRE.
Lesson 8: ESY and EI
Extended School Year turns summertime into learning time. Learn what it is, and why you may have a hard time getting it. Then study up on another way to extend IDEA rights beyond the normal school boundaries: Early Intervention, which serves children younger than three. Finally, take a quick quiz to find out how much you’ve learned from Lessons 5-8.
Lesson 9: The FBA
A Functional Behavioral Assessment requires school personnel to actually think about your child’s behavior instead of knee-jerk handling it the same way they’ve handled it since schools were held in caves. Read more about this important safeguard.
Lesson 10: The BIP
A Behavior Intervention Plan takes all those ideas developed in the Functional Behavioral Assessment and turns them into a course of action for improving behavior and classroom calm. Read a definition and view some samples.
Lesson 11: PLP
An accurate and realistic depiction of your child’s Present Level of Performance should be the starting point for any good IEP. Find out what it is, or should be, so you know what to look for.
Lesson 12: PWN
With behavioral issues and questions of progress on the table, it’s important for parents to be in on any decisions about a child’s special education program. That’s why IDEA requires that your district has to give you Prior Written Notice before any changes are made. Learn why they can’t just pull a fast one. Then take a quick quiz to see what you learned in Lessons 9-12.
Lesson 13: Paraprofessionals
Those tireless and underpaid special education workers you may formerly have known as aides can make a lot of difference in how your child survives in the classroom. Read a definition to learn more about what it takes to do the job.
Lesson 14: Classroom Placements
Whatever the prevailing wisdom in your district, community, support group or e-mail list, the Least Restrictive Environment for your child is as individual as everything else in the IEP. Compare four different special education placements to help you decide which one’s most appropriate for your child.
Lesson 15: The IEE
An Independent Educational Evaluation is your testing of last resort when your school district is either unwilling or unable to accurately judge your child’s special educational needs. Learn what it is and why you’d want one.
Lesson 16: NCLB
No Child Left Behind was intended to ensure a better education for all students, but many parents and teachers feel that it dooms students with special needs to failure. Find out more about it and draw your own conclusions. Then take a quick quiz to test your knowledge of the material in Lessons 13-16.