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How to Handle This School Year as a Parent of a Child with Special Needs

If your child has autism, Down syndrome or another disability, you are probably receiving services from the school district for special education services. But how is it going in regard to the Covid-19 pandemic and remote learning? The school system is tough to navigate on a regular basis, and this year, it’s even tougher. That’s why it’s important to find out how to handle this school year as a parent of a child with special needs.
Navigating a child’s Individualized Education Program while he or she begins the year with remote learning, as many are doing this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, can add multiple layers of stress. Many students are not receiving services and support that were outlined in their IEPs related to specially designed instruction, speech and language, social work, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some tips on how to get your child with special needs the services he or she deserves this school year.

Get to know your child’s IEP team this school year

A vital first step in helping your child is knowing each member of the IEP team. Especially this school year, go the extra mile and get to know other important contacts from the child’s team, including all general and special education teachers, as well as paraprofessionals and support staff.
By getting to know everyone, you can have more opportunities to ask specific questions about your child and develop partnerships with those who want to help. The team should be able to help you address those questions or help you find specific resources that apply to your child.

Request an IEP meeting this school year

If there is a service that’s not being provided, or a proposed change to your child’s learning plan that you do not agree with, you can request a meeting with the rest of the IEP team to discuss it this school year.
As a parent, you are in a unique position this school year because you have more information about your child than ever before after having observed how your child learned throughout the end of last school year with remote learning. You should be sure to share those observations with the school and make clear what kinds of support you believe need to be provided based on the new learning environment your child is in.

Don’t be afraid to ask more questions this school year

You should be proactive in reaching out to your child’s IEP team and request meetings to discuss what learning will look like for your child this year.
Ask a lot of questions and make sure you keep asking questions until you fully understand what is involved with your child’s educational program for this school year. You will play an essential role in terms of communicating with the school team what you are observing at home and what aspects of remote learning are working well for your child, as well as those that are creating barriers to access.

Don’t be afraid to speak up this school year

Express your perspective of your child’s strengths, areas of need and observations of your child in the home environment. Share strategies that might be helpful in your child’s academic, social, and emotional development.
You should also feel comfortable to be able to question instructional strategies, service type and time, and placement options. You need to be very involved with the determination of present levels for your child, which are the foundation of your child’s IEP.
If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.
American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.
Dial (877) 762-0702 or email us at

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