Who do I reach out to at school for help?
The Child Study Team (sometimes called the Student Study Team or other like terms) is the first place you should go to for assistance at your school. I didn’t know this when we first started dealing with my son’s school refusal. I just assumed that his guidance counselor was the one to help us. I constantly asked her for help getting my son a 504 plan. She never told me to contact the child study team myself. I wasted precious weeks banging my head against the wall with her. The CST are the contacts at your school in charge of evaluating for a 504 plan or an IEP. Later on when I had no choice but to hire a lawyer (don’t worry, our case was extreme, you most likely won’t need an attorney), she told me to always document your requests with a time stamp. There are state guidelines which dictate how many days the school has before they must respond to your request. Protect yourself and send an email and follow up to make sure they acknowledge receipt. You can also drop off a letter with this request at school, but you should ask whoever collects it from you to stamp a received date on it (and watch them do it). And get a copy for yourself.
The CST is usually made up of a school psychologist and social workers. Their job is to determine if your child qualifies for special education.
Special education is a broad term used to by the law to describe specially designed instruction that meets the unique needs of a child who has a disability. These services are provided by the public school system and are free of charge. Your child may qualify for modifications of homework or tests, extended test taking time, extended deadlines, classes that include a special education teacher in addition to the regular teacher. Other assistance can be in the form of getting copies of teacher’s notes, assignments and projects broken down into manageable steps, copies of teacher study guides for tests, access to specialists, learning aids and technology based assistance….Services can also include instruction at home, in hospitals and institutions. If your school cannot provide services that allow your child to access their education, they may have to pay for an out of district placement for your child.
There are 13 categories of special education as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Autism, Blindness, Deafness, Emotional Disturbance (This language has to change. It was horrible having them label my son this way for his anxiety disorder), Hearing Impairment, Mental Retardation, Orthopedic Impairment,
Multiple Disabilities, Other Health Impaired, Specific Learning Disability, Speech or Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, Visual Impairment
In order for the CST team to qualify a child for services, they must be found to have one of the 13 categories of special education and it must adversely affect their educational performance.
If your child does not qualify for services under IDEA, they may qualify for modifications under Section 504 of the American Disabilities Act of 1973.