Frequently Asked Questions








  Why do I need a map?

The world of special education is unbelievably complicated, there's no "one site" you can visit to get all your answers.  You'll need to make multiple stops on your journey and use multiple resources to reach your destination.  A good map can guide your way, help you plan your journey, and help you avoid pitfalls.  This Map can also help parents who are overwhelmed and confused by the special education journey.  When parents find out their child is a special needs child, they feel lost, alone, and don't know where to turn.  This Map can provide a guide.  Also know that everyone's journey is unique; there is no "one size fits all" special education program.  Journeys will vary depending on the specific diagnosis and the severity of the problem; each child is unique.  Virtually all learning, behavior, and mental health disorders are diagnosed along a spectrum of severity.  You'll need a Map that guides you to answers regarding your unique spot on the spectrum.


Where do I begin?
As you start to explore special education options for your special-needs child, did you know?
• You will need professional help in negotiating for special education services from the school.
• The school may try to deny you services.
• You'll need a special education team to help you, don’t try to go it alone.
• You'll need to research available services on your own. You'll need to learn the lingo of special education; it has its own nomenclature.
• At times you will feel very alone.
• It's a huge mistake to go to your school for help without being prepared.
• Special Education law doesn’t protect you as much as you think.
• The sooner you get help, the better.
As you begin this special education journey, you need to have a plan. The emotions and anxiety associated with a special needs diagnosis can cause parents to frantically run in many different directions. The map is a great tool to help you plan out your journey. It offers specific, sequential steps to take to ensure that your special needs child is receiving all the services guaranteed by federal law.


What is special education?
Special education is a broad term used to describe specially designed instruction that meets the unique needs of a child who has a disability. These special education services are provided by your local public school system and are free of charge. Services can include instruction in the classroom, at home, in hospitals and institutions.


What does the law provide?
The basis for special education law comes from the federal government and is found in three federal statutes, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the No Child Left Behind Act.  All three statutes guarantee protection for special needs children, and focus on greater accountability for student performance.  The laws require higher qualification standards for special education teachers and stipulate that all students with a disability participate in annual state testing.  These statutes ensure that special needs students receive a comparable education to everyone else in the student bod

Doesn’t the law protect special education kids?
It’s supposed to, and there are countless sites on the Internet detailing how the federal government protects children with special needs.  In theory it sounds great; in practice it can be quite different.  imagesCAS1RK1PThe government websites and publications can also be quite bureaucratic and confusing, especially for parents new to the special education process.  Additionally, much of the information is directed towards teachers and the educational community; there is comparatively little practical help for parents. For parents looking for help, it can be a daunting task understanding all the nuances of special education laws and procedures.

Don't you just go to the school for help?
For those of you with school-age children, going to the school first for special education help seems like a logical move and it's what my wife and I did.  We knew the school, we knew the principal, and we knew many of the teachers as our daughter had previously attended the same school.  Trusting the school was a huge mistake, as we lost years of special education services for our son.  We needed help right away and we didn't know it. We wish we had professional help from the very beginning and a guide like this special education map


What is a Learning Disorder?
IDEA defines learning disabilities as:
“A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, speak, read, spell or do mathematical equations.”

What is a Behavior Disorder?
Behavior disabilities are sometimes referred to as disruptive behavior disorders with the most common behavior disorder being Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Behavior disorders include mental health problems that both identify emotional problems and create interpersonal and social challenges for children and adolescents. There are many types of behavioral disorders that require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional.