PART II: Questions and Answers
About Special Education Programs
Preschoolers with Disabilities (Ages 3 Through 5 Years Old)
National Information Center for
Children and Youth with Disabilities
Update August, 1994
Q: What should I do if
I think my preschool child needs special education?A: If you think your
preschooler needs special education, you will first want to find out if he or
she is eligible for a special education program. There are people who can help
you with this. Read on, and we will explain how to contact them.
Note, October 1997--
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been amended! This
is the law that guides how schools deliver special education and related services
to students with disabilities. You will be reading about the IDEA in this publication.
This note is to alert you that, while much of the law remains essentially the
same, some aspects have changed as a result of the amendments just passed in June,
1997. Bear this in mind as you read about the IDEA in this publication. NICHCY
prides itself on providing accurate, up-to-date information on disability issues,
so we are working hard to update all of our publications to reflect the newest
version of the law. Please bear with us while we tackle this enormous job! If
you have questions about the new amendments, please feel free to contact NICHCY.
Q: What are special education
programs?A: Special education programs
are specially designed programs in public schools offered at no cost to families
of children with disabilities. Today, under P.L.102-119, all schools must offer
special education services to eligible 3-5 year olds with disabilities.
Q: Who do I contact first
for help?A: The best place to start
is your local public elementary school. (In most cases, this would be the school
that other children who live near you attend.) Call and ask to speak to the principal
or to someone in charge of special education at the school. If this doesn't work,
look on the NICHCY State Resource Sheet under "State Department of Education."
Call the Early Childhood Specialist for children ages 3-5 years and ask for the
name and phone number of the person in your area in charge of these programs.
Explain that you want to find out about special education services for your child.
Ask what you need to do to arrange for an evaluation.
Write down the names and
phone numbers of everyone you talk to. Having this information available may
be helpful to you later on. The sample record-keeping worksheet below can help
you start a file of information about your child. As time goes by, you will
want to add other information to your file, such as:--Letters and notes (from
doctors, therapists, etc.);
--Medical records and reports;
--Results of tests and evaluations;
--Notes from meetings about your child;
--IFSP and IEP records;
--Your child's developmental history, including personal notes or diaries on
your child's development;
--Records of shots and vaccinations; and
--Family medical histories.
Make sure you get copies
of all written information about your child (records, reports,etc.). This will
help you become an important coordinator of services and a better advocate for
your child. Remember, as time goes on, you'll probably have more information
to keep track of, so it's a good idea to keep it together in one place.
SAMPLE RECORD KEEPING WORKSHEET
Name of person or agency
you talked to:
Name of your contact person
Date you called:
Results of discussion:
Person not helpful on this
topic, but may be helpful regarding (list topics/areas/issues):
Q: What is an evaluation?A: Evaluation means the procedures
used to determine whether a child has a disability and the extend of the special
education and related services the child needs. In regards to your child, this
information may come from:
-- Doctors' reports;
-- Results from developmental tests given to your child;
-- Your child's medical history;
-- Observations and feedback from all members of the assessment team, including
-- Any other important observations, records, and/or reports about your child.
Q: Who conducts my child's
evaluation?A: Your child's evaluation
will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team of group of persons. Who is involved
will depend on the rules in your state or school district. Ask your school contact
person what the policy is for getting an evaluation for your child.
Q: Will I have to pay for
the evaluation or for any services my child may be eligible for?A: Special education services
are offered for 3-5-year-olds at no cost to parents. The assessment and evaluation
process is considered part of these services and is provided at no cost to families.
Q: Are there any parent
groups in my area that can give me more information about special education?A: There are several types
of parent programs, including:
-- Support groups (such as Parent-to-Parent) for families of children with disabilities;
-- Parent training and information programs funded by the federal government,
such as the Technical Assistance for Parent Programs (TAPP) Project; and
-- Groups concerned with a specific disability, such as United Cerebral Palsy
Associations, Inc. (UPCA), or the Arc (formerly the Association for Retarded Citizens
of the United States).
Parent groups can offer
information, support, and/or training to families of children with disabilities
to help them take a more active role in their children's education. Through
such groups, families meet other families with similar needs to discuss local
resources, daily problems, and personal insights. For more details on these
and other parent groups, contact NICHCY and ask for our "Parent's Guide
to Accessing Parent Groups."
National Information Center
for Children and Youth with Disabilities - Update August, 1994
A Parent's Guide to Accessing Programs For Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
National Information Center
for Children and Youth with Disabilities
P.O. Box 1492
Washington, DC 20013
Web site: http://www.nichcy.org/