The elementary years: these are the key years for setting the tone for your child’s academic, social, and individual success. During your child’s elementary years it’s important to understand how your child learns and how they are growing developmentally, socially, behaviorally, independently, and progressing with their communication.
It is also very important to understand what can be done to meet your child’s individual needs. Your child’s annual and updated IEP (Individual Education Plan) will follow them from preschool to graduation. Remember, one size does not fit all. Keep this in mind when looking for a school and the services your child may need.
- As a parent of a child with a disability and special needs you need to make sure you are familiar with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Wrightslaw and their website can assist you throughout your child’s educational career when questions or concerns arise about their educational needs and the services that can assist them at school.
- If for some reason you decide that a public school placement might not be the most appropriate option for your child then you may want to consider a private school placement and accessing your child’s McKay Scholarship. A child with a disability is eligible to access the McKay Scholarship if they have an IEP and received services in a public school placement for a minimum of one year. A child’s 5 year old preschool year can count towards the requirements for a McKay Scholarship.
- In order to qualify for services through The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) you must make an application for your child prior to their 18th birthday. Note: There is a waiting list for services but remember you want to be proactive for their future.
- If you would like your child to be included with typical peers for all or any part of their day then the Florida Inclusion Network (FIN) can assist your school and the district with resources, supports, education, and services that will help your child’s school make this happen. FIN can assist schools and the district when they are invited by the school principal, staff, or district administration to be involved. Our area FIN Representative is located at the Sarasota School District Administrative Offices and can be reached by calling (941) 927-9000.
- If your child’s communication is not strong or they are non-verbal…behavior problems are likely. If this is the case or a concern then assistive communication technology can help to jump start expressive language and receptive communication. Public school districts have communication teams that can assess your child’s communication needs and issues and then determine if assistive technology would be an appropriate service, resource, or accommodation for your child. Check with the ESE Specialist at your child’s school for the appropriate person to contact. Also check out the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) about the programs and services they offer to assist individuals with disabilities.
- Now is the time to be thinking about and trying out recreational activities for your child. Make sure you build fun and friendships into your child’s life. For a list of ideas for recreational activities click here.