What is Birth Injury Special Education?
Living with cerebral palsy is not easy. However, there are many special education opportunities available today that can help pave the way for more active, productive and happy lives for kids with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy Schools
A special education school can provide knowledge and therapy specifically catering to children with cerebral palsy. These schools can provide specialized care for all different age groups and abilities. For example, the Cerebral Palsy School of Louisville (in Kentucky) provides education and care for adults with very severe cerebral palsy.
Kids with cerebral palsy can face many significant challenges growing up. Getting a good education does not have to be one of them. Many kids with CP are only physically disabled and not mentally disabled. This means they can have a successful public school experience.
Cerebral palsy symptoms can range from mild to severe. A specialized cerebral palsy school may or may not be needed. It will depend on the symptoms.
However, a private cerebral palsy school can be very expensive and can be a financial burden on the family.
Thanks to recent changes in public policy, public schools have become an option for children with cerebral palsy. This is because they are required to provide a free education to every child regardless of ability. Public schools must develop individualized education plans (IEP) for children with disabilities that will help them with their unique needs.
If parents feel that attending a specialized cerebral palsy school would be in their child’s best interest, scholarships for children with cerebral palsy are sometimes available to ease the financial burden. Your local chapter of United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) may be able to point you in the right direction for a scholarship or grant.
If your child will be going to public school, a 504 plan can help your child get the most out of their education. A 504 plan is a legally mandated guide that outlines the exact accommodations he or she will receive from their school.
A 504 plan is based on a program of instructional services for special needs students in an educational setting. The 504 plan is an individualized plan that is mandated by federal laws designed to protect the rights of individuals with any disability who are in programs and activities that receive financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education.
Section 504 states that “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Section 504 falls under the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Anyone who has an emotional disability or one that restricts one of more major life activities (i.e., cerebral palsy) can be considered for a 504 plan.
There are four steps to placing a student on a 504 plan:
- The student is referred by a parent, teacher, doctor or therapist
- A Section eligibility 504 meeting is held
- A 504 plan is developed
- A review date is set
Once it is approved, a 504 plan will lay out the exact accommodations for a child, such as their seating assignment, where they can eat, when they are permitted to leave school for medical care, what modifications to homework and testing they can expect and other special arrangements.
If the 504 plan is not working to meet the needs of a child, it can be altered. Parents should be sure to keep copies of all documents related to the 504 plan such as tests, letters from doctors and support staff in case they ever need to be accessed.
A well-designed 504 plan can help your child get the most from their public school education.
Cerebral Palsy Scholarships
Special education for your child with cerebral palsy can be expensive if you choose private schools and summer camps.
Scholarships can help ease some of the financial burdens of a good education. College-bound teens with cerebral palsy can qualify for these scholarships.
While there are many scholarships for individuals with disabilities, there are not a large number of ones specifically for people with cerebral palsy. They are limited and are often listed under related disabilities such as epilepsy.
One important note about scholarships as you start your search: most are found at the local or regional level instead of the national.
Where to find information on scholarships for children with cerebral palsy:
- United Cerebral Palsy (UCP): While UPC does not offer a national cerebral palsy scholarship fund, scholarship information can be found through their local affiliates.
- Easter Seals: Easter Seals, an organization committed to helping people with all disabilities, offers scholarships for their summer camps. Local chapters can also be a resource for finding other types of scholarships for kids with cerebral palsy.
- Ethel Louise Armstrong (ELA) Foundation: The ELA Foundation offers a merit-based scholarship to women with disabilities who are enrolled in a graduate program.
- Cerebral Palsy Scholarships for the Study of CP: For students interested in studying CP, there are also many scholarships available. The AACPDM (American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine) offers two scholarships per year.
Health Impairment Plans
Caring for a child with cerebral palsy can be challenging under any circumstances. If your family is struggling to make ends meet and you have a child with cerebral palsy, health impairment plans that may be able to help.
One health impairment plan you may not have considered is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF), which is run by the U.S. Office of Family Assistance. It provides cash assistance for meeting basic needs. TANF can help pay for groceries, clothing, gas and electric bills and some medical necessities.
Other health impairment plans include SNAP and Medicaid.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps families buy nutritious food. Formerly known as the Food Stamp program, SNAP can help eligible families buy nutritional food for their disabled child that they might not have been able to afford otherwise.
Medicaid is one other health impairment plan to consider. Medicaid is a government program that pays for medical care for people with low incomes and limited resources, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with disabilities. Under Medicaid, a qualifying child with CP has all services considered medically necessary paid for. Keep in mind that Medicaid will not pay for all of your child’s expenses.
Homeschooling Children with Learning Disabilities
Parents of children with disabilities are sensitive to their child’s growing needs. These parents will spend time thinking about their child in school, wonder how their classmates will regard their disability, if teachers will have the expertise to cater to their specific needs and if the education they are receiving might have been administered better at home.
Homeschooling may work for your child if they are struggling in a more traditional school environment.
In an article by the Queensland Journal of Educational Research, a mother was grappling with the decision of taking her child out of school to be homeschooled. After much deliberation she finally decided it was the right choice.
She stated, “it took the term for me to realize that home schooling just seems to fall into place and many teaching ideas seem to follow one another. It’s a totally different way of approaching it, but it works.”
Homeschooling Statistics and Questions
Homeschooling children with a learning disability is often an inviting option. Statistically, homeschooling children with a learning disability helps them focus on the work without the distraction of the classroom.
A study by the Education & Treatment of Children stated, “results show that home school [special needs students] were academically engaged about 2.5 times as often as public school [special needs students].”
Questions about homeschooling children with a learning disability may include:
- What grade level will my child start at?
- Where do I find the teaching resources and materials?
- How do I pull them out of school without much interruption?
- How will I afford equipment and services like a computer or counselor?
These and other questions can be answered by doing research online. There, you will find grade level and learning style assessments along with other resources that will help you enroll in the government-funded individualized educational plan (IEP).
Individualized Education Plans
The individualized educational plan (IEP) is a government-regimented document that outlines the special education services a child should receive. This document is legally binding and helps your child get the best education possible.
The great thing about the individualized educational plan is that it gives specific attention to your child’s unique educational needs.
The individualized education plan includes:
- Your child’s classification or their specific impairment, be it visual, speech-related, auditory, deafness, blindness, a traumatic brain injury or a developmental disability
- Grade level placement
- Services such as tutors and therapies your child might need
- Academic goals
- Plan for behavioral goals
- Planned lessons in regular education settings
- Progress reports from all parties involved in educational upbringing
There are two parts to this plan. One part is the outline of the learning system that grants your child access to government funded resources, therapists and educational tools. These tools are required and will serve as support as your child learns and grows.
The second is the individualized part that allows teachers, therapists and parents to cater to the child’s specific learning abilities and challenges. This part of the individualized educational plan is the most organic part. Coupled with the structured outline, it serves to give your special needs child the best education possible.
As a parent, nobody is more invested in your child’s future than you are. Parents play a key role when developing the individualized educational plan to ensure that the child’s capabilities and needs are appropriately addressed.