What are Special Education Programs?
A special education program is an education program geared towards children with disabilities. These programs are often specially designed to focus on children with birth injuries such as cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy. However, children with other forms of disabilities are also welcome at many special education programs.
Special education programs such as 504 plans can help your child get the proper accommodations for their disability at a public school. There are also scholarships designed to meet the needs of children with birth injuries such as cerebral palsy.
It can be difficult for parents to be aware of every special education opportunity. If you want to learn about which local opportunities are right for your family, talk with your local health care provider or a health care organization focused on your child’s specific birth injury.
Types of Special Education Resources
There are several special education resources that children with birth injuries and their parents can take advantage of. If your child has been diagnosed with a birth injury, these options may be of interest to you.
Cerebral Palsy Schools
Cerebral palsy schools are entirely focused on children with disabilities caused by cerebral palsy. These schools are staffed with teachers, administrators and medical professionals who understand the physical and neurological impairments caused by cerebral palsy.
Well-known cerebral palsy schools include the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and United Cerebral Palsy Transitional Learning in Miami, Florida. Tuition at these schools can cost over $10,000 a year, but some institutions offer scholarships.
504 plans are programs that allow children with disabilities to learn in public schools alongside their peers. This program is sometimes confused with individualized education plans (IEPs), but the two are significantly different.
504 plans provide children with disabilities supports and accommodations in public school. The law is covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These plans do not provide individualized instruction or special education as IEPs do.
504 accommodations may include extra time on tests, speech-language therapy, study skill classes and the opportunity to leave the classroom for short breaks.
There are numerous scholarships available for children who have been diagnosed with birth injuries such as cerebral palsy. These scholarships can be used for private education at the primary school level or to pay for higher education costs.
National organizations such as United Cerebral Palsy and their local affiliates give out scholarships at their discretion. For example, United Cerebral Palsy of MetroBoston offers $5,000 scholarships to undergraduate or graduate students who have been diagnosed with a physical disability.
A college advisor may be able to help you find disability scholarships for higher education opportunities. Your local health care provider or nonprofit organization will likely have a list of available primary school disability scholarships.
Health Impairment Plans
Other Health Impairment programs, or OHIs, are covered under Section 300 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. These programs cover children with “limited strength, vitality or alertness,” or a “heightened alertness to environmental stimuli.”
OHIs may apply to children with asthma, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, epilepsy, heart conditions, leukemia or brain injuries. OHI programs may offer children accommodations, adaptations, modifications, specialized transportation, assistive technology or devices and specialized instruction.
Individualized Education Plans
Individualized education programs (IEPs) offer children with disabilities individualized and specialized learning in public schools. Children in this program will be assessed by school staff who design an educational program specifically to meet their educational needs.
IEP programs provide children with disabilities and their parents a guideline for the services that the school district can provide. They also set “reasonable learning goals” for the child. The program sets annual goals and measures academic achievement and functional performance.
An IEP assessment will also determine which supplementary services, modifications and school personnel will be available to the child, as well as how many hours they will be required to attend school each day.
Homeschooling Children with Learning Disabilities
Many parents of children with birth injuries decide to choose homeschooling. Homeschooling may be the best option if you believe that public schools cannot provide your child with the right amount of attention and resources for academic growth and success.
Many homeschooled children with learning disabilities are utilizing online learning options. Parents homeschooling their children can help them with the pace, presentation and instruction of online learning. This level of customization can create a personalized learning experience which may be best suited for your child.
National organizations such as the National Center for Learning Disabilities can answer your questions on homeschooling a child with a disability. You may also want to talk with your local health care provider.
Finding Education Opportunities for Children with Birth Injuries
Children diagnosed with birth injuries can still get a quality education. Special education initiatives, schools and organizations offer children with birth injuries the opportunity to learn and grow into happy and productive adults.
Parents have a variety of different special education options to choose from. If you are looking for the right special education opportunity for your child, your health care provider may be able to help.
You can also reach out to national birth injury organizations such as the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, the United Cerebral Palsy Association or the United Brachial Plexus Network to help find a local special education opportunity.