What Are Special Education Programs?
A special education program is an education program geared toward children with disabilities. These programs are often specially designed to help 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.
Some special education programs 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 healthcare 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 cerebral palsy. These schools are staffed with teachers, administrators, and medical professionals who understand the physical and neurological impairments associated with cerebral palsy.
Well-known cerebral palsy schools include the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Transitional Learning Academy in Orlando, Florida. Tuition at these schools can cost over $10,000 a year, but some institutions offer scholarships.
Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
IEPs offer children with disabilities specialized learning in public schools. Children in these programs will be assessed by school staff to determine whether the child can benefit from an IEP.
IEP programs provide children with disabilities and their parents a guideline for the services that their school district can provide. IEPs also set reasonable learning goals for each child. This program sets annual goals and measures academic achievement and functional performance.
An IEP assessment will also determine what supplementary services, accommodations, and school personnel will be available to the child.
Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs)
IFSPs serve as early intervention services for infants and toddlers who are showing developmental delays.
These plans are available for children three years and under who experience cognitive, communicative, emotional, physical, and/or social impairments.
IFSPs differ from IEPs because they focus on the future needs of young children and emphasize the importance of including the family in these goals. Every family member actively participates in the child’s developmental plan to help ensure success.
504 plans are programs that allow children with disabilities to learn in public schools alongside their peers. They are sometimes confused with IEPs, but the two are significantly different.
504 plans provide children with disabilities support and accommodations in public school. The law is covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Unlike IEPs, 504 plans do not provide individualized instruction or special education.
504 accommodations may include extra time on tests, speech-language therapy, study skills classes, and the opportunity to leave the classroom for short breaks.
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 are one of many programs that may offer children accommodations, adaptations, modifications, specialized transportation, assistive technology or devices, and specialized instruction.
There are many 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 elementary school level or to pay for higher education costs.
National organizations such as United Cerebral Palsy and its local chapters are known for awarding scholarships. 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 elementary school disability scholarships.
Special Education Aides
Another important part of a child’s special education is working with an aide. Special education aides generally work in a small group setting with children with disabilities to help improve their behavior, emotional/communication skills, and more.
An aide will help the child and support their teacher in the classroom. The aide will often give children support as they navigate a group environment to ensure their safety and comfort.
Aides will generally work with a child’s teachers and therapists to create a plan that fits the child’s needs. Special education aides may use several strategies to help children sharpen their skills, such as games, toys, exercises, and more.
The main goal of occupational therapy in a school setting is equipping students with the skills to interact with their school’s curriculum.
Some occupational therapists will work with teachers, parents, and other professionals to create a therapy plan to best fit a child’s needs. Occupational therapists often use different activities to help refine fine motor skills by using paper, clay, scissors, paint brushes, chalk, blocks, puzzles, and more.
Many children with cerebral palsy and other types of brain damage may have trouble speaking. Speech therapy is often used for children who have issues with communication and language. Schools may have speech therapists on staff to help children sharpen their speech skills.
Speech therapists use a variety of different techniques to help children communicate with others more effectively. Sign language, hearing aids, communication devices, computer programs, and oral muscle exercises are common ways therapists will help children communicate.
Since each child is different, speech therapists will determine the best way to help your child improve their skills so they can communicate better in a school setting.
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 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.
How to Access Special Education Resources
If you believe your child could benefit from special education services, there are plenty of ways you can seek help and support.
One of the best ways to get special education services is to reach out to a professional in your school, such as a teacher, principal, or counselor. These individuals can assess your child’s needs and create a learning plan to support them.
If you are looking to enroll your child in a specialized cerebral palsy school, reach out to the institution to see if your child qualifies. You may even be able to get scholarship funds to pay for your child’s private education through charities such as United Cerebral Palsy.
If you are interested in homeschooling your child with cerebral palsy, reach out to national organizations such as the National Center for Learning Disabilities to learn how to get started.
No matter which avenue you choose to pursue when it comes to your child’s special education, there are several options to ensure your child learns everything they need to succeed in life.
Learn More About Special Education
Children diagnosed with birth injuries deserve 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, United Cerebral Palsy, or the United Brachial Plexus Network to help find a local special education program.
If you have any questions about finding special education for children with disabilities, contact one of our caring team members to learn more.