Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

Are you the parent of a child under the age of 3 with autism or a physical disability, receiving early intervention services? Are you concerned about what will happen to your child when they transition to special education? Would you like to have a few items that you can keep in mind during this process? This article will help you have an inside track on transition from EI to special education.

1. 6 Months before your child turns three your EI service coordinator must notify your school district about your child and their disabilities. You as a parent should also notify your school district in writing, about your child’s disabilities and needs. I would attach to the letter any testing that your child has received while in Early Intervention, and also any reports written (medical, OT, PT, Speech/Language). Also include in the letter that you think your child is eligible for special education and related services, and you look forward to working with special education personnel.

2. Begin to educate yourself about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Go to Google and put in IDEA or spell it out and much information will be found. Also, start looking for a parent group in your area that can help you become educated in this area. Special education personnel may try and tell you things that are not true, and education will help you overcome these untrue statements, for the good of your child.

3. Screening is not required when your child transitions from EI to special education, according to IDEA. Some school districts are telling parents that their child must be screened, and then tell them that their child is not eligible for special education services. If your school district will not accept the reports of the testing your child has already received, ask for additional testing. Do not accept screening as an eligibility tool, because it is not!!

4. A conference must be held at least 3 months before your child turns 3 between the parents, the EI service coordinator and a representative of your school district. Insist that your child’s disabilities be discussed, needs for related services (PT, OT, Speech/Language), past testing, any testing the child needs now, whether your child is eligible for special education services, and program options for the child until the end of the school year.

5. If possible bring another parent or advocate who is experienced with IDEA, to this conference. They will help ensure that your child receives the special education and related services that they need and are entitled to under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Do not take no for an answer!

6. If testing is needed, it should start immediately and be finished before the child’s third birthday.

7. Special Education services must begin by the child’s third birthday, not after!

You are well on your way to being an effective advocate for your child! Keep up the good work, your child will appreciate it!

JoAnn Collins is the mother of two adults with disabilities, and has helped families navigate the special eduation system, as an advocate, for over 15 years. She is a presenter and author of the book “Disability Deception; Lies Disability Educators Tell and How Parents Can Beat Them at Their Own Game.” The book has a lot of resources and information to help parents fight for an appropriate education for their child.

By rahul