Special Education Determination 101: What Parents Should Know

If your child has been identified as possibly needing a special education program, it can be intimidating. It is important to know if that your feelings are normal. In fact, up to a third of parents of children with learning disabilities report that they don’t feel prepared to take on the extra challenge.

The good news is that there are a number of resources available to help you become better equipped for the situation you find yourself in, including support groups, counselors, or even private schools for special needs children. But for people just starting down this path, it can be difficult to locate these resources.

To that end, we have designed this guide to help you navigate the earliest stages of identifying students who might benefit from special education.


Schools in every state are required to provide special needs education to students who need it. A large part of the process is determining which students are candidates for special needs education. That determination is made either based on a request or referral from parents or teacher through a Child Find activities, which are run by the state.


Each student is then given a personal evaluation. Experts will assess the child’s abilities in all areas that are related to the suspected disability. This step is used as the basis for understanding what services will be most beneficial for the child. Once completed, professionals and the parent will decide whether or not a child has disabilities.

Individualized Education Program

An IEP meeting is scheduled for both parents and school administrators. At the meeting, a plan is laid out to ensure that all parties are on the same page when it comes to the special needs education services and programs being offered to the child.

While this processes might be trying for some, it is important to note that the parents have the right to object during all parts of the proceeding. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, you should speak up.

Knowledge is power, the old axiom goes. But for parents who are faced with the confusing and at times trying process of evaluation of special education program planning, it is also comfort.

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