Cavernous Angioma and School
By Kristen Dehn
Finding out that your child has a medical condition can be very difficult for a family, particularly if that child is faced with surgery or a long recovery. It may be helpful to know that there are many school programs in place to help a child through this difficult time. A child may be entitled to special education services under the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). Below is a brief outline of services that may be available for your child and the steps needed to request these services. Keep in mind that each state may have different requirements for a child to receive special education services
Students from age 5 through 21 are entitled to special education services if they qualify. Some states provide services to infants and toddlers and to children ages 3 to 5. Your local school should be able to tell you if they provide services for children under age 5.
Request for Referral
A parent has a right to request referral to a special education program. This can be accomplished by requesting a referral from your child’s teacher or school principal. What a “referral” means is that your child will be evaluated for special education services. A multidisciplinary team (meaning more than one person and professionals of various specialties) will test and evaluate your child for specific educational needs such as speech, writing, reading, or motor skills. Each state has different requirements for a child to receive special education services and each school will evaluate a student according to their state’s guidelines. If a parent believes that their child should be receiving special education services but has been denied, there are legal and procedural steps in place for a parent to try and resolve the issue.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Once a student has been accepted into a special education program, they will be placed on an individualized Education Program or IEP. The IEP is an individualized educational program designed to fit each student’s specific educational needs. The process of creating an IEP should involve collaboration between the school, teachers, and the parents or family of the student. The school will schedule an IEP meeting with the parents and family. During this meeting, specific goals and objectives for the student for the upcoming year will be discussed. These goals and objectives as well as related services, if needed, will be put into a written plan. Throughout the year, the school will give the parents or family progress reports on how well the student is progressing towards their goals or objectives. The IEP meeting is a perfect time for the parents or family to voice their concerns and share with the teachers and school what goals and objectives they feel are important for their child.
While educators might be the experts on curriculum and teaching techniques, parents are the experts on their child. It is important to remember that parents and school personnel both want what’s best for the student. The best possible outcome can be reached if the parents and the school collaborate to reach the student’s goals. Parents should not be intimidated by the school or teachers and should feel free to express their concerns. At the same time, parents should be open to the techniques or suggestions made by the teacher for the benefit of the student. It is in the child’s best interest to have the school, teachers, and parents working together.
If a student’s parents or family are uncomfortable meeting with the school or teachers or feel that they are not being heard, parent or family advocates are available. These advocates will explain special education procedures and even attend meetings with the family, if needed. Advocates can often be found through disability or special education organizations and websites.
If a child qualifies for special education, they may also qualify for related services. These related services may include occupational therapy, orientation and mobility services, physical therapy, counseling, and speech pathology. These services will need to be approved by the school and written into the student’s educational plan.
Confidentiality of Information
Your child has a right to privacy and only school personnel with a legitimate need to know the information in a student’s record may have access. Third parties (non-school personnel) cannot access a student’s records unless the parent gives consent.
Variety of Services Available
There is a wide range of possible services available. Some students stay in their general education classroom but receive small modifications to curriculum to facilitate their learning. These modifications might be as small as less homework or more time for test taking. Other students may need to be in a self-contained classroom and receive highly specialized instruction. It is important to understand the wide variety of special education services available.
Special Considerations for Brain Surgery
When a person undergoes brain surgery, they will often have parts of their head shaved. It is traumatic enough for a child to go through brain surgery without having to go back to school looking different. Many schools have rules and regulations against students wearing hats to school. But a student recovering from brain surgery has a right to wear a hat to school until their incision and scar heals and their hair grows back. A parent should inform the school and their child’s teachers that the student has had brain surgery and will need to wear a hat to school until their scalp has healed. If a parent cannot personally talk to all the teachers at the school or if it is a particularly large school, the parent should make copies with the child’s picture on it and a brief explanation of why they need to wear a hat. The parent should then ask the school to have these copies distributed into ALL the teachers and school personnel’s mail boxes. This is the best way to ensure that all school personnel know that this child is allowed to wear a hat to school.
Yell, M.L. (1998).The law and special education. Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.