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How can I get my child extra support in school?

A pre-school, elementary or high school student with a disability may need extra support in school. Some disabilities keep students from participating in school in the same way as other students, like deafness or being unable to walk. Other disabilities, like dyslexia or low IQ, may keep a child from learning in the same way as other students. Disabilities such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Oppositional Defiance Disorder may keep a child from controlling their behaviors. Children with disruptive behaviors may miss a lot of class time or have trouble paying attention in class.

If a student can learn the same way as other students, but is not succeeding in school, that student may need accommodations.  Examples of accommodations are a wheelchair ramp, a sign language interpreter, and extra breaks for a student with ADHD. Accommodations should be recorded in a 504 Plan.

If a student is not learning in school, the school should try interventions. Interventions may include tutoring or a special reading group. If interventions do not help, a student with a disability may need an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP records the plan for helping a child meet goals specific to that student. Examples of IEP goals are learning math facts, improving speech skills, and developing coping skills.

Both a 504 Plan and IEP are legal documents created by a team at the school that must include the parent. If a school does not follow a 504 Plan or IEP, a parent can file a complaint.

A parent can request that a 504 Plan or IEP be created for a child by writing a letter to the school. Date the letter and state that the child has a disability which contributes to struggles in school. Give the letter to the school district office but be sure to keep an additional copy of the letter. If the school does not respond or denies the request, contact the Ohio Department of Education at 1-877-644-6338. For more information about requesting special education, see

This article was written by Danielle Gadomski Littleton and appeared in The Alert: Volume 32, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!

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