Special Education Resources and Options Allow Children with Birth Injuries to Thrive in an Educational Environment while Meeting their Specific Needs.
When birth injuries occur, the damages may not unfold until later. Many birth injuries involve the baby’s oxygen deprivation during labor, or infection, or other neurological and physical damage affecting the brain or body after a difficult delivery. It may be years later when the pediatrician notes critical milestones that the child misses or the school reports the child’s learning disabilities. Such wake-up calls are devastating for parents, in pain to see their loved one thrive. Children born with cognitive disabilities or other birth injuries have physical, emotional, and educational special needs that may continue throughout their lives.
Obtaining the resources and services that a child with special needs requires can be challenging, especially for those with little financial means. Even financially well-off parents can struggle in the face of costly services surmounting over years of a child’s life. Developmentally delayed children, those with Cerebral Palsy, or children with other impairments and disabilities may need caretaker assistance, audio or visual assistive devices, speech therapists, physical therapists, and a host of other educational and caretaking services. Finding the right educational and other resources for your child with a birth injury can be an overwhelming task, but there are many private and public options and avenues to pursue. Here, we will delve into some of the many beneficial special education resources that may offer solace to parents and a platform to thrive for children coping with the effects of birth injuries.
Educational Options for Children with Birth Injury-Related Special Needs
Fortunately, educational scholarships are available to children with special needs from national organizations that fund birth injury special needs students with accommodations for their educational needs. Also, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is an anti-discrimination provision that removes learning obstacles in a regular classroom. It allows special needs students extra time to take tests, speech therapy, additional breaks, and other assistance. And specialized schools that accept scholarships funded by organizations, such as the United Cerebral Palsy and Head Start Programs for special needs children, are also available to defray the high costs of specialized care and education.
Other resources funded by state and federal law include in-home education for children with severe disabilities who require specialized services to meet their needs outside of a standard school classroom. Private special education in private schools for children with cognitive and physical disabilities is another option for those who can pay the tuition. More commonly, however, children access special education resources from public schools.
Advantages of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for a Child with a Birth Injury
A teacher may be the first person to recognize a child’s special needs. Teachers get close views of a child’s struggles with learning language, math, and other subjects, which may prompt a conference with parents to discuss a child’s individual needs and resources. One such resource is an Individualized Educational Plan or IEP. Schools in New Jersey and across the nation provide IEPs to children with special learning needs. For example, a child with auditory processing problems may need special equipment to hear the teacher. They may have an auditory device that projects the teacher’s voice into the student’s ear to filter out other noise.
An IEP allows a child access to special education resources and services. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), funding for special education services is available to those with an IEP. To qualify for an IEP and special services, school professionals evaluate the student and assess whether the child needs accommodations to learn and keep up with course work. Teachers, counselors, doctors, and parents contribute to the assessment by observing the child’s academic, learning, and health history.
Obtaining Academic Support through Special Education Resources
A parent, teacher, or other school staff member may note a child’s inability to concentrate in class, anti-social behaviors, truancy, and persistent poor grades before referring the child to a special education evaluation. A school psychologist then evaluates the child, and the review goes to a team of professionals who recommend an IEP. If they do not recommend an IEP, a parent may obtain an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). If the child is eligible, a written educational plan is designed for the child, and teachers, parents, and child discuss the options for academic support at home and in school.
In addition to an IEP, the child must have one of the qualifying conditions. Those with autism, deafness, hearing impairment, visual impairment, both vision and hearing deficiency, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, orthopedic impairment, learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, other health impairment or disability, may qualify for services and resources to help the child learn the school curriculum.
What an IEP Contains
An IEP contains a detailed educational plan tailored to a child’s needs. It includes a summary of the child’s school performance from assignments, tests, and observation. Annual measurable goals for the child’s academic year are also included, specifically tailored to a child’s academic, social, physical, and educational needs. To accomplish a student’s annual goals, the special education and other services are listed, and the extent to which the student participates with other non-disabled students, the state and district testing the child receives and how, the start and end date for services and their location, long-term non-school goals, the progress criteria and progress notification to parents, and notification of the child’s rights at turning 18 are included in the plan.
A Complimentary 504 Plan with a Child’s IEP
With the IEP comes a 504 plan for grades kindergarten through 12th grade. A 504 plan is also a specialized educational plan, but it does not need an annual review and is available to anyone with a disability, not just the specific disabilities listed in the IDEA, and is typically implemented for children in the classroom who need extra time for testing or classroom aides for learning assistance. A 504 plan develops with input from teachers, counselors, coaches, parents, test results, and classroom behavior.
Handling Disagreements Surrounding a Child’s IEP
Parents who disagree with the IEP may negotiate with the school officials, request mediation to resolve any disputes between parents and the school, request a due process hearing before a neutral party, or file a written complaint to the State Education Agency. When disagreements arise or a parent needs assistance getting their child’s special needs met at school, an attorney can help advocate for the child with special needs.
Funding Your Child’s Special Education Needs Beyond IEPs and Public Resources in New Jersey
Advocating for your child’s unique needs due to a birth injury is not always easy when you do not know your rights or the available resources. While IEPs, 504 plans and other available special education resources may be avenues to pursue on behalf of your child, covering the total costs of a child’s needs with a birth injury can be an insurmountable challenge without additional financial resources. In many cases, a preventable birth injury caused by the negligence of a healthcare provider or facility may be compensable through legal action.
When mistakes, oversights, and other errors result in children living the remainder of their lives with Cerebral Palsy, cognitive impairments, developmental delays, or other physical or neurological disabilities, our seasoned birth injury lawyers stand ready to advocate for these innocent children’s rights. If you suspect your child may have a claim against a medical professional, hospital, or healthcare provider, contact our team at 866-708-8617 to advise and guide you in determining whether you can file a lawsuit. We are here to handle the birth injury legal process when you need an advocate for your child’s needs.