Q – How do I know if my child has special needs?
A – In some cases a child may demonstrate signs of significant developmental delays from an early age or fail to reach certain milestones. However, in often cases it is more difficult to detect, so it is especially important to be an active participant in your child's education to look for signs of struggle. Parents should pay attention to their child's test scores and grades and patterns to suggest difficulty.
Speaking with your child's teachers regarding his/her classroom performance and possible areas of struggle is critical – this should take place regularly throughout the year. For example:
- Does s/he spend an inordinate amount of time on homework?
- Does s/he make remarks like "I'm the stupidest one in my class" or "Why does school have to be so boring?" Children struggling in school sometimes express their frustration in this manner. The nature of the child's disability could be less academic and more emotional/behavioral or social.
- Is s/he demonstrating a pattern of acting out in class or at home?
- Does s/he seem overly aggressive?
- Have you noticed a difficulty in forming friendships and interacting with other children of the same age?
If your child is demonstrating any of these problems, this could also be affecting his/her academically and impairing his/her ability to learn. As a special education attorney, I would first do a thorough review of the student's educational records, request the school to perform a cumulative educational assessment, review assessment reports and attend the IEP meeting to ensure that the student receive appropriate services and/or accommodations.
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