An Overview Of Special Education

Learning how to navigate the special education system can be difficult for any family, but it can be an even greater challenge for military families whose educational environments are constantly changing. Military OneSource offers tools and resources to help make things easier for you and your family. Start here to learn about the special education process, including:

•Eligibility • Relevant regulations • Moving • Moving overseas • Graduating or leaving school

Special education is specially designed instruction provided to meet unique needs of children with special needs, ages 3 through 21. Let’s take a look at some of the basics.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act assists with early intervention services for eligible children, birth to age 3, and special education services for eligible children, ages 3 to 21, in three specific areas:

• Identification • Evaluation • Delivery

Children qualify for special education based on guidelines set by the state and Department of Defense.

The U.S. Department of Education uses specific regulations that implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in public schools in the United States and its territories. States then create guidance to supplement these regulations. You can find state regulations on state education agency websites.

The Department of Defense school system operates under Department of Defense policy as outlined in Department of Defense Instruction 1342.12, “Provision of Early Intervention and Special Education Services to Eligible DoD Dependents,” April 11, 2005.

The act also protects your child’s educational progress when you move to a new school district. School districts must provide comparable services that honor the previous school’s individualized education plan. Keep in mind, the new school district may not necessarily recreate the same program.

Bring current copies of your child’s IEP and eligibility records before transferring to start similar services  immediately in your new location.

The Department of Defense Education Activity special education website lists special education relocation suggestions and contacts for families moving overseas. Parents should contact the responsible special education coordinator if a child receiving special education also requires:

• Special equipment • Assistive technology • Individualized paraprofessional support

Young adults with disabilities can find a number of continuing education and work opportunities within their communities. You can help find these opportunities by calling your local state vocational rehabilitation program.

Understanding and navigating the special education process can be overwhelming, so make it as smooth as possible with these tips and resources. •

– Military OneSource

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