Most parents of a child with a disability want him or her to experience as typical a life as possible. For many, this includes education alongside peers without disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that disabled students must be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). In other words, as much as possible, they must be educated in the same settings they would be if they were not disabled.
Know Your Placement Options
Every school system is required to use a continuum of placement options and let the parents and guardians know what those are. Generally, options run the gamut from a regular classroom to self-contained special education, instructions in the home, a separate school, or an institution. The placement you choose should be based on the nature of your child’s disability as well as his or her strengths, emotional state, and social needs.
Know Your Rights
Some school systems balk at providing services to a student with a disability. However, IDEA carries a “zero reject” policy. This means no matter the disability, the school must educate your child and make reasonable accommodations.
Know Your Child
All children, regardless of ability, should be listened to and given the opportunity to speak. For example, if yours can’t speak, he or she should have access to assistive technology. Many students feel they belong with “regular” classmates and want to experience the equal rights adults tell them they have. That said, your kid’s personality, strengths and weaknesses in the classroom, and other factors may impact placement.