The earlier parents and teachers are able to identify learning difficulties, the easier it will be to get your child on the right track. Most children with epilepsy can attend school and participate in everyday activities. However, some children may experience difficulty learning and need additional support.
Factors related to seizures that can affect learning include:
The EAWCP can help you to navigate your school’s special education system.
An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) ensures that your child receives the proper education. A 504 Plan ensures access to that education.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that states that every child with a disability is entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and will have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). An IEP describes the educational goals and accommodations, modifications, related services, and supports the school is required to provide. Under IDEA, parents are assured an active role in their child’s IEP process.
All schools must:
The school will arrange for your child to be tested and evaluated to determine:
This testing will also help to determine if your child needs special education or other services. As a parent, you are an important part of the evaluation team and are encouraged to provide as much information as possible about your child. This information can include letters from your child’s doctor about your child’s seizures and treatments, behaviors which are a result of medication and seizures, specific triggers associated with your child, and any social concerns you may have.
All of the information gathered about your child will be included in the evaluation report in order to determine if your child is eligible for special education or related services. It may also be necessary to make accommodations in your child’s classroom such as alternate learning materials, modified testing, or providing a classroom aide to help support your child.
The IEP is a plan designed to meet your child’s needs as identified in the evaluation report. The IEP team should focus on answering the following questions when creating the IEP:
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits the discrimination of public school students with disabilities. A 504 Plan is designed to remove barriers that would otherwise allow a child to thrive in a school setting. Examples of accommodations you can request for your child’s 504 Plan include:
Having a disability does not mean that your child will automatically qualify for a 504 Plan. Once you request a 504 Plan, the school will do an evaluation to determine if a 504 Plan is necessary.
Once your child is approved for a 504 Plan, a 504 team will be formed that includes your child’s teachers, a special education teacher, the school principal, you the parents, and the child (if appropriate). Then the team will work together to build an appropriate 504 Plan for your child. A 504 Plan should include specific accommodations, supports, services, names of school staff to provide each service, and the name of the person who will make sure the 504 Plan is being followed. Other things that a 504 Plan may include are specialized instruction in the classroom, and related services like speech or other therapies.
Once a 504 Plan is established, make sure your child knows what accommodations and services are available to them. Stay up to date on how the 504 Plan is working in the school, and tell your school principal and/or 504 team about any concerns you may have.
Your child is protected from discrimination in the school through the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act if they go to a public school, or a private school which receives any federal funds (funds do not have to be teaching-related). The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is the only protection available to children with disabilities in private schools that do not receive federal funds.
If you think that your child’s school is not following the IEP or 504 Plan, you should:
Several federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. These laws are in place to ensure that students with disabilities receive all of the supportive services and programs they may need to succeed academically.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life including work, school, and any area open to the general public. Through the ADA, individuals with disabilities may be entitled to certain accommodations, such as reasonable accommodations in school or the workplace, accessible public spaces, and service animals.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes a free appropriate public education available to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children. The IDEA helps to provide and allocate funds to specific special education programs for children from birth to age 21.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is legislation that guarantees certain rights to people with disabilities.
A site from the United Kingdom offering comprehensive advice on learning disabilities.
This link contains information and a formal complaint form from the PA Department of Education.
A guide to communicating with your child’s school through letter writing.
Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) works to advance and protect the civil rights of adults and children with a wide range of disabilities to ensure their rights to live in their communities with the services they need, to receive a full and inclusive education, to live free of discrimination and abuse and neglect, and to have control and self-determination over their services.
The Education Law Center’s mission is to ensure access to a quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania.
An Erie-based organization to help parents of students with special needs. This site lists your rights as a student and as a parent.
Offers resources and alternatives for filing a complaint, as well as the ability to file a complaint if needed.
The Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) offers ConsultLine, which is a phone hotline, designed to help answer any special education related questions.
This document explains what is contained in an IEP and why it is there.
Details how long each step of special education should take, dependent upon the action.
Online resource providing information, tips, and resources to parents and educators of students with learning disabilities.
The Wrights Law website has thousands of resources for parents, students, and educators regarding legislation and advocacy.