The elevator to success is out of order. You'll have to use the step at a time. ~Joe Girard

Spreading Awareness

My purpose in writing this blog is to spread awareness and provide support to parents of children with and without special needs. I have one child with a Learning Disability, more specifically, a Visual Processing Disorder including Dysgraphia and another child with a disease called Eosinophilic Esophagitis, an allergic white blood cell disease that attacks the esophagus.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Triennial Meeting - IEP vs 504 Plan

Thursday we had Madison's Triennial meeting along with her IEP meeting.  As much as I know the goal is for the child to place out of special education and no longer need services, at first, I was hoping that my daughter would still qualify.  I wanted her to have the option to receive pull out services if she needed them, as well as maintain her current modifications.  However, as I began to think about it, I realized that it would be okay if she didn't qualify, because she could still receive a 504 plan for the remainder of her school career....even through college.   Many parents do not realize that if their child tests out of receiving special services that they are still eligible for a 504 plan, allowing them to continue to receive their accommodations.  As stated in the article "A Parent's Guide to Section 504 in Public Schools" 
Section 504 states that: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...”  
Because a person with a disability is anyone who:  " (i) has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity; (ii) has a record of such an impairment; or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment” a child that "tests out" of services, but would still benefit from accommodations can and should receive a 504 if they no longer qualify for an IEP.  As well as including specific learning disabilities, a child may also receive a 504 for medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, allergies and for my EOS followers, it would include eosinophilic esophagitis as well.  If one of these issues are impeding your child's ability to perform in school, they should qualify for a 504.  The purpose of this plan is to level the playing field for our children.  What sense does it make to phase a child out of their IEP and give them no support afterward?  It is in your child's best interest to know which accommodations will benefit them while they work toward a complete phase out.

As for Madison, it didn't end up making a difference.  After struggling with the decision to have her privately tested again or letting the school do it, and then thinking about what to do if she didn't qualify, she reading, writing and math.  However, her resource teacher was shocked about the math, saying that she knows Madison knows how to do the problems.  It was visually confusing, but she also could have just had an off day.  Her IEP team is wonderful including the resource teacher, a new school psychologist (who wrote up the most comprehensive eval I have seen from a school psychologist), the classroom teacher and principal.   We reviewed her test results and rewrote her IEP making it more effective for her needs now.  It was a very productive meeting. 

So, I know I said in the beginning that I wanted her to still qualify, and I did/do, so that she can receive the services that she needs, but as a parent, there is still that feeling you get in your stomach and heart when you hear the news.  I want what is best for my child, and I will never stop fighting to attain that, but truth be told, there are so many times I just wish that she didn't have a learning disability and could complete all her work as easily and quickly as most of her peers.  However, I am so blessed that she is my daughter.  She is such a hard worker, so smart, kind, loving and beautiful.  I'm so proud of her!