What is Special Education

What is special education?

Special education is provided to a child with an identified disability who needs specially designed instruction to meet his/her unique needs and to enable the child to access the general curriculum of the school district. A child who is eligible for special education services is entitled by federal law to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE ensures that all students with disabilities receive an appropriate public education at no cost to the family. FAPE differs from student to student because each has unique needs. As a parent of a child who has or who may have a disability that requires specially designed instruction, you will work with a team of educators and, as appropriate, specialists to determine the needs of your child and to design an appropriate program to address your child’s educational needs.  

What are related services?

Related services are those services that are required in order for a child to benefit from special education. Related services may include, but not be limited to, psychological and counseling services, speech and language services, audiological services, guidance, social work, transportation, physical and occupational therapy and medical services that are required for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. How am I notified of my child’s rights? You must be given a copy of Steps to Protect a Child’s Right to Special Education: Procedural Safeguards in Special Education one time each year that your child receives special education. Additionally, a copy must be given to you when: your child is referred for an initial evaluation or you request an evaluation; you file a complaint or request a due process hearing; or you request a copy.

Who is eligible for special education and related services?

To be eligible for special education and related services: Your child must be between 3 and 21 years old; Your child must have one or more of the following disabilities, determined by the federal Inpiduals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004):

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Deafness
  • Developmental delay (for 3- to 5-year-olds, inclusive)
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability (mental retardation)
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment (limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems such as lead poisoning, asthma, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, a heart condition, hemophilia, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome) • Physical impairment;
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment including blindness

The disability must adversely affect your child’s educational performance; and as a result; Your child requires a specially designed instructional program to address his or her unique educational needs. A Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Connecticut 2 In Connecticut, a school district is also required to provide identification, referral and evaluation services for a child who may be gifted and/or talented. A district is not required, but has the option of, providing services to a child who has been identified as being gifted and/or talented.

What about children with disabilities placed by their parents in private schools?

Children with disabilities placed by their parents in private schools do not have an inpidual right to receive some or all of the special education and related services that he or she would receive if enrolled in a public school. The school district in which the private school is located is responsible for providing what special education services it designates to children with disabilities placed by their parents in the private elementary or secondary schools in its town.


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