The American Health Lawyers Association Releases Handbook for Parents on the Disabilities Education Act

By January 20, 2016Local NewsWIRE

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS), which celebrates the idea that all children have different abilities, is pleased to announce a new handbook is now available to help parents learn about education assistance resources for their children through the Disabilities Education Act.

About 15 percent of U.S. children aged 3-17 have one or more developmental disabilities and about 13 percent of public school students receive special education services. Some 35 percent of those students have specific learning disabilities. To help their parents navigate through what may be an overwhelming process in determining if their child may qualify for educational assistance and the programs available to them, the American Health Lawyers Association in Washington, DC has recently released “A Handbook for Parents: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (IDEA), offering practical information and advice.

The Handbook explains that IDEA provides federal funding to states and local school districts for special education of infants, toddlers, pre-school and school-age children. It also covers the “six pillars” of IDEA. They are:

• IEP: The “individualized education program” (IEP) is a personalized plan for a child’s educational needs that describes the special education and services the child will receive from the school. The IEP must be developed within 30 days after a child has been determined eligible for Part B services and is written by a team that includes parents, a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, someone who can interpret evaluation results and the child (if appropriate).

• FAPE: Every disabled child is entitled to a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE), meaning that education is paid for by the government and meets standards set by the state’s educational agency.

• LRE: The education must be provided in the “least restrictive environment” (LRE), which means a child with a disability should be educated with children who do not have disabilities when possible.

• Appropriate Evaluation: Parents should talk to their pediatrician or contact a local early intervention office and request an evaluation if they feel their child might benefit from diagnostic testing to measure physical, cognitive, communicative, social/emotional or adaptive development.

• Parent and Teacher Participation: Parents have the right to be informed of and to participate in all special education decisions about their child. All evaluations require parental or family member consent and are generally free of charge.

• Procedural Safeguards: The school must provide a notice explaining the procedural safeguards, including the complaint and appeals process, at least once per year.

The Handbook also reviews eligibility requirements for transitioning children from pre-school to school-age services, and early intervention services (EIS) available such as speech and language, hearing, occupational/physical therapy, medical services, counseling and transportation. The Handbook additionally provides information for post-secondary education and college age students no longer covered by IDEA but who are protected by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The LDSS hopes that parents of children who may qualify for services provided under IDEA will take the time to review the Handbook to learn about all of the resources available to them. Most of all, the LDSS wants parents to know they should never feel intimidated or hesitate to ask questions as they are their child’s best advocate. The Handbook is free and may be downloaded at

The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) is a family support group to benefit people with Down syndrome and their families through local leadership, outreach, education, and advocacy to champion and celebrate acceptance and inclusion. Meetings are held every 4th Tuesday of the month, typically with a guest speaker and social time for families to meet and interact with one another. LDSS encourages people to bring their children. LDSS is an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit

Candy Bogardus

Cynthia Wright
Carriage Trade PR