Many children with cerebral palsy often need special education assistance while attending school. As a result, numerous special education acts have been passed in order to ensure all children with disabilities are provided with an individualized education and the means to learn in a supportive environment.
What is Special Education?
Special education is a broad term, defined by an array of services provided to children with disabilities that need additional assistance while achieving their educational goals. Some of the most common special educational services provided to special needs children include:
- Individualized education services (special learning disability assistance)
- Accommodations at schools, such as wheelchair ramps
- In-school services such as counseling and therapy resources
- Emotional counseling and resources (related service)
- Assistive technology (related service)
Who Qualifies for Special Education
Any child who has a qualifying disability is eligible for special education assistance. Under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, disabilities include:
- Health impairments
- Hearing impairments
- Emotional problems
- Physical disabilities
- Brain injuries
- Speech impairment
- Language impairment
- Orthopedic injuries (which covers children with cerebral palsy)
- Mentally challenges
When Can Children With Cerebral Palsy Start Special Education Services?
The government provides special education services to children with disabilities beginning at the age of onset and ending at age 22. Each child is mandated to have a specialized and individualized education to help them thrive and learn.
From birth to three years old an Individualized Family Service Plan (FSP) can be created for a child. Generally, an FSP is developed by gathering information from the child’s physicians and parents in order to make an individualized plan for each child’s needs.
Once a child turns three, and Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is typically created by special education teachers, counselors, and disability specialists in conjunction with parents. It is a collaborative and ongoing process. Once an IEP is complete, it should have an in-depth, specialized education plan for the child.
Most IEPs should include (if needed) physical therapy, counseling, special education assistance, assistive technology, transportation services, and more.
Once the child reaches adulthood, a Transition Into Adulthood is created, which will cover educational assistance until the age of 22, while focusing on vocational training. This transition planning should begin around the age of 14.
Nutrition While in School
Children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities may be eligible for free nutritional services at school. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with disabilities from low-income families are allowed school nutritional services at no cost. Any child with a low-income family qualifies for free or reduced school lunches.
In addition, IDEA mandates that the following services are provided to children with disabilities:
- Free nutritional consultation for each child
- Specialized food and supplements
- Feeding equipment (if needed)
- Feeding assistance from special education specialists and teachers
- Nutritional services at school for qualified special needs students include free breakfast, free lunch, a summer food program, milk program, and free snacks.
Eligibility for the nutritional services program includes a family income under the poverty level for the state you live in. Ask for the application at your child’s school’s office.