Q: Will My Son Do Better in a Special Education Classroom?
Depending on the accommodations laid out in your child’s IEP, he might not need to be placed in a special education class. Find out if your school offers ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching) classes or one-on-one aides, two options that could help him function in a class with his neurotypical peers.
Q: “My son is in second grade. He has autism and a mood disorder. He has emotional breakdowns, and will get angry when he feels left out, so I don’t want to place him in a special education class in public school. Any suggestions about placing him in a mainstream classroom?”
I presume your son has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) under the IDEA, which sets forth his classroom setting as well as his academic and behavioral supports and accommodations. The IDEA requires that students be educated in the “least restrictive environment,” and the IEP team must consider each less restrictive setting before turning to one that is more specialized.
I hope your son has had a recent psycho-educational assessment of his academic performance, but he may need further evaluation to look at his behaviors and emotional needs. This process is called a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA), and it can result in a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). The BIP will supplement the academic aspects of his IEP.
There are a number of ways that a student with disabilities may be able to function in a classroom that is not fully self-contained. Many schools offer ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching) classes, in which a regular education and special education teacher work together in one classroom composed of both regular and special education students.
Another possibility for a student with emotional or anger issues is to have a one-on-one aide assigned to be with him at all times. This can be an effective way to help him function in a regular class, while taking into consideration the needs of the other students.
What if IEP Accommodations Aren’t Working?
Determining the best accommodations to include in an IEP is a collaborative effort, one that includes the child’s parents, teachers, and other school staff. If you have noticed that an accommodation is not working, the first step might be to speak with his teacher. The teacher can make minor changes in the way his present accommodations are implemented, and can suggest more extensive modifications that might better address his difficulties. If you want to have minor changes formalized in his IEP, this won’t necessarily require a meeting, just a written modification, if both you and the school agree on what the changes should be.
If you want to review his accommodations more broadly, you have the right to call an IEP meeting at any time. Before that meeting, you should think about what is working for your son and what is not.
Special Education Class vs. Mainstream: Next Steps
- Download: How Do I Create an IEP for My Child? Find Out in this Free Resource
- Watch: Every 504 Plan Should Include These Accommodations
- Read: ADHD at School – Should Your Child Be in Special Ed Classes?
- Learn: Common Problems & Helpful Solutions for Your IEP/504 Plan
Susan Yellin, Esq., is an attorney and mother of three. She is the director of Advocacy and Counseling Services at The Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education, a New York City-based practice that provides educational evaluations, management, and guidance for students from grades K through graduate school.
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