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"Special Ed" includes specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, multiple disabilities, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairments, visual impairments, autism, deaf-blindness, traumatic brain injury, and other health impairments.

The NYSDE recently published a memo sent to districts regarding the enforcement of the IDEA act as it relates to 2E (twice-exceptional) children. This memo and accompanying letter (pdf format) are informative.

Governor Patterson's office has confirmed that he signed A11463, AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to special education programs and services provided to home-schooled students , on 7 July 2008. It became effective immediately and is now law.

New Requirements for the Provision of Special Education Services to Home-Instructed (“Home-Schooled”) Students (from NY Bd. of Ed.)

If you have a special needs child and want to get services from your district for the coming school year, the new law requires that you file a written request for services with your district's board of education before June 1. To cover your bases, some people suggest that you send copies of your request to the board of education, your district superintendent (see list of Community and High School Superintendents (pdf format), How do I find out what school district I am in?), and your Committee on Special Education (CSE).

This new requirement is the same that is required of children who are enrolled in public or private schools.

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Parents who are concerned about ADHD or kids wanting to play all the time and not buckle down to the serious stuff--read Dr. Peter Gray's article about Problem Solving, Creativity and ADHD new

On this website: Other Information


Read Dr. Thomas Armstrong's op-ed piece "The Myth of the Normal Brain: Embracing Neurodiversity".
"[H]ow do we decide whether any individual human brain or mind is abnormal or normal? ... many disorders of the brain or mind bring with them strengths as well as weaknesses.

"...The cumulative effect of these studies suggests that a more judicious approach to treating mental disorders would be to replace a “disability” or “illness” paradigm with a “diversity” perspective that takes into account both strengths and weaknesses and the idea that variation can be positive in and of itself. To this end, a new term has arisen within the autism rights community: neurodiversity."

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"Special Ed" – or Something Else?

Not all diagnoses of "Special Ed" are correct. Read about Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences and a couple of examples from my own experience:

My son struggled with reading and writing during his formative years. My sister, an occupational therapist, told me he had "Lego finger syndrome." This afflicts boys who obsessively play with Legos, instead of having a well-rounded roster of play activities including throwing and catching a ball. His fingertips were over-developed, while the muscles in the palm of his hand were under-developed. At age nine or ten, my son received a year of physical therapy for small motor control before he could hold a pencil properly. After a year of following exercises described in the introduction of Loops and Other Groups , by Mary Benbow, he developed the dexterity and stamina to write for a reasonable length of time. He counted paper clips one-handed, rolled a pencil up and down between the fingers and palm of one hand, made clay mushroom shapes one-handed, and played jacks. After a year he could write, and we had clay figures all over the house.

My son's reading problem was more mysterious. He still couldn’t read independently at age 11. His eyesight tested 20/20 with his annual check-ups. It wasn't until he had a serious eye exam at the SUNY College of Optomtery that we were able to assess the problem. (I have heard from parents who were disappointed with a recent exam here.) Then we found a good vision therapist, followed by a year and a half of what I called "eye calisthenics." Today my son does not wear glasses, is an avid reader, and has chosen writing as his profession. I could not be more surprised!

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Hearing and Listening Problems

Visit the website of Dr Tomatis, a Canadian physician who is doing cutting-edge research into listening problems and hearing disorders that are often diagnosed as learning disabilities.

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Visual Impairments

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Dyslexia is a broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person's fluency or accuracy in being able to read, write, and spell. (from Wikipedia)

To have your child's reading tested (for dyslexia and other reading issues):

Send a certified letter requesting a psycho-educational evaluation to your school district Committee on Special Education (CSE). You can give a reason for the request, but I’m not sure it is required. Here is a link for names and addresses of the CSE offices. Shared experiences say that you might not hear anything back, or you might be lied to about your rights, or you might actually get an appointment for testing. Be prepared to follow-up with phones calls and visits, to advocate for your child's rights. If you have been refused, repeate your claim that the district is out of compliance.

Consider getting vision therapy, and trying a good sight reading program as opposed to phonics. Different approaches work for different kids. Other techniques that have helped kids with difficulties include learning to say the alphabet backwards and shaping letters and words out of clay.

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Phys. Ed. for Special Ed

Physical education is very helpful for special ed students, promoting physical and motor fitness and skills.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Public Law 108-466 (2004), states that physical education is a required service for children and youth between the ages of 3-21 who qualify for special education services because of a specific disability or developmental delay.

Some resources:

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College for Special Ed students

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Special Ed FAQ

How can I get extended time for the SAT?

It is a challenge to get extended time for the SAT, but it is possible. See the College Board information page. One homeschooling parent recommends PACE for a low cost eval:

"Pace University - The McShane Center - offers sliding scales neuro-psych evals. The process is slower than doing it privately because they do the testing in short segments, max. two hrs at a time, and you have to fit that into your schedule. But they are fair and competent, and a good deal. Private evals can cost as much as a semester at college!"
McShane Center, Services and Fees.

How do I get special accommodations for my special ed child when it is time for her to take the college boards? She needs to be able to use a computer for the essay portion of the exam.

The college board website has very clear guidelines along with deadline dates for requesting accommodations. You have to have very specific medical documentation for the College Board – the NYS Bd of Ed evaluations and/or and IEP (Individualized Education Plan) are not accepted by themselves. You need to get an early start compiling the medical and other documents that are required.

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What are the testing requirements for a special ed kid?

Testing is required every other year in grades 4 – 8, and every year in grades 9 – 12. Special ed kids still have to take the standardized tests required by the State, but it depends on the classification of the child and what is stated in his or her IEP. I know one student who has "extended time" written into her IEP so she gets extended time, and also the use of a laptop in the classroom. Not every child would get that – those things are decided at the IEP meeting.

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I would like to start homeschooling my son asap. My nine-year-old son is currently enrolled in public school, autism 6:1:1 class. He is receving OT, PT and SP at school and through RSA. He also has been state and citywide exams exempted (it's on his IEP). Before I send my LOI (Letter of Intent, I have some questions:
  1. Do I have to follow the "Homeschooling Procedures" (pdf format) posted 12/12/2008? Is it true that: "parent must submit a summary of progress from a certified special education teacher"?

A friend with a special ed daughter tells me that she has never submitted any reports to the homeschooling office. They get progress reports from their SETSS provider that they submit to the IEP team every spring when they meet to determine their daughter's IEP for the next school year.

  1. Do I follow the same procedures to request to continue the related services as your RAQ "How do I obtain special education services for my homeschooled child?" (see below)

You request your special ed services from your CSE. Since your son will no longer receive services at his school, you want to make sure he will get some SETSS tutoring in the home. You should ask for at least five periods per week and they should provide tutoring in whatever subject areas are needed. With an autism dx you might even be able to get eight to ten periods per week if you want it. Some parents feel they can limit the number of sessions, or double them up, which allows them to do more group activities, field trips, and other stuff. People whose kids are needier will get more tutoring periods.

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How do I obtain special education services for my homeschooled child?

If you have a special needs child and want to get services from your district for the coming school year, the new law requires that you file a written request for services with your district's board of education before June 1 of the current year. To cover your bases, some people suggest that you send copies of your request to the board of education, your district superintendent, and your Committee on Special Education (CSE).

In school year 2007-08) services to special ed homeschoolers were denied, but were reinstated. You can read the new law at:

You must act by June 1 in order to secure services (supplied free by the city of New York) for your child during the following school year.

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If your child is not currently receiving special ed services and has never received them, you need to request an evaluation from your local CSE in writing. The CSE will then schedule it within 30 days of the written request. That's the law. Once the results are available (that can take a month as well), they will schedule a meeting to determine whether the child needs services and what they recommend. If the parents are not happy with the result of that meeting they can then get their own private evaluation at their own expense (CSE evaluations are free and the people who do the testing have a good reputation, producing results that have been consistently confirmed as accurate). Some folks want more services than what is offered or disagree with certain aspects of the evaluation, so they pay privately for their own evals. It can be a time-consuming process to get through the system but seeking private evaluations can be very expensive. Also note that even when the CSE makes a recommendation for services, parents are not obligated to follow the recommendation. For example, if they recommend counseling, and the parents already have a therapist for their child, they can decline services.

Parents are never obligated to accept DoE services, HOWEVER, if your child's tests/year end assessment indicate that he or she is more than one grade level below standard, or below the 33rd percentile in score, and you can't prove to the DoE that you are addressing the problems privately, then you can be charged with educational neglect and put on probation for homeschooling if you continue to refuse services.

Homeschoolers may find that the administration at the DoE is cumbersome and inefficient, but the providers (therapists and tutors), once you get them, have proven to be incredibly caring, dedicated, and knowledgeable people who relate wonderfully well to children.

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More info on Requesting Special Ed Services

If you child has been receiving special ed services and you want to continue for the upcoming school year, parents need to send a written request before May 31st for the upcoming school year. This procedure was not required prior to the new law -- A04915 that was passed in June, 2008.

Here is a link to the law.

Here is part of the law that applies to this request:

Such a request shall be filed with the board of education of the school district in which the parent, guardian or persons legally having custody of the pupil resides on or before the first day of June preceding the school year for which the request is made; provided that, in the case of education for students with disabilities, where a student is first identified as a student with a disability after the first day of June preceding the school year for which the request is made and prior to the first day of April of such current school year or when a student with a disability establishes residence in the school district after June first of the preceding year and prior to April first of the current school year, such request shall be submitted within thirty days after such student is first identified or establishes residence in the district, as applicable.

For students first identified or establishing residence after March first of the current school year, any such request for education for students with disabilities in the current school year that is submitted on or after April first of such current school year, shall be deemed a timely request for such services in the following school year.

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Applying for SETTS

If I apply for Special Ed services for my child, is the request forwarded to the original parties they were first sent to? The law is vague - the VESID office (Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities) advised we submit to the dist. supt. but since homeschooling in NYC is administered by the central office of homeschooling (whereas in other parts of NYSit is administered by the dist. supt. office) I have sent my letters to the dist. supt, Wm. Harrington at the homeschool office, and my CSE chairperson, to cover all bases. I sent the one to my CSE via regular mail, return receipt requested.

My child receives related services as specified by her IEP (Individualized Education Plan). However, we have not been given SETTS (or SETSS: Special Education Teacher Support Service). When attempting to receive SETTS from our zone school, I was told that they were told by the Central office of Homeschooling that by opting to homeschool I had forfeited SETTS. Was this info correct?


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One Parent's Story

Those who say you've forfeited SETTS by homeschooling are misinformed. You are still entitled to SETTS. The new law that I helped put in place last year specifically states that homeschooled children can receive services in the home!! The problem is finding a provider. Your CSE (Committee on Special Education - NYC)) district should be sending you a list of SETTS providers. It's also available on their website somewhere but it's a huge list. My daughter gets SETTS so I have been through this.

You should get a P3 or P4 letter at the same time you get your RSA papers from your CSE. This letter is just like the RSA and will state how many hours of SETTS you get. You need to go through the list and call all the ones in your area and keep notes as to whether or not they are available, called back, won't accept BoE rates, etc. You must keep this documentation and submit it as evidence. Note the time and date that you called and whether or not you left a message and if they called you back. Then you have to file for an impartial hearing to request SETTS at an enhanced rate of pay because you were unable to find a provider.

Now if you live outside Manhattan you might be able to find a SETTS tutor but we live in NYC and were not. I have a friend in Sheepshead Bay who has found one at the BoE rate so if you can find one at that rate, you are very lucky.

Once you prove you can't find a SETTS provider at the BoE rate, you call a private agency like EBL Coaching (that's who we use) and ask them if they can provide you with one in your home. Then you file your impartial hearing and state that you want the ENHANCED RATE OF PAY for SETTS and that you found a provider (EBL or any other agency or person you can find) who can provide the services at $XXX rate. You'll get a hearing date.

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I have had to go to hearings a few times, and a few times they've settled without a hearing. You don't need a lawyer. It's pretty straightforward because what you are asking for is something that's already written in your child's IEP. . If not how would I go about appealing this decision? Did Harrington or the school send something in writing? They were wrong in telling you that, but I was told when I took my daughter out of public school that she couldn't get ANY services unless she was attending school so for three years we got no services until I discovered otherwise. They simply don't know and don't have the time/energy to try to find out what's right. Harrington knows we get services! I've sent him copies of the law. Your zoned school most likely won't be able to provide you with SETTS because there is a shortage of teachers. Besides, you want someone who will come to your house and work with you on the things you are doing, specific to your child. You are entitled to get that. I got it and I know others who have gotten it too. you just have to hang in there and fight for it. Good luck!

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Special Ed Websites & Resources

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Getting Help

See also the questions posed in the Special Ed FAQ.

A NYC Occupational Therapist who has extensive experience with the DoE (Dept. of Education) offers this advice: pester, pester pester. Call the CSE office and demand the status of your case. Ask for the agency that your evaluations were contracted out too and get their numbers. Call the agency and find out who your case was assigned to and when it will be done. Each agency has a set amount of days to get the evaluations done – and if they can't they have to send it back to the DoE and the DoE has to reassign it.... The problem is that some agencies know in the beginning that they will not be able to do it, but hold onto your referral until the last minute. By calling, you stay on top of the process and can let CSE know if you're not going to be seen by that agency so they can get someone else. After the evaluations have been done, call CSE again to tell them so they can watch out for the evaluations and make sure they are not lost. You can definitely hurry and smooth the process by calling and staying active.

Homeschoolers are most effective at getting services if they are educated and know what to ask for and WHY their children would benefits from the services. Articulating how your child’s disabilities directly impact the child’s education is the key to getting the services.

A parent homeschooling a child with Asperger’s offers this advice:

  1. Send your initial request for evaluation by certified mail, return receipt requested. That way you have proof they got it.
  2. They mysteriously do not consider your written request for an evaluation to be consent to an evaluation, and the clock doesn't start ticking on the time limit for the evaluation until you've signed a consent form. If you don't get one back from them in the mail right away, go to the CSE office in person and park yourself there ... with all your kids ... and tell them you're there to sign the consent form. Don't leave until you've signed it.
  3. Pester, pester, pester.

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From another parent:

The DOE waitlist for free CSE evaluations is always crazy-long. Here are some options and some advice:

If your child has an IEP you can have SETTS tutoring hours put on the IEP, even as a homeschooler. SETSS are Special Education tutors who must have a special ed degree in the grade level applicable to the child. SETSS is paid for by the DoE. Here is the contact list (pdf format) of all NYC SETSS tutors. They can also work privately (i.e., you'd pay out of pocket). This list is by borough.

Verbal Connect Autism assessment and therapy services of top quality, created by a highly qualified and nurturing homeschooling parent. (They also offer help filling out the insurance forms.)

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