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Diagnosis of Disabilities and Special Education Eligibility

  • Published: 2009-01-01 (Revised/Updated 2014-03-14) : Author: JoAnn Collins
  • Synopsis: Do you have a young child that you think has autism or another disability and the school disagrees.

Main Document

"There are things that parents can do if their child is found ineligible, but many parents aren't told what the process is, so they cannot participate."

Do you have a young child that you think has autism or another disability

Does your school district disagree with you and say that they do not? This article will discuss why it is so difficult to get a proper diagnosis of a disability, and also why it is difficult for a parent to have their child found eligible for special education services.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that states engage in the Child Find process. This process requires states to identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities who are in need of early intervention or special education services. The states must then give children with disabilities a Free Appropriate Public Education to meet all of their needs.

Below are the problems that I see with diagnosis and eligibility:

1. Some school districts do not have psychologists with enough experience or training to diagnose certain types of disabilities; dyslexia, learning disabilities or autism, etc. School districts often use the word classification rather than diagnosis, but they mean the same thing.

2. Many school districts refuse to acknowledge that a child has autism, even if the parent has a previous diagnosis from a physician or Independent evaluator. I believe that this is because, the school district knows that services for children with autism are expensive, and most do not want to pay for them.

3. A lot of special education personnel want to label a child with a behavioral or emotional disorder, rather than figure out what the child's disability truly is. The child will not receive an appropriate education, if their disabilities are not correctly diagnosed.

4. There are not enough free or low cost qualified medical and independent educational staff available, to determine diagnosis's for children with disabilities. The US has wonderful medical and independent educational staff, but they are usually extremely expensive, and not available for parents who cannot afford to pay.

5. School districts are not held accountable for violating Child Find! There is no punishment for not finding a child eligible. Even if eventually the child is found eligible to receive special education services, the school is not punished for finding the child ineligible in the first place.

6. Many special education personnel are not truthful with parents during the eligibility process, and many parents do not know this. If a parent understood that they were being lied to, they could learn skills to overcome the lies, which may help get their child eligible for special education.

7. The eligibility process is so tough that few parents understand it! There are things that parents can do if their child is found ineligible, but many parents aren't told what the process is, so they cannot participate. More training for parents in the area of eligibility is needed!

By understanding what the difficulties are in diagnosing a child with disabilities and having them found eligible for special education services, you can fight for your child. If your child needs special education but cannot get it, their life may be forever ruined. Use this information to stand up for your child, they are counting on you!

Reference: JoAnn Collins is the author of Disability Deception; Lies Disability Educators Tell and How Parents Can Beat Them at Their Own Game! As an educational advocate for over 15 years she has successfully helped hundreds of parents navigate the special education system. For more information on special education and how to advocate for your child go to:

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