Missing Milestones: When the next step for your child is an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)

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Missing Milestones

Have you noticed your child struggling in school? Perhaps they are having a hard time learning to read, can’t grasp multi step math problems, or are having difficulty staying focused in class. Their self-esteem is plummeting as school work becomes increas-ingly challenging, and their struggles seem insurmountable. Your child may have special needs and, if so, the sooner you can identify these needs and address them, the better it will be for their overall confidence and academic performance. So what can you do?

For starters, if you see your child strug- gling, talk to their doctor and teacher. Discuss milestones they may or may not have met and determine if their teacher notices the same challenges you see at home. If you feel these struggles are getting worse or think they may benefit from additional accommodations at school, you might consider having them tested. This testing can be done for free either through your state’s early intervention program (if your child is under age three) or through your child’s school district. The evaluation and specific tests administered may range, but evaluators will typically test your child’s IQ and will likely also test language, motor, behavior, and achievement skills.

Psst… Check out How to Help a Child Bond With Their Special Needs Classmate

IEP or 504 plan

Depending on the evaluation results and your child’s needs, your child may qualify for either an IEP or a 504 plan. An IEP details your child’s specific goals and a plan for what your school will do to help meet those goals, including specific services, like speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and academic support. A 504 plan helps provide accommodations for support within the classroom, such as additional time on tests, an aide in the classroom, preferential seating, and/or modified homework. Typically students who have a less severe disability (like anxiety, ADHD, etc.) and not a diagnosed learning disability will receive a 504. Students who need more services, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, special education teacher support services, etc., would receive an IEP.

Know Your Rights

Federal law indicates that every child is entitled to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment possible. Three specific federal laws apply to children with special needs, including the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Ace, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These laws’ specifics can vary by state, so it’s important for you to understand the procedures and criteria specific to your state. 

IDEA stipulates that a child’s issues must fall into one of 13 categories to be eligible for special education services. Section 504 mandates that schools cannot discriminate again students who have disabilities and are required to provide appropriate accommodations to them. Students covered under Section 504 usually have less severe disabilities or do not fall into one of the categories stipulated under IDEA. The ADA indicates that children with special needs cannot be discriminated against and must be provided appropriate services and programs suitable to their needs. If your school district refuses to provide appropriate services to your child, you may initiate a due process hearing to challenge their decision.

Focus on Your Child’s Strengths

It is easy to go into a bit of negative space when dealing with your child’s educational support. Remember to focus on your child’s strengths; they may struggle with reading and writing but may excel with math computation. Or maybe your child is incredibly social, empathetic, and  kind. Perhaps they are a beautiful artist, a great storyteller, or a whiz at building Legos. Praise your child for small accomplishments, like sitting next to a friend at lunch who seemed sad, drawing a beautiful flower, or creating an elaborate Lego tower. As you help your child academically with areas where they may struggle, continue to build their self-esteem, and explain that no one is perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses, as well as areas we need to work on improving. Your special needs child can still have dreams and aspirations that can be achieved with support and guidance.

Special Needs Directory

Academy For Young Minds
11-20 46th Rd. Long Island city, NY
646- 670-5999

AYM is an independent private school for mid-high functioning school-age children on the autism spectrum. Led by Board certified Behavior Analysts®, the school focuses on social and functional language skills and provides personalized, rigorous curriculum using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. AYM’s core philosophy strives to ensure that all learners on the autism spectrum can achieve their potential and successful integration into society. The school’s educational model is deeply rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis, personalized instruction, and the multidisciplinary approach. They value working in partnership with families, professionals, and community to ensure diverse learning opportunities in collaborative ways.

Advantage Care Health Centers
Long Island – Nassau County
189 Wheatley Road, Brookville, NY 11545

Advantage Care now offers in-person and Tele-Health services to all new and cur- rent patients through their secure online platform visit: advantagecare.doxy.me to see how it works. Tele-Health Services for Children and Adults include the Following: Primary Care, Psychotherapy, Psychiatry. Advantage Care continues to take proper measures to keep their patients, community, and staff safe during the pandemic. Advantage Care Health Centers are Long Island’s premier Federally Qualified Health Centers. They accept Medicaid, Medicaid Managed Care Plans, Medicare.

The mission of their centers is to provide the highest quality comprehensive primary, dental, mental, and behavioral health care services. They offer these services to all mem- bers of the community with a commitment to those who might otherwise be excluded from the health care system, while remaining cost-effective and efficient. Advantage Care specializes in providing services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Biondi Education Center
463 Hawthorne Ave., Yonkers

K-12th Grades. Their nurturing setting and individualized therapeutic support help students build their academic skills, grow their self-esteem, and learn to overcome frustration all skills necessary for success. At Biondi they use evidence-based approaches to work with students, which allows them to continue their academic and emotional progress. Certified Teachers and Teaching Assistants, Clinical Psychologists, School Social Workers, Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists support students at their Elementary and Secondary Schools. Contact Stephanie Buckman, MSW, Director of Admissions, SBuckman@RisingGround. org.

Camp Lee Mar
450 Route 590, Lackawaxen, PA 18435
(215) 658-1708

A private 7 week residential summer program offering a unique curriculum incorporating a strong Academic and Speech program with traditional camp activities. Campers flourish at Lee Mar due to the structured environment we provide which allows our campers to feel comfortable and secure. Careful study is made of parent input, school (IePs), camper interview, etc., so that the interests and needs of each child can best be determined for suitable grouping prior to the camper arriving. At Lee Mar the children  and comfort and friendship with children of similar age and functioning level. From this foundation campers are encouraged to embrace and learn new skills and have new experiences which they can build upon on their return home.

Cardinal O’Connor School
16 North Broadway, Irvington, NY 10533

The John Cardinal O’Connor School is a Catholic school dedicated to providing an affordable, language-based, academic curriculum for children in grades 2-8 with mild Learning Disabilities (LD), Speech or Language Impairments (SPL), or other Health Impairments (OHI). Students at JCOS are taught by certified special education teachers in small classes. Teachers utilize multisensory instructional techniques to help children succeed both academically and socially. JCOS is dedicated to providing the benefits of a Catholic education to children who learn differently. Please contact JCOS for more information by emailing tara.freeman@johncardinaloconnorschool. org.

Extended Home Care
7 Penn Plaza, Suite 422 New York, NY 10001
Contact Info: Sean chen,347-372-0101

Extended Home Care specializes in servicing the intellectual/developmentally disabled population age 3 and up in all 5 boroughs. They provide home based services such as Skilled Nursing, Home Health Aide, Physical, occupational, and Speech Therapy. Their rehabilitation program will help your child gain the skills and con dence that he/she needs to live safely at home, avoid hospitalization and remain engaged in the community. Your child can get their services in addition to those he/she receives at school.

Family Speech Center
25-32 168th Street Flushing
familyspeechcenter@verizon. net

At Family Speech Center certified Speech-Language Pathologists are trained professionals who evaluate and diagnose adults and children to identify specific speech, language or swallowing difficulties. Services include speech-language evaluations and treatment for individuals with articulation and stuttering problems. Assessment procedures depend on the age of the client; very small children are assessed in an informal play-based environ- ment. Medical plans and Dept. of Ed IEP’s are accept- ed for both preschool and school age children. Operated by Niki Stagias-Coulianidis, MA, CCC-SLP and Errika Nathenas-Dimitrakis, MS.

Family Of Kidz
Serving Long Island & Queens

Family of Kidz has provided therapeutic, educational, and support services to children affected by developmental disabilities, such as autism, for over 25 years. The highest quality of care is given to children in their homes, schools, community, centers, and via remote platforms. In collaboration with families and a dedicated team of professionals, every child is supported in all areas of life. Training for parents and caregivers is also offered. Helping Kidz with special needs achieve their goals is the Family of Kidz mission. Most major insurances accepted for ABA services.

Forman School
12 Norfolk Road, P.o. Box 80
Litchfield, CT 06759

The Forman School is a co-educational boarding and day school in Litchfield, Connecticut, offering a college preparatory program for grades 9 to 12 and a postgraduate program (PG) exclusively for students with learning differences such as ADHD and dyslexia. Forman educates highschool students and postgraduates with diagnosed learning differences – and ensures that 100% of them get into a four-year college. By exploring abundant academic, artistic, athletic, and social opportunities, Forman students build identities that outshine their diagnoses. Located on a classic New England prep school campus, Forman attracts local day students and boarding students from more than 28 states and 10 countries.

Gillen Brewer School
410 E 92nd St.

Founded in 1992, this school provides a family-oriented, early childhood program for children ages 2.8 to 10 years old with language-based and non-verbal learning disabilities. They offer a 12-month program that provides developmentally appropriate academic instruction, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, play therapy and counseling, music, art, science, technology, sports and physical  fitness. Learning and growing in a secure and nurturing environment, our students develop the skills necessary to overcome challenges. They work closely with their families to instill self-confidence and build a strong foundation for lifelong learning and independence.

Littman Krooks, llP
399 Knollwood Rd.,White Plains

Littman Krooks Special Needs Planning and Special Education Advocacy Attorneys work for the empowerment of individuals with special needs. Planning for your child’s future can seem overwhelming but you do not need to face these tasks alone. Seeking the assistance of an attorney can be the best approach.

Long Island Center For Speech
Locations across Suffolk and Nassau, NY

Specializing in the treatment and correction of language disorders, memory and auditory processing dif cul- ties,  uency, voice disorders, motor planning disorders, deviate swallowing, tongue thrust, feeding problems/ aversions, thumb sucking, articulation disorders and oral facial muscle weakness, Janine Stein, Speech-Language Pathologist, is owner and operator of the Suffolk Center for Speech and Myofunctional Therapy. Along with her exceptional group of therapists, she supports families and children across Long Island, all participating with most major health insurance companies and offering  flexible hours and scheduling, including evenings and Saturdays.

Rebecca School
40 E 30th St. New York, NY 10016

Rebecca School is a therapeutic day school for children ages 3 to 21 with neurodevelopmental delays in relating and communicating including Autism Spectrum Disorders. The curriculum and related services are supported through the use of DIRFloortime® which, at its core, is a developmental model that places relationships at the foundation of learning. By organizing our classrooms into sensory, symbolic, and semi-structured spaces; daily work is kept appropriate to a student’s needs and interests. Along with sensory gyms, art & music therapy rooms, a library and rooftop playground, each floor offers quiet areas for students requiring a calming atmosphere.

SAIL At Ferncliff Manor
1154 Saw Mill River Road Yonkers, NY 10710

The School for Adaptive and Integrative Learning (SAIL) at Ferncliff Manor is a New York State Education Department approved private, nonpublic school program serving residential and day students with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. SAIL provides a range of supports and services including specialized instruction, intensive staff to student ratios, positive behavior interventions and supports, social services, rehabilitative therapies, dietary programming, and living accommodations for children who require the specialized care offered by our comprehensive residential setting. The program’s adaptive approach ensures that all students are able to access the curriculum, via pathways tailored to meet their own unique needs.

SteppingStone Day School, Inc.
2826 Westchester Ave.,

Established in 1983, as a private, not for profit, infant and preschool programb for children with/without special needs for children ages 3-5. Their mission is to provide collaborative evaluation, education, therapy, and family support services so children can develop to their full potential and become members of the community. They are able to provide services to children with varying degrees and severity of disability. They’ve been in the forefront in providing integrated classrooms since the early 1990’s. Licensed/ certified special educators, therapists, social workers, and psychologists are part of a multidisciplinary team dedicated to their philosophy that all children are entitled to an education that is safe, nurturing and in an enriched environment. They are fully licensed.

The Ideal School Of Manhattan
314 W 91st St.New York, NY

A Small School That’s Big on Inclusion. At the IDeAL School of Manhattan, we believe that differentiated learning is the key to academic excellence. We offer a supportive environment where all identities and abilities are celebrated. Our diverse and nurturing community thrives in a robust academic program, where students recognize their potential to effect change and gain the tools to do so, advocating for themselves and standing behind others, seeking out difference, and understanding that only in community are we IDeAL. visit a virtual open house to learn more about New York’s only K-12+ independent inclusion school. www.theidealschool.org/ admissions www.theidealschool.org/ admissions/open-houses.

The Windward School
Manhattan Lower & Middle Schools – 212 East 93rd Street, New York, NY 10128
Westchester Lower School – 1275 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, New York,10605
Westchester Middle School – 40 West Red Oak Lane, White Plains, NY 10604

The Windward School is a coeducational, independent day school located in New York City and White Plains, New York, for children in grades 1-9 with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Windward’s mission is to remediate students’ dyslexia or other language- based learning disabilities. Windward is committed to helping students achieve their full potential in preparation for a successful return to a mainstream educational environment. Nationally recognized for its development of instructional programs designed specifically to help students achieve language proficiency. Windward’s academic curriculum is research-based and multisensory in nature and is designed to give students the skills they need to succeed in educational settings.The Windward School’s vision is a world where every child with a language-based learning disability is empowered to achieve unlimited success.

The 13th Child Autism & Behavioral Coaching, Inc ABA Therapy
New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
Rebecca McKee, MSeD, BcBA

The 13th Child Autism & Behavioral Coaching, Inc. is an ABA consulting company focusing on individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Building pro-social skillfulness & interpersonal inclusive behaviors remain the targets. Families can benefit by learning the fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis, in order to create harmony in their homes. The 13th Child Autism & Behavioral Coaching, Inc. believes all people are entitled to a high quality of life including achievement, creativity, friendships, mental reliance & wellness.

Westchester School
45 Park Ave. Yonkers, NY 10703
520 Route 22 North Salem NY, 10560
33 Seymour St. Yonkers NY, 10703

The Westchester School’s main campus is a year round, NY state approved special education day facility located in Yonkers NY. The school’s 3 locations serve individuals with autism and multiple handicaps as well as children who are medically fragile. In addition to serving Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Dutchess and Orange Counties, they also support the Mid-Hudson area, New York City and Fairfield County, CT.

Winston Prep
NYC, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut & California
NYC: 126 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

Winston Prep is a leading school for students with learning differences. Understanding is one of the key ingredients as part of the continuous Feedback System (CFS) (a hyperlink) , which is a central component of Winston Prep’s innovative learning model. The CFS system is designed to gain a deeper understanding of their students. The faculty at all campuses facilitate independence through continual assessment, remediation, and analysis of each student’s response to their individualized program. Learn more at www. winstonprep.edu/programs/ and register for an open house!

Yellow Bus ABA
Home and Center Based Care throughout NY
Centers in LI, Queens and Westchester

Yellow Bus ABA is a therapy group providing consultation and intervention services for individuals of all ages who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They have drawn upon the unique strengths of their highly experienced team of behavior specialists to employ scientifically validated teaching methodology, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), to bring quality care and intervention with lasting results. Yellow Bus ABA offers home and center based care