When I was growing up, I only ever heard the words “special education” used in reference to a group of students in school with such severe developmental disabilities that they required full-time assistance in a single, separate classroom.
What I have since learned in my experience as a Darien parent is that the term actually refers to “specially-designed instruction” for students with any kind of disability: physical, mental, temporary, or permanent. This support is actually supplemental to a student’s normal classroom intruction, and can be something as simple as relocating a student to be closer to the teacher or as comprehensive as a student being taken out of the classroom for certain physical, occupational or emotional therapy sessions. And all of our children are entitled to this support in public school if it is deemed necessary to help them succeed.
The thing is, it’s hard to know where to start if you believe your child might be entitled to some extra assistance. The process for first-timers can feel intimidating, and a recent report citing “systemic problems” in the administration of special education services in Darien has made many of us feel distrustful that the schools have our childrens’ best interests at heart.
I would like to go on record stating that my own experience with Darien special education services has been stellar, and I feel very confident in the care and attention they provide to any child in need of support!
I also want to let you know about an independent group of Darien parents who have created an advisory committee called SEPAC to provide informational and emotional support for those needing to navigate the Special Education system. Definitely check out the website, and register for notification of upcoming events that they organize to further educate and inspire Darien parents of children with special needs.