Temple Grandin, professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, best-selling author, speaker and consultant of livestock equipment and animal welfare, has become a prominent and authoritative figure for the autism community.
The 69-year-old, who was diagnosed with autism at age 2, has inspired many with her talent in the animal and livestock field and travels around the U.S. to talk about her work. She has helped livestock through her designs of curved chute and race systems used at handling facilities. Grandin also developed an objective scoring system for assessing the handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants.
Midway through the school year is a good time to evaluate your child’s academic progress. You might be concerned about your child’s current school environment. Not all children can handle a typical education environment. Alternatively, you might be concerned about your child’s education plan.
Finding the right plan is complicated. Some learners need to have the curriculum re-taught. Other students need structured literacy methods like Orton-Gillingham or Wilson, or might need more hands-on methods of learning like touch math and/or access to graphic organizers. Students might need extended time for tests or require audiobooks to help them comprehend the material. You might question whether the school really understands your child’s needs. It can become apparent that despite all attempts to accommodate a student, nothing seems to work.
Attending an IEP or 504 plan meeting can be intimidating for parents. Walking into a crowded office with an intervention specialist, a classroom teacher, the school principal, the director of special education and a speech therapist compounds the overwhelming concern for the immediate situation. Does your child have a learning disability? What special actions must be taken? How will this positively or negatively affect your child’s attitude toward school or the future?
It’s important to understand that the goal of your child’s school is to provide your child a free and appropriate education (FAPE) that may include an IEP or 504 plan that offers accommodations and/or services. These services allow your child to learn in the most effective way and access the curriculum.
If your child has a learning disability or requires accommodations to learn in the classroom, there are a host of specialized services available to your child under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Understanding what your child qualifies for and how to access those services can be a challenge. However, below is a snapshot to help understand those services.
What is a 504 Plan?
A 504 Plan is based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a civil rights law that prevents discrimination based on physical disabilities. This federal law requires schools to eliminate any barriers that prevent students with disabilities from participating fully in their education. It also ensures that accommodations and support services are provided to students so they have equal access to education.