The special education planning team evaluates, devises and monitors a child’s educational experience. They are focused on creating a positive learning environment in which a child can thrive to their fullest potential. The special educational planning team members may conduct a child’s initial evaluation and assessment, be involved in creating their Individualized Education Plan, and may play roles at various stages in a child’s educational transition.
Who is on the Special Education Planning Team?
A child’s own unique circumstance and condition determines which type of professionals will play a role in their education and development. The various team members will use their specific backgrounds to assist a child or provide guidance. Certain members may only be needed for a short time periods in a child’s life. Other members may assist children over several years.
The more familiar a member is with a child’s condition, the better they will be able to enhance their potential for learning.
Individuals that may play a role in a child’s education planning team include, but are not limited to:
- Assistive Technology Specialist
- General Education Teacher
- Hearing Specialist
- Occupational Therapist
- Physical Therapist
- Physical Education Instructor
- Psychologist/Social Worker
- School Administrator
- School Nurse
- Special Consultant
- Special Education Teacher
- Speech and Lanuage Pathologist
- Transportation Specialist
- Vision Specialist
These are briefly described below.
Parents will always have decision making control in their child’s educational planning. When a school system makes a decision that a parent does not agree with, they are provided legal rights to oppose the decision. A parent can also include adoptive parents, foster parents, or other relative or person that has the legal right to make a decision for the child.
Assistive Technology Specialists
Assistive technology specialists identify the needs of particular students and seek to provide them with the appropriate equipment. Once assistive devices are procured, the specialist will train all appropriate people, including users and educators. They may be one of the best ways for parents to learn about available assistive technology and equipment.
Counselors are school employees that provide guidance to all students. They will work with parents to ensure that their child is enriched in school, both educationally, and personally. Additionally, counselors help students prepare for future careers and education.
Hearing specialists work with children who have hearing impairment or deafness. They have specific training that enables them to diagnose, treat, and train children with a hearing impairment. They can advise on hearing aides and Cochlear Implants. Some are able to train children in sign language and other alternative means of communication.
Occupational therapists work with young children to develop the proper emotional, physical, cognitive, and functional abilities needed to participate in tasks at hand. Occupational therapists work in the home and in conjunction with programs such as early intervention, Head Start, and pre-school and kindergarten classes.
Physical education instructor is a student’s gym teacher. As Cerebral Palsy often requires physical and occupational therapy, this may be worked into physical education. A physical education instructor may also be able to provide feedback and guidance on a child’s development.
Physical therapists help children to improve physical functionality and minimize the effect of impairment. Physical therapy is a main component of treatment for children with Cerebral Palsy since the condition greatly affects muscle tone, spascity, balance, and coordination. Physical therapy helps children learn to better control and coordinate their movements, minimize effects on balance and posture, and lessen pain.
Psychologists seek to improve the emotional well-being of children and adults. The impairment caused by Cerebral Palsy may cause emotional distress such as anxiety and depression. Psychologists help their patients to resolve their feelings through counseling, behavioral therapy, role playing and other methods.
School administrators are educators who manage schools and school districts. Parents may need to contact principles and other administrators as they may have a broad view of a child’s success at their school, as well as to address issues that arise during their child’s education. They may also play a role in curriculum, hiring, staffing, support allocation and procuring assistive technology.
School nurses support the health of students and faculty, respond to injuries and illnesses, and perform mandated screening and testing. They administer medication and monitor the well-being of a child. School nurses play an integral role in the care team due to their medical knowledge and daily access to the student during school hours.
Social workers can work within schools and districts, often as the bridge between the parent and the school. They’ll work with students and families when issues affecting education arise such as impairments, unemployment, inadequate housing, substance abuse and other factors. Social workers help to improve disputes as well as to instill effective coping and adapting skills.
Special consultants are the educational professionals that provide additional services to children with impairment. They may include the various specialists, trainers, paraprofessionals, personal care assistants and even transportation personnel. Their training and experience allow them to provide very specific advice on how a child’s education should proceed.
Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers are the teachers who have specialized training and certification to work with children with impairment and special needs. Their expertise and experience, as well as their direct contact with the child, enables them to provide excellent advice on a child’s educational progress.
Special Education Directors
Special education directors oversee the special education program. They may have direct control over curriculum, funding, enrollment and resources such as adaptive and assistive equipment.
Speech and Language Therapists
Speech and language therapists evaluate speech impairment and work with children to improve the communication skills. They address very issues such as pronunciation difficulties, improper articulations, harsh tone, and volume modulation. They will help to improve oral motor functions such as the ability to chew and swallow.
Every child is entitled to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Some children require aids and supports. Parents are urged to research and meet with educators in the public and private sectors to decide the appropriate education path to meet their child’s needs.
About Special Education
- The Value of Education
- Special Education Legislation
- Special Education Options
- Eligibility for Special Education
- Special Education Assessments
- Special Education Planning Team
- Special Education Services
- Types of Special Education Plans
- School Transitions
- Dispute Resolution
- School Nutrition Programs
- Adaptive Sports in the Public School System