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How to Get What You Need for Your SPD Child at School

Are schools under obligation to test students for SPD under the No Child Left Behind Act? Just wondering because my daughter’s school refuses to test her for SPD.

The simple answer is NO… ONLY because it is not yet (we’re working on that!) in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual for Doctors and Insurance Companies). To find out more about this, read… Issue #9 of The SPD Companion Newsletter

However, in many public school districts, you can still get evaluations performed for your child under the SYMPTOMS of SPD. For instance, if you feel your child is having difficulties that are impacting his learning….you can ask for a full evaluation of all areas, including fine motor, coordination, and those that are processing related; Visual Processing Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, ADHD and many others. You can ask for an evaluation from the school OT department, on the basis that his symptoms/behaviors/performance may be negatively impacting his ability to learn.

Some schools are going ahead and doing this, because it’s the right thing, the moral thing to do, if they truly care and want to help these kids. Unfortunately, until it is included in the DSM V – next edition published, hopefully – the schools do not get additional funding for this disorder known as SPD, the way they already get additional monies when they have a diagnosed ADHD child. Another way some families are getting services is under the heading “Other Health Impaired”. This relies more on finding what symptoms are actually impacting the child and is not so rigid in diagnostic criteria.

One IMPORTANT word of caution, in many cases I see that even when a family can get services through the public school system, the school may specifically only allow services for symptoms or behaviors that directly impact the child’s education, and not treat “the whole body”… which is the very BEST approach to helping the SPD child. The most ideal therapy for the child is usually through a private OT, who is SIPT Certified and has a strong background in SPD theory. If possible and financially feasible…I recommend getting the evaluation and treatment privately, then asking the school for accommodations based on the evaluation results and treatment plans from your private OT.

Before doing ANY of this, I would recommend visiting Tourettesyndrome.netwhere you will find articles, materials, and resources pertaining to Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Executive Dysfunction, Asperger’s Disorder, depression, Bipolar Disorder, sleep disorders, “rage attacks” or “storms,” infection-triggered OCD or tics (“PANDAS”), sensory integration, and more.

Next, you WILL need to become familiar with your rights, and what laws may apply if you choose to pursue efforts in getting school based services. Remember, when they try to tell you, that their district or state doesn’t provide services for, or has no funding for your child – FEDERAL Law supercedes local and state law. For all current laws, you will want to check out www.wrightslaw.com They also provide a tremendous amount of resources, trainings, and up to date information that you will need as you begin to learn the system and what you and your child have the right to ask for and receive.

My personal advice? If homeschooling, or a more appropriate private school is not an option? Be a pain. Be that squeaky wheel who just won’t go away, until they relent. Do not feel that you need to be their friend at the cost of your child. Your child comes first, not their friendship, and your child doesn’t have years to waste not getting what he needs. You can still be POLITE, smile and nod…then insist. At the very least, your child is probably entitled to classroom accommodations, under the 504 Act.

Besides the “Education Advocacy Tutorial”, I also recommend two other publications that may help…

Your Rights Under IDEA and The 504 Accommodation Checklist

Now, you will be well on your way to understanding your rights and getting the services you need!

Remember, those who choose to join us as SPD Parent S.H.A.R.E. Hosts have access to many articles and much information to help their own and other children obtain services. As parents, we have the right to besiege them with articles, research results and information, until you quite frankly wear them down. Once one parent does this, and services are approved for one child, those that come after may be more accepted.

On a hopeful note, more school districts are recognizing SPD and offering services, and it is just a matter of time until this is standard procedure. So keep on fighting the good fight.

I wish you all the luck in the world, and if there is any thing I might be able to help you with, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We are ALL fighting to help our kids, and thank heaven’s your child has YOU on his side. : )

— Written by Michelle Morris, March 2007

A complete version of this Article can be found on sensory-processing-disorder.com’s Companion Newsletter here: SPD Companion Newsletter – Issue Number 12.