Things to Consider
If you think your child may need special education services, it is important to consider that:
- Children learn and develop at different speeds and in different ways.
- Children who learn differently do not necessarily have a disability.
- Children should not be referred for special education because of limited English proficiency. If English is not your child’s first language, make sure your child is receiving support through an English as a New Language (ENL) or bilingual program.
Your child may be eligible for special education services, if he or she shows a delay in:
- Thinking and learning
- Understanding and using language
- Self-help skills (toileting, eating, dressing)
- Behavior (getting along with others, expressing feelings)
- Physical (vision, hearing, movement)
Talking to Your Child’s Teachers or Child Care Providers
Talk to your child's teachers and care providers. They can share information about how your child is doing in school and you can share information about how your child is doing at home. Here are some questions and topics you can discuss:
Information to Share with the Teacher
- What brings out the best in your child?
- What are your child's strengths, challenges, and interests?
- What does your child likes to do outside of school?
- What do you do at home to encourage positive behavior and learning?
- What areas does your child need extra help with?
Questions to Ask the Teacher
- What are my child’s strengths in the classroom?
- What are my child's challenges in the classroom?
- How do you (or will you) support my child when he or she needs help?
- Do you have some examples of my child’s work that we can look at together? How does this work compare to the standards that he or she is expected to meet by the end of the year?
- Are there programs or services in the community that can support my child?
- What are some learning activities I can do at home or in the neighborhood?
- What questions should I ask my child when we read together?
- How can I help my child if he or she is struggling with homework?
- How does my child get along with the other students in the classroom?
- Does my child have difficulty following directions? What do you do to help?
- What can you tell me about how my child learns and socializes?
- Is my child learning and developing at a rate that is expected for his or her age?
Response to Intervention (RtI)
Before referring a child for special education services, families, teachers, and child care providers should try different strategies to help. Together, adults can collect information, use and monitor supports, and determine next steps.
Click here for more information about RtI for school-age students.
If RtI has been provided and your child still needs more support, you or the NYC DOE can make a referral for an evaluation for special education services. You can also request a Section 504 Accommodation.
Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires public schools to provide eligible students with accommodations, so they can participate in school activities with non-disabled peers.
- Under Section 504, a student with a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities is eligible to receive accommodations.
- A student who requires medication during the school day or an accessible school building, for example, may have a 504 accommodation.
View the 504 Frequently Asked Questions, for more information.
If your child is in a Pre-K for All program and has medical needs, e-mail EarlyChildhoodPolicy@schools.nyc.gov.