MEET WITH A SCHOOL’S SPECIAL NEEDS DIRECTOR
If you have a child with an active Individualized Education Program (IEP), consider communicating with the district’s Special Education Director to identify where services that your child may use are provided. Even schools in close proximity to one another can vary significantly in the availability of special education services – and district staff can provide the most complete picture of their offerings and locations.
Military Families for High Standards Chairwoman and military spouse Christi Ham has a lot of experience with moving – and as an educator, created a Developmental Studies Program for college-bound students with learning disabilities in Georgia and then replicated the program in Alabama. Each was an individualized program that worked with a majority of students who had ADD, ADHD and dyslexia, in private school settings.
“The programs that I created prepared faculty to reach these learners in ways that lead to success – including requiring assignment books for homework, requiring a school calendar to pace studies, testing, athletics, school events and long-term assignments, allowing for extra time to complete tests or for oral reading of questions, and weekly progress reports on student efforts so that situations did not become overwhelming. These were among the key elements of the programs.
“From that involvement and those experiences, I learned to encourage students to understand their unique educational situations and for their families to understand those same requirements for educational success.
“When a new student entered our program, or a student moved to a new setting from our curriculum, it was important to have dialogue with them. In order to best serve a new student, it was important to know how the student learns best, what support services helped the family most, what other commitments were of importance to the students well-rounded experience. That same information was then shared forward when a student departed.”
From her experience with students with disabilities, Christi shared some advice.
“Have those conversations at your school settings – both as you exit and once you arrive. Understand your child's educational persona – their strengths and weaknesses. Then share that with the new faculty. The Director of either program is a key factor in a great transition – they know the "big picture" your child is part of and how they will fit in a new picture. Be the advocate your child deserves and allow your child to be part of this process. They often articulate things in the simple fashion that is clearly heard.”
A copy of your child’s current IEP provides the receiving district with facts about your child’s current services and your expectations. This can expedite continued support for your child upon arrival, especially for mid-year transitions. Bases also offer support through the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). Be sure to reach out to the EFMP Coordinator at your new base before moving to get connected.
Through its website, Understood.com, the National Center for Learning Disabilities has a number of resources specific to students with special needs as they relocate. We recommend taking a look: