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Seeking Help with Problems at School

Beth Hess - Friday, October 14, 2016

By the time October rolls around, the excitement of the new school year wears off and the honeymoon period that many children have in the beginning of the school year is over. Children and youth with behavioral health needs may be experiencing problems – with academics, social/emotional skills or behaviors.

If you have concerns about your child, you should discuss them with your child’s teachers. Any number of interventions may be put in place to better support a student. Failing these, or if the level of need appears to be greater, request a team meeting that includes teachers along with identified school staff who may be of help.  School teams brainstorm various strategies to promote a child’s success, and might implement an action plan. School teams also might refer a student for a functional behavioral assessment, which might lead to a behavioral intervention plan, or for evaluations for special education services.

A school is required to fully evaluate any child who may have a disability and need special education services. Significant mental health problems qualify as a disability, and intensive social/emotional interventions may be considered special education services. If found eligible, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be developed, and your child will have certain legal rights as a student with a disability.

School teams sometimes recommend that a student with a mental health diagnosis be placed on a 504 Plan as an alternative to an IEP. Learn more about 504 Plans.

Whether or not your child has an “action plan,” a behavioral intervention plan, a 504 plan, or an IEP, you as the parent or caregiver should be actively involved in the development of these supports and participate in evaluating their effectiveness. Learn more about special education, including section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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