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Understanding exceptional student education in Florida - II

Previously, our blog discussed just how confusing, alarming and frustrating it can be for parents when all of their extra efforts to help their children succeed in school are falling short owing to an underlying medical condition.

We also discussed how parents can find some much-needed solace in the fact that the Florida Department of Education has a system in place to help children who require additional assistance and/or attention in school known as exceptional student education, or ESE.

To that end, we provided a brief overview of the evaluation process for planning and delivering ESE services from interventions to referrals to determine whether a child has a disability.

We'll continue this discussion in today's post, examining more about how eligibility determination factors into the provision of ESE services.

Eligibility determination

In general, Florida law dictates that in order for a child to receive ESE services, he or she must not only satisfy the requirements of at least one of the exceptionality categories, but also require both specially designed instruction and related services.

As to these exceptionality categories, there are 14 (excluding gifted) under which a child might be classified, each with their own unique set of eligibility criteria/requirements set forth under state law.  

Some of these exceptionality categories include:

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Emotional or behavioral disabilities (EBD)
  • Intellectual disabilities (InD)
  • Speech impairment (SI)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Deaf or hard-of hearing (DHH)  

It's important to understand that some children will be found to have one or more than one of these qualifying disabilities. Furthermore, it's important to understand that the educational needs of every child will vary and ESE services are designed to reflect this reality. Indeed, one child may only receive a modicum of assistance for a few years, while another will receive intense educational assistance for the entirety of their school years.

Having taken a closer look at evaluation and eligibility determination, future posts will explore the remaining steps in planning and providing ESE services from the development of the first individual educational plan to reevaluations.

As always, parents should strongly consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if they've encountered serious problems with a school district over the education of their child's exceptional student education.

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