Often, parents of special needs children find navigating special education is akin to trying to get through a complex maze without a map or other guidance. To successfully shepherd themselves and their children through the special education maze, parents turn to other parents of special needs children on the internet.
What Makes Special Education Complicated
The United States does have a federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), that covers special education. However, local jurisdictions such as counties and cities operate public schools rather than the federal government. Those local jurisdictions that control schools have great freedom in how they carry out their responsibility to educate special needs students.
As a result, services available to special needs students can vary greatly between from one school district to another. Sometimes the quality of special education programming varies between schools in the same school district. To make matters even more complicated, many school systems don't publicize their special education services.
Where Parents Go Online for Help
In the absence of official information, parents go to other parents online to help them figure out what special education services are available and where they're available. Online resources that connect parents of special needs children come in a variety of formats. Some sites serve as virtual support groups that focus on a particular disability like MyAutismTeam. Other parents find help through other websites and Facebook pages dedicated to connecting parents of special needs kids. Common issues include where to live to get the right education for a child with a particular diagnosis, recommendations for an education advocate, and requests for advice about mainstreaming a child.
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