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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 17, 2006

Special help for your child

By Carrie Bashaw

Special needs come in many shapes and forms. Whether your child is working through school with a learning disability, a physical challenge or even an academic gift, here are some tips to help you identify and work with your child's individual special needs.

If you think your child may have a disability and may require special-education services, request a "Parent and Student Rights in Special Education" brochure from the Department of Education. It will help you understand the services available to you and your child. You can also request an evaluation to find out if your child is eligible for special education and related services.

Every public school student who receives special-education and related services is entitled to an Individualized Education Program that is designed just for that student. As a parent, you can work with teachers and other school staff to create an effective IEP.

If your child has been or you think could be diagnosed with a learning disability such as dyslexia or an attention disorder, learn as much as you can about the specific challenges your child faces. The Learning Disabilities Association of Hawaii can help.

HELPING THE GIFTED

The state Department of Education has a Gifted and Talented program designed for students with advanced academic abilities. If your child shows potential for high performance in intellectual, creative or artistic areas, you can talk to your child's teacher or a school administrator to arrange for your child to take a test to qualify for the GT program.

Finding services and enrichment activities specifically for gifted and talented learners will also help give your child an opportunity to think, play and learn with others who share similar interests and abilities. Your child's teacher or principal can help.

MORE RESOURCES

As a parent of a child with special needs, the more information you have about your child's specific need, the better. Here are some starting places for finding out about special needs:

  • Hawai'i Department of Education: (808) 586-3230. On the Web: Special Education Page doe.k12.hi.us /specialeducation/; Gifted Education Page www.k12 .hi.us/~gtstate/Index.htm.

  • Hawaii Parent Training and Information Center: (800) 533-9684. On the Web: www.ldahawaii.org.

  • Hawaii Gifted Association: (808) 261-6292 or (808) 721-8944.

  • U.S. Department of Education: www.ed.gov.

    This column is provided through the Hawai'i State Teachers Association. Carrie Bashaw is a special-education teacher at Kaimuki High School.