Raising a child with special needs may be both challenging and rewarding. Remember that you are not alone. Your child’s school, the state health department, and other parents are resources for you to learn more about your child’s special needs. You and your child have legal rights to ensure that appropriate education and services are received.
Who is a Child with Special Needs?
A child with special needs experiences some delays in development. Children with special needs are also referred to as children with disabilities. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), children with special needs have physical or mental disabilities that may limit them from "daily/social life activities," such as learning, hearing, seeing, communicating or mobility.
There are many different types of special needs. A child may also have a combination of disabilities that may make learning or social activities more challenging. Some areas of developmental delays are:
- Emotional and social
What are Your Rights?
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that states people with disabilities are entitled to equal rights in employment, state and local public services, and public accommodations such as preschools, child care centers and family child care homes. To learn more about what is and what is not required of a child care program, please click here.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. IDEA protects a child with special needs by:
- Allowing parents or schools to request an evaluation of a child if they suspect that he or she may have special needs.
- Requiring public schools to provide free public education to children with identified special needs.
- Requiring each child with special needs to have an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), for children birth–2 years, or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for children 3-21 years.
The first step to accessing community resources is to identify special needs. To request an assessment for your child ages birth through 2 years contact the Regional Center of Orange County at 714-796-4060. To request an assessment for your child ages 3–5 years contact the Irvine Unified School District Early Childhood Learning Center at 949-936-5857.
Inclusion allows all children (with or without special needs) to learn and play in the same environment with the services and support they need to be successful. Children may receive special services in these settings.
- List of child care programs with training and/or expertise in working with children with special needs: Orange County Childcare Planning and Development Council
City of Irvine Disability Services
City of Irvine Disability Services provides support services and social programs to persons with disabilities, their families, caregivers and providers who live or work in Irvine.