Frequently Asked Questions

• Special Education Frequently Asked Questions (6 Questions)

1. What is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. Problems associated with ADHD include inattention and hyperactive, impulsive behavior. In most children diagnosed with ADHD, signs and symptoms appear before the age of 7. In some children, signs of ADHD are noticeable as early as infancy.

Most all children are inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive at one time or another. For instance, parents may worry that a 3-year-old who can’t listen to a story from beginning to end may have ADHD. But preschoolers normally have a short attention span and aren’t able to stick with one activity for long. Even in older children and adolescents, attention span often depends on the level of interest. The same is true of hyperactivity. Young children are naturally energetic and they become even more active when they’re tired, hungry, anxious or in a new environment.

If your child has problems with attention and disruptive behaviors that you think may be signs of ADHD, such as trouble concentrating, sitting still or controlling his or her behavior, see your pediatrician or family doctor. Attention deficit disorder is treated many different ways. Treatment for ADHD may include behavior therapy, more structured programs, as well as medication. There is no single test for ADHD, which can make the disorder difficult to diagnose.

Your school and your pediatrician may help to make a definitive diagnosis. For more information, please contact the Bledsoe County Department of Special Education.

2. What is Autism?

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout the lifetime of the person. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Currently, 1 in 150 are diagnosed with autism or some form of the autism spectrum disorder, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. All racial, ethnic and social groups are affected and it is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Impaired ability to communicate and relate to others is one of the characteristics of Autism as well as rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as ordering objects obsessively or following very specific routines. These symptoms can be very mild to quite severe.

Autism Spectrum Disorders can usually be diagnosed by age 3. New research is pushing back the age of diagnosis to as early as 6 months. Unusual behaviors in the child or the child’s failure to reach appropriate developmental milestones are usually noticed by the parents first. A child that seemed different from birth or a child who was developing normally and then lost skills are some of the descriptions given by parents of autistic children. Parents who have concerns about their child’s development shouldn’t wait: speak to your pediatrician about getting your child screened.

Early intervention is critical to gain maximum benefit from existing therapies for Autism. Labeling a toddler as “Autistic” may be concerning to parents but research has shown the earlier the diagnosis is made, the earlier intervention can begin. Proven effective programs focus on developing communication, social and cognitive skills.

If you have concerns that your child may have Autism Spectrum Disorder, you may contact Patsy Morgan, Director of Special Education, at the Bledsoe County Board of Education.

3. What is an IEP?

An IEP is an "Individualized Education Plan". The IEP contains information about a child's present levels of performance, annual goals, special education and related services, participation in activities with non-disabled children, participation in state and district-wide test, how services will be provided, transition services needed, and how the child's progress will be measured.

4. Why is an assessment of my child needed?

An assessment is done to gather information about your child. It evaluates what your child has done in the past, what his or her current behaviors are, and attempts to predict future behaviors. A comprehensive evaluation includes reviews of records, observations of your child, interviews with significant people including the parent, results of standardized tests, and other special procedures.

5. What is an IEP Team?

The IEP Team is a group of qualified individuals who review and make decisions regarding the referral, identification and placement of students with disabilities. This group includes you as the parent, a regular education teacher, special educators, a representative for the schools who has knowledge of programs offered and other resources and other personnel who work with your child.

6. Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns?

When questions or concerns arise you should begin by speaking with your child's teachers, both regular and special education. Every child identified as having a disability is assigned to a case manager at their school. This special educator can be contacted at any time if you have questions about your child. You may contact your child's principal if you are unsure about who is assigned as your child's case manager.