November 07, 2007 Edition

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Co-op, schools offer programs
for children with disabilities

By Nedra Nichols and Brenda Clampitt
Special education supervisors

Are you concerned that your child is not talking, walking, seeing, hearing, or learning as well as other children their age? If so, special education services may be the answer. Special education is specifically designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

Services are provided in a variety of settings from separate classes to special education teachers working closely with your child's classroom teacher. Special education also includes related services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

As set forth by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), 2004, school districts must provide services for those ages birth to 21 years of age that meet the needs of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. These students have the right to be educated with their non-disabled peers as much as possible.

What children might benefit from special education services? IDEA outlines 13 categories of disability and specific criteria to establish eligibility. These categories include children with autism, deaf-blindness, hearing impairment, emotional disturbance, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, speech or language impairment, specific learning disability, traumatic brain injury and visual impairment.

In addition, the disability must significantly affect the learning of the child to the extent that special education services are needed before the child can be successful. If you feel your child might qualify, help is available through your local school district or additional information is available through the Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative.

At the Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative, two special education supervisors are available to provide assistance to parents, school districts and other interested parties in meeting the needs of those students with special needs. Nedra Nichols is a special education supervisor and has been employed with the co-op for the last 15 years, having previously taught for seven years at Walnut Ridge. Ms. Nichols has experience as a classroom teacher and supervisor and also teaches at Williams Baptist College. She works closely with four school districts in this area. These include Lawrence County, Sloan-Hendrix, Hillcrest and Twin Rivers.

Dr. Brenda Clampit is also a special education supervisor employed at the Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative. Dr. Clampit brings 32 years of experience to the field of education as a teacher, administrator and, previously, adjunct teacher at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. She works with four school districts in this area, including Jackson County, Hoxie, Piggott and Rector.

As special education supervisors, we work closely with parents, teachers, and school districts to insure that quality programs are available to address students with diverse needs.

No Child Left Behind requires that all children meet rigorous standards. If you feel your child might benefit from these services or would like more information, you may contact Ms. Nichols or Dr. Clampit at 886-7717. Additional information is also available through the Arkansas Department of Education, Special Education Resource Center at 1-800-482-8437 or Brochures and pamphlets are available at your local school district and area businesses. Getting help today may prepare your child for future success.

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