Special Education is free appropriate public education for children with disabilities from 0 to 22 years old, according to the federal law (IDEA). The budget for public education is from the state government, but the budget for special education is funded by the federal government. Special Education is categorized as follows;
- 0 – 5 years old : Early Childhood Special Education
- 6 – 22 years old: Special Education
- 16- 22 years old: Special Education emphasizing Transition Services
Early Childhood Special Education includes not only children with identified disabilities, but also children who are at risk for possible future disabilities. Services include disabilities diagnosis, assessments, and early intervention programs according to a family service plan (IFSP). Special Education is provided to children with disabilities between kindergartens to 22 years of age including not only special education through an individualized education plan (IEP) but also various related services. To be eligible for Special Education, a child must be diagnosed with one or more of 13 disability categories in the IDEA. Special Education can be provided in various placements such as inclusive settings, varied hours of mainstreaming in general education settings, special designated classrooms, special schools, and non-public schools.
Special Education should have a Transition Plan (ITP) no later than the child’s 16th birthday IEP meeting. The goals of the ITP are to prepare children with disabilities for future independent adult living before they leave school. Transition services should include functional skills instruction, community integration experience, post-secondary education, employment, and independent living. One of the important parts of the ITP is a linkage to adult service organizations.
At the age of 22, students with disabilities leave public education. Some students will leave school at the age of 18 with a diploma or certificate of completion. When a student leaves the public school system at any time, he/she will longer be covered by special education law (IDEA).
After the age of 22, further education should be pursued at post-secondary education institutes: adult education, technical schools, community college, and 4-year colleges. Post-secondary education institutes provide their own services for students with disabilities based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act , however these services are not comprehensive. Moreover, individuals who want to attend college, have to meet the minimum entrance requirements set by each college.
Persons with intellectual disabilities can receive occupation training or pre-occupation services at Day Activity Centers. Adults with disabilities have the right of self-determination, above and beyond continuing special education and training, in order to achieve independent adult living, and this future plan should be set as early as possible.
Certificate Transition Specialist