Special Populations

Some of our students learn differently and need different levels of attention, assistance, and engagement. Here are some tips, tools, and resources to help serve students with needs that are unique or special. 


Supports for Students with Disabilities
States, districts, and schools must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP developed under IDEA, or a plan developed under Section 504.
General Considerations
Strategies like adding a daily schedule, routine, or structure that encourages students to maintain, practice, or learn new skills are critical. Parents should consider:
•establishing routines in the home learning environment to help keep students in the mindset of learning;•providing skills practice ideas that can be embedded within everyday routines; parents may not be trained special education providers, but they can support communication, motor, literacy skills with some encouragement and resources to practice at home;•recommending structured activities that promote communication and interaction but do not require online access, such as games; shared or independent reading; daily living routines, such as cooking, pet care, and other home responsibilities; outside activities to explore nature, etc.; and•researching lists of online libraries or audiobook sites that are at no cost.
IEPs – Guidance, Requirements, and Timelines
Context for services in instances of closure
If a district has extended school closures, the district will remain responsible for the free appropriate public education (FAPE) of its students eligible for special education services with an individualized education program (IEP). Districts should be communicating with parents and guardians prior to, during, and after a school closure regarding their child’s IEP services. After an extended closure, districts are responsible for reviewing how the closure impacted the delivery of special education and related services to students eligible for special education services. Please note, if a school closure causes educational services for all students to pause within a school or district, then the school/district is generally not required to provide services to the affected students eligible for special education services during that same period of time.
Guidance from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) was recently published on requirements on providing students with disabilities services (including compensatory services) and developing contingency plans or updating IEPs in a time of crisis. The TDOE has issued separate guidance on meeting timelines and deadlines during this crisis, including initial evaluation and re-evaluation timelines.

AAC and Complex Communication

All students communicate; it just may not be through speaking. Support student’s communications using objects (offer a selection of objects for making choices; use objects to represent a task/routine), print pictures symbols, photographs and/or Core Vocabulary to support communication with the child. Visual schedules are wonderful devices for establishing routines and preparing kids for upcoming events or activities; however, schedules are not a mode of personal expression. Provide opportunities for students to comment, ask questions, and engage in shared activities.

Resources for Speech, Language, or Motor Needs

Resources for Supporting Students with Disabilities During COVID-19