Mental Health Month 2012. The first full week of May is designated as National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week.
ADVOCATING FOR YOUR CHILD OR TEEN WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES IN THE SCHOOL SETTING.
Frequently Asked Questions:
My child has been diagnosed with anxiety by a psychiatrist and he/she is taking medications. Should I tell the school?
As a general rule, the answer is yes. Partnering with the school, when possible, is important for your child. For many children school itself, either the academics or social environment, is a source of stress and anxiety. Working to reduce that stress requires a partnership.
My daughter has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder by our pediatrician. Does this mean she will automatically get an IEP or special education services?
The answer is no. A diagnosis alone is not an entry ticket to special education. The child's condition (e.g. ADHD) needs to have an adverse impact on their education. If you choose to share this diagnosis with your school district that may trigger a meeting and a discussion of your child's educational needs. At that point you may want to request a case study evaluation from the school to determine whether your child qualifies for special education.
What are the special education categories for students who qualify for special education services?
Typically students may be made eligible under the categories of Other Health Impaired or Emotional Disturbance. This is defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
is 1 of 12 disability categories specified under IDEA. It is defined as follows:
"(i) The term means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance:
(A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
(B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
(C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
(D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
(E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
(ii) The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance"
(CFR Section 300.7 (a) 9).
Most parents worry that this category carries with it a negative connotation. While this concern is understandable, my advice to parents is that this eligibility may allow their child to access needed services and may provide a protective factor in school discipline issues when their behavior is a result of their disability.
Other Health Impairment:
A: in order for a student to qualify for special education under the OHI category, the following criteria must be met: a) the student must be diagnosed with an emotional disorder by the school district, or the school must accept the diagnosis rendered by another qualified professional; b) the mental health condition must result in limited alertness to academic tasks, due to heightened alertness to environmental stimuli; c) the effects of the mental health condition must be chronic (long-lasting) or acute (have a substantial impact); d) this must result in an adverse effect on educational performance; e) the student must require special education services in order to address the mental health issues and their impact.
National Association for Mental Illness: www.nami.org
Mental Health America: www.nmha.org
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration www.samhsa.org