Special Education Services – Age Limits by State

States Special EducationI had a challenging time finding this information until I hit upon the right search phrase, so I thought I would publish a quick reference to Special Education Age Limits by State. This is one of the areas that is not mandated at the Federal Level, so if you are planning Transition services for your child, you need to know the age limits in your state.

The following information was gathered from a PDF published by the U.S. Department of Education on the Ages that Special Education Services are provided (by State). The end dates often include additional details. See the PDF or contact your State Department of Education for further information. https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/letters/2002-2/osep0206-2q2002.pdf

State Ages
AL 3 through 20
AK 3 through 21
AZ 3 through 21
AR 3 through 20
CA 3 through 18
CO 3 through 20
CT 3 through 20
DE 3 through 20
DC 3 through 21
FL 3 through 21
GA 3 through 21
HI 3 through 19
ID 3 through 20
IL 3 through 20
IN 3 through 21
IA 3 through 20
KS 3 through 20
KY 3 through 20
LA 3 through 21
ME 3 through 19
MD 3 through 20
MA 3 through 21
MI 3 through 21
MN 3 through 20
MS 3 through 20
MO 3 through 20
MT 3 through 18
NE 3 through 20
NV 3 through 21
NH 3 through 20
NJ 3 through 21
NM 3 through 21
NY 3 through 20
NC 3 through 20
ND 3 through 20
OH 3 through 21
OK 3 through 21
OR 3 through 20
PA 3 through 20
PR 3 through 21
RI 3 through 20
SC 3 through 21
SD 3 through 20
TN 3 through 21
TX 3 through 21
UT 3 through 21
VT 3 through 21
VA 3 through 21
WA 3 through 20
WV 3 through 20
WI 3 through 20
WY 3 through 20

What is the Goal of Education?

I was talking today with a retired Special Education Specialist and was struck by something she said:

“The Goal of Education is to Prepare Students for an Independent Future.”

education by Sean MacEntee used under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

It’s really a profound statement when you think about it…. it seems like we might have lost sight of that as a goal, with all the current focus on standardized tests and adequate yearly progress. And, as the parent of a student in the Special Education system, I definitely think that we should have that goal emblazoned in our homes and throughout the offices of the special education department.

I get the distinct sense that the current goal for many special education kids is “Get them through High School so they are no longer our problem.” I know that schools are under tremendous pressures with “No Child Left Behind” and making Adequate Yearly Progress and that anything beyond those goals seems impossible to address for many students.

But, as parents, and as educators, preparing our students for an independent future is really the ultimate goal of education. Let’s look at what we’re teaching and how we’re teaching it in light of that goal.

I recently found some great resources online with information on life skills checklists and independent living skill assessment tools. These tools and checklists are opening my eyes to what all students need to learn, not just special needs or special education students, but all students. Click the images for more details




Video Game Playing? Bad or Good?

The other day my husband sent me a link to an article about Autistic boys and “problematic video game playing.” The article states:

Boys with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder were more likely to spend excessive amounts of time playing video games than those with typical development, researchers found.

Problematic video game use is defined as difficulty disengaging from gaming and higher levels of addictive game use.

I have no argument with the conclusions reached. I definitely have seen this myself. However, I know quite a few other “quirky” people (with no “label” like a learning disability or Autism) who also have trouble disengaging from games and, at times, use games a bit addictively.

The advice of the Dr. Max Wiznitzer is to set firm limits for game playing, use games as a reward for other things accomplished (homework, chores, etc.) and to limit access to the games so that kids don’t end up quietly playing games all night long in their bedrooms.

All these things make perfect sense…. but then I also see the “other” side of the story, which I think is best explained by game designer, Jane McGonigal in her excellent TED talks:

Could it possibly be that the tendency for immersion in video games might be the path to problem-solving in the “real world?” Lots of these kids are intensely successful in the virtual-world of gaming, but very challenged in the “real-world.”

How can we turn the natural “obsessiveness” of gamers into something that can solve the problems in the world?

Special Education: Ask the Right Questions

I met today with Special Education Advocate, Linda Talbert, who also specializes in transition planning. Our son has been successful in school, but we know that the next few years, when things like college, career and independence are looming large on the horizon, that getting decent grades is not enough. There are many, many skill sets required for a successfully independent life that are not taught in school and are very difficult for the individual with a learning disability to acquire. Not impossible, but challenging.
FocusedToday I learned that there are many questions we should be asking about how the goals on our child’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) are designed to truly help him reach his goals of a successful transition to college and independence. It appears that there may be a mismatch between the goals that are being set and the skills that will be required for success in college.

Linda told me a story about Disney World employees…. that they are trained not to offer the specials that are available, but to provide them if someone asks for them. And suddenly, I understood a whole new dimension of things that are likely going on during the PPT (Planning and Placement Team) meetings at school. The school team may be aware of programs available to our child that would be a great benefit to him, but because of the pressures of budget, they are instructed not to offer, but only to provide if asked.

This puts a whole new spin on “Ask, and it shall be given unto you.” It also means that we have to learn the right questions to ask. Learn to ask for the programs that will ultimately help our son to reach his goals. As we learn what those questions are, I will post what I find here. I hope that our journey will help you with yours.

What is NVLD/NLD?

According to NLD on the Web (a great resource):

Nonverbal Learning Disorder Syndrome (NVLD) is a specific type of learning disability that affects children’s academic progress as well as their social and emotional development.

The term Nonverbal Learning Disorder/Disability is actually quite misleading. Individuals with this disability are highly verbal, with their areas of deficit being in the nonverbal domains.

In my experience, children who have this learning disability are often diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum, particularly the “catch-all” diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified.) In fact, that’s the label that was put on our son, by the school, back when he was in second grade.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the two disorders from this article: http://www.nldline.com/dinklage.htm

Asperger’s Disorder is characterized by:

  1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction
  2. Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities
  3. These problems taken together (A plus B) present significant challenges in the lives of people with AD as they attempt to live in a “neurotypical” world and meet the expectations of others.
  4. There is no general language delay.
  5. There is no severe global cognitive impairment.

Whereas Nonverbal Learning Disabilities:

  1. NVLD can be conceptualized as an imbalance in thinking skills – intact linear, detail oriented, automatic processing with impaired appreciation of the big picture, gestalt or underlying theme.
  2. It is not nearly as common as language-based learning disabilities, but this may be a phenomenon created by environmental demands (i.e., our societal demands for precision skills in reading assure that even the most subtle language-based LD cases are identified).
  3. Typically social/psychiatric concerns are raised before academic problems are identified.
  4. While the overlap is not complete, NVLD children may meet the criteria for Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger’s Disorder, or Schizotypal Personality.

Following are some terrific resources I’ve found on the internet relating to NVLD and how to help your child get the best support in the educational environment.

And this article, http://www.ldonline.org/article/6119/, which was a HUGE help in the Planning and Placement Team meeting (PPT) we recently had for our son a the High School. I am finding that passing along information about this specific learning disability is very helpful in educating the special education team about how to best help our son and others with NVLD. Here’s a brief summary from the article:

A student with NVLD:

  • Has difficulty finding her way around
  • Has difficulty coping with changes in routine and transitions
  • Has difficulty generalizing previously learned information
  • Has difficulty following multi-step instructions
  • Makes very literal translations
  • Asks too many questions
  • Is easily overwhelmed
  • May experience heightened sensory experiences
  • May develop secondary issues with stress and anxiety
  • Imparts the “illusion of competency”