A Back-To-School Checklist for Children with Special Needs

The Doctor Weighs In
6 min readSep 10, 2019

By: Annette Hines, Esq.

The challenges of the new school year can be daunting when you have a special needs child. Here is a checklist to help you get ready.

Photo source: iStock

When my daughter was young, I used to dread the transition from her summer program to her school year program even though Elizabeth was looking forward to it! Along with the change in the New England weather from beautiful hot summer days to fall and flu season, came numerous threats to my medically fragile child’s health!

Elizabeth was blind and in a wheelchair. She didn’t speak and used a lot of medical equipment to eat and breath and well, just live. Getting ready for the school year when you have a special needs child is challenging.

For me and so many other parents, the end of summer signaled the time when we hit the reset button on our child’s educational plan. New teachers and other school personnel come into our child’s life. There are perhaps changes in classrooms or services. Definitely, this is the time when routine’s change. It’s no wonder that this was always a time when I was anxious and losing sleep.

But I learned a lot during that time that I have turned into a back to school checklist for parents of children with special needs.

A checklist for parents of special needs children to start the new school year

As a parent and a professional who advises families every day about these issues, I wanted to give you some tips that really help start off the year with your best foot forward!

1. Review your child’s Individualized Health Plan

It is critically important that you understand what services the school and the school district are contracted to provide to your child.

  • Does it provide for therapies?
  • Is your child entitled to a one-to-one or a nurse caregiver?
  • Who will be delivering these services?

This is the time to check the credentials of all the school personnel who will be working with your child. These people are on your team for the duration of the school year.

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