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      Is your child struggling in school? What you need to know to help

      Whether you know it or not, every child with special needs is entitled to specialized programs. And it's up to a parent to speak up to get that special help. That's the word from Dustin Gorder with the West Central Illinois Center for Independent Living.

      Gorder says when a parent requests an evaluation for an IEP, a school will evaluate the child's academics, language and cognitive skills as well as their social and emotional health.

      If a child is found to have problems by experts, an IEP or individualized education plan is created for that particular student to meet his or her special needs. It also comes with measurable goals to work towards.

      Communication is key. Parents need to keep in contact with the teachers and the school as well as stay active at home in the education process. It's also important to know your rights...what the school is required to do, versus what special services parents can ask for. Read up and be educated before meetings with schools and seek help from experts like Gorder if you need help.

      Gorder says parents shouldn't fear an IEP. It's a way to get your child the help he or she needs to become a successful adult.

      There are very important things to know about an IEP or Individualized Education Plan.

      If you have specific questions there is a seminar for parents called 'Understanding your Child's IEP' coming up this Thursday, January 19 at 6p.m inside the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center.

      Contact the West Central Illinois Center for Independent Living at 217-223-0400 if you need help navigating the system.