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Special Education in Manhattan: Understanding the Basics and Your Options

Every child is unique, and that uniqueness extends to their academic needs. Some children require additional support in their education to achieve their full potential. This is where special education comes in.

Special education refers to the specialized support and services provided to children with disabilities or special needs. These services aim to help children with disabilities access the same education opportunities as their peers. Let’s take a closer look at the basics of special education in Manhattan and your options as a parent.

Understanding Special Education in Manhattan

In Manhattan, special education is governed by federal and state laws, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the New York State Education Law. These laws mandate that children with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). The goal of special education is to ensure that every child with a disability can reach their full potential and be prepared for further education, employment, and independent living.

Types of Disabilities Covered Under Special Education

The following types of disabilities may qualify a child for special education services in Manhattan:

1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
2. Developmental disabilities
3. Learning disabilities
4. Emotional/behavioral disorders
5. Speech or language impairments
6. Hearing or visual impairments
7. Physical disabilities

If you believe that your child may have a disability, you should speak with their teacher, guidance counselor, or a school administrator. They can help you determine if your child needs special education services and guide you through the next steps.

The Special Education Process in Manhattan

The special education process can be complex and time-consuming, but it’s important to understand and participate in the process to ensure your child receives the support they need. The process typically involves the following steps:

1. Referral: You or your child’s teacher can make a referral for special education services.

2. Evaluation: Your child will undergo a comprehensive evaluation to determine if they have a disability and what services they need.

3. Eligibility determination: A team of professionals will review the evaluation results to determine whether your child is eligible for special education services.

4. Individualized Education Plan (IEP) development: If your child is eligible for special education services, an IEP will be developed. An IEP is a written plan that outlines your child’s academic and functional goals, the services and accommodations they need, and how their progress will be measured.

5. Placement: Your child’s placement in special education depends on their individual needs. They may be placed in a general education classroom with additional support or a special education classroom for part or all of the school day.

Options for Special Education Services in Manhattan

Manhattan offers a range of options for special education services. Here are some of the most common options:

1. Public Schools: Public schools are required to provide special education services to eligible children. If your child qualifies for special education services, their public school will develop an IEP and provide the necessary support.

2. Private Schools: Private schools may offer special education services, but they are not required to do so. If you choose to enroll your child in a private school, you should speak with them about their special education services.

3. Charter Schools: Charter schools are public schools that operate independently of the traditional public school system. They may offer special education services, but their services may differ from those offered by traditional public schools.

4. Specialized Schools: Some schools in Manhattan specialize in providing education and services to children with specific disabilities, such as autism or hearing impairments.


As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to understand special education in Manhattan and your options for support and services. If you believe that your child may have a disability, speak with their teacher or a school administrator about the next steps. The special education process can be complex, but it can also provide your child with the support and opportunities they need to succeed in school and beyond.

– Getting Started & Next Steps

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