24/7 Phone:  310-258-4063

Youth and Teens (6 - 17 years old)

Westside Family Resource and Empowerment Center is here to help you find the best school and community-based services.

We will work together to increase your understanding of special education evaluations and assessments. A couple questions you may already have:

This list is not exhaustive, but here are some of the rights of parents:  

  • Request for evaluation.
  • Refuse evaluations.
  • Receive notification for your child’s IEP meeting.
  • Receive draft assessments and IEP prior to your child’s IEP.
  • Request to record your child’s IEP meeting.
  • Contribute to the components of your child’s IEP.
  • Agree or disagree with part/entire of the assessment/IEP.  
  • Request independent evaluations.
  • Due process.
  • If English is not your primary language, you have the right to receive interpretation services at your child’s IEP meeting as well as receive translated IEP documents.

What are the Eligibility Categories?

A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evidence before age three, that adversely affects a child's performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism with autism are engaging in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term autism does not apply if the child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance.

A child who shows the characteristics of autism after age three could be diagnosed as having autism if the criteria above are satisfied.

A concomitant (simultaneous) hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

A hearing impairment so severe that a child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

   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:

  • ~An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
  • ~An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
  • ~Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
  • ~A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
  • ~A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
  • ~~The terms includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.

  • An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but is not included under the definition of "deafness."
  • A significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently (at the same time) with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
  • Concomitant (simultaneous) impairments (such as intellectual disability-blindness, intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.
  • A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments, caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).
  • Having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that--
  • ~is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and adversely affects a child's educational performance
  • A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; of intellectual disability; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage
  • A communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
  • An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech.
  • ~The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
  • An impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness

IEP (Individual Education Plan)

  • Touch base with your child’s teachers and service providers about progress before the meeting.  
  • Request draft assessments and IEP ahead of the IEP meeting.
  • Review all documents, highlight errors, and note your concerns and questions prior to the IEP meeting.  
  • Let your IEP team know that you are bringing someone with you to the IEP meeting.
  • If you are planning to record the IEP meeting, let your IEP team know 24 hours ahead of the meeting.
  • Click here to learn more about who is on the IEP team.
  • Initial IEP
  • ~The IEP is convened at the conclusion of the assessments conducted to determine initial eligibility. Anyone may refer for special education eligibility assessment but, of course, parents must be in agreement and give written permission through a signed assessment plan. Assessments must be conducted in all areas of suspected disability. Procedural safeguards and thorough explanations are critical as “informed consent” is the standard. Parents must understand that permission for this assessment may lead to the recommendation for special education eligibility.  
  • ~The purpose of the initial IEP is to review all assessment data/reports, develop present levels and determine eligibility. If eligible, the team goes on to address all areas of need  through goal development, determination of needed supports & services. Once service needs are identified, the team must consider the continuum of placement options & determine where services should be delivered. The place most closely aligned to the general education placement the student would otherwise attend is the student’s least restrictive environment. Annual reviews, reviews in general and triennials all flow from the initial IEP meeting.
  • Triennial IEP  
  • ~A reevaluation of the student shall be conducted at least once every three years or more frequently, if conditions warrant a reevaluation, or if the student's parent or teacher requests a reevaluation and a new individualized education program is to be developed. If the reevaluation so indicates, a new individualized education program shall be developed. Reassessments shall be administered by qualified personnel who are competent in both oral or sign language skills and written skills of the individual’s primary language or mode of communication. The evaluator must also have knowledge of the cultural and ethnic background of the child. If it is clearly not feasible to do so, an interpreter must be used, and the assessment report shall document this condition and note that the validity of the assessment may have been affected.
  • Encourage your child to participate in his/her IEP meetings.
  • Include a self-advocacy goal for your child in the IEP for continuous growth.  
  • Support your child better understanding his/her disability.
  • Click here to learn more about conservatorship. To learn about alternatives to conservatorship, click here.  
If you are looking to request an evaluation from your child’s school so that your child can receive services, click here for a template letter.  

As your child continues to grow and transition to adulthood, WFREC will remain a partner in your child’s learning and development. We will continue to help you find the services and resources that your child is eligible to access.  


Need help understanding your child’s IEP? Have questions about the services your child is or is not receiving?  We are here to help!  

Schedule an individual appointment with a member of the WFREC team by contacting us here.

Additional resources that may be helpful:  

Understood.org : Information to support families in understanding eligibilities, IEP process, special education, and more.  

WrightsLaw : Updated information related to special education and advocacy for children with disabilities.  

Disability Rights of California : Programs, resources, events, and information that advances the rights and opportunities of individuals with disabilities.

Seeds of Partnership : Professional learning, support tools, and parent and professional resources, that focuses on regional, state, and national partners in the areas of family engagement, compliance and improvement monitoring, alternative dispute resolution, early learning, youth leadership/self advocacy.

PACER Center : Information and resources for children and young adults with all disabilities, their parents and families, and the professionals working with the families.