Learn the basics of special education for children and youth ages 3-21 and how to get started.
What is special education?
Children and youth ages 3 through 21 that have disabilities may be eligible for special education services. A child is considered educationally handicapped or disabled if they are having trouble learning in school because of mental, physical and/or emotional disabilities. A student must be evaluated to see if they are eligible for special education.
- Find out how special education works in Washington State
- Learn how to get your child tested for special education in Washington State
- Visit the Special Education Support Center for Washington families and read their handbook on special education written in everyday language
- Watch a series of videos on what to expect and how to prepare for special education
Where do I start if I think my child needs special education?
If your child is 3-21 years:
- Ask your local school district for an evaluation to see if your child qualifies for special education services. This is called making a referral. A referral must be made in writing. Your child does not have to have a diagnosis before making a referral. Children who are home schooled or attend a private school are evaluated by their home school district.
- If you live in Washington State, learn how to make a referral from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
Return to the Special Education, IEP And The 504 Plan page.