Helena Public Schools is committed to each student maximizing his or her individual potential to become the most responsible, competent, and caring citizen possible. Therefore, in accordance with I.D.E.A. the Helena School District is committed to providing a free appropriate public education to all of our students with disabilities.
Cerebral Palsy is a dysfunction in movement resulting from injury to or poor development of the brain prior to birth or in early childhood. Generally speaking, any injury or disease that causes a decrease in oxygen flow to brain cells may result in Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy may be accompanied by difficulties in vision, hearing, speaking, or cognitive ability, depending upon the extent of the trauma to the brain. The longer the period of time that the brain is without oxygen, the more global the deficits may be. It is important to discriminate between the accompanying disorders that can occur and Cerebral Palsy itself.
Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disease characterized by the progressive weakness and degeneration of the voluntary muscles of the body. The muscles of the heart and lungs are also affected during the later stages of the disease.
Spina Bifida is a structural defect where the neural tube or casing surrounding the spinal cord fails to develop and close over the cord. This occurs approximately the fourth week of pregnancy. Later in development, the vertebrae fail to form over the defective area of the spine.
Now that your child is a teenager and nearing the time when he/she will leave specialized services of the school system and enter the adult community, you and your child should begin preparing for the transition. All young people face the challenge of making a number of choices about careers, living arrangements, social life, and vocational goals. For individuals with disabilities, these important decisions are frequently complicated by the need to deal with the community acceptance of persons with disabilities, and the need to become familiar with an array of services that are designed to assist adults with disabilities.
As the parents/guardians of a child with disabilities, you are probably familiar with the services in the school system and other services mandated under Public Law 94-142. As you think about your child leaving school, you need to be aware that your child will be entering a different system of services which do not have the set of guarantees that are part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Adult services have different entrance requirements and methods of operation, depending on the services your son/daughter will be seeking.
It is very important for you as a parent to learn about the adult services alternatives and what you can expect to obtain for your child. Who qualifies for what? Special education services in the public school system are provided for children who have a disability in one of the following areas: (TBI) Traumatic Brain Injury, deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, cognitively delayed, orthopedically impaired, other health impaired, seriously emotionally disturbed, specific learning disability, speech impaired, and visually impaired. Adult services do not use the same classification system or eligibility standards mandated for individuals of school age .
For specific information about your child’s disability and the services for which he/she is likely to be eligible, talk with his/her special education or resource case manager. The teacher probably has some ideas about what adult services would be the most appropriate for your child, or they can refer you to specific individuals in our service system that can help you. This manual provides some basic information about the Disability Services Division and the services available in the Helena area. Do not hesitate to call or visit with the representatives from these services identified in the following pages. There are many knowledgeable people who are ready and willing to assist you and your child during this transition.