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Is My Child Entitled to a Personal Aide?

"My child has bipolar disorder. Because he has behavior problems, the school sends him to the public library for an hour every day.

"If he had a personal aide, this person could help him avoid outbursts and negative behavior in the classroom. Is he entitled to a personal aide?"

Answer: Not necessarily. This varies and depends on the facts of the case.

We have
several articles about one-on-one aides, related services, and paraprofessionals on the website. Links to these articles are below.

But - I think you are asking the wrong questions. Read our article, Crisis! Emergency! Help! to learn about long- and short-term planning and how you may damage your child's case by assuming that you must DO SOMETHING!

Problem Behaviors Require an Assessment & a Plan

How does removing your child from school and sending him to the public library every day address his behavior problems?

Has the child been evaluated? Has he had a functional behavioral assessment?

Have you and school personnel developed a plan to address his problem behaviors? What positive interventions have been attempted? If you don't know the answers to these questions, read these articles:

Functional Behavioral Assessment & Positive Interventions: What Parents Need to Know by Dixie Jordan. Is the child a problem? Does the child have a problem? Is suspension from school "good medicine for bad behavior?" This article describes strategies parents and teachers can use to assess problem behavior and teach appropriate behavior skills to children.

Functional Behavioral Assessments: What? Why? When? Where? Who? Dr. Stephen Starin describes problem behaviors, functional behavior assessments, environmental manipulation, and qualifications and training of evaluators. 

Teachers Need Help with Problem Behavior

Why Johnny Doesn't Behave by Barbara Bateman and Annemieke Golly will help your child's teachers handle problem behaviors without taking him out of the classroom. The book provides useful, concrete tips to help teachers manage behavior. The section about Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs) and Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIPs) includes sample FBAs and BIPs.

IDEA & Discipline

In essence, it sounds like your child is being suspended from school for several hours a week. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes specific legal requirements about what schools must do when children have behavior problems. Read these articles to learn about these requirements:

Disciplining Students With Disabilities by Kevin P. Dwyer, NCSP.

More articles, resources, caselaw, & publications about Discipline & Behavior.

Aides Lack Training & Skills

Most aides do not have the training and skills to teach your child how to master emotional outbursts and problem behaviors.

Several studies have found that children with aides are isolated from their teachers and their peers. In too many cases, aides speak for children, creating barriers between the child and others.

Untrained aides tend to do things for children, instead of teaching children how to do things for themselves. If the child becomes dependent on an aide, he or she is less likely to learn the necessary skills for "further education, employment and independent living." (Findings & Purposes of IDEA 2004)


Assuming you decide to request an aide after you read the articles above, these articles will help:

How to Request a One-to-One Aide for Your Child. Parent attorney Wayne Steedman provides advice about aides and a game plan that includes evaluations and observations of the child. This article includes new NCLB requirements about education, training and duties of paraprofessionals.

Why You Should Request a Paraprofessional, Not an "Aide" by Suzanne Heath, Research Editor, Wrightslaw


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