It can be overwhelming for educators to learn the various challenges associated with neuromuscular diseases and to take those considerations into the classroom. The good news is that these students also come with their own unique set of deep strengths, and educators’ role in encouraging, supporting, and motivating them draws on many of the skills they’re using every day with all their students.
At MDA, we’re committed to being a resource that families and educators can rely on when they need information, resource, and additional support. We have staff well versed in IEPs and 504s, who are eager to assist parents and teachers.
Ways that the Family Support Team provides support includes and is not limited to:
- Helping families talk through resources to understand the benefits of having a 504 or IEP, the differences between the types of plans, and how to approach their school about implementing a plan
- Scheduling time with families before an IEP or 504 plan meeting to ensure they understand their rights, review necessary accommodations, and discuss special circumstances they may want to consider in the planning process (i.e., field trips and extracurricular activities)
- Sharing MDA’s educator materials with teachers and school staff to help provide general guidance on neuromuscular disease and how to accommodate a child with a neuromuscular disease in the classroom
- Helping connect parents with educational advocacy or legal aid organizations, if there is an interest in additional support or if it is deemed necessary to seek counsel regarding disputes at school
Educators also can visit mda.org for additional educational materials, including a list of the neuromuscular diseases MDA covers; disease fact sheets; and information about research, care, and support MDA provides.
It is important to note that we recommend that teachers continue to have an open dialogue with the parents and students with whom they are working, so they can better understand each child’s specific needs.
If you are looking for additional resources for neuromuscular disease and classroom education, we would encourage you to begin gathering information through our Access Workshop, Access to Education: K-12. This workshop is designed to provide an overview of the common considerations for K-12 educational planning, including 504 plans, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), planning for extracurricular activities, and transitions in education.
Please know that you are not alone in this journey — MDA is here to provide assistance and support so students with neuromuscular disease and valued educators in hometowns across America can achieve success together inside the classroom and beyond.If you have any additional needs or questions, please contact the MDA Resource Center Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. CT at (800) 572-1717 or by email at ResourceCenter@mdausa.org.