In New Hampshire, children three years of age and older who need significant modifications in their educational programs may be eligible for special-education services through their school district. These five steps can help you get started in finding information about the special-education process in New Hampshire and making the contacts you'll need.
1. Familiarize yourself with the special-education process in New Hampshire with resources from the state's Parent Information Center on Special Education, including "A Family Guide to Special Education in New Hampshire," "An Overview of the New Hampshire Special Education Process," "Steps in the NH Special Education Process," and "Dictionary of Common Special Education Terms and Acronyms." On the New Hampshire Department of Education site, you can download a copy of "New Hampshire Rules for the Education of Children with Disabilities" for a look at the state laws and regulations that will determine your child's classification and services.
2. In New Hampshire, the process of referring a child from birth through high school for special services is called Child Find. Schools have the responsibility to identify students in need of special-education services, and parents can initiate that process by requesting a referral form from the school, filling it out, and giving it to the child's teacher or principal. You can find a sample referral request on the Parent Information Center on Special Education site. If your child is not yet in school and you're not sure who to contact, you can look for the website for the school in your town on the listing on the NH.gov website, visit the site for your district, and look for information about special services or district contact information.
3. After the referral is made, your child will be evaluated to determine whether he or she is eligible for special-education services. Download a copy of the Special Education Procedural Safeguards Handbook from the Department of Education site to understand your rights throughout the process.
4. If your child is found eligible for special-education services, the school will plan an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child. Learn more about IEPs and other special-education terms and offerings from the Special-Education FAQ on this About.com site, and from the section on Development and Approval of the IEP on the Parent Information Center on Special Education site.
5. During the evaluation and IEP process, and throughout your child's educational career, take advantage of the assistance offered by the Parent Information Center, a parent advocacy organization that offers support and workshops for families of children with special needs. If you ultimately have a dispute with the school about the services your child needs and how they should be delivered, the Department of Education site has a complaints page with information on what you can do next.