Why A Life 4 Me?

The A Life 4 Me website was established in 2007 (and revamped in 2017) for middle school aged kids with disabilities and their families. It is a place where youth with disabilities can explore what might exist in their community – places to hang out, work, live, get services – and take ideas back to their special education Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. Your son/daughter may have to try some things out in the community before being able to answer what they want to do after high school and what they want to be when they grow up. This site offers a variety of videos (Tour page) and tips and strategies (Student Commons page). Information they "like" will be compiled on the My Stuff page.
For questions about the site, please contact Dana Yarbrough at dvyarbrough@vcu.edu or (877) 567-1122.

My Rights/My Child’s Rights

Maybe the most important things to think about when you and your child are planning for their future is rights – what rights do you and your child have with regards to education? At home? At the age of 18?
Right to an Education
In the United States, young people have to go to school. Until your child reaches a certain age, it is illegal for him/her to not be in school. The most important law protecting your child's rights is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDE) that guarantees that students with disabilities get a free appropriate public education.
To learn more about IDEA, visit http://idea.ed.gov/ and http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/
To talk to another parent about your rights, contact the Center for Family Involvement at (877) 567-1122 or www.centerforfamilyinvolvement.org.
Rights at Home/Rights at age 18
It can be confusing to know what your child's rights are at home. Can you keep your child from getting her nose pierced? Can you legally ground your son? Some questions we have as parents are legal issues while others are questions that speak to your family values. Either way, it is important that you talk openly with your child about the decisions she or he wants to make and how much support they need to do that. The bottom line is that until your child reaches the age of 18 – an adult – you have the right to limit what he or she can do.
To learn more about supported decision-making, visit http://www.supporteddecisionmaking.org/.
To get free legal advice about guardianship and alternatives to guardianship, contact the disAbility Law Center of Virginia at http://dlcv.org/ or (800) 552-3962

Working and Living in the Community

Youth with disabilities can exit school when they graduate (age 18) or can continue to work towards a standard diploma until they reach the age of 22. Helping your child become more independent may take time. Two important components of your child's IEP while they are in high school are employment and community living:
  • Where will your son/daughter live after high school?
  • How will they be safe and know what to do in an emergency?
  • Does your child want to live or work in the city? In the country? Near the beach?
  • How will they get around to work, college or to see friends?
  • What help will they need to pay bills?
  • Can my child work?
Everyone can work. We may have to reframe what work looks like – our definition and work choices and experiences may be very different than those of today's youth – when we think about the types of jobs or careers our child with a disability might have. Don't limit them. Listen to their dreams and help them explore work that gets them to or close to their dreams.
Speaking of dreams... Many of us dream of owning our own home, but it can be hard to do right out of high school. Your child will have to save money, have a steady job that pays enough money, and be able to show that he or she can pay bills on time. Besides living at home with family, the Tour page has some videos on living in an apartment and living in a group home.
For more information about employment, visit http://www.disabilityjobexchange.com/ or https://www.vadars.org/

Alphabet Soup

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act
ADD Attention Deficit Disorder
ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
AIM-VA Accessible Instructional Materials Center of VA
APE Adapted Physical Education
APR Annual Performance Report
ASOL Aligned Standards of Learning
ASL American Sign Language
AT Assistive Technology
AU or ASD  Autism
AYP Adequate Yearly Progress
BIP Behavioral Intervention Plan
CIL Center for Independent Living
CP Cerebral Palsy
CSB Community Services Board
DB Deaf Blindness
DD Developmental Disability
DOE (Virginia) Department of Education
DOH (Virginia) Department of Health
DP Due Process
DARS (Virginia) Department of Aging & Rehabilitative Services
DVBI (Virginia) Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired
ED Emotional Disturbance
EI Early Intervention
ESY Extended School Year
FAPE Free Appropriate Public Education
FBA Functional Behavioral Assessment
GT Gifted and Talented
HI Hearing Impairment
ID Intellectual Disabilities
IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEE Individual Education Evaluation
IEP Individualized Education Program
LD Learning Disability
LEA Local Education Agency
LEP Limited English Proficiency
LRE Least Restrictive Environment
MD Multiple Disabilities
MH Mental Health
MR (see ID)
NCLB No Child Left Behind Act
OCR (U.S.) Office of Civil Rights
OHI Other Health Impaired
OI Orthopedic Impairment
O & M Orientation & Mobility
OSEP (U.S.) Office of Special Education Programs
OT Occupational Therapy
Part B Special Education for 2 to 21 year olds
Part C Early Intervention for 0 - 3 year olds
PBS Positive Behavior Support
PDD Pervasive Development Disorders
PLOP Present Level of Performance
PRC Parent Resource Center
PT Physical Therapist
PTI Parent Training Information Center
SEA State Education Agency
SEAC Special Education Advisory Committee
SI Sensory Integration
SL Speech Language (therapy)
SLI Speech or language impairment
SOL Standards of Learning
TBI Traumatic Brain Injury
VAAP Virginia Alternate Assessment Program
VGLA Virginia Grade Level Assessment
VI Visual Impairment
VMAST irginia Modified Achievement Standards Test
VR Vocational Rehabilitation
VSEP irginia Substitute Evaluation Program


Arc of Virginia – https://thearcofva.org/
Center for Family Involvement – www.centerforfamilyinvolvement.org
Partnership for People with Disabilities – www.partnership.vcu.edu
Parent Education Advocacy Training Center – www.peatc.org
Special education Wrightslaw website – http://www.wrightslaw.com/
Virginia Board for People with Disabilities – www.vaboard.org
Virginia Department of Education website – http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/