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Tips for Parents of K-12 Students

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Does My Child Need an IEP or 504 Plan?

In the US, an IEP is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A child with facial pain will fall under the category “Other Health Impairments (OHI)”. The IEP describes the goals that the IEP team (including parents) have set for the child throughout the school year, along with any special support the student needs to be successful in school. Having an IEP allows your child to still be able to attend school, but reinforces that the law requires teachers to be flexible in educating your child.

A process must be followed for your child to receive special education services (IEP). A doctor, parent, or teacher can begin the process by requesting an evaluation because the child is struggling academically. In this case, it could be due to the pain or side effects of medications.

It is important to note that just because an evaluation for a child being considered for special education is requested, this does not automatically entitle them to special education services. Data collection, interviews, and observation must be done by multiple people to see if the student qualifies to receive special education services.

What is a 504 Plan?

A 504 plan is implemented when a physical or mental impairment interferes with a child’s’ ability to communicate, walk, sleep, eat, learn, concentrate, or work. In the case of a child with facial pain, it might be due to pain or medications. The 504 plan is only to be implemented in the regular education classroom (in other words; your child is not removed from their regular class). This is the main difference between an IEP and a 504 plan. Again, this is a mandated law that requires teachers to provide academic support beyond their general teaching strategies.

Possible Accommodations/Modifications

  • Extended time for tests and projects
  • Flexibility in attendance
  • Alternative testing options
  • Preferential seating
  • Enlarged font
  • Increased spacing between lines on page
  • Special lighting
  • Periodic breaks
  • Course outline or study guide
  • Use of vocabulary bank
  • Use-buff colored paper instead of white
  • Allow student to record lessons
  • Modify student’s schedule to fit optimal learning times (time of day the least pain occurs or medication side effects are least disruptive)
  • Adjust workload
  • Alternative or reduced assignments
  • Allow alternative response modes

Home Instruction

Your child may be placed on home instruction. It is essential that you inform the assigned teacher about your child’s facial pain. Explain the nature of facial pain, triggers, side effects of medications, and other variables.

School Nurse

Educate the school nurse on facial pain. A nurse may have very limited knowledge of TN from nursing school. Don’t assume they know or understand what a TN patient experiences or how to work with TN patients. Develop a plan on what to do if your child begins to have a severe attack. Who do you want the school to call? What should and shouldn’t they do? It is worth reminding them that TN is an invisible disease and therefore not something they can see, check temperatures or look in ears for.

If you feel that the school is not working with you to develop a plan to educate your child, remind the school that under the law, they are required to provide reasonable accommodations and modifications to educate your child.

Helpful Links & Resources:





DRAGON Naturally Speaking – this software translates dictation into text.

Smartpen – Livescribe – this pen records while the student writes with it.

Consider getting recording of books instead of having to read.