"What is an ARD?", and Other Special Education Questions Answered

Traditional public school districts offer an array of early childhood intervention and special education services to eligible students. These free special education services are individualized for each specific child by highly trained special education staff. The staff identifies and evaluates students with disabilities and then builds an action plan that considers each students unique needs and circumstances.

What qualifies a child as eligible for services?

The federal law IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) specifies that an individual with a disability is a person with a physical or mental impairment that hinders one or more critical life activities. 

This legislation ensures that students who need services are given Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is personalized to their individual needs. The 1973 Rehabilitation Act, Section 504, prohibits discrimination based on disability. Some children who do not meet IDEA criteria can still be eligible for services under Section 504. Some conditions that are defined as disabilities include dyslexia, heart disease, epilepsy, learning disabilities, diabetes, autism, allergies, poor vision or hearing, and chronic illness.


When can a child be evaluated?

As early as age 3, parents that are concerned about their child’s speech, emotional, or physical development or child development stages are encouraged to contact their district’s special education department or their local school campus to arrange a free evaluation.

More information on diagnosis and disabilities can be found at Texas Project First.

For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). parents or teachers are required to request an evaluation for disability before the school creates an Individual Education Program (IEP).

What services are available for visually Impaired or deaf children?

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) arranges special services to visually impaired (VI) or blind children, deaf or hard of hearing (DHH), or Deaf Blind (DB) students. The agency collaborates with the state’s 20 Education Service Centers and the Texas School for the Deaf, in addition to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Find information regarding sensory impairment services at the TEA Sensory Impairment page.

What is ARD?

ARD is an acronym for Admission, Review, and Dismissal. An ARD is a meeting and collaboration of a group of people to determine whether or not a student is eligible for special education services. This group of people consists of teachers, parents, staff, special education specialists or diagnosticians, and the school principal. The ARD committee develops the Individual Education Program (IEP) for eligible students.

Are transportation services available?

The ARD committee’s IEP can specify that special transportation services are necessary for certain students to have a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE). The ARD committee evaluates the child’s disability, location of services needed, communication skills, and the child’s need for specialized equipment in order to decide if a student qualifies for these no-cost transportation services.

What free resources are available?

Traditional public schools provide many different types of special services. Connect with your Independent School District (ISD) and school campus websites to find more information about the services available. Some of the free resources for special needs students include in-class support, Alternative Learning Environments, co-teaching, resource classes, deaf education, visual impairment support, and homebound or hospital instruction.  They can also offer adapted physical education and vocational adjustment classes.

In-Class Support

Students with in-class support needs identified in their IEP are provided accommodations in the general education setting with a special education professional. They provide in-class assistance in grasping knowledge of grade-level curriculum.

Alternative Learning Environment

The ALE program provides individualized learning opportunities in small group settings by a certified special education teacher. The curriculum includes self-help, life skills, social and communication skills, and motor development.


Co-teaching is a collaboration of special education teachers and general education teachers in order to support students with IEPs in a general education classroom setting. Co-teaching provides TEKS modifications and individualized instruction in grade-level curriculum.

Resources Classes

Students who need personalized learning instruction related to the development of social, organizational,  or study skills are able to make use of resource classes while in school.

Deaf Education

Special assistance is provided to eligible students with hearing impairments in a variety of instructional settings. Reading comprehension, oral and written language lessons, vocabulary development, as well as information on audio-grams and amplification assistive devices is included in the curriculum.

Visual Impairment Support

Visual impairment services programs are available for students at all developmental levels from birth to adulthood. Braille, optical assistive devices, screen-reading software, modified instructional materials and activities, and personal consultations are a few of the no-cost benefits of visual services.

Homebound/ Hospital Instruction

Homebound and Hospital Instruction programs provide cohesion of educational services between the classroom and the home or hospital environment. Certified special education teachers design personalized instruction for students who are unable to attend school on campus due to medical reasons.

Adapted Physical Education

Adapted Physical Education is designed and individualized for students with disabilities who cannot successfully participate in a school’s regular PE program. Schools may provide modifications to students in APE in order to keep them safe  while being physically active. Some districts also offer Special Olympics training for their APE students.

Vocational Adjustment Class

Vocational Adjustment Classes (VAC) provide diverse services for students with disabilities who need assistance to obtain and maintain employment. The program provides specific vocational coursework and part-time or full-time work experience while assisting students in learning self help and life skills.

Parents are highly encouraged to utilize the many IDEA special education services that our public school districts provide. With our districts’ special education tools and programs, students with learning and/or physical challenges can successfully flourish in their public school environment.

  • SPED resources and teachers help all kids in inclusion classrooms. not only special education students.
  • Special ed services provide life-long benefits to students, including higher levels of independence, lower chances of depression, and greater self-esteem.
  • Children with learning disabilities are more excited to learn in a classroom with other students without disabilities.

Find more special education services information on the TEA Special Education Website.