Special Education Services

Houston-area schools offer an array of special education services to eligible students starting in preschool as early as age three.  Gulf coast public schools districts’ free special needs services are individualized for each child, and the special ed staff members are vigorously trained and well-equipped to support their students and their unique needs. Students with disabilities are evaluated early and identified as eligible for special services.  Students receive a special education plan to support their special needs and circumstances.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents who may be concerned about their child’s speech, physical, and/or emotional development are invited to contact their San Antonio school district’s special education department or their home campus to set up a free evaluation. The testing process begins as early as age three.

The Individualized Education Program (or IEP) is updated every year and includes goals for each child, written by teachers, parents, and staff.  The IEP meeting, where the student’s IEP is created and discussed, is called the ARD (Admission, Review, and Dismissal).

For children and students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), teachers or parents must first request an evaluation for disability before the school can create an IEP.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) coordinates special services to blind children or those with a visual impairment (VI), DeafBlind (DB), and deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). TEA collaborates with the 20 Education Service Centers (ESCs), the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD),  and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI).

Services for students with sensory impairment can be found here.

School Support and Accommodations

Students and families are encouraged to make use of the many special education resources that Houston-area public school districts offer. Children with physical or learning challenges can succeed in the public school environment with educational tools and individualized plans.

The ARD committee and IEP may indicate that transportation services are necessary for a special needs student to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).  Those students may be eligible for free special transportation services. The ARD committee evaluates the child’s disability, location, communication skills, and the child’s dependence on specialized equipment.  Then they decide if the student is eligible for no-cost transportation services.

The Early Childhood Education Department provides high-quality early education programs to eligible 3 and 4 year-olds through district and state-funded pre-k programs and federally funded programs like Head Start. Various district locations in the Gulf Coast offer Head Start services.  Houston Pre-k 3 programs and Early Childhood Education Programs are designed to provide children a solid foundation for entering kindergarten.  The curriculum addresses their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development. 

Families are always encouraged to use the many special education IDEA services that our Houston area school districts provide. With the districts’ special education programs and tools, children with unique learning or physical challenges can flourish in our public school environment.

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