There are times when students must miss school. They may be sick, on vacation or tending to a family emergency. The hope for most parents is that their child will be able to catch up on missed work and there will be options to minimize any impact that the absence has on a student's performance.
Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. In some cases, students miss so much school that they fall too far behind to catch up. They might fail classes or even have to repeat a grade. And while many people might assume these actions are reserved for truant or misbehaving students, they can and do affect students with developmental disabilities.
Twice as likely to be chronically absent
A recent study found that students with disabilities including attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, developmental delays, autism and intellectual disabilities were roughly twice as likely to miss 15 or more school days when compared to other students.
The report also found that the more disabilities a child has, the more likely it is that he or she will miss at least 15 days of school.
Making a difficult situation worse
Often, these absences stem from a child's illness or injury. They may need to go to the doctor or stay home to recover from medical care.
However, as we discussed in our last post, there are other reasons why students with disabilities miss school, including suspensions and expulsions. As we stated in that post, a study revealed that students with disabilities were also missing a disproportionate number of school days due to these disciplinary actions.
Addressing absenteeism constructively
Some absences are unavoidable and there may be no reasonable way to make up for those missed days. However, when absences stem from a child's disability or unfair actions by the school, there is room for discussions on how to prevent a child from suffering setbacks unnecessarily. This could involve certain accommodations or alternative schedules or penalties to keep a child on track.
Such discussions can be difficult and frustrating, so parents meeting with teachers or school administrators may want to consider having an attorney by their side to help them seek satisfactory resolutions.