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Special Education

Getting Started with Special Education 

Iowa’s AEAs serve students from birth to the age of 21. The eligibility requirements for children to receive services differ depending on the age of the child. In all cases, however, services are free and are based on eligibility and need. If you believe that a child or student may be in need of AEA services, we are here to assist you!

Children Birth-3 Years

If your child has a condition that may cause later delays in development or if he/she is showing delays in his/her ability to play, think, talk or move, your child may be eligible for Early ACCESS services. These services are not associated with special education. See our Early ACCESS webpage for more information.

Children 3-5 Years

Special Education services are available to children ages 3-5, who through an evaluation have been identified as having a disability and as needing services. The AEA is the agency within the state of Iowa who has been given the responsibility for identifying children with special needs. The AEA works closely with school districts to provide the services which children need.

How do I make a referral for AEA services?

  • Parents: If you are concerned about your child’s learning and/or development, please contact 563-344-6271.
  • Teachers in a school-based preschool: Referrals may be made by contacting your Early Childhood Collaborator, Team Representative, or other appropriate staff (i.e. SLP for speech/language concerns). Provide your contact person with the date you discussed the referral with the child’s parent.
  • Medical providers and outside agencies/center-based providers: Referrals may be made by contacting 563-344-6271. You will need to provide basic information about the child as well as the date that you spoke with the child’s parent about making the referral.

Ages 5-21

The Child Find process is different for students who are of school age. A parent/guardian may request an evaluation by contacting an administrator at the student’s school.