Special Education Services

Special Education Services

Grant Wood Area Education Agency's Special Education team is committed to partnering with local school districts to raise the achievement and improve life outcomes of students with disabilities. The GWAEA Special Education team carries out child find and evaluation activities, and provides support and related services to eligible individuals as determined by Individual Education Plan (IEP) teams.

Learn more about the various special education services GWAEA provides to support students, families and schools:



Special Education Teams and Services

Grant Wood AEA’s adapted physical education program provides support for area physical educators providing physical education services to students with disabilities. See more about our APE program.

All students are expected to participate in district-wide assessments. Students with disabilities may participate without accommodations, with accommodations or through the state alternate assessment.


All children in kindergarten-3rd grade who meet Iowa’s Alternate Assessment eligibility requirements will participate in the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Aligned K-3 Early Literacy Alternate Assessment.

Educators can use these Alternative Assessment resources, or for additional assistance, please contact your district's regional administrator

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Agency staff will assist with a variety of methods for determining the learning needs of students and staff, including organization and facilitation of community forums, strategic planning or small group problem-solving sessions; development of print or phone surveys, organization and facilitation of focus groups; and samples of needs assessment strategies used by other districts.

Contact us for more assistance

GWAEA has a specialized team trained to assist school districts and teachers with challenging student behavior. This team can be requested through your district's regional administrator.

See also Childcare Alliance Response Team (CART).

The Childcare Alliance Response Team (CART) provides intensive behavioral support for children ages 0-5 who are not identified as having special education needs. Children may be referred by childcare providers or parents for extremely challenging behaviors in their childcare setting. This program can be a support to parents who may be in danger of losing their employment if their child is unable to remain in their childcare setting. Because CART is a Linn, Johnson and Washington County Community Empowerment Grant funded program, referrals to this program are limited to early care and education providers in Linn, Johnson and Washington counties only. For more information, contact espicer@gwaea.org.

GWAEA consultants with expertise in writing and implementing IEPs, modeling classroom strategies, teaching life skills and academic content for diverse learners and students with special needs, developing accommodations, adapted physical education, transition planning, managing student behaviors, facilitating planning, and knowing special education law are members of the regional teams.

Early ACCESS is the system implemented by the state of Iowa to serve children from birth to age three, who have either a developmental delay, or have a condition that has a high probability of later delays if early intervention services are not provided. Eligible children and their families receive service coordination to assist them in accessing the services and supports they need.

Early childhood consultants support children ages 3-5 by helping teachers and support service providers identify developmental needs, deliver and coordinate quality early childhood special education programs. Early childhood specialists work collaboratively with families and providers to develop interventions that empower families and educators to support the identified needs of young children.


For information about either program, please contact espicer@gwaea.org

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ECSE services are available through GWAEA for preschool children ages 3-5. These services include evaluation and intervention services, which are family centered and community based.

The Grant Wood AEA Family & Educator Partnership (FEP) links families and educators for better understanding and communication.

As part of a statewide network, the program provides a lending library of printed information, books and videos; workshops and consultation on communication and family issues; a speakers' bureau; and ongoing networking with support groups and parent-teacher organizations.

See more about our FEP program.

GWAEA staff can identify hearing service needs through testing, medical referrals and educational planning for students who are deaf or have hearing impairments. Services, recommendations and materials are provided by trained audiometrists, audiologists and itinerant hearing teachers

Learning Supports include a wide range of strategies, programs, services, and practices that are implemented to create conditions and environments that promote pre-kindergarten to 12th grade student learning. Learning supports promote healthy development for all students and address barriers to learning that students may encounter.

Occupational therapy (OT) services are provided for individuals if the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individual Education Program (IEP) team determines that these services are needed for the child or student to meet educational or functional goals. The focus of OT services includes self-care skills, fine and visual motor skills, behavior, accessibility, positioning, play and leisure skills, work and vocational skills, and social skills. OTs may also work with teachers and other members of the educational team to develop strategies, accommodations, and modifications for students receiving general education and special education services.

Physical therapy services are provided for students with physical disabilities to facilitate optimal functioning and maximize accessibility in the educational environment. Positioning and mobility specifically are addressed and modifications/adaptations are made as needed. As members of educational teams, school physical therapists evaluate and treat functional needs of students as they affect daily programming, instruct staff in appropriate goals and care, and coordinate with members of respective medical teams as necessary for continuity of care.

GWAEA staff can provide school district staff training in the use of positive behavioral supports for students with behavior problems.

School psychologists provide consultation and assessment for students who have school-related learning, emotional, social, and behavioral problems. The emphasis is on intervention and remediation through the team approach.

Area Education Agency (AEA) and Urban Education Network (UEN) Significant Disabilities Coordinators provide technical assistance and support in implementation of the Iowa Core Essential Elements and Iowa’s Alternate Assessments. The Alternate Assessment is a part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Every student is to be tested, even those who receive homebound services or attend a shortened school day. In the Grant Wood AEA service area, contact Tina Hoffman, thoffman@gwaea.org.

All GWAEA special education consultants are trained to provide transition support services for students, parents, teachers and school districts as they plan for students’ transitions for living, learning, and working. Planning will include movement from home to school, school to school, and to their post-school employment, education and living settings. Some helpful resources include:

Universal Design looks at the goals of any lesson to provide all students with tools, techniques and the means to achieve these goals. Your GWAEA Assistive Technology team member can assist you in this area.

Held at Kirkwood Community College, VITAL services are available for students who require additional support beyond their high school program in order to meet the transition goals of their IEP.