Getting Started with Special Education

Children Birth to 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 to 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 Northwest AEA.
  • 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 Northwest AEA. 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.

Students 5 to 21 Years

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.

Important contacts

Staff Directory