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Special Education 3–5 Years

There are a number of resources and services available to parents and caregivers of preschool-age children with disabilities.

The Tennessee Department of Education, Division of Special Populations,is responsible for special education services in the state. The office provides information and guidance to school districts and parents regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The Division of Special Populations promotes educational services and programs for children with special education needs. The division’s website offers information for parents and educators, and contains information about eligibility, legal services, and links to additional services.

If you have concerns about your child, you can request a free evaluation by contacting your local education agency (school district) where you live. Contact information for each school district can be found by using the directory of special education supervisors. The evaluation process is important for determining if a child has a disability and what types of services and support may be needed to meet a child's educational needs. For children that are determined to be eligible for services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed. An IEP is a legal document that indicates the kind and amount of services a child needs as well as where those services will be provided. Parents are important members of the team that works together to develop the IEP. You can find out more detailed information regarding your child's rights under IDEA by reviewing the Tennessee Notice of Procedural Safeguards.

Disabilities Served

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Deafness
  • Developmental delay
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Functional delays
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Intellectually gifted
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech and language impairments
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment

For more information about initial eligibility and definitions of disabilities, click here.

Eligibility Guidelines
Eligibility criteria may vary based on program.

Interpreter Availability
Interpreter services available upon request

Agency Hours
Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wheelchair Access
Yes

Fees and Payment Methods
None/Free

For more information, contact:

Gary Smith, IDEA 619 coordinator
Phone: 615-741-9871

*The Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped provides books and magazines in audio and braille formats for children who have a physical disability which makes it difficult for them to read standard print. Qualifying disabilities include: blindness, low vision, manual dexterity problems which prevent holding a book and/or turning pages and reading disabilities.

On the 3rd Friday of every month, the Tennessee Library for the Blind will be holding call in Storytime for young and young at heart patrons! To be a part of this program you need only call the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and sign up to receive the monthly Story Envelope. Included in this envelope are special craft items, the phone number to call in on, and a set of instructions for a family craft to help keep the story time magic going! On the day of, all you need to do is call in and a Storytime Leader will talk your child through the crafts and read a story to go along with the theme for that month. To sign up for the mailing list or to ask more questions, contact Erin Savage at (800)342-3308 or by emailing erin.savage@tn.gov