News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Q & A: My clinician recommended a “PPCD” program? What is that?

JCCHD | Fri, March 08, 2013 | [Autism Treatment][Q and A ]

A child entering school

A PPCD program is a Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities. A PPCD program provides special education to children of pre-school age (3-5 years) with a documented condition or disability that affects their learning.

There are several ways that your child might enter into a PPCD program. The first step is to determine their eligibility. If your child is already receiving services through Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), your service provider will contact the school and notify them that your child may be eligible for services. (It is always a good idea to follow up and make sure the referral was made, because it can be a lengthy process.) If you are concerned that your child might have a disability or delay but they have not yet received ECI services, the first step is to notify their school of your concerns and consent to a full and individual evaluation (FIE). The evaluation involves the collection of information and administration of tests to see if your child has a disability that will impact their academic functioning. Once the evaluation is completed, an Admissions, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meeting will be held to make the final determination of whether your child qualifies for special education services. If your child is eligible, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed that outlines specific services and learning goals.

A PPCD program should be individualized to the child’s needs. There is often a misconception that a PPCD program is a specific “classroom,” but this is not always the case. The type of educational placement should be determined based on the child’s particular needs, and within the least restrictive environment. For one child this might mean placement in a classroom with other children with autism. For another child, a typical classroom with extra help from an aide or shadow might be most appropriate. Additionally, specific related services should be individualized, possibly including speech therapy, occupational therapy, or social skills support.  Accommodations and modifications are also provided as needed. Accommodations are supportive additions to the child’s educational program and setting, such as assistive technology, an aide or shadow, or any other supports that can help accommodate the child’s learning needs. Modifications are any type of change or alternative to the class material necessary to match the child’s learning abilities.

A nice resource for understanding PPCD programs and special education in Texas can be found at Texas Project First: Similar resources exist in other states. It is important to remember that if you feel that your child’s educational program is not meeting their needs, you do have options. A wonderful resource that outlines educational rights is called Wright’s Law, which can be found at

Preschool is an important time of development, and appropriate early intervention is critical.  Understanding your child’s rights and the options available for school placement and intervention are the first steps to a productive relationship with your child’s school.