Information for parents of disabled children

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Workin' for a livin'

Image representing Examiner as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBaseThis week starts a new writing endeavor. I have become the Indianapolis Special Education Examiner for It isn't simply another blog.

So stop by and see me at my newest web home.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Athletics For Everyone?

Sports icon for PortalsImage via WikipediaWeeeelll . . . Maybe. Perhaps. Kinda.
Schools have a lot of obligations when it comes to special ed. students, but is an inclusive extra-curricular one of them. Obviously, a student who is able must be allowed to participate, or the school faces the music. Schools don't necessarily have to consider after school sports as part of a Free and Equal Public Education.
However, there are perhaps situations that could require a child's IEP to include such activities according to the professional website, an online resource for school leadership. The wisdom presented in their article, Boosting Inclusion for Students with Disabilites, suggests appropriate moments exist for schools to take on the responsibility.
"In some circumstances, however, participation in athletics and extracurricular activities may be necessary for the child to benefit from the child’s educational program. For instance, a student with an emotional disability may require participating in athletics to develop a positive self-image and acquire social and emotional skills."
This, they suggest, would be an appropriate moment to include sports participation in an IEP. As a parent sitting down for a case conference, this may be a hard sell situation, meaning there could be some resistance. Bring plenty of evidence to the discussion, if this is your goal. Teachers, coaches and administrators may need some convincing. More than that, you have to be certain yourself that it's something your child really needs.

Do schools have to provide this? Not necessarily, but there could be circumstances where they would. Behavior Plans and social skills training need to be firmly married to any after school activity to truly justify its inclusion in an education plan.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Fighting Frustrations; When the System Seems to Be Fighting You

Long jumpImage via WikipediaWhen working toward a negotiable goal with your child's school, it's possible to become frustrated, and irritated, and. . . you get the picture. Some resistance can become lots of resistance, and your sunny disposition goes right out the window because this is your kid we're talking about here. There are ways to break through that resistance and come out on the other side with relationships intact, as well as an acceptable IEP. It starts with you.

Know Your Stuff

Research your positions, so that you can communicate that position clearly and without snarkiness. We seldom snark when we have facts and figures to quote. Unfortunately, this means we get homework. Pull out the old IEP binder and get to work. The safest way to start, in my opinion, is to decide on your deal-breakers.  What issue will force you up and away from the table? Once those are prioritized, you'll know where to start researching.

Know Your Enemy

Let me reassure you that it's usually not an enemy, more like an obstruction. It's not a good idea to assume an administrator is not "on your side". Admins are very often worker bees in the hive. They have job descriptions and requirements. Seldom are these people your enemy, but neither are they your friend. These are professionals. Once you really grasp that, it's not a long jump to the next logical conclusion. So are you!

As a mother or father, you have the most diverse job description known to man. You are the resident expert on your child. The data you have on this particular student is invaluable to the school's staff. They need your input.

Treat this like a business meeting. Wear a suit if you have to! If you come at this from a professional frame of mind, it will help you be the advocate you need to be. If you are losing your temper, stop the meeting. Ask for a break or a reschedule. The law gives you the right to do this. 

Know Thyself

Maybe this makes me the cockeyed optimist in the room, but I really believe most parents can do this on their own. It takes time and work and gumption. It's hard, still is it really harder than what we do already? Any one of us can do this

Degrees and doctorates are not required to get a diagnosis in the family. All it takes is breathing to get that news. Most diseases and disorders are no respecters of persons. As a parent, our limitations are what we say they are. How often do we tell our child with special needs 'they can do it'? Take a moment to look in the mirror and say it to yourself. After all, you've gotten this far, right?
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Squeaky Wheels

The complaints process.
Forms here

When you've tried the usual avenues, it sometimes comes down to the complaint process which is simpler than you'd think. Fill out the forms available above. Gather your evidence and fax or mail it in. That's the process, but what about the other stuff?

You know, the making people mad and the seeing them again after. It's the equivalent of a nightmare date where you hope you'll never see the guy again, but you have to go to work tomorrow. In this post, you'll find a sheet to offer you some tips.

The bottom line is; this is all just business. You are seeing to the business of raising your child, and that makes nothing personal unless you want it personal. It's about them. If it comes to complaints or due process, then so be it. As long as parents have exhausted all other routes to resolution, this is a totally appropriate and sometimes needed step.

Monday, September 20, 2010

As I See It: Advocating From a Parent's Perspective

It's been a couple months, and school is once again in full swing. My topic has to inevitably turn to social skills. Every parent I've consulted with over the last few months has needed help with determining social goals or getting the school to acknowledge the need for training for their kiddos. How much should we get? It should be the question, yes, but, more often, the question becomes; how much can we get?

 Most IEPs contain the same language and nearly the same amount of SST, 15 minutes twice a week. Of course, that's not sufficient. A recent study determined autistic children need a minimum of 30 hours a week. That's just not going to happen, right? So, parents, get ready to work the partnerships.

It's imperative to get your teachers on board with on the job training for your child. During the day, the social opportunities are endless; standing in line in the cafeteria, going to lockers, or working with the teacher on spelling. These are all social interactions that could be capitalized upon. The trick is convincing others to use these teachable moments. 

It makes sense to prioritize the skills most needed and work on those. Is your child not understanding others' verbal or visual cues? Well, imagine how that translates into a child's academic performance!

Teachers, especially in general education, may not get it. They may not understand that it isn't willful disobedience, so much as misunderstanding. Talk to them about the medical side of your child's disorder.  Once everyone is on the same page, it's so much easier to suss out solutions.

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