17 Tips for Getting Quality Special Education Services for Your Child

Before the IEP Meeting

Individualized Education Program

The IEP is developed at a meeting with required staff and the parent(s).  For more information on IEPs, click here.

1. Request Needed Assessments in Writing or Get Independent Assessments

Your child can be assessed in any area of suspected disability and for any services needed for him to benefit from school.  For example, assessments may be done to determine/identify:

  • Reading or math levels
  • Modifications needed to fully include your child
  • Therapy services (OT, PT, speech, mental health)
  • Assistive technology like a communication device.

If you disagree with the school district’s assessment, you can obtain an independent assessment at public expense. Always request assessments in writing.

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I don’t think my child’s IEP is working, what do I do?

Before scheduling an IEP meeting to discuss your concerns, do some homework. Your initial concern may not be the primary cause of your child’s difficulty.

1. List each of your concerns. Next, look for data to support your concerns. Talk with the teacher  informally if this feels comfortable.

2. Gather your child’s IEP and any assessments. If you aren’t sure you have everything, write a letter asking the school to provide you with copies. The school has 5 days to provide you with the information that you requested.

3. Review the assessments and IEP papers and make sure you understand these documents. If you need help with this, give us a call at 1-800-866-4726 or email at partnersresource@sbcglobal.net.  We will put you in touch with our PTI staff assisting parents one on one in your area.  You can also check our PTI map to find out which of our PTI’s is serving your area as well as their staff’s contact information.

IMPORTANT: The IEP is developed from assessment information. If something is missing or incorrect in the assessment, it may be the cause of why the IEP isn’t working well.

4. If the assessment doesn’t cover areas of concern, you might need to ask for additional assessment.

5. Check to see if key issues in the assessment are addressed somewhere in the IEP i.e. goals,  accommodations, services, or a behavior plan.

6. If all key issues are covered, maybe your child needs more time receiving current services or maybe the goals need to be more specific and measurable.

7. Sometimes the issue is that you need to be given the data to show what progress is being made on the goals. While the IEP must state how progress will be measured, schools don’t need to provide specific data on interim reports.

8. If all key issues are not linked to something in the IEP, you might find you need to ask for additional or different services.

NOTE: Sometimes a parent agrees with how the IEP is written and the IEP matches the assessment. The concern then may be that the IEP isn’t being implemented as it is written.

9. If you find the IEP isn’t being followed, maybe this can be better understood with a call or email to the principal and school Special Education staff. If the issue seems complex, having an IEP meeting to discuss this may be best. Remember when asking for an IEP meeting, put your request in writing. The school has 30 days to hold the meeting after receiving your request. (There is no specific timeline in Texas.)

FINALLY: An IEP is not written in stone. It can be changed as needed. Individual Education Plans are meant to assist your child in making progress on their goals and to access the General Education curriculum. IEPs do not guarantee results and do not mean your student will be taught individually. IEPs should address your child’s needs in an individualized and meaningful plan.

From Matrix Parents Network & Resource Center, www.matrixparents.org

What Does Age of Majority Mean?

Age of majority is the legal age established under State law at which an individual is no longer a minor and, as a young adult, has the right and responsibility to make certain legal choices that adults make” (National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, 2002). Thus, when people use the term age of majority, they are generally referring to when a young person reaches the age where one is considered to be an adult. Depending upon your state law, this usually happens at some point between 18 and 21.

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Unique Needs of the Visually Impaired Child

Vision is the primary learning modality and source of information for most children. No other sense can stimulate curiosity, integrate information or invite exploration in the same way, or as efficiently and fully, as vision does. The child who comes into the world without a dependable visual system, or without vision at all, has to navigate through the incomplete messages received through the other sensory modalities in order to put a whole picture of the world together. The visually impaired child needs to determine how to organize this incomplete information and then respond to what may remain a confusing view of the world.

The child who is legally blind may not learn to do things by visual imitation, an integral pathway to learning during early development. Thus, her ability to understand basic life concepts, and the process by which most life tasks are accomplished and brought to completion, is seriously compromised. The visually impaired child who is unable to see the complex process of putting together a meal within the family home, for example, has missed invaluable understanding of what causes things to happen in life. Only through experience- based learning does the blind or visually impaired child gain the personal validation of what the world is about in a way that makes sense to that individual. By repeated opportunities for hands- on experiences, the VI infant/toddler begins to internalize the characteristics and properties of the world outside himself.

Without these essential pieces of information about the world, the ability of the legally blind child to develop effective problem solving skills, a cornerstone to cognition, is seriously challenged. The legally blind child is often left to depend upon the verbal description of the world given him by a sighted person whose view of reality does not match with what the blind person is experiencing (Santin and Simmons). Instruction specific to his disability is essential for the young child who is blind or visually impaired in order to meet his unique needs.

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7 Ways That An Autism Service Dog Could Benefit Your Child

1. The dog can assist children with autism safely access different environment’s. This could help your child become more independent and also help with transitions, which can be difficult for children with autism.

2. The dog can be a calming influence and give a sense of security to your child.

3. The dog can actually help your child focus on academic and social tasks. The reason that this happens is not known by many trainers of these service dogs, but it is a good side effect.

4. The dog can be tethered to your child to prevent the child from wandering away, which a lot of children with autism are prone to do.

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What Are Some Behavioral Challenges Typical In Persons with Down Syndrome?

The behavioral challenges seen in children with Down syndrome are usually not all that different from those seen in typically developing children. However, they may occur at a later age and last somewhat longer. For example, temper tantrums are typically common in 2-3 year olds, but for a child with Down syndrome, they may begin at 3-4.

When evaluating behavior in a child or adult with Down syndrome it is important to look at the behavior in the context of the individual’s developmental age, not only his or her chronological age. It is also important to know the individual’s receptive and expressive language skill levels, because many behavior problems are related to frustration with communication. Many times, behavior issues can be addressed by finding ways to help the person with Down syndrome communicate more effectively.

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Social Skills Interventions: Getting to the Core of Autism

Every child on the autism spectrum is unique, with different strengths and needs at different ages. It is the family’s challenge to cobble together an individualized treatment plan based on a wide variety of options, from speech and language therapy to applied behavior analysis, from medication to special diets. One intervention many families consider is social skills training. A lack of intuitive social ability is a hallmark of autism. Social skills training is aimed at addressing the challenges that result, and often plays a central role in treatment plans. But what does “social skills training” mean? What is it intended to achieve? And what research has been done so far to demonstrate whether it works?

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TEA New Career & Technical Education (CTE) Resource Center and Website

A new Career and Technical Education (CTE) Resource Center and Website from TEA (Texas Education Agency) offer students personalized, flexible learning delivered by experts with over 120 programs of study in more than 79 career pathways. Career and technical education programs offer a sequence of courses that provides students with coherent and rigorous content. CTE content is aligned with challenging academic standards and relevant technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for further education and careers in current or emerging professions.

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Students Who Won’t or Can’t Go to School

As the concept of chronic absenteeism gains traction across the country, some people are under the impression that it’s just a politically correct way of saying truancy. However, the two terms describe different aspects of our absenteeism problem and require different approaches to bringing students back to school every day.

First, let’s take truancy, a term that generally refers to unexcused absences. In the past, federal law required states to track truancy but left it to states to come up with the definition.

With its focus on unexcused absences, truancy naturally leads to a focus on compliance with the rules. Students are missing school without an excuse, skipping school and violating mandatory attendance requirements. Fixing the problem becomes a question of ensuring compliance, often left to front-office administrators, and in the most severe cases, to the legal system. Policymakers often recommend punitive consequences for truancy – such as suspensions, jail time and fines – for children and parents. Some communities and courts have devised effective approaches to reducing truancy, but in other places, punitive efforts are pushing students out of school.

Chronic absenteeism, on the other hand, incorporates all absences: excused, unexcused and suspensions. The focus is on the academic consequences of this lost instructional time and on preventing absences before students miss so much school that they fall behind. It recognizes that students miss school for many understandable issues such as asthma or homelessness or unreliable transportation, for which a punitive response is not appropriate.

Like truancy, chronic absence has no common definition, though many researchers and schools monitor how many students are missing 10 percent or more of the school year. That’s about two days a month, or 18 days in most school districts.

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