Disclaimers

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Everyone is respectful of everyone’s experience even if we disagree;
  • The sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader or other relevant guest with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or HERE.
  • If anything is said that offends anyone, I would like you to email me about it right away so I can reflect on the situation and learn from it and take any necessary action;
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

Monday, June 3, 2024

Our next parent support meeting is on Monday, June 3rd, 2024 from 1-2PM Eastern Daylight Time and we will have a guest with us, Yuji Oka. (Next Monday is Victoria Day in Canada, and the following Monday is Memorial day in the U.S.)

Monday, May 13, 2024

There were 17 participants today.

NOTES TO FOLLOW. In the meantime, here are the links I shared:

Autism podcast 

IPRC – Individual Placement and Review Committee (public school in Ontario, Canada)

“Good job” link

Setting appropriate limits and expectations by respecting where your child is at, developmentally

A Developmental Approach to Setting Limits

The Building Blocks of Motor Planning

Slowing down and stretching out interactions

Monday, May 6, 2024

 

There were 29 caregivers in attendance plus our guest, Kim Kredich from the recent podcast entitled, Advocating for rightful inclusion in school.

Kim Kredich is not an attorney and does not give legal advice. She knows about inclusion in the United States public school system from her experience. Nothing said here today was advice.

QUESTION A parent’s child had an IEP in preschool, but recently got re-evaluated and the school says the child doesn’t require an IEP anymore. The thirty-minute assessment didn’t even include input from the teacher. The school doesn’t want to touch the autism diagnosis. In the current setting, the child doesn’t require supports.

COMMENTS Kim said that there’s a myth that if a student is academically up to par, especially in Kindergarten, they don’t know that social-emotional and communication goals are relevant.  She said they say that it doesn’t impact their education. If you have someone like Bill Gates, you can be fully able to navigate school, but they are missing the social-emotional side of things. You might have to go and get an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE), Kim says.

Under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) (in the United States), you’re getting something from the school, and your taxes are paying for it. Maybe you don’t agree with what they came back with. You can get an IEE at no cost to you, and it will be a more thorough assessment. It’s supposed to be a safeguard for the child’s rights, to be able to have a second opinion. You do have to check who they have on that list doing the IEE. And, Kim adds, when the parent knows enough to ask for an IEE, sometimes that’s enough to get the school district to realize they better look at this.

You can even go for a 504. Let’s get the accommodations going and try it and then say that this is not enough. You can get services under a 504 including a one-on-one aid, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and more. You don’t get goals, though. The number one reason the school would want an IEP is because they get funding for it. With a 504, the school doesn’t get funding for it and still has to pay for all the services for it! In sum, go for the social-emotional deficit areas.

QUESTION Another parent asked if transportation is included in a 504. You can get an aid on a bus which is the same as the bus with the other kids, or a special education bus. The least-restrictive environment actually follows the same rules for transportation as it does for the classroom.

COMMENTS If you need services for the child to use a regular bus, they would have to provide that before getting a special bus. There are some buses that aren’t equipped for all special needs, and some parents prefer the special education bus which comes right to your house.

QUESTION Another parent’s child has been homeschooled for a few years and will re-enter public school in high school. The parent wonders if the old IEP will apply. It was a lot of work and fighting to get all the services.

COMMENTS Kim says that the IEP is based on present levels of performance. You need to get it all again. But, having that IEP from elementary school that was proven successful and was necessary you can bring and show progress, but that the supports are still required. Whatever you do for homeschooling–take videos of what you do at home–they should provide. If the school has never had a student like this one, you could be groundbreakers to create a path for our kids. They cannot hold the child’s needs against them. The child will have great experiences, but so will the other kids have great experiences from having that child in the school. So, yes, you show what the child needed before, and why they still need it.

The Least-Restricted Environment (LRE): The degree to which a student is educated alongside non-disabled peers. The least-restricted environment is not the general education setting, Kim said, because the LRE may not be that for some children. For some it’s 3 hours in a special program, for example, hard of hearing to learn ASL (American Sign Language). There might be a program to access a different program. The LRE starts with a general ed setting with a full range of supports and services.

Only after there is not meaningful progress on IEP goals and not access to the general curriculum, do you even consider a move to a special class. Resource room is considered a supplementary service. Legally, it’s part of that special education environment that is a pull-out (from class). Some schools don’t distinguish between that and a special, separate (segregated) class. So you have to be careful (as she mentioned in the podcast). Look to the law. It’s very straight forward! ASL is a supplementary service that supports the child’s LRE, which would be the general ed setting with modifications. Gently challenge because there is a whole slew of accommodations, including a separate work space and a modified day. They could go to the regular class for 20 minutes then go to the library or another environment to work on modified content.

It will be hard for the parent to sit in those IEP meetings again and they are really concerned about the relationships at the school going well. Another parent agreed, that they can totally relate to those fears, too, and that they are very legitimate. Kim says to bring a few friends to the meetings for support. Go to the IEP meeting, then go out for lunch. Or have other parents of other kids at that school to go as support. Call the people that show up, “Team (child’s name)” because they are a team. The school has their team they have to bring, so bring your team. It shows the community and what you do privately. Some of the best brainstorming comes when these collaboration happens and it’s a show of good faith to give permission to have your team members work with theirs. You have your rights. You pay your taxes. They chose this job. Another parent commented that this will stick with them when they feel awkward in meetings!

QUESTION Another question came up about age level.

COMMENTS There’s a time limit of age, Kim says. Once you’re 22, the services stop. They have to provide the services regardless. Your child won’t be delayed to turn 22! I reminded people to listen to the podcast again with Kim in order to listen to her tips such as recording the meetings, etc.

QUESTION A parent appreciated Kim’s story and recently had an IEP for the child entering Kindergarten from preschool. They love the child’s team, but they’re curious about getting the child’s interests into the IEP. The IEP is very goal-based. How do you get those interests in there?

COMMENTS Kim made boxes called M.I. boxes for “multiple intelligences”. She had folders with laminated labels of social studies, math, etc. and looked at the general curriculum. She saw that they looked at magnets, etc. and supplemented for the school what to do with her son, based on his interests. This parent’s child loves radio stations and languages. She suggested a language master–the low tech cards that have a magnetic slip that you can record and slide them along to record. You could ask about words in different languages. Figure out what the child can share with the class such as listening to a different radio station to supplement the lessons.

QUESTION A parent said they have no idea what goes on during the school day. They only might hear that a child was mean to their child, for instance.

COMMENTS You can request a robust communication system with a daily schedule since the child doesn’t have a robust back-and-forth. Make a strong relationship with the teacher. Have birthday parties and invite everyone to create that sense of community. The other kids will be your best bet. It’s hard to replicate public education. They are getting that experience away from you by hanging out with their peers.

QUESTION Where do we start educating ourselves on special education? IDEA, Wright’s Law, COPAA?

COMMENTS Wright’s Law and COPAA are Kim’s go-to’s but work with parents in your community. Start a Facebook group. You can depend on Wright’s Law and COPAA. There’s also Partners in Policy Making in Virginia. Apply for it. It’s government funded. It’s about $5,000 worth of training and they pay for you to go there and learn about disability, including independent living. It is available in every single state because it is mandated. It changed the trajectory of Kim’s advocacy. It’s not just about advocating for your child, but advocating for the greater good. Partner with anybody in your school district, join the PTA (parent-teacher association) as a parent representative.

QUESTION The school district is saying the child has to go in a special class.

COMMENTS If they did not consider a regular classroom in preschool, then you can go back and say, “Hey, what I’ve learned is that you were supposed to have considered this.” Least-Restricted Environment (LRE) starts at age 3. Filing an administrative complaint can get attention on that district. If you find something that didn’t go right, it’s worth mentioning. If they don’t offer it, you file an administrative complaint (at no cost; she tells how in the podcast). Say that you should have received that, but we’ll move forward from here, and ask to see the data that your child cannot be satisfactorily educated with a full range of supplementary supports and services and accommodations and that your child cannot make meaningful progress and have access to the general curriculum. There’s not just a “We think…“. They have to show data that with a one-on-one aid, maybe pull-out to resource, speech, OT, etc.–a FULL range of supplementary set of supports and services–that your child cannot make that progress. You may need to shed light on that. You might change things for everybody after you by making them change things. You can even write a systemic complaint about any school district from any state. They have to consider it and have to write determination. You have power. Administrative complaints are your best friends if something has really gone wrong on an individual or systemic level.

QUESTION Another parent asked about the IEE. She heard that the school will ask the parent to pay for it! Parents were adding in that the burden of proof seems to fall on the parents!

COMMENTS Kim says they will say that if you get your own private evaluation, they will look at it. No, under IDEA you have a right to ask for an IEE if you don’t agree with the school’s evaluation at no cost to the parents. Look on Wright’s Law. It’s just your right as a citizen!

QUESTION Is an administrative complaint a complaint to the state or the local school district?

COMMENTS Kim says it’s a complaint to the state about the local school district. There’s always something set up on the state website and there’s usually an administrative complaints division. It has a model form and says that only the things in bold are required, but the rest are helpful. It’s the most conflict-free, simple, straight forward process. You also send it to your school district. You can’t get someone fired (e.g., “This teacher is mean“) or use it to switch grades. It has to be an alleged violation of IDEA . You have to be careful about how you word it to make sure it gets investigated.

It can be procedural. It can be that they didn’t invite the right people to the IEP meeting, or that they didn’t fill out the prior written notice correctly. It could be that you had x amount of hours of speech therapy, but only received y hours. The state should tell the school district to correct this. It doesn’t cost anyone any money unless they agree on compensatory services. It’s a win-win for the child.

It can be substantive. Maybe you don’t agree with the child’s placement. It doesn’t get you a stay-put IEP. If you had a child who was in a full-time general ed and the school district says that they should be in a special class for the rest of the day, you’d have to file for due process to keep what’s called “stay put” placement. Your child gets to stay put until the decision goes through all the courts. An administrative complaint and medication won’t do that. Look it up in the procedural safeguards. It’s all right there. Work with the system. It’s a good way to get a resolution.

Are the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) complaints to the state as well? Kim says there is some overlap. ADA has a Least-Restricted Environment clause and the preferred method of communication is also under ADA. The ADA complaints are a different avenue, Kim says. There’s a different person in charge of ADA/Title IX, whereas IDEA has a different pathway. You want to have exhausted everything because if there’s a decision, you can appeal it all the way to the supreme court. It is worth looking at ADA 504, especially when looking at communication and AAC devices.

QUESTION A parent tried to join COPAA and at the end they asked them to check the box that they are not a teacher, but the parent is a teacher. Should they sign up under their spouse’s name?

COMMENTS Kim said that the people at COPAA are wonderful and that is there as a safeguard to not have sabotage. Just tell them you’re also a parent. You can use Kim’s name if you contact them and her Follow the LRE Road presentation from the March 2024 COPAA conference.

QUESTION A parent’s child’s principal, in the IEP meeting, said that all children must be toilet trained before they come to even pre-Kindergarten in the school. What should the parent have said?

COMMENTS Kim says you should have said, “Let’s look at a full range of supports and services. Maybe the child needs a nurse. There are TAs.” A child with cerebral palsy would have assistance. It doesn’t matter why the child requires that support. The principal didn’t know the law because that is discrimination. You could have asked, “Aren’t there supports for students in a wheelchair?” If the principal says, “Well, they don’t go here” then you know you’ve hit a nerve and that is a statement that the child is not allowed to go there, which is discrimination. An attendant needs to attend to physical needs and have ramps, etc. You can say, “What if my child used a wheelchair?

QUESTION A parent has a non speaking six-year-old and showed videos at their IEP and expressed their needs. They said if they wanted inclusion then you’d have to go to the public school with no supports and fail first. They said that the aid makes the child’s experience more restrictive and prompt-dependent.

COMMENTS Kim said that you really structure the IEP like a Floortime IEP, listing DIR elements, reimagining the supports in the zone school. If they’ve never included a child like yours in their school, you can pave the road for others. Wonder about what you can bring into the zone school. You say that it’s against the law to not provide the full range of supplementary support and services. They’re required to consider that in the zone school. Kim says it’s a complete myth that the one-on-one aid is more restrictive. They use it as a myth to dissuade parents. You say, “With all due respect, a one-on-one aid is a supplementary service that is utilized to keep the child in a least-restricted environment” and if they say it’s prompt-dependent, you say, “That’s not the child’s problem, that’s a teacher training issue. You can’t blame that on us or our kid that your aid is not trained. I don’t say Let me take the glasses off your face so you’re not dependent on them. My child requires this.” Being ‘dependent on’ is used as a dirty word, Kim says. They’re using the shame game. We all require support. If our car breaks down, we can’t get from one place to another.

QUESTION What about presuming competence with a non speaking child?

COMMENTS Kim says that school has requirements, but there are a lot of kids with apraxia. If you look at Spelling 2 Communicate, it’s a motor issue. Kim has known many autistics who spell to communicate. They may not do ‘school’ well, but can know a lot about topics. Let them be there learning with the other kids. Give them breaks. That content is key because it gives that student access to then show what they know.

I encouraged everyone to go back and re-listen to the podcast with Kim now that we heard her speak and answer questions!

Thursday, May 2, 2024

There were 15 parents in attendance.

Notes to follow next week, but in the meantime, here are the links we put in the chat:

Floortime with Family or Small Groups
Promoting Symbolic Thinking in Small Group Settings

Speech Therapy Adventures YouTube channel in Singapore, run by DIR Expert SLP Naomi Wong

 

Find DIR practitioners at the DIRectory

AAC resources for non speaking children at NWACS

A parent attended the PINE Summit

A parent suggested Dr. Shelley Moore for inclusion in Canadian schools info

A parent in our group did a Facebook Live with the Alliance Against Seclusion & Restraint this afternoon about what her Toddler AAC journey taught her about regulation supports. It’s on their Facebook page and now posted to their YouTube. In the session, she played a clip from our parent self-reg podcast.

The parent attending in the Montreal area might be interested in the Giant Steps Resource Centre

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