Tomorrow is March 18th and that means there are new regulations related to parental consent for the use of public benefits or insurance to pay for services under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These new regulations were published in the Federal Register on February 14, 2013, and are effective on March 18, 2013. At the heart of this new language is reducing the School District’s requirement to seek parental approval each time the School District wants to access public benefits for IEP services to a one time approval. Below you will find the prior language and the new language. Read the rest of this entry →
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How many parents attended IEP’s recently where you requested changes to your child’s IEP only to be met with resistance and ultimately the School District refused to make the change. This happens often and many times the parents leave the meeting unsatisfied and not understanding why their request was not approved. If that is the case the School District is not adequately following the requirements under Prior Written Notice (PWN). Not only are decisions about your child’s IEP supposed to be Team decisions BUT they are also supposed to be fully thought out, based in facts and put in writing. This is why the Prior Written Notice requirement was put in place. It’s easy for a School to say no, it’s not always so easy for them to articulate why they said no. It becomes increasingly more difficult for the School to explain if the real reason they said no was not based on your child’s individual needs but based on budget concerns or other monetary issues. Read the rest of this entry →
The term Least Restrictive Environment is thrown around a lot in special education but what does it really mean.
There is the legal definition which states:
“In General. To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily” 20 U.S.C § 1412(a)(5)(A). Read the rest of this entry →
We as parents spend a lot of time advocating for our children when they are young. However, there comes a time when our children become older and they have to learn how to advocate for themselves; knowing when the time is right will depend on your child. If your child is still attending elementary school, they are most likely NOT mature enough to participate. For those of you who have children in middle school, now is the time to think about the prospect of someday having your child attend their own IEP meeting. Read the rest of this entry →
In the special needs community, children are given labels based on their disability. The most common diagnosis a child may be given are Autism, ADHD or Specific Learning Disability; in fact, the most common eligibility for an IEP in this country is Specific Learning Disability. Ask yourself this question….does the label your child has be given accurately define all their areas of need? In many cases it does not; many children may have one diagnosis but also exhibit symptoms from other disabilities as well. Maybe your child has a Learning Disability but they also have Sensory Processing issues as well. Your child may have a diagnosis of Autism but also exhibits symptoms of ADHD or ODD too. For some children, they might have any of the three most common disabilities and also experience struggles with Mental Health. I think it’s safe to say that most children have multiple areas of need. Read the rest of this entry →
With Valentine’s Day upon us I thought it was important for me to try and explain the love I have for my family. My life changed 18 years ago when I met my wife and again almost 11 year ago when I had my son. These two moments in time are not just mere events in my past but have become a part of me. Since I am not as eloquent as E.E. Cummings the best way to explain this feeling is by reading his poem, I Carry Your Heart With Me:
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
I think this poem has meaning for anyone in love, or with a family, but it seems to especially ring true for families raising children with special needs. Every day I go out into the world, I carry my family’s heart. A heart so big it changed who I was and what I was capable of doing.
Every time I encounter ignorance, prejudice and social bias against individuals with disabilities I think about my family and my response is guided by their heart. Because, just like in the poem I carry their heart (I carry it in my heart).
Every time I see a child having a meltdown in the grocery store or a restaurant I think about my family and I show a little understanding and compassion. Because, just like in the poem I carry my family’s heart (I carry it in my heart).
Every time I see a Mom crying at an IEP meeting I try to help her to the best of my abilities. Because, just like in the poem I carry my family’s heart (I carry it in my heart).
Every time I see a child who cannot hit or catch or shoot a basket I tell their parents to keep looking because every child has strengths and they will find what they are good at just as my son found swimming. Because, just like in the poem I carry my family’s heart (I carry it in my heart).
Every time I see a parent who is just about at their wits end, I tell them it’s okay and that we have all been there. Just continue to move forward and don’t worry if sometimes you need to move one step backwards in order to move two steps forward. Because, just like in the poem I carry my family’s heart (I carry it in my heart).
These are all things I was not capable of in my youth. Before I met my wife and had my son. Before I carried their heart with me everywhere I go. You see I am changed forever, first by my wife and later by my son. My wife’s strength and compassion coupled by my son’s love for life shaped who I am today the same way a river shapes the landscape around them. Because, just like in the poem I carry my family’s heart (I carry it in my heart).
Originally Published February 14, 2012
When you think about when you learned how to prepare for tests, how old were you…..I was in high school. The curriculum is different for our children today; they must learn this skill in middle school. I use the word “learn” because is it’s not something that comes naturally to most children. When a teacher tells their students in middle school “don’t forget to study for your test,” many of them will not have a clue as to how they are supposed to accomplish this task and be successful at it. It’s up to us as parents to help our children with this very important skill which is crucial to being successful in their academic career. The best way to help your child prepare for tests is to give them the confidence they need before taking the test. Here are just a few suggestions which may help your child. Read the rest of this entry →
As I was perusing the Los Angeles Times website this morning I came across the L.A. Affairs column which chronicles romance and relationships. Normally, I would just move on but the first paragraph caught my attention:
My daughter Peyton is nonverbal and severely challenged by autism. I once believed she’d never experience a meaningful romantic relationship. Then, at a monthly workshop in Los Angeles for people who communicate via keyboard, she met Gabriel, a young man who traveled from Ventura with his support team. Dressed in preppy khakis and a plaid sport shirt, he seemed to turn a few heads, including Peyton’s. Read the rest of this entry →
We all know it takes a village to raise a child and to make sure that child receives a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE); the two most important components in making that happen are the parents and the school. In order to do that, everyone needs to do be responsible for their role in educating that child as well as work together to address all their areas of need. I know it’s not an easy task to accomplish; however, the student will have a better opportunity to receive FAPE if both parties work together instead of spending their time working against each other. Here are some tips that might help to achieve a good working relationship between parents and schools. Read the rest of this entry →
Special Education in America has come very far in the 30 plus years since the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed. The problem is somewhere along the way the spirit of the law and the practice of the law started to breakdown. The cornerstone of the special education law is the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and decisions about the IEP are decided at an IEP team meeting. The IEP becomes useless if the IEP team meeting goes off task. Unfortunately, instead of a team, often it becomes parents against the school and a massive communication breakdown occurs. There can be a significant lack of trust on both sides. Many times I hear from School personnel, “Why don’t parents think we are capable of assessing their children properly?” While on the other side parents think schools are turning them down for eligibility and services due to lack of funds when their children really need help. Read the rest of this entry →