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Ten Related Services for an IEP you may not know about

August 19, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

In General the term Related Service means services designed to enable a child with a disability to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as described in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.  The Related Services most people are familiar with are Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Transportation.

The following list describes ten Related Services you may not know about:  Read the rest of this entry →

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It’s Not All about the Numbers

July 15, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Funny thing happened to the learning field in the 21st century- numbers now rule the world.  Parents, administrators, politicians, clinicians, educators . . . everyone seems to be clamoring for (and clinging to) numerical data.  To be sure, scores are important sources of information.  But they almost never tell the whole story about a learner.

Qualitative findings are observations made about learner behavior.  Such findings may focus on process (how the learner arrived at a response or completed a task) or product (such as accuracy, types/patterns of errors, and organization of work).  Quantitative findings are numerical and often normative, meaning that the test developers administered the task to numerous students (usually at different age/grade levels) to generate means and standard scores (like an IQ score).  Contrary to what many believe, a standard score does not represent an amount of ability or level of skill.  Rather it is a comparison between a learner’s ability level in a defined area or skill with that of other, similar-age students.  Both qualitative and quantitative assessment information serve important purposes in assessments.  Each type of information has its advantages and disadvantages. Read the rest of this entry →

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DSM 5: A view from the trenches

April 10, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

A New York Times article on January 19 entitled “New Definition of Autism May Exclude Many” has started a panic in the autism community about the changes in the definition of autism scheduled for release in the DSM 5. Are our children in danger of losing services? Can we hurry science? Is anything really changing? These questions and more are perplexing the autism community and professionals as well. I write from the perspective of a practicing psychologist and as the parent of an adult child with autism.

Let's not lose sight of the bigger picture. The struggle to get and keep good services for a child diagnosed with autism has been the story of my life with my son for over 30 years. Anyone who cannot afford to pay for the services themselves has faced and continues to face the same uphill battle. I doubt that this will change in either direction with the new criteria. Read the rest of this entry →

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I’ve decided to pay for a private evaluation for my child – what should I expect?

November 16, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

The decision about whether or not to have your child evaluated by the school or by a private practitioner can be a difficult one, as discussed in my prior post My Child Needs a Psychological Assessment: Should I Have This Done Through the School or Privately. Once you have made the decision to invest in a comprehensive independent evaluation outside the school, you may wonder what you can expect from the psychologist. Private evaluations are not inexpensive - you are paying for many benefits that are not necessarily part of the testing process within the school. Parents should expect to receive the following services as part of the evaluation when seeing a psychologist in private practice.

1) AN INITIAL MEETING PRIOR TO THE START OF TESTING: This meeting gives the psychologist a chance to gather relevant information about your child’s medical, psychological and neurological history, past and present school performance, and overall functioning. In addition, this is when the “referral questions” should be clarified. The referral questions are the specific questions that the parents and other professionals treating the child have been unable to answer. The initial meeting is an important tool in helping the testing psychologist develop an individualized assessment that will best answer those questions. Evaluation should not be “one size fits all” but rather tailored to the particular needs of each child. Depending on the age and circumstances of your child, they may be invited to join this meeting as well.

2) HOMEWORK: Yes, parents and teachers get homework too! It is very helpful for the psychologist to understand how your child has been functioning in both their home and school settings. Thus, it is common for psychologists to provide questionnaires for parents and teachers to fill out. Depending on your child’s age, they may also be given self-report measures to complete. Parents will also be asked to bring copies of any prior testing that has been done for the examiner to review.

3) A COMPREHENSIVE SET OF TESTS AND SUFFICIENT TIME FOR THE EVALUATION: While the actual amount of time needed to complete the testing depends on your child’s age and the referral questions that are being addressed, a comprehensive evaluation typically requires approximately 7-12 hours of testing. While that may seem like a lot of time, it is necessary in order to properly and thoroughly assess IQ, achievement, underlying cognitive abilities such as attention, information processing, executive functions, memory, and language functions, as well as personality structure and current symptomotology. The testing is typically broken down into 2-4 sessions, often with breaks for lunch and/or snacks. The number of sessions generally depends on the age and temperament of your child, although certain tests must be administered in a single sitting and this should be considered when scheduling the assessment sessions. It is generally preferable to start testing in the morning, rather than after a full day of school.

4) A COMPREHENSIVE, INTEGRATED, INTERPRATIVE REPORT WITHIN A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF TIME: A good report will not merely list the test scores, as a list of data is not overly helpful. Rather, the psychologist should discuss and explain the findings, and then interpret them within the context of answering the referral questions. Discrepancies within the data and with prior testing should be addressed and explained, not glossed over. The report should include specific and detailed recommendations for intervention and treatment – this is essential in order to make use of the findings and utilize them in a concrete manner to help your child. A full list of tests administered, as well as an Appendix with all of the test scores, should be included so that parents will have the ability to let other professionals review and interpret the scores if they wish. Good reports cannot be written quickly, but three to six weeks after the testing is completed would be a reasonable expectation for parents.

5) AN OPPORTUNITY TO REVIEW THE FINDINGS WITH THE PSYCHOLOGIST: A comprehensive psychological report is long and often complex. Parents should be given the opportunity to meet with the psychologist to review the findings, and to ask any questions that they may have about the report. While this in-person feedback session with the psychologist to discuss the report is essential, many parents have questions that arise after the feedback session, and the psychologist should be available and willing to answer them by phone.

6) COLLABORATION WHILE MAINTAINING CONFIDENTIALITY: Parents have the right to determine who views their child’s psychological evaluation. While it can be very helpful for the school and other professionals treating their child to view the results, parents are not required to share them with anyone. Once completed, the report is the property of the parents, and they may copy and distribute their child’s report however they see fit, without needing any approval from the psychologists. However, given that other clinicians working with the child (e.g. therapists, psychiatrists, tutors etc.) would likely be able to utilize the information in the report to enhance their work with the child, it is often recommended to the parents to share this information. If shared, reports should not be transmitted through email or fax, as confidentiality cannot be guaranteed in those mediums. If parents do choose to share the report and give consent, the psychologist should be available to discuss their findings with the other treating professionals. The psychologist should not release any information regarding the report without written consent from the parents.

Psychological evaluation can be extremely helpful, as long as both the parents and child fully understand all parts of the process. Parents have the right to speak up and ask questions. Ultimately, the hope and expectation in commissioning a comprehensive psychological evaluation is that the private psychologist will address and answer the referral questions provided by the parents in a manner which provides a clear plan for effective interventions and treatment that will improve the quality of life for your child, and your family, going forward.

Melissa B. Singer, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in Westchester County, New York. She specializes in comprehensive psychological, cognitive, educational and neuropsychological assessment for children and adolescents. You can learn more about her practice at these websites:

www.melissabsingerphd.com

http://www.facebook.com/DrMelissaSinger

http://twitter.com/#!/DrMelissaSinger

 

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My child needs a psychological assessment – should I have this done through the school or privately?

October 16, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Children may be referred for psychological testing for many reasons, as discussed in my prior blog post, My child was referred for psychological testing – what does that mean?  Typically, the first decision to be made when your child is referred for an evaluation is choosing whether to have the assessment done by the school psychologist or by a psychologist in private practice. One common motive for requesting an evaluation is that it is a required part of obtaining an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Many parents are unaware that they have the RIGHT to request an independent evaluation if they receive a school evaluation for an IEP and disagree with the findings. Parents can even request that the district pay the cost of the subsequent private evaluation (see this link from the US Department of Education for details: http://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html#process). Given this mandate, one logical conclusion would seem to be to start with a school evaluation, and wait to see if you are satisfied with the results before scheduling a private evaluation. However, certain crucial measures (e.g. IQ tests) are prohibited from being re-administered for a period of one year due to practice effects, and therefore the private practitioner would be forced to use the scores gathered in the school’s evaluation, utilize different measures, or wait the long period before re-administration. In addition, the child would then have to miss additional class time to participate in a second testing. Thus, the decision of whether to use a school psychologist or a private practitioner is best made prior to the start of the testing.  Read the rest of this entry →

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After 27 Years, School Districts in California are once again responsible for Mental Health Services

July 15, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with disabilities are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) with the assistance of related services.  One of these related services are mental health services.  A child, who qualifies for special education, has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and who requires mental health services may receive services at no cost. 

Prior to 1984, California schools were responsible for providing these mental health services for students with an IEP who needed them.  In 1984, the California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown authored AB 3632 requiring counties, not School Districts, to provide these mental health services to the students that qualified.  This was because there were major concerns that students with mental health needs were not receiving proper mental health services as required by IDEA.  After 27 years of California School Districts working jointly with County Mental Health to provide these mental health services, last week all of that changed!! Read the rest of this entry →

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LAUSD to Place School Psychologists on Reduced Work Schedule

March 29, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

In yet another major blow to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s 82,000 Special Education students, next year they will have limited access to their School Psychologists.  Last week, LAUSD distributed an email to all of its School Psychologists informing them that for the 2011 – 2012 school year they will be put on a reduced work schedule.  This comes on the heels of the 2010 - 2011 cuts to LAUSD’s Special Education program which included closing approximately 200 Special Day Classes.  Exactly how this reduced work schedule will play out is unclear, but schools will be without a school psychologist for multiple weeks. Read the rest of this entry →

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