3 Lies Told by Some Special Education Personnel About Autism and How You Can Fight Back!

Are you concerned that your young child may have autism even though you have you been told by special education personnel that he or she doesn’t? Would you like to know 3 of the lies told by many special education personnel about this disorder? Would you also like to learn advocacy strategies to overcome these lies? This article will address 3 of the most common lies told to parents about autism!

Lie 1: Your child does not have autism, they are emotionally disturbed! This is the most common lie that I see as an educational advocate. Most children with autism do have emotional and behavioral difficulty, but this is caused by the disorder. To truly be emotionally disturbed, the child cannot have any other disability causing the behavioral difficulty; which of course is not true in this case.

The reason that this is important is because if a child has autism, they will probably need extensive related and special education services, to benefit from their education. If the school district can convince you that your child does not have autism but is emotionally disturbed, they can try and deny all of the educational, services that your child needs.

You can advocate for your child by having them tested privately, with a psychologist specifically trained in this area. Bring these results to the school district and ask that your child be found eligible for special education under the category of autism; not emotionally disturbed (if the evaluation shows that this is true).

Lie 2: Your child does not have autism because they do not have the repetitive behavior that is a symptom of autism. I hear this a lot too, especially for children that have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or Aspergers Syndrome. Many of these children do not have the typical features associated with this disorder. Over the years I have had many special education personnel tell me that a certain child did not have a certain disability; without testing them. The child needs to be given an autism rating scale by a qualified professional.

The one that I recommend is the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). It is easy to fill out and to come up with a score. The higher the score is the greater chance that the child has the disorder.

There is also an Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) that can be given again by a qualified trained professional. Insist that your child receive an Autism Rating Scale (CARS), or the ADOS.

Lie 3: Okay so your child has autism; but they are not eligible for special education services because the autism does not affect their education.

The federal law governing special education is IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). In 2004 the act was reauthorized, and the language stating that the child’s disability must negatively affect the child’s education, was taken out. It now states that for a child to be eligible for special education services, they must have a disability and have educational needs. No mention of disability negatively affecting the child’s education.

You should ask the special education personnel, to please show you in Federal Law where it states that special education eligibility, depends on the child’s disability negatively affecting their education. It does not exist and they will not be able to show you. As an advocacy technique keep repeating that it is your opinion that your child has autism and has educational needs. This is all that is required for a child to be found eligible.

You are the advocate for your child; stand up to special education personnel because your child is depending on you!

Do I Have To Sign This Medical Release Form For Special Education Personnel?

Have you been asked by special education personnel to sign a consent form for release of your child’s medical records? Have you been told, that your child with autism or an emotional disorder cannot return to school, unless you sign a medical consent form? This article will discuss, whether parents must sign consent for release of medical records, to school personnel.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is silent, on parents being required to sign consent, for release of medical records. But just because IDEA is silent, does not mean that special education personnel have the right to require release of medical records. Medical records are considered private, and school personnel do not have any right to these records, unless you give them informed consent.

Many parents have trustingly released medical records, only to have school personnel, use these records against them or their child. Remember that some Doctors and nurses may not understand special education, and may say things that may be misinterpreted by school officials.

For Example: A 16 year old young man with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is in the Emergency room, because of behavioral difficulties (many children with TBI, due to there brain injuries have behavioral outbursts). He is interviewed in the Emergency room, by a doctor that is not well trained in people with TBI. The young man tells him, that he is in the hospital because he brought a gun to school. The doctor who has already spoke to the young man’s mother, knows that this is not true. Yet the Doctor still included this statement, in a medical record of the hospital visit.

The school district asked the mother to sign a blanket medical release form, which she did. (the mother did not understand that she had the right to refuse). Later when special education personnel kicked the young man out of school, and wanted to place him in an extremely restrictive residential placement, the mother found out about the hospital report. She was shocked and surprised that the statement was in the record. She was never asked by the Doctor if this statement was true or not. This record almost cost her son, his ability to live at home, though I was able to prove that it never happened.

At the end of the due process hearing, I asked the mother, what the one thing that I had taught her and she said: Do not give consent for release of medical records. Yah! She learned the right lesson!

If you are asked for copies of your child’s medical records, ask the special education personnel what authority they are basing their rights to medical records on (there is none). Also under HIPPA your child has the right to keep their medical records private.

If there is a specific record that school personnel want, and you are not opposed, this is how you should go about releasing the record. Tell the special education personnel that you will think about it, then get a copy of the record that they are interested in. When you get the record read it cover to cover. If you think, that the record contains important information, that would help your child and not hurt them, then you can consider giving them a copy of the record.

Under no circumstances should you give school personnel the right to blanket medical records. In my opinion, some special education personnel ask for these medical records, because they are looking for information to use against the child, or the parents.

By understanding the release of medical records, you will be able to protect your child’s privacy, and keep school personnel from using them against your child. Please remember your child is depending on you!

6 Things That Special Education Personnel Can Do to Decrease Restraint and Seclusion in Their School

Are you the parent of a child with autism or another disability that is very concerned about your child’s safety at school, due to negative behavior? Has your child been physically or emotionally injured by restraint and seclusion, by special education personnel? This article will discuss 6 ways that school districts can deal with behavior rather than relying on restraint and seclusion!

Restraint is defined as any manual method, physical, material, equipment that immobilizes or reduces the ability of an individual. In school districts they mainly use holding techniques. Prone restraints (where the child is held face down) are the most dangerous and cause the most incidence of injury and death!

Seclusion is defined as the placing of a person involuntarily in a room or area alone and prevent them from leaving. Some schools have started relying on time out rooms to seclude children with disabilities when they misbehave.

Below are 6 things that special education personnel in your district can do to decrease or eliminate the use of restraint and seclusion in their schools:

1. They can have school wide policies in place with specific instructions on when restraint and seclusion will be used; and also policies developed on releasing the information to the public. By keeping written charts on when it is used, and releasing the information to the public on when it is used, will actually cause restraint and seclusion to be used less. The danger comes when special education personnel keep the information secret, and refuse to share it with the public; ask your district for accountability!

2. Stop relying on punishment, restraint and seclusion to deal with children’s negative behavior. One of the important things to know is that a lot of children with disabilities have behavior that is related to their disability. Also, it is proven in research that punishment, restraint and seclusion do not work in the long term to change a child’s behavior!

3. Have good attitudes that include all children in the school; including children with disabilities! Personnel that take a positive proactive approach to school order and behavior can absolutely have a wonderful affect, on all of the children in the school. Positive attitudes encourage learning, negative attitudes discourage learning!

4. Teachers and other special education personnel need to be taught not to overreact to behavior. By appropriately dealing with negative behavior the child’s behavior may decrease, but on the other hand overreacting to the behavior, can escalate the behavior. I have seen this many times over the years; a child with autism gets upset and the teacher jumps in; gets in the child’s face and escalates (makes worse) the child’s behavior! Teachers must learn to step back and give the child time to calm themselves down!

5. Understand the huge connection between behavioral difficulty and academic difficulty. Many parents call me when their child has negative school behavior, and ask for help. I ask them: how is your child’s academics? In 100% of the cases the child is below average in all areas of academics. The child is telling the people around them: I cannot do this work, so I am going to misbehave so that I can avoid the work! Avoidance of hard academics is the cause of a lot of negative school behavior!

6. Use research based processes; positive behavioral supports and plans to deal with a child’s negative school behavior. The process starts with a Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA) to determine what the child is getting from the negative behavior. Is it to avoid hard academics? Is it to access attention? Then a properly conducted FBA is used to develop a positive behavioral plan. This is not a punishment plan, but a plan to increase positive school behavior which then decreases negative school behavior.

Bring these 6 things to your school district and ask them to implement them for your child and other children. This will ensure that all children have a positive environment to learn; even children with disabilities!