Special Education – How to Help Your Child Excel This School Year!

Would you like to help your child that has a disability and is receiving special education services, have the best school year yet? Would you like to know about 5 things you can do, to help your child make this school year a success? This article will discuss 5 ways to help your child excel this school year.

1. Open lines of communication with special education personnel.

You can do this by:

A. Start a communication notebook; a steno pad and rubber band work well for this. When a page is finished rubber band it to the cover, that way when you open the steno book, you will come to a blank page, or a new message. Encourage disability educators to write in the book daily; what has happened, what child has learned, positive comments about behavior etc. You can also write messages about your child; sick, tired, learned something new, difficulty at home etc. By doing this you and disability educators will be able to communicate on an ongoing basis.
B. Visit your child’s classroom the first week of school; and talk to the special education staff, that are working with your child. Tell them what works for your child, what upsets them, and your willingness to work together for the benefit of your child.
C. Call your child’s teacher occasionally to check in, and see how things are going. Is your child learning, are they struggling in a certain subject?

2. Express the importance to all disability educators, of having high expectations for your child. With appropriate instruction, children with autism or other disabilities can learn academics at a similar rate to children without disabilities.

You can do this by:

A. Discussing this on your visit during the first week of school. Children will live up to our expectations; whether low or high.
B. Write a letter to your child’s teacher expressing how you believe that your child can learn academics, and are looking forward to working with the school for the benefit of your child. Include things that have worked for your child.

3. Make special education personnel accountable for your child’s learning. Some children with learning disabilities or autism, may need a multi sensory reading program, in order to be a successful reader. Stand up and ask for a change in curriculum, if your child requires it.

You can do this by:

A. Asking for pre testing at the beginning of the school year, and post testing at the end of the school year. This will tell you where your child is starting academically, and how much they have learned over the school year.
B. Discuss homework with your child’s teacher; and anything you can do at home to increase their learning.
C. Keep copies of schoolwork, positive ones and things that you think your child needs more help on. Write letters when you need to, especially if you believe that your child needs more special education services.

4. Learn about positive behavioral supports and how they are successful in increasing positive school behavior, while decreasing negative school behavior. Share the information that you learn with school personnel, and insist on the use of positive behavioral supports, rather than punishment.

You can do this by:

A. Reading a book or attending a training, that specifically promote the use of positive behavioral supports and plans.
B. Many disability organizations have information about positive behavioral supports on their Websites.

5. Tell disability educators when they are doing positive things with your child that are working. This is done for three reasons: The first reason is because teachers need to hear when things are going well, and your child is learning. The second reason is that you are documenting what is working for your child for future school years. The third reason is that if you tell school staff when you are happy, they are more likely to listen when something goes wrong, and you are not happy.

You can do this by:

A. Verbally telling school staff when you are pleased. Also write letters that will be kept as a part of your child’s school record.

By doing these 5 things you are increasing your child’s chances of having a wonderful productive school year.

5 Things to Do If Special Education Personnel Refuse to Test Your Child For Eligibility

Do you have a child that you think might have dyslexia or another learning disability, and your school is refusing to test them for it? Are you concerned that your child may have autism or pervasive developmental disorder and your school district states that they will not test them? If your school district is refusing to conduct a comprehensive assessment on your child to determine special education eligibility, this article is for you. This article will discuss 5 things that you can do as a parent, if your school district is refusing to evaluate your child.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states under the Child Find section that: school districts are required to locate, identify and evaluate all children that may have a disability. Also someone transitioning from Early Intervention (birth-three years old), must be evaluated to determine if they are eligible for special education services. School districts are not allowed to depend on screening to determine eligibility for special education.

Here are 5 things you can do if your child is refused special education eligibility testing:

1. Gather your evidence together about their disability, and there need for special education services. Perhaps reports of your child’s disability, copies of state and district wide testing to show academic need, any documentation of emotional and behavioral difficulty, any evidence of social problems, and also any diagnosis that has been given by their Dr.

2. Take your child to get an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) with a qualified professional! You will have to pay for the evaluation, but you may be able to be reimbursed later. To find a good evaluator, ask other parents, or contact a local disability organization. Before you make the appointment make sure that the evaluator is not the present employee of any school district, is willing to do comprehensive evaluations in several areas, is willing to write a comprehensive report not only about testing but about what services your child needs. If the evaluator is a present employee of a school district, or waffles on specifically stating what services are needed, find a different evaluator! Getting copies of testing without specific recommendations is like paying for half an evaluation!

3. When the report is received (and your child has been found to have a disability and educational need) contact your school district in writing and send them a copy of the report. Ask that an eligibility conference be held again, since new information has now been received. School districts must consider any independent evaluations brought by parents.

4. Before the eligibility conference, try and find an experienced parent or an advocate to go with you to the meeting. The eligibility conference is the most important conference in special education. With the new information your child hopefully will be found eligible for special education (a child must have two things to be eligible for special education: a disability and educational needs). If the school district uses the information from the IEE ask for reimbursement.

5. If after all of this trying your child still is found not eligible, your only option may be to file for a due process hearing. This hearing is very formal and is heard in front of a hearing officer, not a judge. Try and find an experienced parent or advocate, to help you in this process.

Even if your child is found not eligible there are options available to you! Do not give up because your child is depending on you!

Compromise with Special Education Personnel? There is a Better Way!

Are you the parent of a child with autism or other disability that is
tired of receiving the run around, from special education personnel?
Have you tried compromising with school personnel, and your child is
still not receiving a free appropriate public education (FAPE)? I have
great news for you, there is another way to work with school personnel
to get an appropriate education for your child. This article will
teach you about how to be assertively persistent in your fight for
your child’s education. Compromise does not work, but assertive
persistence does.

As an advocate for over 15 years I have helped many parents navigate
the special education system. I coined a phrase that describes, how
you should act in your advocacy efforts, with school personnel. I call
it assertive persistence.

Assertiveness is defined as being clear with what you are asking for,
developing concrete evidence of educational and related services that
your child needs, documenting every thing that happens, and speaking
up for your child in a respectful manner. You may think that if you
stand up to school personnel that you are not respecting “authority.”
This is not true. You can stand up to special education personnel, for
the good of your child in an “assertive” way.

Aggressiveness; which unfortunately some parents use in their dealings
with school personnel, is defined as: cussing, screaming, calling
names. You should never do these things! Years ago I heard that the
first person that starts screaming in a disagreement, loses the fight.
If you feel yourself beginning to get angry, which most parents do,
take a break to calm yourself down.

One technique that you can use in your quest to be assertively
persistent, is Repeat, Repeat, Repeat! This technique is extremely
effective in making sure that school personnel do not try and change
the subject, when you are asking for services for your child. You
could say “Please do not change the subject, we were discussing my
child’s need for ABA services, in order to benefit from his
education.” Every time the disability educator tries to change the
subject, repeat the above statement. This will keep you and school
personnel focused on your child’s need.

Another important part of being assertively persistent is to put
together documentation that verifies your child’s need for a
particular service. You could get an independent educational
evaluation (IEE) on your child, or use their district and state wide
testing.

For example: Your child with a learning disability of Dyslexia, is in
4th grade and reading at a 1st grade level. Their state wide testing
verifies this fact. At an IEP meeting, you can bring up these test
scores, and ask for remedial reading for your child. Also, make sure
that your child has not “missed” important skills for reading. No
Child Left Behind (NCLB) states that 5 skills must be learned for
early reading success. These five skills are: 1. Phonemic awareness,
2. Phonics, 3. Fluency, 4. Vocabulary, and 5. Comprehension.

Persistence is important because advocating for a particular service
may take several months. But continuing to persevere will help you win
the fight for your child.

Compromise can be seen as giving in to what school personnel want, and
not effectively advocating for your child. You can stop giving in, and
learn to be assertively persistent for the good of your child! Good
Luck!