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I hope you find useful information here and that you share this website with other parents with children with special needs. Below this post you will find all of the articles I have written. 

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Individualized Education Program

An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. This is a complex legal document for residents of The United States of America that has two primary purposes:

1. To determine if a child is or is not eligible for special education services under Federal guidelines laid out in the 2004 reauthorization of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

AND

2. If a child is eligible for special education services, this document specifies goals and objectives, service delivery methods and providers, time lines and supplemental services and materials used to help your child succeed in school.

I have created a Free Parent IEP Preparation Checklist just for you!  Claim yours now!

Strategies for Incorporating Math Development into Real Life Activities

Although many math curricula have tried to make the material more applicable to real life the best way to teach your children real life math is during the course of everyday activities that you and your family participate in.  If you work on creating learning experiences for your children as part of your day-to-day life, they will comprehend the need for math skills at a much higher level.

We often tell children that learning math is so important to real life but we must point it out and model it for children so they truly understand how often we use math skills.  Continue reading

What is the Relationship Between Response to Intervention (RTI) and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)?

I recently had a parent write to me about her fifth grade son.  Her son moved from elementary school to middle school this year and he is really struggling.  At his previous school, he was making progress and getting by because the school had many RTI interventions in place.  When he moved to the middle school none of the interventions followed him.  When this mother inquired about the interventions that were successful in his previous school, she was told that he did not need them and they wanted to see what he could and could not do on his own.  When she recently checked on his progress he had two F’s and all of his teachers complained that he Continue reading

The Costs of Special Education are Not the Parents’ Responsibility

I have been shocked and dismayed by some of the e-mails I have received from parents trying to get services for their children with special needs.  On two occasions in the last six months, I was sure that the parent writing to me must be from another country, but in both situations, that was not the case.  Special education requirements are spelled out in the federal law, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  This means that these laws apply to all people living in the United States.  Each state has some leeway in how they interpret some of the statues in IDEA, but each state is required to provide special education services for people with disabilities from the age of birth through 21.  This means people who are rich, poor and in the middle class, people who live in suburban areas, urban areas and rural areas, people of all ethnicities and races and people who fall into any of the disability categories listed in IDEA.

Unfortunately, it has been my experience that many school districts try to get away with providing the minimum level of services.  Continue reading

Is a Medical Condition the Root of Your Child’s Behavioral Issues?

I am excited to get back to posting on my blog more regularly.  Due to a relatively sudden decision to move across the country I have been consumed with readying our house for sale, going through our belongings to determine what we really did not need to move, packing up our belongings, moving 1800 miles away and searching for a new home, as well as starting a new job in August.

The reason for our move was that I was offered a job teaching children with autism and multiple disabilities in a therapeutic program in Colorado.  The students in this school are kids who cannot receive a FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education), usually due to behavioral issues that are often related to their lack of ability to communicate their needs and wants.  Not all of my students are nonverbal, but all of them struggle with how to appropriately Continue reading

Special Education Accountability: Is Your Child’s IEP Helping or Hurting Their Growth?

When I asked a group of parents what their biggest frustration with the IEP process was, one parent wrote that she felt that her child’s IEP was a way for the school district to not hold her child accountable for his behavior and academic growth.  She felt that it was basically an easy out for the school district to not have to work hard to figure out how to help her child succeed since he has a disability.   I think the idea of special education accountability is an interesting perspective worth exploring.

The basic tenants of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are in direct contrast to her statement, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean her statement is untrue.  Continue reading

Should Parents be Medicating Children with Special Needs?

To medicate or not to medicate? That is the question!  Many parents of children with special needs are faced with making the difficult decision about whether to medicate their child or not.  Medicating children with special needs is not an easy topic to discuss with parents or with educators.  Many children with special needs have behavioral and/or emotional components to their diagnoses that may be better managed with medication.  However, giving a child a medication to decrease aggression,  to increase attention,  to regulate their mood,  to decrease impulsivity, or a myriad of other reasons does not mean that it is Continue reading

Special Education Assessment Reports-Why Do They Seem So Negative and Deficit Focused?

A parent recently wrote to me about her frustrations with how the therapists working with her child write their special education assessment reports.  She wrote that the reports tend to be “written in a way that makes the child’s deficits seem worse than they are and rarely mentions the child’s abilities”.  This is something I have heard Continue reading

Ethical Issues in Education: The Main Reason Why Parents of Children With Special Needs Should Be Involved in Their Child’s Education and Know Their Parental Rights in Special Education

I became an educator to have a positive impact on the world through educating, counseling, supporting and enhancing the lives of children with special needs and their families.  My career as an educator formally began in 1992.  Over the last twenty years, I have worked in three different states and five different school districts across the United States.  As time has passed, I have seen a very disturbing trend become more and more prevalent.  That trend is Continue reading

Reevaluation IEP Meetings: As a Parent the Law States You May Request a Reevaluation Even if the School District Has Determined that it is Not Necessary

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), your child’s school district is required to reevaluate your child at least every three years and conduct reevaluation IEP Meetings.  Reevaluation may be done as often as once a year if the parent or a teacher requests updated evaluations or if the school district believes that reevaluating the child is necessary for programming.  Reevaluations are also required if the school district believes that the child is no longer a child with a disability, except in the cases when the child is due to graduate from high school with a regular diploma or due to age out of FAPE under State law.  If there is going to be a change of eligibility category reevaluations are not required unless the team deems it necessary.

There are two primary purposes for a reevaluation.  The first is Continue reading

Summer Learning for Children with Special Needs: How To Turn Every Day Activities into Learning Experiences

It is important to look at how to create opportunities for summer learning for children with special needs.  Let’s face it, the school schedule that the vast majority of schools in the Unites States continue to follow with 8-10 weeks off during the summer was based on an agrarian society and really isn’t in the best interest of children, modern families or learning.  This is doubly true for children with special needs, as most special education teachers and parents of children with special needs can attest to.  Due to the rigid guidelines set up in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a very small population of children with special needs qualify for Extended School Year (ESY) services when in reality year round schooling would be best Continue reading