Although itâ€™s not spring time and you have some time yet
before your Annual Review, that doesnâ€™t mean that you still arenâ€™t coming in
contact with your Case Manager or teacher. Unfortunately, there is the idea that needing to have
contact with your Case Manager is a â€˜badâ€™ thing, when in reality, you are a
team and should be maintaining regular communication throughout the school
With that said, I have prepared a list of information
tidbits or tips to help you advocate for your child at any time of the school
Your childâ€™s IEP goes
into effect after 15 daysâ€¦ with or without your signature
I canâ€™t emphasize enough that even though you may choose not
to sign your childâ€™s IEP at the meeting, it still goes into effect after 15
days. If there is any area of the
IEP that you are in disagreement with, your lack of a signature does not
indicate this. Instead, take your childâ€™s IEP during the meeting and write, by
the signature section, that you
are not in agreement with X, Y or Z. Then, date and sign it.
Or, you can wait until the meeting is over, write a letter
that specifies what you do not agree with and send it in. Once your letter is received by the
Child Study Team, it is date stamped and your Case Manager has 20 days to
respond to you in writing. The letter you receive from your Case Manager may be
a request for another meeting, or it may indicate how your he or she is
resolving the situation with which you are not in agreement.
Nonetheless, maintain a paper trail, as email correspondence
and phone correspondence do not necessarily fall within the 20 day response
rule. In fact, for many districts,
email is still not perceived as formal correspondence. What does that mean for
you? You may end up waiting for an email response or a return phone call for
several weeks, and your Case Manager is not under any obligation to get back to
you within a specific time frame.
Request a Sensory
If your child has sensory needs and becomes dysregulated
throughout the school day, ask for a sensory diet to be integrated into your
childâ€™s school day. Request a
sensory profile evaluation by your schoolâ€™s Occupational Therapist, in writing,
with the purpose of creating a schedule of sensory exercises that your child
can do throughout the school day, either proactively or in response to sensory
dysregulation. This is a great way
to avoid behaviors that may be due to a sensory need. For example, incorporate movement breaks into your childâ€™s
day, allow for heavy work or deep pressure to be offered during times of the
day that your OT recommends. If
you do not want your child to be singled out amongst his classmates, then ask
your teacher to provide sensory diet exercises for the whole class. They are
beneficial for everyone!
your childâ€™s triennial evaluation
You may have had this experience already -- itâ€™s been three
years since your childâ€™s last Psychological and Educational testing. Your Case
Manager contacts you and states that he or she believes that your child
continues to be eligible for special education and related services; therefore,
triennial testing is not necessary.
What this means is that the next time your child is up for testing,
which is in another 3 years, it will have been a total of 6 years. During this
time, you will not have any
updated data about your childâ€™s cognitive and academic functioning. Well, you
will have your teachersâ€™ reports in the â€˜Present Levels of Academic Achievement
and Functional Performanceâ€™ (PLAAFP), progress reports, and information gained
during parent-teacher conferences, but there is no standardized data available.
Some Case Managers or even other parents may warn you that
if you have your child tested, he may perform well enough that he will no
longer be eligible for special education and related services. If your child is in need of an academic
program, she will still be eligible.
Opt for an updated Psychological, Educational, Speech, Occupational, and
Physical Therapy evaluation, as applicable. You will be glad to have the data
and be able to compare where your childâ€™s strengths and weaknesses have stayed
the same or changed.
Behavior Plans -- be a
part in planning it
If your child is in need of a behavior plan, review it
carefully in terms of the target behaviors and how the plan plans on helping
your child to reach that target behavior.
The purpose of the plan is to provide the necessary supports to help
your child achieve certain behaviors.
Therefore, review who the support staff within the building are, when
they are likely to be asked to intervene, and what type of proactive supports
are being put in place. For example, will the Guidance Counselorâ€™s, School
Psychologistâ€™s or Nurseâ€™s office
be available to your child when he needs a place to vent or take a break?
Also, be sure that strategies are specified in which staff
members will initially look for signs that your child is â€˜brewingâ€™ and offer an
out before behavior and emotion escalate. For example, if your child is
becoming frustrated, your childâ€™s teacher(s) or aide could offer her a break,
or have a non-verbal system where your child can pick up a pass and hand it to
her teacher. Of course your child canâ€™t go on break for an exorbitant amount of
time, but it can be specified that a 3 minute break will be available and that
a staff member will help to direct your child back to class.
and non-verbal praise and reinforcement, and privileges are also big
components. The purpose of the
behavior plan is to improve a childâ€™s self-esteem by encouraging him to
recognize triggers and identify strategies to de-escalate behaviors before they
start. As a result, there should
be a positive attitude built around the behavior plan instead of a punitive
one. Having a person in the
building (i.e., Guidance Counselor, Principal, School Psychologist) to help process these situations and
plan for future ones is also a big part of learning to decrease problematic
behavior and increase a sense of self and self-control.
Overall, the goal of the behavior plan is to be proactive
instead of solely responding to your childâ€™s behaviors after they happen.
As a parent, you have a right to request an IEP meeting at
any time to review your childâ€™s progress and make necessary changes to
accommodations or services as you see fit. Donâ€™t feel like the only time you
can sit down with your IEP team is during your annual review during the spring -- you are the head of the team and you can decide when a change or update is