Do you ever feel bullied by the school system? I do.

Well, the IEP came and went.  We just received a copy this week.  Wouldn’t know it, the Special Ed. Dept didn’t put in what they said they would.  They were going to write in specific instructions about how the shadow would interact with Nolan in the classroom setting.  In addition, they were going to write in a fade out plan.   So, when I read the IEP and said that I wasn’t going to sign the IEP until the team made the changes that we discussed.  The Special Ed. Dept. replied, “The IEP is closed, so we can’t make any changes.”  What????  So, I sent a follow-up email that said, “What does closed mean?  and can’t we do an addendum ?”  Their response was, “No, we can’t do an addendum and you will just have to sign that you disagree and go to due process.”

The school is just ramming this choice down our throats.  We have had no say what so ever.  What is really disheartening is that the schools don’t care.  They need to churn out these IEP’s and get them done as fast as they can.  In fact they are moving so fast that my son’s school site forgets to proof read these IEP’s because they are full of misspelled words.   When I mentioned that this needed to be edited and I needed a clean copy they denied that request as well.

You should always be given a clean copy (error free) of your IEP.  However, it would be too professional for public schools to abide by this standard.  Far be it from any of the staff members to proof read their work.

Let’s just say I am happy to be done with this school.  I hope the high school will be much more positive.

So Are You All Wondering How The IEP Meeting Went?

Let’s just say some people need people skills. Here is a little bit of what happened.

First off, they start the meeting with “We are in a time crunch and have to finish in less than an hour due to the fact she has to teach a class.”  Boy we feel so warm and welcomed.  Let me just say, the school psych is fabulous.  She really took time to get to know Nolan.  The connection the two made is genuine.  She had really wonderful things to say about Nolan.  She shared about a recent time when he showed empathy,  as well as situations when a young man keeps pushing Nico’s buttons in group and Nolan is very calm and doesn’t explode.  However the teacher of record is a sweet lady that feels challenged when we, the parents, don’t agree with her choice.  She states that she doesn’t feel appreciated.  My response to that is “I appreciate everything you do for my child.  I may not agree with it.  These two are separate issues and one has nothing to do with the other.”

During the meeting, we came up on the part of the push-in support of the shadow.  This is where my husband and I mentioned our concerns of the current shadow who is becoming overbearing and embarrassing Nolan.  She became enraged and said, “I am not discussing that right now.”  WHAT????  I said, “Why not this is the IEP meeting, we are on the topic of the shadow.”  She just become unglued and yelled at my husband and I.  Her behavior was atrocious.

Her suggestion for high school is for my son to have a shadow “for his safety as well as the safety of others.”  Are you kidding me?  My husband and I vocalized our feelings about this situation and demonstrated how the current situation is not working.  My husband explained to the teacher of record, “We will think about your recommendation and weigh the pros and cons.  This is a delicate situation where we don’t want to stigmatize him as a trouble maker. In addition, Nolan is on his way to becoming a man.  This is a sensitive issue and not one we take lightly.  Furthermore, Nolan is who he is and he has this disability and it isn’t going to go away.  The teachers need to be more understanding when talking to Nolan.”   Right on Mr. D!!!!

It was 2:05 pm and the teacher of record closed her file and left the room.  At that point I told the Special Ed Coordinator that her behavior was extremely unprofessional.  The counselor for the AB3632 even chimed in stating that Ms. Booth needed to communicate to us, the parents, the remedies of the situation between the shadow and Nolan instead of her response of “I took care of it and I am not going to discuss this.”

The positive is that the Special Ed Coordinator is going to change the language of the IEP in the section of the IEP where it describes the duties and interaction of the shadow.  The way a shadow should work is as follows:  A shadow should work with a group of students. With in that group of students is the special ed student the shadow keeps an eye on.  This way none of the non-special ed students know who the shadow is for.  We are having that descriptive language written into the IEP.  In addition, we are asking them to have incentives if Nolan is responsible and takes care of his business, then the shadow will give him more space.

All I have to say, in my school district at my site, we would never yell at a parent during an IEP.  We would listen respectively.   Parents of children with special needs have the right and need to be heard.  The IEP is meant to be a team meeting not a dictatorship.

 

Sample IEP Accommodations From WorryWise.org

Well we are gearing up for our IEP on Monday. I have been researching different concerns that the school constantly mentions in their daily emails to me. My biggest concern for Nico is to ensure he has appropriate accommodations in his IEP. I stumbled across the website with some sample IEP accommodations for students like Nico, who have a high anxiety level.

Here are some suggestions from this website. There are a few more than I have listed. I have copied the link below for everyone.

Classroom environment

The students must be placed with a teacher that is organized. A structured classroom will reduce anxiety. In addition, the teacher must redirect negative behaviors in a way that is respectful and not punitive.

Seating within classroom

The student should be seated away from more “rambunctious” students. This way the student will be able to focus on the instructor and will be less distracted.

Following directions

Concerns about getting the directions wrong either because of distraction or misunderstanding are common. Signaling the class first when giving directions (flashing lights, clapping hands) and when possible having directions written on the board or elsewhere may assure anxious children that they have understood the directions.

Class participation

Responding to questions in class is stressful for students with anxiety issues. It is important to provide opportunities for these students to respond to questions. One thought is to use a signal letting that student know when his/her turn to answer the next question. Furthermore, asking the student yes or know questions also helps the student participate in a manner they are comfortable. I am not sure if I agree with the yes or no questions. I do agree with letting students know when it’s their turn.

Class presentations

Children with extreme social anxiety may have difficulty with oral reports. Consider having the child present to the teacher alone, or have the child audiotape or videotape the presentation at home.
Answering questions at the board
For children with social anxiety, the combination of getting the answer wrong, and being visible to the whole class may be so overwhelming that they may opt to avoid school altogether. Consider having the child exempt from going up to the board until they are ready to handle that challenge, or, begin to approach that situation by eliminating the risk of being wrong, by simply asking the child to write the date on the board.

Testing conditions

Allowing students extended time on tests will elevate the pressure of test taking.

Sometimes anxious children become distracted when they see other children working on their tests or turning them in, they may inaccurately assume that they don’t know the material as well. In addition, it is important tomhave students test in an alternative Testing environment, In addition, students with anxiety should be allowed to use of word banks, equation sheets, to cue children in order for them not to “blank out” on rote material.

Safe person
These exceptional learners need a “go to person” “a safe haven” when the are feeling so anxious they can’t function. Most times it is the teacher of record or the school psychologist. This person is also the “Cool Down” person when other students are bullying the student.
More over, the student should be allowed to leave class and go to this person at anytime. The should have a pass they wave so the teacher knows the student is leaving and where the student is going.

Assemblies/large group activities
Students who have anxiety about getting from one class to another and dislike crowds should be allowed to leave class a few minutes early to avoid a rush of passing students.

Extra time for work

Ever responsible, anxious kids may be very distressed about work they have missed while they were out. Assign a responsible buddy to copy notes and share handouts. If tests are given the day of the child’s return, give them the option to take the test at another time and use the test-time to make up any other missing work.

Homework expectations

If children are spending inordinate amounts of time on homework because of OCD redoing, rechecking, rereading, or simply worrying that the assignment wasn’t done thoroughly enough, the teacher can set a reasonable amount of time for homework and then reduce the homework load to fit into that time frame. Teachers can also provide time estimates for each assignment (this could be helpful to the entire class), so that the anxious child can attempt to stay within 10% of the estimated time. Eliminate repetition by having the child do every other math question, reduce reading and writing assignments, consider books on tape if a child is unable to read without repetition, for a child with writing difficulties, consider having a parent, teacher, or another student “scribe” for the child while he or she dictates the answers.

Here is the link

WorryWise

So, How Does the 25 items play out in Middle and High School?

How should these 25 tips play out in Middle School and High School?

Some could work better than others. The most important ones are as follows:

1) Create a Homework Board

2) Use the school website to post assignments, announcements and communicate with parents, as well as paper documents.

I think not only should the teacher have a homework board, the teacher MUST post the homework on a webpage.

3) Give instructions in short, simple steps. –

More often than not, teachers assign projects with unclear instructions. The instructions should be clear. The teacher should provide a rubric or checklist for the requirements of the assignment. If possible scan and link an example of the assignment on the webpage.

4) Some students may benefit from having an extra copy of textbooks to keep home.

In middle school and high school the textbooks are heavy and thick. If the student is to carry all those textbooks each day in a backpack, it is too heavy. It may cause back injuries from being hunched over, as well. We have tried the rolling backpacks. Most seem to fall apart, just like the backpacks, from the heavy load. I know this year alone we purchased three backpacks.

5) Guide students as they gather their homework, planner and materials to take home.
Most of the time, the teacher is rushed at the end of the period. Their should be a warning bell before the dismissal bell, to help teachers stop and help guide students to gather homework planner and materials to take home.

6) This is not mentioned in the list.  The school needs to have each teacher post the assignment on an e-grade book system.

Many schools have this.  Unfortunately many do not.  This is useful for the parent and child to see what assignments the student is missing.

Steve Kurtz interview on ADHD

I have found this most fabulous site.  The Coffee Klatch is a remarkable site that interviews many top notch professionals who work in the fields of Aspergers, OCD, ADHD and many other disorders.  
This afternoon, I listened to The Coffee Klatch.  I heard the interview with Dr. Steve Kurtz.  “Steven Kurtz, PhD, ABPP, is one of the nation’s leading clinicians in the treatment of children’s behavioral problems and disorders, particularly attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the social anxiety disorder selective mutism (SM)”  

Here is a brief summary of the interview.  I have a link below to click to listen to the entire interview.

What causes ADHD?  ADHD is difficulty with attention, materials, staying on task.  In addition, ADHD also includes, Difficulty with impulsivity not able to sit in seat.  There are two categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.  There are differences.  As a teacher and a parent, it is important understand that the child with ADHD is painfully uncomfortable sitting still.  Dr. Kurtz compares a child having ADHD to wearing a straight jacket.  It is uncomfortable, frustrating and painful to wear.  Because ADHD causes a child to stand out, this affects the child’s self esteem.  The children tend to have low self-esteem.

How do children get ADHD?  According to Dr. Kurtz,  ADHD is about 77% genetic. Most of the time it is passed through the genes of the parent.  Other factors that can cause ADHD include, low-birth weight, and exposure to alcohol, nicotine or drugs. 

Students with ADHD have low executive functioning.  A recent intervention “Cog med”, http://www.cogmed.com/, is a new computer assisted program.  “Cogmed” is about training your working Memory.  The idea of “Cogmed”, computer assisted program, is that it retrains the brain.  It is targeted for students about age 8 and up.   The primary intervention is still using medication.  The children  who improved in executive functions had a combination of psycho-pharmacology and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), and medications have made the most growth. 

In regards to CBT,  it is different from play therapy.  In the interview, Dr. Kurtz discusses that CBT is about providing the “parents and teachers skills to prompt, monitor and reinforce appropriate behavior, they do significantly better.”  It is important for the teacher and parent to know the behavior they are targeting.   It is important to reward for the appropriate behavior in order to support the child.  Dr. Kurtz said, “The child needs the adult to point out the behavior.” With older children, CBT works a little differently.  According to Dr. Kurtz, the teens are taught how to be there own monitors.  They teach the teen “how to organizer their world”.    Basically, teaching the young adults to advocate for themselves. 


As a teacher, I loved the idea about recognizing the ADHD student at least three times for something that child did well before I have that child change his/her clip (a very common behavior plan in many classrooms) for making a bad choice.   This is forcing the teacher to recognize that child for making good choices.  According to the interview, when teachers have the behavior plan and certain children change their clips for bad behavior, we, the teacher, are stigmatizing the child.  I had never thought of it in this way.

Click here and listen to the entire interview.



 http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thecoffeeklatch/2012/05/07/child-mind-institute–adhd-and-selective-mutism


www.childmind.org

So Tired of Bureaucratic BS and Lack of Response!!!!

Nolan is starting 9th grade next year. The placement test for his high school is June 2nd. I have tried to connect with the RSP teacher at the new school since March to arrange the placement test accommodations. It is now the end of April. I sent several emails and a few phone calls. The one time she did get back to me was to ask for the IEP, which I sent her the following Monday. I asked the RSP teacher to confirm she received it. Do you think she has confirmed ? It has been 3 weeks since that email. How hard is it to say,”Hey, I received your email. I am swamped. Let me get back to you by…”. What kind of customer service is this?
None!!!!
If I treated parents in my school district, like the some teachers I have come across in my son’s school experience, I would be written up in a heartbeat. I am shocked at the lack of respect some of these educators have when they speak with parents, whether special needs or not, is  unacceptable. Communicating in a positive and encouraging way with both parents as well as students should be part of their professional responsibility. The age and/or grade should not matter. If that child is under 18 and living under the parents roof then that educator should be communicating with that parent. Without the excuse they don’t have time. I know they don’t have time. I don’t have enough hours in the day either, but I make the time. Why? These kids and their feature success is important to me!!!!!  So, why isn’t it important to the other educators?  Did these educators forget why they signed up for this job?