Saturday December 8th from 9:30 am -12:30 pm

I just signed up for a Saturday symposium about Asperger’s.   If your wish to sign up here is the link www.vistadelmar.org/continuingeducationunits.

Here is the information sent to me by a friend.

Method for Treating Youngsters Diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder
Presented by an expert who brings a psychoanalytic understanding and approach to working therapeutically with children and adolescents diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Katharine Gould, LCSW is a faculty member of the Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy program at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and a recent member of the New Center for Psychoanalysis. She was the issue editor and contributor to Psychoanalytic Inquiry on the topic of psychoanalytic work with patients diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Dr. Gould also has a private practice in Santa Monica.

Dr. Gould’s presentation challenges the misinformed opinion that psychodynamic psychotherapy is largely ineffective with patients diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Using a psychodynamic approach Ms. Gould demonstrates how she was able to uncover the keen longing for attachment that lay beneath one boy’s unrelated and alienating behaviors – behaviors that left this rigid and perseverating six year-old boy trapped and isolated from peers, parents, and teachers. As she introduces first dialog and then characters into his mechanized rituals, the young boy begins to see his therapist seeing him and learns reciprocity as he is guided into play. An unplanned early termination provokes an unexpected demonstration by him of what he has learned. From her clinical material you will gain insight into the deficits that cause the peculiar asocial behaviors typical of the AS character, recognize the extraordinary challenges that an AS child presents for parents and peers, and learn a method of playing with the AS child that teaches reciprocity and the feeling of being found.

Kill Them with Kindness Right?

My son failed his math test. According to the IEP, he is allowed to retake the test. However, what the RSP teachers don’t explain is that the child is supposed to request it. Okay, I understand wanting students to learn to advocate for themselves. I appreciate teaching this life skill. However, tell the parents of these spectacular children. It is part of my duty as a parent to support my child and explain to him this new process at his new school.

So, my son finally asks to take the test again. The RSP teacher said,”ok”. So, one week goes by and no retake. My husband and I email the teacher and no response. It has been over two weeks.

Finally today, I sent an email that was kind but firm. The email said. “I know it is a busy time, however we haven’t heard from you. We would like to know what is happening.” I think that is much better than what I really wanted to say.
Even though there is this one issue, these teachers are amazing. My son has made tremendous growth towards independence. I am so thankful to have them in his corner. Because I was gentle in my tone, I am sure this will remedy itself quickly.

What a difference a good team makes

Wow, what a difference a great team of teachers makes. My son has three amazing teachers that handle his IEP needs. One teacher works on Language Arts, one teacher works on Math, the other teacher works on communication between teachers, students, and parents. This is the way it should be done. I am very impressed at how well they work together and how they empower my child to advocate for himself and motivate him to work hard. In addition, these team advocate for your child when a situation in the lass arises. SO REFRESHING!!!

I keep pinching myself and ask,”Am I dreaming?” Maybe some schools Special Ed departments need to take notes and make some changes to their own departments.

Nolan’s First Three weeks of High School

Starting high school can be terrifying for anyone. Now add an Aspergers teen with anxiety to the mix and terrified doesn’t begin to address the fears.

Nolan just finished his third week at his new high school. He is really enjoying it. The RSP teacher provides Nolan with support and sets his expectations high. Nolan has risen to the challenge. Nolan is remembering to fill in the agenda book and remembering to get it signed by his teachers each period. In addition, Nolan is learning to communicate directly with his teachers via email and in person. He really doesn’t want us, his parents, to interfere. So, the deal was if Nolan took care of all his issues himself, then we wouldn’t interfere.

Even though we have had a great three weeks, we had 2 hiccups. The first issue was that Nolan made a joke in class. The student told the teacher. The teacher emailed me and the RSP teacher. I spoke with Nolan about it. I replied to all parties and told them Nolan will explain that what he said wash joke. The RSP teacher replied,”Nolan is a great kid. It is had in a new school environment. He is doing very well with everything.”. My jaw dropped. I realized at that moment, I had been holding my breath. Why? Usually I get the email, Nolan isn’t allowed to joke like that. Next time he will be suspended or in detention.
The other issue was the lunch line. I had placed money in Nolan’s menu pay plus account. It was the end of the week, I went on line to add more money when I realized the account still had all the money I deposited on the first day. I thought that was strange!!!!! Everyday, I would ask Nolan to tell three good things about his day. One of the things he would tell me was about lunch. He described this yummy roasted chicken he had one day. I thought it was bizarre!!!! So, I emailed the cafeteria worker at the school. She said the pin number was never used but I did have the correct information for Nolan. At the end of the day, I picked up Nolan. I asked him about his day. I asked him about lunch. I told him about the pin number not being used. He finally came clean. He wasn’t eating lunch because the line was too long. He didn’t want to wait in line and he didn’t want to tell me because I would worry. I explained the importance of the body needing to refuel during the day so he would be ready for the rest of his classes.
So, for all the people who don’t understand why we parents need to put our spectrum kids to the front of the line, this is an excellent example.
Well, I am back to packing lunches now in order to ensure that he will eat something.

Nolan loves his high school. He started choir on Thursday, went to his first football game and is learning to make friends. So far he is very happy!!!!

Do’s and Don’ts for Back to School

Today I read an article on the Back to School Do’s and Don’ts written by By Jerry Bubrick,PhD. He is the Senior Director, Anxiety and Mood Disorders Center; Director, Intensive Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders Program.

Here are some of his suggestions from the article.

Get back into a routine. Change your child’s bedtime from 11 pm to 9 pm. Start waking up your child at school hours. Once they are awake, have your child complete the normal school routine: shower, dress, and eat breakfast. At night, the author suggests limit screen time.  All screens should be off one hour before bed time. In addition, Dr. Bubrick states parents should Shop for school supplies earlier rather than later.

The most important part of the day is to make sure your child fuels their body. Dr. Bubrick says we should be more aware of meals. Why is this important? Dr. Bubrick gave an excellent example. If your child ate at 1pm and doesn’t get home until 5pm, then he/she maybe ravenous and unable to focus on homework. In order to focus, your child will need a healthy snack and then after about an hour your child will be better able to focus on homework.

When asking about your child’s day, Instead of asking “Did you make any friends?” (this may cause embarrassment to your child), Ask “How was your day?” Or

“Tell me three things you liked about today”- I like this last comment. it allows for more conversation to happen. In the question, “How was your day?”, if your child is like mine, you will get the answer, “Fine” then the child will walk away. When you ask for three good things, there are always leading comments to make after you listen first to what your child has to say. You could follow with, “What made this good for you?”

Dr. Jerry Bubrick suggests doing a trial run in order to get off to the right start.

He feels, especially for the child who is very anxious, take a drive by the school, walk into the building and allow the child to become acquainted with the smells and sounds. In addition, map out the classes and know where the locker is located.

As a parent, he suggests not to be afraid of set backs.

He feels parents and the child need to “Temper your expectations.” The expectation of the first days being stellar is not realistic. It is important to let kids ease into it and have ups and downs.Remember as a parent, every two steps forward there is one step back.

As parents, it is important to help kids manage their commitments.

Usually the first week of work is slow. So it is easy to take on new commitments.However, Dr. Bubrick suggests to wait until mid October before signing up for new activities. This way you have enough time for adjusting the schedules

Furthermore, it is important for the kids to balance their lives so that they are not coming home at 9pm and then starting homework and then off to bed at 11pm.

Dr. Bubrick believes this leads to depression. He feels children over commit themselves with activities. It is our job as their parents to show them how to balance.

One of the most important things to remember is that you are your child’s best advocate. If you see a problem but the school hasn’t contacted you, you contact them.

I tried to properly  link the article.  I had a difficult  time.  If you copy and paste this link, it should take you to the original article.  http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2011-8-24-back-school-best-results

High School Orientation Day

Well Nolan had his first day as a high school student. Now, I understand that it is just orientation but I was excited for him.  He found a familiar face and off he went with a smile on his face.  I was less excited realizing that I am the mother of a high school student.

Stay tuned for new posts during the year. I also have a new book I am reading too. The book is called Look Me in The Eye  by John Elder Robison.    It might take me a while to finish but I will share some interesting tidbits as I read.

What Does Least Restrictive Environment Really Mean?

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/specialneedstalkradio/2011/10/27/your-special-education-rights-with-jenn-and-julie#.T7XRC7QAndY.blogger

Hello everyone!  I took some much needed “Me time.”  However, I am off work for the summer.  I am finally able to finish my article on Least Restrictive Environment.  I learned a lot by listening to these two amazing women: Jennifer Laviano, an Attorney and Julie Swanson a Special Ed Advocate.

Here is a summary of their discussion on Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

The history of these Special Education laws was to ensure these children have access to public schools and become part of the “fabric of the community” and not in a separate room or school. What LRE has become is a sword for school districts who don’t want to spend money on more restrictive placements provide the appropriate education for a child

The LRE definition is greatly misunderstood by parents and school districts.  There is both Statutory Language and Regulatory Language.  The Statutory Language and Regulatory language have similarities.  You are able to research the laws under IDEA 20 US code 1400@ sec.  The Least Restrictive Environment language is listed 1412.

The Statutory Language states that students with a disability are educated with students who are not disabled. The Regulatory Language states that each public agency must ensure, to maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are not disabled, unless the disability is very severe.

Basically, students should not be removed from the mainstream environment “to the maximum extent appropriate” unless the nature of the disability is so severe that education is not able to occur in mainstream.   The intent is to allow the student to be apart of the learning community and not being separated out due to the disability.  This is for public as well as private institutions.

Students with disabilities are entitled to a “Free and Appropriate Education” or FAPE.   If the student is successful with the accommodations, then this is the right environment for that child.  When the child is not successful, then the IEP team needs to discuss other options.   The LRE analysis should happen last after the discussion of what the appropriate program is for that child should be.   Then the team needs to make sure the program is appropriate program.  If the student can be kept in public school regular education class with supplemental aides and services with support and it is working, then that is the least restrictive environment.  When this is not working, then it is important for the team to go down the LRE appropriate environment.

However, most district are skipping the part where the district needs to add support in the form of a shadow, testing accommodations, etc.…and the school district feels due to monetary reasons it is easier to place the child in a special education, self-contained classroom.  The schools stop looking at what the child needs.  The school districts need to think out side the box and become more creative when looking at the best least restrictive environment.  So, the schools basically wants to place children in a self-contained classroom without looking at the supplemental support that could be provided for that student in order for him/her to stay in the mainstream environment.

According to Jenn and Julie, the State and Local agencies are required by IDEA to maintain a continuum of appropriate alternative placements.

Parents need to remember schools districts must provide FAPE under the (Individual with Disabilities Education Act) IDEA are required to provide an appropriate education.

Here are the ranges of the continuum. Think of it like a gas tank from Empty to Full.

1) The student is in a full inclusion, which is the regular education.  This is at the top of the continuum

2) The student receives Special Ed service as push-in as a service.  This means that an aide or teacher comes into class to provide services to the student.

3) The student must leave the class and be pulled out in order to provide instruction in another room.

4) The student spends more of his/her time in a different classroom than a regular education setting.

5) The student is being pulled out of regular education classroom and placed in room with students with disabilities.

6) The child is placed in an “out of district program.” This is a day program, private education school that is approved by the state.

7) At the opposite end of this continuum is either a residential or hospital setting.  The student is there for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Think of Least Restrictive to more restrictive like a gas tank.  Least being Empty, Most being full.  It is a “continuum” the analysis must be placed on the individual needs of the child.  Special education teacher can be push-in to provide related services or the students can be pulled out to provide services more restrictive.  It should be based on what the student needs not what the local district is able to provide.

It is important to remember that more restrictive doesn’t mean more restrictive for your child, it might be the correct placement.   The obligation of LRE should always be based on the child’s needs.