April is Autism Awareness Month!
If you type “Autism” in the top of this blog’s search bar, you’ll find all sorts of helpful resources for parents with children that are autistic. For this month we are looking for your contributions on the subject! If you are a trainer, staff person or parent working or living with someone with Autism or hosting / know of a community event supporting awareness for this month, please submit your story or the information (please include photos, logos, or flyers you want included as well as your Twitter handle if available) and we will share it free of charge for the month of April! Email all submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Every child receiving special education services are covered under the Federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). This federal law names the ways in which children who receive public education are protected and what they are entitled to for special education. It is important to know that every state has to abide by what IDEA lays out. However, every State is different. The only variation allowed is if the State chooses to make principles of IDEA more stringent (ex: timelines shorter) for their individual state.
What you need to know if your child has an IEP:
If your family moves to a new state, IDEA is clear that the services your child received in the State where they originally received Special Education services transfer across State lines. So for example, if your family lives in Minnesota and your child receives 5 hours of resource support and 1 hour of speech therapy, when you pick up and move to New York, IDEA protects your child’s educational rights to continue to receive 5 hours of resource and 1 hour of speech therapy in their new school. This goes the same if you move within the same state too! IDEA maps out what EVERY IEP MUST HAVE ACROSS THE NATION, however, each states IEP may physically look different.
Q: Can the receiving school change Your child’s IEP because they don’t have the same exact programs as your previous school?
A: Yes and No. The school can absolutely NEVER make changes to your child’s IEP without a Planning and Placement team meeting (IEP meeting…every state uses different terminology too!) or without your consent. As the Parent, you are the foremost member of a team. If the receiving school does not offer specific programs or certain support services that existed in your former state, it becomes the responsibility of the new team (yes including you the parent) to determine what services can be provided that resemble the child’s previous IEP or if there is a different placement available within the new school district to give the child what he/she needs. If your child had something specific like a 1:1 aide or behavioral therapist, it is absolutely imperative that the new school complies with similar recommendations. They are legally bound under the IEP, which is a legal document, to honor the services that have already been determined are necessary for that child’s educational success. If the school system states that they “don’t do that” or “don’t have that resource” they are out of compliance and you need to contact the school systems Director of Special Education or even the State immediately. Always put your concerns in writing to make a paper trail documenting your concern (this includes email).
If it is a question of hours or service delivery, use your judgement. Go with your gut. If you feel the school is proposing something completely irrational (i.e. cutting 5 hours down to 1) disagree with the proposed change. Legally if there is a disagreement, the old IEP must remain until a new one is agreed upon.
If you feel the school is proposing something appropriate, again go with your gut. For example, if the school wants to change 5 hours of pull out resource support to 2 hours pull out and 3 hours in the classroom because the resource teacher co-teaches reading this may be an acceptable service delivery alteration. It’s not changing the service being delivered just the setting. Just always remember: YOU CAN CALL A PPT WHENEVER YOU WANT!
Again, your parental right under IDEA is to hold a meeting whenever you want to discuss or make changes to your child’s IEP. Team meetings may suffice too, but if it ever comes down to changes in IEP services, hours, etc. hold a PPT/IEP meeting.
If you are ever in the situation where a new school system does not honor an IEP or attempts to remove services, you should immediately hold a PPT meeting and document your concerns or disagreement. You always have the right to contact your State department of special education and file a formal complaint against the school district. Should it become a legal issue, you may want to exercise your right to due process and search for educational advocates or attorneys that specialize in educational law.
Jodi L. Everone, M.S., CCC-SLP
You know that pamphlet of really tiny writing that you always get at a meeting or sent to you in the mail…..those are your Parental Rights, you need to read them! Every state has them posted on their Department of Special Education website, download them if you threw them out or ask for another copy. This gives you the answers to many of your questions. This tells you what you are afforded under Federal & State educational law. Reading this information will make you a better advocate for your child.
Every time I attend a PPT for a family member or a client, I read these Procedural Safeguards because I want to make sure I know exactly what my loved one or student has the right to receive and what the parent is entitled to ask for.
Outlined in these packets include:
-Explanation of IEP
-Explanation of Testing procedures (timelines, consent, initial evaluation vs. re-eval, etc.)
-Explanation of Special Education services
-Explanation of Due Process (legal process or action you can take if you disagree with the school)
-Explanation if you disagree with school testing and your right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
-Explanation of suspension/expulsion for students with IEPs.
-Explanation of Seclusion/Restraint policy
Again, it is your responsibility to be informed of what your rights are as a parent of a child who receives Special Education services. Be responsible. Read your Parental Rights and always keeps copies of your child’s educational records (IEPs, progress reports, report cards or evaluations). I highly recommend every parent keep a file and organize it by year so that if you ever need to refer to it or if you ever find yourself in a legal battle with your school system, you want to make sure you have all the necessary documents. If you are missing something, ask you school. It is your right to make a formal request of educational records from the school district at any time.
Here is an interesting article I recently found written by an educational attorney regarding when parents question the services their child is receiving in schools. Hope you find it helpful.
Jodi L. Everone, M.S., CCC-SLP
Basic things parents need to know:
You are your child’s best advocate. During your child’s well visit at the pediatrician it is now federal law that every child is screened at 18 months. Most doctors offices will give you a checklist to complete. Your doctor can only recognize the signs if you are honest and report accurately. Not all pediatricians understand Autism. Your pediatrician might not recognize the autism warning signs. YOU NEED TO KNOW THE WARNINGS SIGNS!
1. Fixation on particular objects (examples can include but are not limited to: watching wheels spin; incapable of putting a favorite toy down; fixation on an inappropriate object for the child’s chronological age or safety concern: ex: screwdriver; etc).
2. Repetitive or inflexible play: lining objects up, needing to complete a task before moving on to another, unable to play with any toy other than familiar one, etc.
3. Aversion to stimulating light or sound: most kids on the spectrum have overstimulated sensory systems. The buzz of the fluorescent lights in a building, the dog barking two streets over, the lawn mower starting outside are just few examples of hidden triggers that can upset these kids sensitive systems. Many of these children cannot settle their “internal noise” and external noise (that often goes unnoticed to many of us) may unhinge them.
4. Inability to respond to their name: this is not like a teenager ignoring their parents. This is a child who is so disengaged from the world they are in that they 1. Don’t know their own name, or 2. Do not have the comprehension to know that they are supposed to turn and look at a person when their name is called.
5. Social incompetence: as everything with children on the autism spectrum, this may vary by each individual. Children’s social competence is very often measured by their play skills. Autistic children will not want to play WITH others, but rather NEAR them. Engaging in social reciprocity means there is give and take within an interaction (my turn, your turn so to speak). PARALLEL PLAY is playing close in proximity to another child, but not really engaging with the child. Children on the autism spectrum will play very nicely with their own toys as long as its on their terms For example: in Johnny’s mind “I line up all my cars by my specific color coding system and if you even try to think about taking a car from my line, watch out because I will unleash such a tantrum on you!” Yes, there may be kids playing with cars near Johnny, but the typical kids are crashing them, saying “vroom” and imaginatively interacting using language with their play. Johnny isn’t interacting, he is engaging in his play and in spatial proximity to the other children. This is parallel play. This is a very immature play pattern that typical kids will grow out of by age 2-3.
6. Language skills: your child’s language development begins with infancy. They are constantly being exposed to new vocabulary, you model or label items within your child’s environment to give them the language skills they need in order to understand and eventually talk. Children on the autism spectrum may be delayed talkers, they may not understand directions (go get your shoes) because these are all language tasks.
7. Strange physical movements or vocalizations. Flapping hands, Staring at ones fingers and moving them in front of their face, high pitched screaming, unusual vocalizations (not meaningful words, strands of speech sounds that are repeated but do not represent a word or communication intent.
Jodi L. Everone, M.S., CCC-SLP
APRIL IS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH
Some of you may already know that I come from a stacked background in social services, especially as it pertains to disabilities. (Read more in the “About QueenTheProphet top of Blog).
Since April is Autism awareness month, for the entire month of April, I will do weekly posts surrounding educational information on Autism and other Pervasive Development Disorders (PDD) that are classified as Autism & other spectrum disorders.
WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism is a life-long disability that prevents individuals from properly understanding what they see, hear, or otherwise sense (think 5 senses).
WANT TO UNDERSTAND AUTISM BETTER? TRY THIS EXERCISE:
For the next 5 minuets…. write down everything you hear. EVERYTHING. (Lights buzzing, heat blowing, cars, alarms, talking traffic, etc.)
Look at this list. This is how many individuals with Autism hear. They hear EVERYTHING at once. Pretend you’re a parent trying to get a child with Autism to clean their room with the TV on. They’re not ignoring you…. often they’re hearing EVERYTHING at once. Now apply this same exsample to the other senses.
PEOPLE 1st LANGUAGE:
When speaking about a person with any disability, make sure you are using People 1st Language. ALWAYS put the person BEFORE the disability. They are a person first, not a disability. Using People 1st Language takes practice, but it’s very easy to get the hang of.
Jimmy (person) has Autism (disability) .
Individuals (person) with disabilities (disability).
My son (person) has Autism (disability).
If you have a story, poem, or anything related to AUTISM that you would like to see blogged on queentheprophet.com , email email@example.com put “Autism” in the subject line.