Now that the school year is coming to an end or in some areas have already ended until September, all hope is not lost.
By this time, you have had your child’s IEP/504 Plan meeting in order to put into place all support services and placement for the 2018-2019 school year. Perhaps the meeting went well and you received everything that you have asked for at the time. Perhaps the school was only willing to concede on certain items that you asked for and not others. Perhaps your child will receive nothing that you had asked for and the meeting was a negative and draining experience. It is not too late to go back and change things.
Most parents feel as though once the school year has ended and a new IEP/504Plan has been drafted then their child is “stuck” with what the document states.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, you did sign off on what was discussed at the meeting but be aware, NOTHING is set in stone. The summer is a great time to go over what was discussed, what you signed off on and prepare your case for August/September when school is back in session.
I hear from many parents prior to contacting me that they felt intimidated and pressured into agreeing with what the school set forth even though they knew in their heart, it was not the best decision for their child.
If after your meeting you felt defeated and taken advantage of, then use the next 10 weeks or so to build your case so you can present it with strength and determination.
Do not just roll over and accept what the district has forced onto you.
The summer is a great time to hire an advocate if you have been thinking about it or even if you have not. A good, strong advocate will use the time to go over the entire case. He/she will ask questions about the reports, school interactions, family interactions, testing results, social skills, academic standing, etc.
This time is a gift. If you have waited and thought about needing an advocate but never moved to the next step in regards to this, then now is the time. Time is on your side. An advocate can build your case, organize everything needed to represent your child and what is in their best interest.
Although school is “closed,” administrators and secretarial staff do work. Additionally, if your district has a summer enrichment program then some of the teachers are working as well. Therefore, if you are in need of specific documentation that you do not have, these can be furnished to you.
Summer is a slower time for the school districts as they do not have the full attendance of students to address, however the office staff is usually busy preparing for the upcoming school year so they are focused on that particular task. Reports from support staff (OT, PT, Speech, etc.) may not be available to you during the summer if those individuals are not working and administration does not have them in their possession, although they should. The CPSE/CSE Chair should have each individual result applicable to your child. This individual does in fact work during the summer excluding the time they are on vacation.
In the case where the school will not prepare the information over the summer that you are asking for, you would have to wait until school begins again to have those given to you. But everything else can be put together.
Out of the entire year, the summer is the best time to write down concrete wants and needs for your child that usually, up to this point, have not been met if you have not done so during the academic year.
Also, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask for a copy of everything in your child’s file along with any additional documents.
Maybe, you had a communication log in place for the year. Request from the staff the actual log and if they state that they need to keep it, then tell them that you would like copies of the entire log.
My suggestion to parents in regards to a log: each and every time it is sent home, make a copy of any entries. This way you will have kept up with it during the entire year and will not feel inundated towards the end. This will also ensure you have copies of everything and nothing has been ommitted. Additionally, you may need to reference this log during the year when you need to call a meeting.
This same rule holds true for the ABA binder.
If your child is receiving ABA, either in the school environment or at home, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE COPIES OF EVERY PAGE IN THE BINDER!
This will include the programs, notes, time sheets and any other communication that the therapist has added. This will provide you with “proof” of what programs your child has mastered and which programs they are still working on.
If the time that has been recorded by the therapist does not match what you have kept track of, then DO NOT sign the time sheet! Contact the agency or school that is providing the therapy and put in a formal concern. This is a ongoing problem whereby therapists are recording hours that have not actually occurred. A therapist sitting in your child’s room listening to music with them does not constitute ABA unless it is integrated into a specific program.
BE AWARE OF ALL THE PROGRAMS THAT HAVE BEEN WRITTEN FOR YOUR CHILD AS WELL AS THE CHANGES THAT TAKE PLACE, IF ANY!
I can’t tell you how many times parents are unaware as to what is going on in regards to ABA with their child. This therapy, IF done right by a highly skilled individual who is effective, can be a make or break when it comes to the IEP/504 Plan meeting.
As a parent or caregiver of a child with special needs, time is never on your side.
In fact, time is critical to secure the appropriate support services and have them administered properly by an effective teacher and/or therapist. Although there are many services not affiliated with the schools, it requires research and homework on your part to ensure that your child’s needs are being met completely and correctly.
An advocate can help you with this tedious and laborious task as well. An advocate can make phone calls, reach out to programs on your families behalf in addition to visit the programs (if geographically feasible) in order to get a first hand look as to what is being offered and if it would be a great fit for your child.
Never give up. Always be proactive.
If you are being told something and you do not believe it is right for your child, then reject it and do your research so you can obtain that validity as to “what is right” for your child! You are your child’s first line of defense. An advocate is your “partner in crime” to make sure your child comes out not only ahead but can soar above all else!
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