Tips for Setting Up a Special Education Classroom

When dealing with special needs children, setting up the classroom may be one of the most important things you can do to make your year successful. Many special needs children regardless of their diagnosis have similar things they find difficult. Below are many ideas to help the teacher arrange and get the classroom ready for the year to begin.

1. Make a visual schedule for students to follow each day.

2. Put tennis balls on the bottom of the chairs to decrease the sound in the room.

3. Be very aware of sensory issues. If a child is overwhelmed by sensory stimuli in the classroom this is going to distract them making it impossible for them to concentrate.

4. Prompt students when they get off task. Sometimes this may be just walking over to the student and putting a hand on their back.

5. Use things like visual supports however make sure the visual supports aren’t so cluttered the child becomes overwhelmed by it.

6. Teach organization. This can be a notebook with all their information in one place.

7. Have open communication with parents so they can follow through and there is a consistent way of doing things.

8. Model appropriate behaviors.

9. Many children have problems with memory, help make flashcards so they can find what they are looking for and help them study.

10. Seek out and understand success as much as possible.

11. Break tasks into smaller tasks. Don’t give them a huge task or a list of assignments and expect them to follow through. They are much more successful when its broken down.

12. Go for quality rather than quantity with classwork and homework. Keep in mind, many children with special needs take medication and remember that the medications are wearing off by the end of the day. Before assigning homework is it really necessary?

13. Make consequences logical and reward often. Come up with a reward system so the children are getting positive reinforcement on a continuous basis.

14. Use privacy boards when there are things going on around the room.

15. Move student’s desk to where there are fewer distractions. Most of the time that will be beside the teacher, up front or beside a quite child.

16. Many times it’s better to use rows for seating if possible. Group seating is just too much stimuli for them.

17. Keep a portion of the room free from visual stimuli, noise and windows.

18. Use headphones to play while noise or soft music to help block out what is going on in the classroom.

19. State directions, write them down, speak them and repeat. Special needs children need information more than once and in multiple formats.

20. Be sure to get eye contact. They sometimes are not “able” to pay attention. Reward or praise them when they do have eye contact. This is very difficult for them.

21. Allow escape if a child can’t deal with a problem. Allow them to go to the assigned area in the classroom where they can go and calm down.

See how these tips help. Please leave me a comment and let me know if they were helpful.



Source by Kerry B Johnson

6 Ways That School Districts May Use Special Education Funds From ARRA Funds of 2009

Are you the parent of a child with autism receiving special education services? Are their services that your child needs but your school district is refusing to provide? Have you heard that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has extra money for special education services? Would you like to know a few items that school districts may spend the money on? This article will give __ suggestions on what the ARRA money for special education can be spent on.

The ARRA funds have 4 principles that are attached to them. Principle 1: Spend funds quickly to save and create jobs. Principle 2: Improve student achievement through school improvement and reform. Principle 3: Ensure transparency, reporting and accountability. Principle 4: Invest one time ARRA funds thoughtfully to minimize the funding cliff.

Funds need to be used for short term investments that have the potential for long term benefits.

6 Suggestions for use of special education ARRA funds are:

1. Teacher salaries and salaries for other trained educators. Possible use could also be trained para professionals that will help a child benefit from an inclusive placement.

2. Scientifically research based curriculums in the areas of reading and math, which are required by No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Many school districts are continuing to use outdated curriculums that are not proven to help children learn reading and math. Once a school district purchases the curriculum and trains their teachers the benefits will continue for years to come.

3. Obtain state of the art assistive technology devices and also provide training in their use to enhance access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities.

4. Provide intensive district wide professional training for regular and special education teachers, that focuses on research based curriculums and strategies in the areas of reading, math, writing, and science.

5. Provide intensive district wide professional development in the area of positive behavioral supports and plans to improve outcomes for children with disabilities. Many children with disabilities are continuing to be suspended and expelled for behavior that is part of their disability; though this is not allowed under IDEA. School wide use of positive behavioral supports and plans will benefit all children not just those with disabilities.

6. Hire transition coordinators to work with employers in the community to develop job placements and training for youths with disabilities. This will ensure that children graduating will have a job and a future!

These are just a few suggestions that can benefit all children with disabilities in America. I hope that you will get involved with your school district and have input on how the money will be spent to benefit children with disabilities in your district!



Source by JoAnn Collins

IEP Summary Letter Can Help You Win a Special Education Dispute With Your School District!

As a parent and special educational advocate for over 20 years I get frustrated by the treatment of parents by school personnel. This frustration becomes acute at individual educational plan (IEP) meetings when I experience the intimidation and retaliation that many parents also experience. I was recently advocating in a southern Illinois town for a young man with Autism when my frustration began to bubble over. After I calmed myself down after the meeting, I began writing a letter to the special education personnel in the school district where I attended the IEP meeting, for the parents. I documented things that were said, the nasty attitudes of the special education personnel, and the federal special education laws that I found were not complied with. I was pleasantly surprised when the next meeting seemed to be less contentious and more productive.

I realized that IEP summary letters could be used by all parents to document things that happen at meetings. You could document comments made by a special education person, you could document denials for needed services, or violations of IDEA 2004. Documentation is critical to win any dispute between yourself and special education personnel. This type of letter can be used at a due process hearing or a complaint to win a dispute with your school district.

Below are 9 things to include in your summary letter:

1. Name and address of your school districts special education director.

2. Date of the letter.

3. Begin your letter with “This letter is to clarify and discuss what happened at the IEP meeting of ___________(Date).

4. Use quotes as much as possible; “Mr. R. stated that ESY can only be given to a child that has regressed after a break or summer vacation.” This is not consistent with IDEA 2004, and the summary letter allows you to document what was said and the noncompliance with federal special education law.

5. Any important discussions that were not included in the IEP notes; such as your child’s behavior or specific related or special education services that you believe your child needs. Readdress your position on services that your child needs that the school refuses to provide.

6. Discuss what services and placement that you agreed upon, and also any services or placement that you did not agree upon.

7. Ask for PWN (prior written notice) on any service or placement that the school wants to give your child that you disagree with, or any service or placement that you believe your child needs and the school refuses to give them.

8. As much as possible quote IDEA 2004 or State Special Education Law to document any violations that the school personnel committed during the IEP meeting.

9. Type your name and address and below this place your child’s name, birth date, grade and school of attendance. Include this statement: Please keep a copy of this letter in my child’s educational record per FERPA (FERPA is the federal educational records law).

At the beginning of the meeting set a blank piece of paper next to you. Use this paper to put anything that is said or done, that you would like to put in your letter. Add an IEP summary letter to your other advocacy skills, and you may begin to see positive changes in your child’s IEP meetings. I have said for many years that schools get away with the horrible treatment of parents because of lack of accountability; this letter could force accountability on your school district, and change all that for you! Good Luck.



Source by JoAnn Collins

Navigating the Special Education Maze

As a school psychologist, as well as the mother of a child with a chronic health condition, I understand all too well the intimidation that accompanies entering the “bargaining” sessions of IEP meetings. There are ways, however, to stack the proverbial cards in your favor. Read on…

To begin with, be prepared for anything. Keep accurate documentation and note the dates and times that everything occurs. I am not exaggerating – EVERYTHING. Every phone call, every progress report, etc. Nothing is more intimidating to IEP teams than a parent who has prepared for their meeting. A parent with a Plan of their own is scary for us, because what if we look like idiots, or offend you? You have to come into meetings prepared for anything, almost as if you’re documenting for a Due Process hearing. You never know, you might have to “go there.”

Second, know your rights. Ask for a copy of your State’s Parental Rights in Special Education (PRISE) for your review before you attend any meeting at all. You can find the PRISE for your State by entering a search on Google.

Third, know you are an active participant and that no one can force a program on you or your child. For example, some schools will hand you an IEP that they’ve already devised before you got there, with hopes that the meeting will go quickly and you will just sign and leave. But that is like going to an Italian restaurant and all that’s on the menu is spaghetti. Your child is unique and to truly devise an individualized plan, all of those involved should plan on spending at least one hour talking through the parts of the plan that are going to affect the child academically and socio-emotionally.

Know what you want before you go in there. Have a Mission in mind, know your goals, and outline your strategies before you even step foot in that room. For example, you will need goals for your child. Make sure you’ve broken them down to the smallest components before you ask for them – you will be surprised how much more you get out of your request.

I.e., Goal: I want my child to be able to get – and hold – a job when they graduate.

Well, that is plain, isn’t it? If you broke it down, however, you would have:

I want my child to learn:

How to respect authority;

How to type;

How to honor time commitments;

How to respectfully interact with peers;

Etc.

Now, doesn’t that look more like what you were thinking?

You may not get all of them, but you will get some – and that is way more specific than “get a job,” so there will be a bit more work required of your Team. Good.

Third, know you will run into snags. There will be red tape you will have to circumvent; you will meet people whose goal it is to keep children from receiving services (yes, after all of those years of education, you would think we’re all in this for the children. Yet some of our colleagues are actually naysayers); you will hear all about how “this is not how we operate” when you present documentation proving otherwise; etc. You will certainly learn a lesson in frustration tolerance.

If you are lucky, you won’t have to deal with any of the above. But I doubt it.

Fourth, learn from the negatives and appreciate the positives. You will also learn some positive things, such as knowing when to give up. By this I don’t mean walking out on your plan, but knowing when to compromise.

Fifth, know your child is entitled to individuality. If you look at evaluations, they might all seem the same. You don’t want your child’s IEP to be just like everyone else’s, or they will be ignored. Trust me on this one. I have seen 1,000’s of IEPs and rarely does the school hold itself responsible for child failure. It is always “Johnny X” or “Johnny’s mom Y.” Make sure your child’s IEP delineates what has NOT been done for him – not just what has been.

“You just want us to fix what you’ve done wrong.”

Did that statement infuriate you? It is what most school staff thinks when you demand fair treatment.

My advice? Listen more than you speak and ask very specific questions – questions that merit elaboration on the part of your Team. Most of all, remain respectful. No one likes a bully, or someone who blames everything on everyone else.

Oh, and smile graciously as you lay your tape recorder on the conference table… 😉



Source by Nadine OReilly

Special Education – Are Parents Allowed to Observe Child’s Classroom?

Are you the parent of a child with a learning disability or autism who

would like to observe their school classroom? Have you been told by

special education personnel, that you cannot observe your child’s

classroom? This article will teach you about what is allowed under

law, about school observations. By going to your child’s classroom and

observing, you can ask for any changes that you believe your child

needs. This will help your child receive an appropriate education.

School personnel may state that you cannot observe because of the

children’s confidentiality; this is untrue. The Supreme Court ruled in

Owasso Independent School District v. Falvo (534 US 426 2002) that

confidentiality of other students can’t be used as a reason to deny

observation by a parent. They established that, students have no

expectation of privacy.

Special Education personnel may deny you from observing your child’s

placement because of FERPA (the Federal Education Rights and Privacy

Act). FERPA does not prevent observation by parents or their

professional representatives. FERPA only protects written records.

If your school district states that parent observations violate HIPPA,

they are incorrect. HIPPA is for medical records, and in most

cases does not apply to school districts.

In my opinion, parents do have a right to observe the current

and proposed placement of their child. This is because parents

have a right to “meaningfully” participate in determining their

child’s IEP and placement. These rights were up held in 2 court

cases (Honig v. Doe 1988, and Burlington School Committee v.

Mass Dept. of Education (1985). Parents have unique knowledge

of their child, and they should be able to observe in the classroom.

If your school district continues to assert, that you have no right to

observe your child’s current or proposed placement, ask by what

authority are they stating this. Also ask for proof in writing, of

whatever authority they are using. Take what they send you, and file

for a formal state complaint. Parents have the right to be an “equal

participant” in their child’s education. If you are prevented from

observing, then you will be denied your “right” to be an equal

participant.

Classroom observations are extremely important for parents to do, as

often as they are able. Things can be going on that you are not aware

of, classroom observations bring these to light. Then you will be able

to use the information to fight for educational changes that your child requires.



Source by JoAnn Collins