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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My Little Cricket’s Delay: LA FEAT: School Lawyers

Yesterday I went to my third LA FEAT meeting. I thought this meeting was super serendipitous. With our IEP meeting for my Little Cricket in just two days getting this information was perfect. That coupled with the fact that I so need a support network that understands what I am going through brought me back to this meeting today. The past two meetings have been wonderful, and I was expecting more of the same. The first half, when the information was presented went just fine. However the second half was a hot mess, we will get to that in a minute. First the information.

How to measure educational success
1. GRADES
- grades are only marginally useful as they are subjective and often take into account class participation which our kiddos are typically not good at engaging in
- tests are also subjective if an aide is helping too much, or if teachers let our kids retake failed tests to get them to pass (try not to let your kids retake tests because it skews their grade and minimizes the issues that need to be worked on or extra help you can get from your IEP
- homework is often over-helped with by parents so that skews grades as well – parents should be cautious about how much homework support that they provide and should never do a student’s homework for them – a parents job is to provide a quiet space and a sufficient timeframe for a child to complete homework on their own with very little HELP from the parent
- you have to be careful to understand a student’s mastery of the grade level subject

2. PROGRESS ON IEP GOALS
- schools will often claim that they could not work on a goal because a parent didn’t consent to it (or consented to it late so they didn’t have the full year to work on the goal) – you reply ‘So you are telling me you had this list of goals you knew this goal existed (and goals are often created to help our child’s worst deficits in a specific area) – and so you taught everything else but CAREFULLY avoided teaching anything about this specific goal’ – it is ludicrous to say so.
- the measurement of goals can be confusing. Make sure goals are clear and make sure that there is a clear measurement to determine success.

3. PERFORMANCE ON STANDARDIZED TESTS
- standardized tests are often a great way to measure educational progress, they can often offer a good snapshot of where your child is at that moment, but it comes with many issues
– tests are often updated or changed year to year so it hinders measuring true progress. Progress is often not tracked year to year. Ask for the same tests and ask to compare scores and measures.
– students may have issues taking tests, and helpful aids or teachers can often help too much
- Child is not continuing to access education when scores lower. If they are progressing normally then test scores should stay the same. When they lower you are actually seeing a regression
- Also understand how the teacher scores grades. How much is homework, how much is class participation, and how much are tests. Quiz and test scores should fluctuate all over the place and if they do they shouldn’t be averaged.
- parents don’t understand these rules and the school districts bank on that
- you need to understand clearly where your child was, where they are now, why they got to that point and how to go about fixing it.

4. WORK PRODUCT
- keep copies of your childs work, homework, tests and documentation of meetings
- having appropriate organized documentation can often work to help make cases in an IEP

OTHER NOTES:
- fight like the devil to have no prompts in the goals even if that means a lower goal. You need to be able to see what a child can do independently
- no hand over hand, no verbal, no gestural prompts
- lastly keep a copy or a record of everything

One of the most important things a child needs to be able to do is reading comprehension. First they need reading fluency. A child should be able to read a passage out loud. Count how many correct words per minute that your child can read accurately. For example out of 150 words they stumble on 15 of them. A child needs to read correctly to be able to understand. The next issue is reading comprehension. A child needs to be able to read a passage and paint a picture in their minds of what they read. If a child is bad at visualization it’s like us reading computer instructions, nothing sticks.

If a child is more than 2 years behind in reading comprehension then they have no hope of catching up to their peers. If this is the issue than you need a some group reading remediation program to catch them up on their reading skills. Linden Rubell program focuses on reading visualization and cloud 9 is a great program for math.

All this information was super helpful. By the end of the presentation I felt more empowered with the information that I learned. Unfortunately after the meeting, during the question and answer piece, I got lynched. Apparently this group of people is SUPER ABA and ONLY ABA. Something that I wasn’t aware of. At this time we are looking for ABA to add as a part to the other therapies that we are doing, but I am not a huge fan of it. I am surely not a large fan of 40 hours a week of ABA for a 2 year old. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that every single child is different. I realize that what works for me and my son may not work for someone else. And I just assumed, based on the wonderful acceptance and support I have gotten from the experts I have surrounded myself with that a one size fits all approach was accepted by most in the autism community. I found out the hard way that this isn’t the case in this group.

I felt like the two speakers and the three directors of the LA FEAT group were only coming from a place of what they believe is the best route for me to go on. I believe that they were trying to help. However the way that they tried to shame me into accepting that ABA is the only way was downright shameful. I may not be going about helping my son their way, but I am helping him my way.

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