First time Here, Hoping to find Help

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by hollytkr, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. hollytkr

    hollytkr momof4

    OK, So it's late, I'm exhausted, and I'm trying to learn to chat. About an hour ago I started a thread that was forever long, to explain my sons story, and the problem I'm having, but somehow managed to erase it before posting. It's just been one of those days. I'll try to keep this one short.
    I have a difficult child who is 7. He is extremely smart, and always eager to please. He just started 2nd grade. Long story short, we started trying to get help at age 4 for him when I realized something was off. As it turns out he was displaying many of the symptoms of AS, which I didn't even know the meaning of at the time. He also had speech trouble, and problems with fine motor skills. We began speech therapy, went Through 2 pediatricians before we found one who didn't want to give us ADD medications, and then started the process of getting in with the Dennis Developmental Center in Arkansas. By Kindergarten, he was on low dose blood pressure medication, which helped with sensory issues, and we had him in private speech since tri district wouldn't cover him upon entering school. The K teacher encouraged us to get a diagnosis and rec. for speech and Occupational Therapist (OT), and finally after a year long waiting list we got in. He was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified (an autism spectrum disorder), but by the time we were able to get a meeting set up the school said it was to late in the year to start an evaluation from them. We started the process again the following year, but when it came time for the evaluation - mid year of 1st grade, their assessment was completely different. Despite the fact that people couldn't understand him when he spoke, the ST said he was above average. Our tests not 3 months earlier put him in the bottom 9 and 13 percentile, and stated that without direct intervention he would not improve. The school told me at our first real meeting that I should decline an IEP because that would put him in resource classes which he didn't need, and they could just offer him 504. I knew nothing then and said OK. I did however hold fast to the need for speech, and they concede to allowing him to work once a week with other students when she did ST. As for Occupational Therapist (OT) an evaluation would need to be done which of course would take to the end of the year. The Occupational Therapist (OT) at the time said she would work with him on handwriting without tears, along with several other students she worked with. My evaluation for Occupational Therapist (OT) showed him way above normal in most everything except fine motor skills and VMI. He had his 504 and at the time a wonderful teacher who worked with me, so I felt like we were doing the best we could. The beginning of 2nd grade has now rolled around and we are 2 years into the process, when I began trying to find out why my sons 504 didn't come to his class with him. While meeting with the teacher to go over some things with her I was able to meet the NEW IEP Coord., and NEW 504 Coord, and found out the old Occupational Therapist (OT) who apparently did his evaluation in May of last year without me seeing the results, was no longer at the school either. They then explained that at a meeting in May it was decided that he didn't qualify for any special services, but could keep his class room modifications. When I asked for a copy of the evaluation and meeting, I was put off, and didn't get a copy when promised. Today I visited the school specifically for a copy, and was sent to several different people being told each time they had no idea where the file was kept. I finally resorted to asking the old ST for a copy, telling her the principal had sent me to her. She gave me a copy and I ran with it. As I looked at it I found that a lady who didn't know us had done a write up on my son assessing his progress and how he had improved. She stated that as long as he remained on his medications he could focus and control his hyperactivity. My son isn't on ADD medication, never has been, and does not suffer from any type of Hyperactivity. He scored in the low range for his Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation from the school but they put him on only Occupational Therapist (OT) consult. Despite the fact that he can't tie his shoes, button his pants, hold a pencil or fork correctly. Also he can spell like there is no tomorrow, out loud, but when he has to write what he says, he makes mistakes, as he does when he tries to copy from the board. He misspells 4 letter words when copying from the board, yet he reads at a 4th grad reading level. He also has trouble inferring though, and I know this will effect his work. For instance he is reading the Hardy Boys books right now. He loves them. He can tell me what the story is about, but when I ask a simple question, like what are the Hardy Boys names, he will say the book doesn't say. He's right actually, it doesn't say exactly, it implies. A passage like "I can't do the alone" Joe cried desperately, says nothing to my son about who is speaking. The new IEP Coord advice was to try to help him myself by giving him less challenging books that are specific like Jane is talking to Mary. Jane is upset. This to me was heart breaking, as she had no clue what kind of impact that would have on my little boy. He loves to read, it's one of the things he excels in. He gets bored when work is to easy. Today he came home with his first library book. They let him check out a book that was 2 grades under what he was reading last year. It was called "Splishy Splashy" and his assignment was to find 3 words in the book that he didn't know. He was in tears because he couldn't do his HW, he said he already knew all the words, and hated the book. The accommodations they want to make for him will cover up his problemed areas, until they can push him on through the system, without anyone ever actually having to teach him to acquire the skills he doesn't have. I believe that if he stayed on this path he would finish elementary school now able to take notes, or write properly, and being picked on for his speech, among other things. I feel that because he is doing well with his grades, they are ignoring the needs he does have. Those needs will directly impact his grades and his abilities eventually. The 504 allows for preferential seating, relaxed grading etc. The teacher has said he doesn't have to worry about his spelling, or handwriting so much. I say he does! I say he needs to learn those things, not just be taught that he can't do them so don't try. When I spoke to the Resource Coord. to find out how to appeal what went on at the end of the year last year, her only concern was to find out who made me a copy of my child's file. When I didn't respond to her question after a couple of times, she said to me that she needed to find out who ran my a copy of his file. All I told her was that I was sorry, I thought I was entitled to a copy of my child's paperwork. She immediately backtracked and said that I was. Here is my predicament. I've requested a 504 meeting, which is what the school says I should do, and they said I could address my concerns AGAIN then. But that he does not qualify for Speech or Occupational Therapist (OT), so he can't have an IEP or be covered under IDEA. All of my evaluations show he need these things, their speech evaluation says he's fine, and Occupational Therapist (OT) says his VMI is in low range, and the teacher said he fell right on the border, which is actually huge considering where he is on everything else. I've requested the meeting, but now what. I've only been to one IEP meeting already, and that was last year and I feel like I botched that one up. I would like to think with a diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder, surely he would be able to get some help from the school. I desperately need some help with those things. I can handle, and have handled the majority of the working with him, but shouldn't the school pick up somewhere? He is the 2nd oldest of 4 children, and I am tired. I think a lot of it is that I am just tired of having to fight the school system to get them to try to educate him, instead of make him invisible, so that he can fall Through the cracks. Unfortunately this year he has a very nice, yet very uninterested teacher. She gave me the standard I can only do what the school district allows, and I do have 26 students in class. This doesn't stop a lot of teachers from going the extra mile, but I realize they don't HAVE to, and I think she realizes that to. When I mentioned one of the class tasks that we have tried for a year to get him to understand (AR testing), and can't seem to get it through, she told me that in order to receive "fun Friday" at school in her class the students had to complete 2 tests a week, and maybe once he missed a few fun Fridays while the other kids were having fun, he would learn. No, he won't learn unless he is taught, he'll just be miserable, and won't understand why. He has no trouble with the tests themselves it's just something about the concept that is Greek to him, we and his teacher tried all last year and never could work Through that one. So anyway, as I said I have a meeting at the school next week, but now what? What should I do to prepare for the meeting, take to it, ask for, etc. With a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified can he get assistance? I have a feeling I'm going to be gravely out numbered by people who aren't happy with me already for getting his records, and questioning their evaluation, and decision. Any and all advice, rules , anything would be greatly appreciated. I read today about parent advocates, should I look into that? Or Do I have to just accept their decision to my sons detriment. That can't be, I want to see him succeed later on, and I really believe he can overcome a lot of his disabilities, if he is just taught how, but I can only do so much. I guess that's all for my first rant. Thanks for taking the time to read Through this and offer up advice if you could. My meeting should be Wednesday, but they will call Tuesday to let me know the specifics. Thanks again.

    Holly
     
  2. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Hi Holly

    I know you are frustrated now, and rightly so. But wanted to say "good for you" for getting started so early with your child.

    You're school district is giving you the runaround, but you already know that. Unfortunately, it happens time after time.

    Couple of things:

    #1 - 504 Plans are pretty worthless; but you already know that too.

    #2 - it is incorrect that a child with-an IEP must be automatically assigned to a resource room.

    Anytime you are given this type information from school personnel, ask for a copy of the law that states such -- that pretty much will shut down the BS.

    #3 - IEP = Individual Education Program. It doesn't mean to pull a child from one pre-designed curriculum and put the student into another. The Supreme Court has defined an IEP to be delivered in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) as follows: "individualized," "personalized," "tailored," and "specially designed" to meet the "unique needs" of that one child. "The purpose of the IEP is to tailor the education to the child; not tailor the child to the education. If the child could fit into the school’s without assistance, special education would not be necessary." [House Report 105-95 at p. 104]

    What that means is mainstreamed as much as possible with support(s) if required -- even if that means a 1:1 paraprofessional. It can also mean placing the child in a theraputic day school or Residential Treatment Center (RTC). LRE whatever the LRE is for the student.

    LRE definition from OSEP: http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/letters/2003-4/gantwerk110403lre4q2003.pdf

    #4 - Ordinarily I'd recommend that you get an independent evaluation, but you've already done that. I believe you are going to need to get an Advocate to help you with this. You might try http://www.arkdisabilityrights.org/ and www.yellowpagesforkids.com . Don't be shy about asking for a referral from people at these organizations if they don't have someone in your immediate area.

    #5 - Knowledge is truly power. Read, read, read about education and disability rights. www.wrightlaw.com is an excellent parent friendly website. There's tons of stuff in the Sp Ed 101 Archives also.

    #6 - Be sure and keep documentation on all your contacts with the school. If push comes to shove and you have to end up filing complaints, you'll need more than he said/she said to prevail.

    If you have more questions, feel free to post them. And keep in touch -- let us know how things are going.
     
  3. hollytkr

    hollytkr momof4

    Hi Sheila. Thanks so much for all of your help and advice. I'm really anxious about the meeting on Wednesday. I will certainly attempt to find an advocate, and will use the resources you sent. I would say you have no idea how nice it is to have someone being helpful in this situation, but I'm sure you do.
    One question if I could...With a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified from the Dennis Developmental Center, and the request for Speech and Occupational Therapist (OT), and special accomodations in class, along with a letter from his pediatrician also, is it still plausible for the school to tell me that he doesn't need an IEP? That seems to be where they stand right now, and so I just want to know where to go from there. Thanks again for your help. I will keep you posted.

    Holly
     
  4. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Hi Holly

    Good luck with your meeting. As someone who has been on both sides of the iep table (teacher and parent) I will tell you the standard line is that outside evaluations will be "considered" in the team decision. Something as substantial as an evaluation/diagnosis from a developmental center should carry some weight and if the school is not going along with the center's reccomendations then they need to provide their own evaluations and evidence that those services are not needed. Shelia pointed out that the school seems to be "misleading" you with serveral of their statements. I second the advice to seek an advocate.

    Good Luck!
    Christy
     
  5. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Sorry, I'm late on this.

    You can always ask for a meeting to be "reconvened." It gives parents and sds additional time when there are disagreements about eligibility or testing -- whatever.

    If they refuse to qualify your child, depending on the amt of documentation you have related to his difficulties in school (academically OR behaviorally), I'd probably file a compliant.

    How did the meeting go?
     
  6. Superpsy

    Superpsy New Member

    Holly, I'm sorry you've gotten such a run around on this...

    The school SHOULD be meeting your son's needs regardless of whether he is eligble for SPED services or not. Unfortunately this doesn't happen as much as you think it should.

    You asked:

    Like Christy said...the school has to consider the results of the evaluation. ALSO remember that the school is required to give you prior written notice to let you know why they are refusing your child special education services.

    Like Sheila said...I'd probably file a due process complaint (but be open to mediation!) after all the run around..

    How'd the meeting go?
     
  7. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I'm sorry you're getting such a runaround from the school, Holly. The teacher (and school district) has to follow the law, not ' only do whatever the school district allows'. They can't ignore the law, and the size of the class is irrelevant to your child's rights under IDEA. I agree with the others that an advocate who knows the law inside out will be your best ally. He/she will be able to see and cut out the BS immediately and inform the school team that the process will move on to a complaint/hearing if necessary. In the past I've found that simply having someone who knows the law and the pertinent legal phrasing and who calls the school reps on their stonewalling gets amazing cooperation. Sad but true. I became very disillusioned with the schools after years of this.
     
  8. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Remember that "Autism" is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).
     
  9. hollytkr

    hollytkr momof4

    I can't thank you enough for all of the helpful advice. So many times over the last two weeks I've said to my husband, why didn't I think of this or that. I did manage to get the school to reschedule, but as of today they hadn't gotten back with me. When I called to ensure that someone was there so that I could bring my written requests in, they managed a meeting on Thursday at 8:30. Have also found an advocate, although we haven't officially met yet, he sounds wonderful, and I think will really help, as we are already seeing some frustrations from school due to Kaleb's lack of understanding "the rules". His teacher has explained that it is the 3rd week and he should know them by now, I think as kind as she is, she simply doesn't understand. I will most likely try to print some things out for her to read, that may help her better understand our son. In the mean time, thanks for all the great advice, there can never be to much, and I will let you know about the new meeting after Thursday.
    Holly
     
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