RAS evaluation is finally done and ???

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by TeDo, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    When a psychiatrist and psychologist diagnosis difficult child with Asperger's, I requested an evaluation be done at the school by the Regional Autism Specialist. My hope was to get him classified as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for SpEd services instead of the EBD. I wanted them to have to focus more on teaching him lacking skills than punishing the behavior.

    Received the report today and am thoroughly confused. We have an IEP meeting this Wednesday and wanted your expert advice.

    The report is 20 pages long, repeats alot of the results from previous testing, and adds in new testing and observations from the RAS.

    According to the report, he "DOES MEET the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)" but he also "DOES MEET the criteria for EBD". Their opinion is that he MEETS the criteria for "Severe Multiple Impairments". I have no idea what this all means. In our state, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a separate category but so is EBD and SMI. What I would like to see is for him to have a 1:1 para with him throughout the whole day to teach him "In The Moment" the skills he is lacking and to explain things to him in a way he understands so he can actually do the school work at school instead of at home. So far, they have the SpEd case manager handle things AFTER they have happened (when he has time) and discipline has been issued. School work is sent home so I can explain things in a way for difficult child to understand (he is then able to do ALL the work). He's not learning the skills he needs WHEN the situations occur so he can put the skills together with the situations they are meant for. The evaluators (SpEd, psychiatric, teachers, etc) comment repeatedly throughtout all the reports I have ever gotten from them about all the interventions they have tried and how none of them work.

    Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing? I do have an advocate and even she is getting upset with them. I am just wondering what I need to have with me and what my arguments should be for getting what I want because I know it will work.

    Sorry this got so long but I am sooooo utterly confused and overwhelmed.
  2. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Well, it sounds like you know what you think would be good. And you have a myriad of diagnoses to choose from to justify it. The classification/designation on the IEP is (at least in my experience) only important if a bureaucrat at the school district says it's important because they have LEA or Board of Ed rules that say you can't get X service unless you have Y classification. Which is, frankly, a bus full of pre-teen boys - i.e. full of gas.

    According to IDEA the IEP team can decide anything it darn well pleases and call it anything it wants to - as long as the team explains it's justification in the IEP document.

    Regarding the SMI designation -

    IDEA 2004 Part 300 / A / 300.8 / c / 7 says

    (7) Multiple disabilities means concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness or mental retardation-orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness.

    If the school district says they will only provide certain services if he has a certain classification and those are the services you want then make that the primary classification and choose a secondary classification if it seems helpful. However, the SMI classification would seem to supersede such artificial distinctions since it clearly says that such children cannot be accommodated in a program that is designed to address only one area of disability. So placing that child in an EBD classroom is not appropriate - according to IDEA.

    Has anyone done a FBA on your kiddo?

    Anyway, I think that if you don't have an FBA then you are shooting in the dark. You need an FBA so that the problem behaviors can be identified clearly, etc.

    If you already have an FBA and the school says they have implemented all of the interventions that came out of the most recent FBA perhaps there needs to be a new FBA done that addresses your child's reactions to these "new" interventions that the school says aren't working.

    I am wondering if getting an aide who can do the job you want done will be all that easy. It's one thing for you to know how to do what you do - it's another thing to find someone else with the common sense and skill to do it at school for a child they don't know well.

    Do you network with other parent's of autistic children in your area? What are they doing about schooling their older children?

    Are there any NPS (non-public school) in your area that are dedicated to teaching autistic children? Here in our large metropolitan area there are a number of them and many of the autistic kids who have more difficult social behaviors or challenges attend those schools - at least for a while. Of course, we have the MIND Institute here so there has been a huge growth in services geared toward autistic children since it was created.

    I have talked to a couple parents here whose children go to these schools. Because the whole school is geared to the special learning styles and challenges of typical autistic children, they offer an environment that a public school classroom may have trouble providing. Many visual cues, lots of explicit instruction in social cues and skills, sensory interventions that help teach the children to manage their own energy/reactions - campus wide. This is not something you will get on a public school campus.

    While I have generally had a negative experience with schools/classrooms that are dedicated to teaching children with similar disabilities, the experiences of these parents seem very positive. They all felt it was a very good move and one had been able to return her child successfully to a regular campus mainstreamed for part of the day and in a dedicated classroom for autistic children part of the day.

    Remember that the point of an IEP is supposedly to identify the child's needs and those needs dictate services/placement. It's not the other way around - which is the way most school district's prefer to do things. So your job is to help identify the needs and it's the school district's job to figure out how to meet those needs in the LRE.

    Personally I would stop re-teaching him the info at home. It makes him look more functional than he really is in the current placement. Or you need to carefully document the amount of time you are spending tutoring him at home. E-mails or other written notes to teachers are good. Having a communication journal that moves between school and home would be an excellent way to accomplish this since it would be clear that the teachers were receiving the info and could not claim ignorance on this topic. If you don't have one already, you might find it a useful tool for other reasons too.

    Another option is to hire an outside tutor so you can prove to the school district (and in due process should you go there) that he is not receiving FAPE under the current IEP. If you go to due process you would likely get reimbursed for these expenses if you are able to prove your case. Your word is worthless at a due process hearing unless you can back it up with documentation. Expect school personnel to flat out lie and for the school district to do everything in it's power to show it was doing a good job. If he is learning because you are teaching him then it will appear that they are in fact providing FAPE - when in fact they are not.

    If you aren't familiar with the Wright's Law website, I suggest you check it out. It has some terrific articles about IEP meetings, how to prepare, what to do in particular situations.

    That's all I can offer in the way of info/advice. You may want/need to ask for the IEP meeting to be continued so that the school district can do a new FBA and/or give you info on alternative classrooms/NPS's so you can go look at their programs.

    Best wishes,

  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Tigger qualifies all over the place as well. He is the only child in our district to have AUTISM listed as a secondary condition because they have OHI (Other health impairments due to the original diagnosis of bipolar). Stupid but the school insisted that his behaviors were more than Autism. Now that they have good teachers in place, it is clear that his 'behaviors' all stem from autistic issues (social skills, transitions, sensory overload).

    I would use the argument that he has so many disabling conditions that he needs a 1:1 to redirect and reteach in the moment and that cleary their method of punish first, process later isn't working.
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Thanks for all this. The school district uses the EBD classification to "focus" on the behaviors. An Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) classification would get them to focus on those issues. I am leaning toward the SMI classification so they will have to focus on both. Most of his behaviors that he exhibits are because of frustration and anger about not understanding things, not being understood, inability to put his feelings into words, and the punishment he receives for "not understanding". He has begun to show signs of severe depression when it comes to school. That is also coming out as anger. They see that he can't control his anger and that is not acceptable so that is what the school district is focusing on.

    They have done an FBA but their "hypotheses" for the behaviors consist of "wanting control when he feels adults have too much" and "to avoid unpleasant or difficult tasks" and "to fit in with his peers", etc. You get the drift. As far as I am concerned, their FBA is useless.

    I live in a small town so there are no other options except to open enroll him in a different public school 15-30 miles away. The school district is pushing for me to "put him" in a school for severely mentally ill children. That is not an option for me! His behaviors are caused by his lack of skills caused by the Asperger's.

    I cannot afford a private tutor but I am going to begin documenting the time I spend explaining things to difficult child as well as what it was he didn't understand in the first place. A couple teachers claim they are "helping" him try to understand what is being taught but according to difficult child, their explanations don't make any sense to him. Not helping him at home would cause even more stress for him. He WANTS to learn and doesn't mind the work. So far I am the only one that "has the time" to help him understand so he can.

    I have offered to work with a 1:1, train them to help difficult child like I do, SHOW them what I do and how I do it. It would be a worthwhile time investment for me.

    JJJ, that was my plan but was wondering if there was any documentation or "proof" that I should bring with me to back up what I want for difficult child.

    Thanks again guys.
  5. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    It's hard when you live in a rural area. By definition that means your access to resources is limited unless you are able/willing to travel to get them.

    Have you gone to look at the school the school district is pushing? If you do, then you are in a better position to discuss the reasons why this more restrictive environment is not appropriate. In my experience it pays to at least check out the options they are pushing so that you appear cooperative. It doesn't mean you have to do what they want.

    Is the other public school run by the same district? Have you been to visit it to see how it differs from the one there in town? If you have a good case for sending him there you should also be able to get them to do transportation. It may not be ideal but even if you're in an urban/suburban area kids often travel for 30 minutes or more to reach school.

    Does the RAS have any suggestions for a school placement that you know about? If the report doesn't make any recommendations for educational environment you could call and ask about that. There should absolutely be a section of that report that makes accommodation and modification recommendations. If there isn't call the RAS and insist that they generate such a list, give you a copy in advance of the meeting, and be prepared to discuss those recommendations at the meeting.

    Does the RAS have the training to do a new FBA? Or can he/she recommend someone outside the district to do a new one? Did the previous FBA include a home observation including time spent on homework?

    It does sound like you're going to have go outside the box if you need/want to stay local. A para with the proper training sounds like it may be the best compromise. It would certainly be less expensive for the district than sending him out of area to an NPS for example.

    It's a tough situation. If you don't have contact with any other parents of Aspies that might be something to work on to. You must all be in a similar boat and if there are enough of you perhaps there is justification for a separate classroom with mainstreaming for the kids that can handle it.

    Best wishes,

  6. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I have a family member that works at that school. It is definitely NOT an option. The chaos there would only exacerbate difficult child's behaviors.

    The other schools are separate school district s. I have subbed at them and they would be fine but I want to exhaust all options here first. This is where their friends are, teachers they know are, and I grew up with everyone on the school board if it comes to that.

    I will find out what the RAS thinks at this meeting. The recommendations she made in the report are things the school district needs to teach difficult child. As for her doing an FBA, I will ask that at the meeting. What she said in her report about the "reasons" for his behavior are right on the mark. I will be pointing those out at the meeting and pushing the school district to teach the things she recommended.

    The previous FBA was done strictly in school by difficult child's SpEd case manager. It did not include anything about home.

    difficult child's previous diagnosis (until 2 months ago) was ODD so that is the mentality the staff had: all of difficult child's behavior was purposeful defiance and needed a heavy hand. The struggle I am having with them is to get them to change their train of thought. My advocate and I both agree that we feel like we are banging our heads against a brick wall. And they say my difficult child has a one track mind. Sheesh!
  7. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    I know that bruised forehead feeling. That's why I have an advocate coming to my son's IEP meeting next Tuesday. I'm not sure what will be decided and I'm not even sure what I think is the right placement for difficult child 2. His psychiatrist says he should be in an ED classroom but when he's at school he does "fine".

    Anyway, I really understand the impulse to "tell" the school district what your child needs. I haven't found that it works very well here. What has worked better for me is to just ask questions. This seems to put them off their stride. Rather than say "my son needs a 1 on 1 aide" you might ask how are they going to teach him to advocate for himself when he doesn't understand the directions or how are they going to ensure he completes the work he is supposed to do during the school day? In what circumstances has he learned or cooperated or done what was asked of him? How do we extend that to longer periods of time? What happens if you use a lot of visual teaching techniques or materials instead of verbal/written ones? Etc.

    You want them to engage with the idea that this child is teachable and they can figure out how to do it. If possible (Ok call me an idealist) you want them to get excited about the idea they *can* help him learn and grow. You want to help them see your child through your eyes - that he has potential and will make them proud. He is willing to do his part but he has these challenges that make it hard for him to show that side to them.

    Telling them what he needs won't do this. But, as I know quite well, it may be all that you're left with if they are going to be stubborn.

    Does your difficult child attend the IEP meetings? Cause the other thing I have found is that the one time I was able to get my difficult child 2 to attend the meeting it made a huge difference in the dynamics of the meeting. Don't know if the same thing would happen for you but I thought I'd mention it.

    Even if difficult child doesn't say a lot it's much harder to talk about someone as if they are "bad" or impossible to work with when they are sitting right there at the table. If your difficult child can speak for himself it would be great - provided he doesn't go off on them in a way that will undermine your position. If he can say he feels frustrated, lost, isn't sure what he's supposed to be doing most of the time, who to ask for help, how to ask for help - whatever - it may really help shift the focus. If he could come even briefly but he doesn't know what to say or doesn't want to say anything during the meeting you might have him tell you what he wants to say and write it down on cards for him. Then he could read the cards.

    In the meantime, I would try to get them to agree to send a notebook back and forth between home and school so you and the teachers can communicate at least weekly or when there's been a crisis or big problem at school. It may also give you some things to ask about in these "brick wall" meetings.

    You make it sound like school district staff diagnosed him ODD. Is that true? Cause I'm pretty sure legally that they do not have the licensing required to diagnose anything. A psychiatrist or psychologist (Ph.D or Psy.D) are the only professionals licensed to diagnose. If the school district did the diagnosis then I would think you have grounds for a lawsuit against them regardless of anything else.
  8. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    They agree that he is teachable. We just disagree with the METHODS they are using to "help" him. The teachers "have 24 other kids in my class and I don't have time to explain things to 1 kid that doesn't get it. If I did that, we would never get anything done. That is not fair to my other students." That is why they are willing to send the work home. They know he can do it and let me do the explaining so he can. That is what they are being told to do by the "administration".

    That is exactly where we are at. Some of the teachers are very open to suggestions and are willing to at least try different things. The biggest issue is the principal. The best way to describe him is a dictator. EVERYONE does what he says and difficult child is held to the same behavioral standards as ALL the other students. If he doesn't do that, then he wants him out. The principal is the one pushing for an EBD school for kids with severe behaviors. Yesterday, the principal suspended difficult child for 1/2 the day after 2 staff members DIDN'T follow the Behavior Plan which escalated the behavior and pushed difficult child so far that he asked his therapist "are you an idiot?". The principal said difficult child "crossed a line that I just won't allow." The therapist didn't have a problem with the question. Later, she called me and told me that difficult child asking that question was what made her realize it was time to give him some time and space. The principal didn't allow that. difficult child messed up and deserved to be punished. Principal has said more than once that he "will not tolerate that kind of behavior in his school."

    He has attended them in the past. It changes how the teachers talk around him but not the principal. Listening to them read their evaluations of things he "doesn't do" or "is unable to do" it is really hard on him. These meetings are emotionally draining for me but for him, he is hearing so much negative that I would sometimes rather he not be there. He shuts down.

    They did not diagnosis him. A psychiatric nurse gave it as a diagnosis a couple years ago but the school district has really clung to that diagnosis. Their belief is that when a kid with ODD pushes, they need to be shown who's boss and the principal here is more than happy to use that approach. What I did find interesting is that we just had a new psychiatric evaluation done by a liscensed psychologist. After reviewing difficult child's records, she made a statement in her evaluation that difficult child "was previously given a diagnosis of ODD. However, there is no information in the file or any testing that was done to justify that diagnosis." The psychiatric nurse has not been with that agency in over 2 years and it was those agency's records the psychiatric was looking through. He was misdiagnosed back then but the principal is still tooting the "ODD" horn and treating difficult child's behaviors as that.
  9. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    In CA a psychiatric nurse has NO licensing authority to "diagnose" anyone with anything.

    I have to say, in our experience with multiple schools with multiple special needs kids, if the principal is opposed or really negative we were better off leaving than fighting. The principal sets the tone for the whole school and can make life really difficult for your student and for any teachers who are sympathetic. I completely understand about wanting to keep him with his friends/neighbors though. And if the other closest school is in another district, here in CA, the other district has to agree to the transfer and in our area most of the districts simply refuse to accept high need kids.

    However, why are you not pursuing a due process against them for failing to implement the IEP? Particularly when they are "punishing" behaviors that have been identified for intervention in their own FBA??? If they are saying they are going to change his placement because of discipline infractions then I believe they must hold a manifestation hearing. Does your advocate have a lot of experience with Special Education or specialize in that area? Has he/she ever done a manifestation hearing?

    Are you recording the IEP meetings? If not, I strongly suggest that you do so this time. If the subject of a manifestation hearing comes up you want their response on tape.

    Did you see the earlier thread about the manifestation hearing? I linked the info from Wright's Law about it into that thread. I'm not sure if it's a smart strategy or not --- something to discuss with the advocate.

    Are you able/willing to continue the current placement by refusing to sign and insisting on a continuation of the meeting?

    Is mediation a good option there? Your advocate should know who they use for a mediator and whether that is likely to be helpful. We did mediation here after we went for due process against our school district for refusing to assess and for refusing to provide prior written notice after 2 years of our asking for an assessment. our advocate said mediation was worth trying because some of the mediators were really good and if we got the right one we could be sure it would be fair and professionally run. We got what she said was the best mediator and the whole thing was settled in our favor in about 4 hours time. To the tune of $20,000 for compensatory education and to cover assessment fees. Plus they had to pay attorney's fees.