We get a lot of calls asking who can be held accountable for parts of the IEP or 504. After asking a few questions, we realize parents are typically talking about the modifications/accommodations on their child’s IEP or 504. We have seen that a lot of IEPs or 504s have very vague descriptions written of these. A good modification/accommodation will answer these questions “who” will do “what”, “when”, “where” and “how”. For example, an accommodation of “modified assignments” would be written something like this: ” the regular education teacher will provide (student’s name) with a math assignment with 20% of the math problems. These math problems will determine understanding of the math concept taught. The number of the math problems that (student’s name) should complete will be circled. The regular education teacher will ensure that Student understands which problems to complete.”
Another example is “modified seating” or “preferential seating”. This accommodation is on many IEPs. An example of a good accommodation would be “the regular education teacher will provide (student’s name) with a seat close to the front of the class during instruction so teacher can check for understanding”. Or instead of “check for understanding” it could be “to help student maintain attention/focus”. This could also be changed from “close to the front of the class” to “an area with minimal distractions”. Each accommodation on your child’s IEP should be specific to your child. There should be an adult responsible for providing this accommodation or modification. When we sit as advocates we commonly see that schools want to make the child the “who” in these accommodations. For example, if the child is allowed to have frequent breaks during assignments, we are seeing “student will request a break when he is feeling overwhelmed”. If this is an accommodation that is allowed, then the “who” needs to be an adult helping to facilitate these. If this is something the child is working to learn, then this needs to be a self-advocacy goal. A better way to write this accommodation would be “the teacher will allow (student’s name) to have a break when he is overwhelmed. Signs that “student” is overwhelmed include flapping, spinning, talking louder. If “student” does not initiate a break, the regular education teacher should discreetly ask/determine if “student” should have a break. “student” can be overwhelmed during assemblies, before a test, or when there is a change in his schedule.”
Take a look at your child’s IEP or 504 to see how his or her modifications/accommodations are stated. They should be clearly written with answering all of the who,what, when, where, and how questions. If you have missing pieces, we recommend asking for a meeting before school starts to clarify them. This will help set your child up for success this coming school year.
We also offer a paperwork review in which we read through your paperwork thoroughly, and will write specific notes for you to ask your school to clarify. We are always happy to answer any questions you have over the phone or through e-mail as well. We have free IEP classes to empower you in how to better understand your child’s paperwork. Please enter your e-mail on the home page to receive the latest updates!
Wendy and Christina
Summertime brings a perfect opportunity to get your child’s paperwork organized. We have two forms that we use when organizing files. You can download them here:
unit-1-cs and following-units-2-cs
We recommend having an organizational system that works well with your style. One typical system is to purchase a large 3-ring binder and insert the papers in order. Make sure you have a tab for school communication and print your e-mails and document your phone conversations with your child’s school. Christina has a 31 tote bag and keeps file folders organized by current IEPs, evaluations, and all pertinent documentation. It’s easy to carry to a meeting and can quickly find the folder needed on a moment’s notice.
We have found a terrific resource in organizing your child’s paperwork from the Understood website. You can find it here https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/ieps/how-to-organize-your-childs-iep-binder?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=understoodorg
You can also find resources through our Pinterest page here https://www.pinterest.com/confidentsoluti/boards/
Remember, all special education paperwork will be accompanied with its own DEC5. If you would like to refresh your knowledge each type of form, you can look through our archives on past posts or send us an e-mail with your question! We love connecting with you and helping in any way we are able!
Christina and Wendy
We’ve previously talked about what type of advocate we are. Assume Positive Intent. We have sat on all sides of the “EC table”. Please Don’t Say “It Will Be Okay” We both are parents of children with special needs, we both have worked in the school system as EC coordinators, special education teachers, regular education teachers, speech/language therapist, and Dean of Students. We know the EC paperwork, the laws, school, state, and federal policies. We have sat as advocates for families, teaching them about the paperwork, EC processes, and where to find information. So why tell you all of this?
We want you to know that all of this has been creating what type of advocate we are. We believe in collaboration with other professionals. We have yet to find one person who knows everything regarding EC. We have experienced how important it is to ask questions, be involved, and listen carefully to how and what people say. We believe in empowering families to be advocates for their children. We want to teach and encourage parents first. We will coach you, guide you, teach you what we know so you are knowledgable and ready to communicate with your child’s school. We want to help bridge any gaps between a school and a family. We believe in the focus being on the child. This is what we always come back to. What does the child need? How can we help? How can the parents help? How can the school help? After empowering the family, if you need additional support from us, we’re there. We can sit as advocates for your child at meetings and help bridge those gaps where needed. We also try to have open communication and collaboration first.
Advocate-noun. One that supports or promotes the interests of another.
Empower-verb. To enable or permit.
Mindful-adjective. Attentive and aware.
We support the interest of the child by empowering families first. We are attentive and aware of the way we communicate with schools, families, and other professionals.
Christina and Wendy
Good Morning! Registration for our next sessions of social skills classes are open for one more week. Classes begin this coming Sunday! For details, please click here Registration for Social Skills Classes Feb.26-April 2
Questions about our classes? Send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We love connecting with you!
Christina and Wendy
We wanted to share an opportunity that is coming up on March 13th in Greensboro. We are both attending this conference to keep ourselves updated on information to better serve as advocates. Please check out this amazing day training here http://www.wrightslaw.com/speak/17.03.nc.htm
Let us know if you’re going and we’ll catch up with you there!
Christina and Wendy
Registration form registration-for-social-skills-classes-feb-26-april-2
Registration is now open for our next sessions of Mindful Thinking for Social Expectation classes! For some students, obtaining and utilizing good social skills do not come naturally. They move through their environment having a difficult time communicating and understanding more than just direct language-based interactions. For example, good social skills include sharing space with others and learning to regulate one’s own behavior to other people’s thoughts or expectations as well as using your whole body to understand what people are “saying” around you. For some students, these skills need to be taught.
We are offering two different sessions, each with a specific focus. We believe that empowering the parent/guardian is equally important in teaching social skills to a child. Please plan on staying for the parent session of your child’s class to learn what your child is learning and how to help your child at home. Teacher letters will be handed out during each parent class for you to share with your child’s teacher. The letters help connect what your child is learning to his/her school environment.
All classes are held at 9700 Research Drive, Suite 132, Charlotte, NC 28262. The total cost for a six-week session is $225.00. To register, fill out the registration form and e-mail it to us at email@example.com. Each group will have no more than 5 students so we can practice “thinking” about thinking as well as individualize for each child.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us! You may be interested in reading about who could benefit from a social skills class here Who Benefits From Social Skills Classes? and Social Learning
Session 1: Theory of Mind and Executive Functioning
Following the Theory of Mind philosophy, students will learn how to think about what other people are thinking and how to integrate those skills into inferencing, decision making, and other executive functioning skills. This group is designed for grades 1st-3rd. However, if you have a younger or older child that you feel may fit in this group, please contact us. There are times a slightly older or younger child will be a good match. This 1st-3rd grade group meets from 3:00-4:00.
Session 2: Learning self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control to make positive shifts in behaviors.
Following the Think Social! model, children and parents will learn the differences between self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control. Each child will choose a personal behavior goal and learn tools to help create a shift in awareness and behaviors. The K-2nd grade group meets from 4:00-5:00 and the 3rd-5th grade group meets 5:00-6:00.
Have questions if our social skills classes would be a good fit for you and your child? Send us an e-mail and we’ll connect! We would be happy to answer any questions or tell you more about the structure of our group! Our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christina and Wendy
We are deciding which post to write next and we would love to hear your opinion! Which one would you like to read next?
- What You Should Never Hear at an EC Meeting
- Common Accommodations for Classrooms
- A post about Executive Functioning Skills
Please write your choice either in the comment section below, the comment section on Facebook, or send us an e-mail at email@example.com. We’ll see which one gets the most responses and will write that blog next.
Christina and Wendy
We’re both special educators. We’ve both worked in a variety of environments and in different roles with children with various disabilities. We have collaborated and continue to collaborate with other professionals. We get it. We understand the paperwork, the state requirements, the long days. However, we also are both moms to children with disabilities. We continuously sit on both sides of the table. We have sat and heard information about our children that hurts our heart. We see where they’ve been excluded in a game or a social activity at school because of their differences. To their teachers, we promise to try to support you. As moms with a background of knowledge, we do have times where we feel frustration with the system, frustration of missed deadlines or IEPs not completely being followed.
With all of this being said, we would like to go back to one point in particular. As a teacher, please don’t say “it will be okay.” Those words stir up my insides. When I come to you to tell you about my child with a disability, please don’t tell me you’ve worked with “kids like him before”. You may have worked with a child with ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, or another disability like my child’s, but you have not yet worked with MY child. He is unique and his triggers are different from the last child with whom you worked. As parents, we often collaborate with other professionals to help our family and our children. When we offer to share that information with you, it’s inviting you into our inner circle. Please take our extended hand instead of saying you already know about this diagnosis and “it will be okay.” We are asking for you to join us in collaborating for the highest benefit of our child. As parents, we will do our best to speak respectfully to you and help understand your views and perspective. We ask for the same courtesy back. Parents know their children best. We can share what our child’s fears are, what his/her dreams are, and what makes him/her happy and sad. Those things are unique to each child and go beyond a diagnosis.
We agree there are some generalizations we can make based on a specific diagnosis. Our children, however, are still unique. It is so important in our children’s lives that the adults get to know them, just like you do with other children. Taking the time to make those individual connections with our children will help with understanding what they need to be taught. Often times, our children need to be taught skills that other children pick up naturally in their development. Getting to know them personally and collaborating with parents and other professionals helps you stretch and grow as an educator and in return will help our children do the same.
Yes, we too believe that it can “be okay”. We also recognize that for this to even be a possibility, we ALL need to work together and do our best to hear the words that each of us has to offer. This is the reason why we created this company. Let us help by being the bridge that spans the gap. The only way that it can actually “be okay” is if we all learn how to work together for a common interest: the success of our children.
Christina and Wendy
We have created an IEP Snapshot for you to download and share with general education teachers. Please click on the blue link just above this paragraph. Whether you’re a special educator or a parent, it’s an easy tool that allows you to write the quick IEP essentials for the general education teacher. Typically, we liked to fill in the details, slide them in a page protector, and give them to the general education teachers (including the specials or connect teachers). This way, they have a quick reference to remember those accommodations, modification, and goals that your team decided upon. We hope you find it useful!
We would like to thank Maria Hartemann for the use of her beautiful hummingbird zentangle for the IEP Snapshot. If you would like to see more of her work, check out her Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/joyfulmamadesigns
Christina and Wendy