Accountability

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!

With Gratitude,

Wendy and Christina

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Organizing Your Paperwork

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:

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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!

Happy Summer!

With Gratitude,

Christina and Wendy

 

 

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The Power of Empowerment

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.

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

One More Week for Registrations

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 confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.  We love connecting with you!

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Conference

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!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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We Would Love to Hear From You

We are deciding which post to write next and we would love to hear your opinion! Which one would you like to read next?

  1. What You Should Never Hear at an EC Meeting
  2. Common Accommodations for Classrooms
  3. 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 confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.  We’ll see which one gets the most responses and will write that blog next.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

Sign Up for Social Skills Groups

 

 

Please Don’t Say “It Will Be Okay”

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.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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IEP Snapshot

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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!

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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

 

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy