A Child with Autism Attends the IEP   We had our first IEP meeting last week. It wasn’t a “full” IEP meeting since we had requested to meet with our child’s Spanish teacher to discuss strategies for helping our son in that class. Our son’s annual IEP takes place during the winter, so we were okay to only have a “partial.” Luckily, besides our son’s case manager and the Spanish teacher, the school psychologist, his counselor, and another member of the special needs staff were also able to attend. I considered this valuable because we … [Read more...]

Autism and the Future of Education in the United States Rant alert. Last week, the new government confirmed, by a historic tie-breaking vice presidential vote, the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Educators, teachers unions, parents, and especially the special needs community were fearful of this woman’s confirmation. Now, it has happened. In my opinion, this is yet another low for a new government that has done nothing but go low in its attempt to undo eight years of progress. Mrs. DeVos was nominated by our new … [Read more...]

Middle school ESY for Autistic Students   ESY stands for Extended School Year, which you can think of as "summer school." For our kids, especially my OT-needy son, it's not the summer school that I remember when I was young. The ESY that my son attends is OT-focused and not for academics. (Our school district does offer a summer program for academically-challenged students.) It's a program that helps special needs kids bridge from one school year to another. Why does my son get ESY? The idea behind an ESY program for kids who have … [Read more...]

An Autistic Child Loses a Teacher Mid-Term My child with autism is mainstreamed into a "regular" classroom. Always has been. During his entire school career, he's had an aide. However, he's used to having a general education teacher and being around typical kids. For the most part, his peers are also used to him (and his aide). This year, however, has been quite the challenge. What happened? For 6th grade, my son was assigned to an incoming (new) teacher. This teacher was transferring into the elementary school from a charter school. She … [Read more...]

Revisiting an Old IEP Conversation (An Update on the IEP Procedure) This blog is a follow-up to an earlier blog (from this year) that discussed signing your IEP document. The IEP meeting (one which determines the Individualized Educational Program for a child with a disability) can be a long and exhausting meeting. In this blog, Iʼm not going to go into the meeting itself, but instead Iʼm going to clarify some previous advice I laid out in the first blog. First and foremost, is any of my advice good for all states? No! My advice is … [Read more...]

More school Accommodations for autistic students In my previous blog, I discussed school accommodations. An accommodation is an extra “advantage” or program or strategy assigned to a specific child. When a child needs something in a school setting that is different than what the typical kids receive, that’s called an “Accommodation.” Typically, these accommodations are discussed during a child’s IEP. They are initiated on a daily basis by either an aide or a teacher. And, they should be consistent. They apply to any student that has … [Read more...]

An IEP in an evaluation year for an autistic student. Our child is about to have his 6th IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and this year is an evaluation year. What does that mean? Every three years, the IEP (a formal meeting of the "IEP team" that produces a legal document that outlines the specific educational needs of each special needs child) includes a comprehensive evaluation. The IEP is an individualized plan administered by a school district. The plan itself is decided by an IEP team which consists of the child's parents and … [Read more...]