The Dreaded Transitions

I know transitions for us can be difficult. There are tools we can use that make those transitions for our children with disabilities easier. 

A timer (some kids gets anxious when the timer is counting down - you can use a timer that counts up). Here is a link to an online count up timer 

Visual Schedule - prediction of his/her day could help with transition when the child knows what's next.

First/Then Schedule - First we are doing this and then we will do that. The visual of the activity helps too. 

Choices - Too many choices can stress our kids out too much, but we should always offer choices (when appropriate). An example with household chores. Give your child 2-3 choices. 

Reward often - AT FIRST! Then slowly but steadily increase the length between rewards until your child is transitioning with ease! 

Here is an example of the set up and visual we have at my house. 

Do You Know? Youth, Disability, and Being Questioned by Law Enforcement


What Youth Need to Know When Being Questioned by Police

Tip sheet by PACER
This fact sheet contains a brief summary of information for parents of children or youth with disabilities at risk for arrest by police at school or in the community. What can your child say to the police? Your child may:
  • tell the police officer his or her name, address, and age 
  • ask police to call a parent, guardian, or another person identified in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and say the child needs to speak to an attorney 
  • say he or she cannot answer questions unless an adult who knows him or her is present. The adult may include a parent, foster parent, legal guardian, or teacher whose involvement you have approved. 
  • ask if they are under arrest or free to leave. 
These rules apply whether the police want to talk with your child in the community or at school. Anything said at school to a school administrator, police liaison officer, or a police officer can be used against your child in court. How can you prepare your child for questioning by police at school or in the community?
  • Teach your child to ask for an attorney and a parent.
  • Prepare a script about what to do if an officer stops or wants to speak with your child in the community or at school.
  • Practice appropriate responses.
  • Make sure your child understands what to say to police. 
  • Stress that your child should be polite to the police. 
  • Stress that your child cannot challenge an officer in any way. 
Teach your child to not:
  • run away from the police officer or 
  • make up a story—even if he or she thinks it will help argue with a police officer, even if the officer says something that sounds unfair. 
If the police tell your child they just want to talk about what happened and then he or she can go home, tell your child to say that he or she cannot answer questions unless an adult he or she knows and an attorney are present.

If the police tell your child that others have said he or she committed the crime, tell your child to say that a parent and attorney must be present before he or she will speak or sign a statement.

What should you do if your child is detained or arrested?
  •   Go to the police station as soon as you learn your child is being questioned or detained. • Obtain as much information as you can about the charges. 
  •  Tell the officers that you wish to be present during questioning and that questioning should stop until an attorney is there. 
  • Provide information about your child’s disability to the police, the attorney, or public defender. Include the IEP and most recent evaluation. 
  • Explain how the disability affects your child’s behavior, understanding of the alleged offense, and ability to answer questions appropriately. 
Use the IEP If your child has an IEP and you think he or she could be questioned or arrested at school:
  • Meet with your IEP team and plan what to do if the situation arises. 
  • Develop behavioral and crisis plans. 
  • Identify an individual who will stay with your child if a police liaison officer or police officer questions him or her. 
  • The individual who would stay with your child can be a parent, a member of the IEP team, or any other mutually acceptable person who understands your child’s disability and can advocate for him or her. 
  • Make sure the information is written into your child’s IEP. Meet with police If you are concerned that your child’s disability puts him or her at higher risk for police involvement, meet with the police officers in your neighborhood. 
  • Tell them about the disability and why your child may be at risk for police involvement (language or cognitive issues, anxiety, etc.). 
  • Offer strategies that officers can use effectively with your child if a problem occurs. 
  • If your child is willing, introduce him or her to the officers at the local police station. 
Give the officers an opportunity to become acquainted with the child or young adult that you know and understand. Remember… The rights of children are similar to those of adults if the police stop them or they are questioned by anyone regarding a criminal or formal complaint. Any information your child shares can be used against him or her in court. In many states, a parent does not have to be present when a youth is questioned. Find out what the laws are in your state about police contacting parents when their child is brought in for questioning. The most important thing to remember is that your child should not sign anything or answer questions without someone like a parent, guardian, or attorney present.

I Love This So Much I had to Share!

Every once in a while I may come across a product a good deal that I feel is worth sharing. Well, this is one of those sharing moments! I love these boxes. You can set it up to where your child receives a monthly Groovy Lab in a Box box with an incredible lab experiment. This isn't a cheesy box of junk - these are really cool "groovy" boxes with a great learning piece involved. I just thought I'd pass this along. If you already receive these for your child I'd love to hear your review!

Just click on any of the images below and it'll take you directly to their website!

Engineering Design Process

Pull Your Weight Single Box

STEMist using Lab Notebook

Today's Quick Tip - Transportation and the IEP

Today's Quick Tip - Transportation and the IEP

Did you know? If your child has an IEP and Transportation is written in the IEP and your child gets suspended from the bus that IF the school doesn't provide another means of getting your child to school during the bus suspension that those days are counted against the 10 school days that your child can be sent home, suspended, RPC'd without the district having to provide FAPE. 

Here is a section of IDEA 2004 from that explains this protection:

Discipline and Transportation

Question:    If transportation is included in the IEP for a child with a disability who has documented behavioral concerns on the bus, but not at school, when may a school district suspend the child from the bus for behavioral issues and not provide some other form of transportation to and from school?

Answer:    If transportation is included in the child’s IEP, a bus suspension must be treated as a suspension and all of the discipline procedures applicable to children with disabilities would apply. An LEA is not required to provide alternative transportation to a child with a disability who has been suspended from transportation for 10 school days or less unless the LEA provides alternative transportation to children without disabilities who have been similarly suspended from bus service. 

If a child with a disability is suspended from transportation for more than 10 school days in the same school year, and transportation is included in the child’s IEP, during any subsequent suspensions the LEA must provide services to the child to the extent required.  Generally, this means that the child must (1) continue to receive educational services so as to enable the child to continue to participate in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting the goals set out in the child’s IEP, and (2) receive as appropriate a functional behavioral assessment, and behavioral intervention services and modifications that are designed to address the behavior violation(s) so that they do not recur. 

Additionally, the suspension of a student with a disability from transportation may constitute a change of placement if a district has been transporting the student, suspends the student from the transportation as a disciplinary measure, and provides no other form of transportation.  If a student is suspended from transportation for more than 10 consecutive school days, or is repeatedly suspended, and such suspensions constitute a pattern. (2), a change of placement has occurred.  In such situations, the LEA, parent, and relevant members of the IEP Team must determine whether the conduct was a manifestation of the child’s disability, using the process.  If the conduct is a manifestation of the child’s disability, the IEP Team must take the steps outlined in IDEA 204, and also must return the child to the placement from which the child was removed, unless the parent and the LEA agree to a change of placement as part of the modification of the behavioral intervention plan.  

Regardless of the procedures discussed above, school personnel may remove a student to an interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days without regard to whether the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the child’s disability, if the child has taken any of the actions specified in IDEA 2004 regarding weapons, illegal drugs, or the infliction of serious bodily injury. 

Brief Definitions:

LEA - Local Educational Agency typically a Principle, Vice Principle, someone in Administration that knows the curriculum, the IEP requirements and laws, and knowledgeable of programs, services, and resources so that they can inform, explain, and answer questions parents might have in those areas. You can find the LEA on the signature page of your child's IEP. They are a required member. They LEA may change from time to time as well. You can also look on your Written Prior Notice if you have a meeting scheduled.

Placement - That is your child's educational services, related services, specially designed instruction, aids/supplements, accommodations, and modifications. All of those combined determines placement where the educational, behavioral, social/emotional, and related services are delivered to your child. This is an IEP team decision. It could be Gen Ed setting all services/supports are delivered in the class with no pull outs, it could be a mix of pull outs and Gen Ed, it could be Self-Contained (the are many types and vary State to State on the names they call these classrooms), then there is Special Schools, Hospitals, Home-bound.

Drugs, Weapons, and Bodily harm (the 3 deadly sins) can result in your child being removed immediately from school for up to 45 school days without regards to a Manifestation. YOUR CHILD CANNOT BE EXPELLED. After the 10th school day (in total all year) the school MUST provide services that allow your child to continue to work on their IEP goals, Related Services, Accommodations, specially designed instruction, and the supports necessary for your child to continue to make progress towards those goals. A Functional Behavioral Assessment should be conducted, a positive behavior intervention plan that addresses teaching the child about the action committed to ensure that it will not happen again, and if need be discussed and decided as a team - adding goals/services to address behavior/teach appropriate behavior. Your child needs to be provided access to the Gen Ed curriculum during this time. (FAPE)

Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES) - This could look very different for every child. This could mean a be behavior school for the length of the discipline action, 1:1 services provided for 6-10 hours per week at the home (you can advocate for more especially if your child has a lot of needs), meeting a teacher at public local to deliver services - again, it all depends on the child, the offense, the child's needs, etc. If services haven't begun and your child's been out of school for over 10 school days - call your district office! There should be a department that handles the IAES services - Interim Alternative Instruction (IAI) is what are district calls their department. 

IEP Team - Who are they?

Who Is On My Child’s IEP Team?

PACER CENTER ©2012 PACER Center, Inc.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) calls for a team of individuals, including parents and school personnel, to work together to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for a child who qualifies for special education services.

Your child’s IEP team must include:

  • A school district representative
  • A regular education teacher of the child, if the child participates or may participate in regular education
  • A special education teacher of the child or a special education provider for the child
  • A parent of the child (may also be a guardian, long-term foster parent, or surrogate parent)
  • Attendance at IEP meetings is required by those listed above, except in one case -

A team member may be excused for all or part of the meeting when:

*The related area of service or curriculum is not being discussed or modified, and the parent agrees in writing with the school district that the member is excused from the meeting or
*Parent and member have discussed the related area or service prior to the meeting AND the team member gives written input into the development of the IEP, AND
the parent agrees.
 *When all the criteria is met the parent puts into writing, prior to the meeting, with the school district, the request for the team member to be excused from or to be released from the meeting.

Because IEP decisions are made by a team rather than by any one individual, it’s important and helpful to understand the role of each member. While each person brings a different set of experiences, concerns, and skills to the table, you can expect that they all share a common goal: enabling the child to succeed in school and in life.

The IEP team may include other people invited either by the school or by the parents. These persons must have special knowledge or expertise about the child. Whenever possible, the team should also include the child.

The Representative of the Local Education Agency (School District Administrator or Administrative Designee) The school district representative is a required IEP team member. The individual must be licensed to provide or supervise special education and be knowledgeable about the general education curriculum and the availability of resources of the school district. In Minnesota, the child’s teacher may not serve in this capacity, although another member of the team who is otherwise qualified may also be designated to represent the district. The designated representative is frequently a special education director or coordinator, or a school principal. In this role, the individual must have authority to commit the resources necessary to implement the plan agreed to by the IEP team.

The school district representative contributes to the IEP team in the following ways:

  • Provides information regarding the array of services available in the school district. 
  • Represents the interests of the school district and school district personnel, including regular and special education. 
  • Commits agency resources to ensure that services in the IEP will be provided as agreed upon by the team. Regular Education Teacher 

At least one regular education teacher is required to participate as an IEP team member if the child is, or may be, participating in a regular education environment. This teacher should be a teacher who is, or will be, a teacher of the child. This teacher will be responsible for implementing a portion of the IEP and can participate in discussions about how to best instruct the child. When a student has more than one regular education teacher, parents may request that particular teachers attend a meeting, but the school may decide which teacher or teachers will participate, based on the interests of the child. The regular education teacher has knowledge and expertise about the content of the grade level general curriculum – the subject matter all children are being taught – as well as the classroom structure, environment, expectations, and daily schedule.

Regular education teachers contribute to the IEP team in the following ways:

  • Provide information about the student’s participation, performance, progress, and interaction with their peers in the regular classroom.
  • Share information about the general curriculum
  • Identify areas of concern and help determine appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies for the child to be meaningfully included in the classroom.
  • Identify needed training, materials, or other classroom support teachers may need in order to help the student benefit from classroom instruction.
  • Make recommendations about individualized learning strategies and effective accommodations to be used in the classroom and school community.
  • Suggest ways parents can approach homework and other opportunities to reinforce learning at home.

The special education teacher or special education service provider is a required IEP team member and plays a central role in IEP planning and program implementation. Special education teachers have received teacher training specific to particular areas of disability and are licensed in one or more special education categories. They have expertise about the disability and its impact on the student’s developmental and educational progress.

Special educators contribute to the IEP team in the following ways:

  • Provide current information, research, student assessment, and progress reporting data to guide the team in making IEP decisions.
  • Make recommendations about individualized learning strategies, teaching methodology, and effective accommodations in the classroom, home, and community.
  • Help regular educators adapt their teaching techniques and individualize or modify curriculum in the classroom.
  • Locate alternate teaching materials, assistive technology devices, and other needed resources.
  • Assist the team in finding ways to include the student in all aspects of the regular school program, including extracurricular activities.
  • The special education teacher is often assigned the role of IEP manager. The IEP manager is responsible to coordinate the delivery of special education services and to serve as the primary contact for the parent.

The Parent:

Long after the last teacher or therapist has disappeared from your child’s life, you will be there to support and encourage your child. Your active participation as a member of his or her IEP team will help to ensure that your child receives the education he or she needs and deserves. The biological or adoptive parent of the child usually fills the parent role. However, for some children this role is taken by a long-term foster parent, a legal guardian, a person acting in the place of the parent, or a surrogate parent assigned by the school. Although parents are equal members on the IEP team, it’s not unusual to feel somewhat intimidated by all the professionals who outnumber you at the meeting.

Parents, it may be helpful to remember that your role is critically important because of the following factors:

  • You are the expert on your child. Your in-depth, ongoing relationship provides you with a wide-angle view of the child. Professionals often see the child through the lens of their particular area of expertise.
  • Parents are the only continuous members on a child’s IEP team. You know what has worked and what hasn’t worked over time. You will be the one constant factor through multiple transitions at school and in life. Professionals will change from year to year.
  • The parent is the IEP team member who represents and advocates solely for the individual child. School personnel are responsible for many children and must be concerned with meeting all their needs.
  • You are the keeper and communicator of high expectations for your child. No one cares about your child’s success as much as you do.

Parents, to participate meaningfully and effectively as an IEP team member, parents will want to carry out the following responsibilities:

  • Read the notices, reports, and documents the school provides. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. You may need to sign that you agree or disagree with a proposed action. Whenever possible, complete and return forms within requested timelines.
  • Learn the basics of special education and the IEP process. Become familiar with school, student, and parent rights and responsibilities.
  • Clearly communicate your family’s goals and concerns for your child. Help set priorities.
  • Help your child to actively participate in the IEP process as much as is appropriate. Ask what is working well at school and what help your child needs. Make sure your child has the opportunity to communicate his or her interests, concerns, strengths, and preferences.
  • In the meeting, keep the focus on your child. Become as informed as possible about your child’s school program. Gather information, ask questions, and when possible, observe.
  • Listen to and consider other team member’s input. The strength of a team is the different perspectives each member brings.
  • Monitor your child’s progress on IEP goals and in the general curriculum.
  • Provide feedback to the team. Alert the team to lack of progress or other concerns.
  • Celebrate successes and let people know when they are doing a good job. Everyone likes to be on a winning team.

In summary, every IEP team member has important information and expertise that affects the team’s ability to make informed, appropriate decisions regarding your child’s special education program.

All information from PACER CENTER ©2012 PACER Center, Inc. | ACTion Sheet: PHP-c203

ESY - Extended School Year

At some point during your child's IEP the question, does the child need ESY Services, must be discussed and decided as a team.  Just some helpful tips in advocating for ESY.

First, ESY is not Summer school, it is Extended School Year and is intended to continue to give your child a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) if your child shows a need for this service. ESY is not a continuation of the school year. Certain goals will be worked on or skills that need more than just the school year to maintain or develop. Once you decide as a team that your child is eligible of ESY you can can also decide what goals specifically your child will need to work on during that extended time.  

ESY is not an Enrichment Program nor should it be used for Compensatory Services. ESY is not provided to students that are not on an IEP. 

There is not set guidelines to ESY Services but we do know it's NOT based off the severity of the disability or a disability category. So, saying "he/she isn't severe enough or he/she doesn't have Autism and can't have ESY services because of _____" isn't correct - although far too often I hear these "ESY policies or rules" being said to parents. Another comment I hear often is "your child's not in self contained". 

Data supports decisions and data drives services - there should be some data collected before making the team decision for ESY Services. What kind of data? Below are a few questions that you and the team can go through and discuss - these are just a few ideas to get you started advocating if you want ESY services and these can help get the conversation going and team members thinking. 
  • How is your child after a long weekend/school break? 
  • Does your child need more time to get back in the swing of things? 
  • Does your child lose information during those breaks and need to be retaught or constant reminders? Does the schedule change upset your child and does he/she have a hard time because of it (behaviorally, emotionally)? 
  • Are these goals in your child's IEP that need extra practicing? 
  • Are there skills your child is learning that are just emerging that would benefit that extended time to help them master those skills or maintain them?
Think about your child and what you feel your child could be doing during that extended time. Write your thoughts down and come up with questions individualized to your child needs. If you ever question anything - ask for it in writing and go research it! Sometimes the team will want time to collect data and see if there is a need for ESY. Set a timeline, an estimated date when you'll all meet back up again, and put that plan in writing, 

If the team agrees ESY is a need and it doesn't work for your family - vacations, family times, or maybe the change could be more detrimental than the benefit of ESY. A lot of times the classroom is changed, a new teacher, new aides, and even a different school, bus, bus driver ... you can still make YES on the IEP just in case you change your mind then just simply call the ESY department towards the end of the year and let them know. I've had parents tell me they are braking the law by not sending their children or that the school has told them they will go to jail for truancy, ESY is not mandatory. It's a service in place to maintain FAPE for children that need it. You do not HAVE TO send your child. 


Do you ever wonder what a good goal is? I'm sure you've searched the "goal bank" looking for goals that might be good for your child, but here's just a little tip on writing goals that are unique, individualized, and specific to your child's needs.

First, look at your child's present levels. Where are his/her struggles? Identify them (I use a highlighter)

Then follow this:
S Speciļ¬c
M Measurable
A Achievable/Attainable  
R Realistic and relevant
T Time-limited (1 year)

Specific - you want your child's goal to be specific! You don't want "William will increase his language by the end of second semester" 

Well, that's not very specific, is it? We don't know by how much, in what settings or if this is expressive language, written language, functional, fluency, social, receptive etc..  

A better goal based on Williams assessments/present levels would be - "William will name items from an array of 25 symbols when given verbal clues describing appearance, function, or other features, in 8 of 10 opportunities supported by General Education, Speech Therapist, and Special Education Teachers"

Measurable - That would be the 8 out of 10 opportunities. If you feel that may be too high you and the team can talk about what might be more attainable. It could even look like 80% , 75%, 7 out of 10, 90% - how ever it's written there it should be measurable. This is also important for collecting data and how close William is to reaching this goal.

Achievable/ Attainable - You know your child best! Look closely at his/her annual goals. Look at the benchmarks (I call them baby steps) in how they are going to reach that annual goal. Is this something you can see your child doing from where she/he is at now? Talk with the team, go over your concerns, ask them to explain how they plan to reach that goal (what does that look like?) and if the team needs to  - rewrite that goal to something more attainable. If he/she reaches the goal sooner, you can always meet again and create a new goal.

Realistic/Relevant - This is important because this is the part of the goal that because the unique and individualized piece. Make sure this is a goal that is relevant to YOUR child and unique to YOUR child's needs.

Time Limited - 1 year. We want all goal reached by the next annual IEP meeting. There is an issue when we have to write the same goal over and over. If your child isn't reaching his/her goals we need to discuss as a team what we can do differently to help meet the needs of the child.

Well, that's a start on creating unique and individualized goals for your child!

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