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Inclusive Education Project Podcast

Oct 15, 2019

Here’s a little something special for their 100th episode! Amanda and Vickie decided to go live on Facebook and Instagram to answer some of your questions. Tune in for a potpourri of information, including some tips on how to best communicate with your child.

Show Highlights:

  • Q: Can I ask for a weekly phone call from my child’s regular and special education teacher? My daughter can’t tell me all the things that happened to her during the day and I have no idea what happens from drop off to pick up.
  • A: Short answer: it depends on the circumstances. There’s nothing in the law that says you can’t ask, but you need to be practical. When there’s a lot of things going on, you can request a communication log. There should be times when regular and special education teachers talk together. In the events of safety or extreme behavior, then this request would be warranted. Weekly communication is practical, but not necessarily in the form of a phone call.
  • Tip: We bombard our children with so many questions, they can easily become overwhelmed. Many times, children think there is a right way and a wrong way to answer a question, and they don’t want to get it wrong. One way to get answers from them about how their day went is to share something from your day first. Another way to take the pressure off is to make an observation about their day that can open up a conversation.
  • Tip: It’s ok to not know everything that is going on in the classroom, as long as your child is happy, safe, and learning. That takes pressure off the parent, who often stress over every little thing that happens during their child’s day.
  • Q: Can I be in my child’s classroom to help out each week?
  • A: The IEP is the district’s promise that we’re going to work on these goals in this classroom setting and we’re providing these services. There are a number of things you can put in the IEP, but trying to force the district to have you in the classroom on a weekly basis is probably not feasible. There are actually liability issues and safety concerns related to this.
  • Tip: If your classroom or school has a policy that volunteers are allowed to do certain things, then absolutely volunteer for that. If there are no policies in place, there may be certain restrictions in terms of how often that can be. Distraction is one scenario where this might apply.
  • Q: What are the options for my child after high school?
  • A: Some questions to consider: Is your student on a Diploma track or a Certificate of Completion track? Students do have until the age of 22 to do the Vocational Life Skills, self-help skills, and academics if needed. After the student has received either the Diploma or Certificate of Completion, there are other options. More and more 4-year colleges are coming up with programs for students with intellectual disabilities or on the autistic spectrum. Some community colleges are in partnership with school districts and offer vocational programs. 
  • Tip: Once you turn 18, technically the Americans with Disabilities Act kicks in, and you can find college campuses with disability rights centers that can help provide accommodations. The burden has shifted: from K-12, the burden is on the school district to plan out, implement, and provide. In college, however, this burden has shifted to the student to provide the school with need and the request for accommodations.
  • Q: What does the law say regarding being in classes with same-age peers? What if a school is only offering inclusion time for a 6th-grader with 8th-graders because of scheduling problems?
  • A: To the extent that a certain mainstream inclusion is appropriate, this is ok. If you have a child who socially and emotionally is below their same-age peers, and academically the same (but they haven’t been retained), they may benefit from mainstreaming say, 3rd and 4th grade in a 2nd-grade classroom because they don’t require the content to be modified. However, if a student stands out and their maturity is either above or below the age of that class, that’s not appropriate. 
  • Takeaway: Putting the 6th grader in with 8th graders is not appropriate, age-wise and ability-wise if the school is saying that’s the only class they have available. Additionally, they would just be sticking the child in a program that already exists, instead of creating one that meets his individual needs.
  • Tip: Mainstreaming is about role-modeling, being with their peers, and learning what their peers are learning.
  • Q: What happens when the child doesn’t have a good rapport with the paraprofessional? What if there are complaints?
  • A: Keep in mind that aides are often hourly employees, usually college students, and there’s often a lot of turnover, with differing levels of abilities. As soon as you’re made aware of the situation, talk to the IEP team about it, because a service is only working if the student is benefitting from it. 
  • Tip: It’s possible that the paraprofessional could benefit from additional training.