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Archive for February, 2012

We posted an answer to a question yesterday. As a result, we have been contacted with additional questions leading us to realize that many of our readers are in the dark about special education services. We thought we would provide readers with some background information as well as some additional resources to put in your tool chests.

Eligibility for Special Education Services

If an individual between age 3 and 21 years of age has one of 14 diagnosed disabilities and that disability impacts that person’s ability to benefit from education, he or she may be eligible for special education services from the Local Education Agency (LEA–usually the school district).

The 14 conditions include Autism, Deaf-blindness, Deafness, Hearing impairment, Mental retardation, Multiple disabilities, Orthopedic impairments, Other health impaired (which includes ADD and ADHD), Emotional disturbance, Specific learning disability, Speech or language impairment, Traumatic brain injury, Visual impairment, including blindness, or Developmental Delay (but only up to age 9).

Developing the IEP

Once the child has been determined eligible for services, the team (including the parent/guardian) work collaboratively to develop a plan for services. This plan is called the Individualized Educational Program (IEP).

The IEP is made up of several important parts including goals and objectives, type and amount of special education services, need for assistive technology, need for behavior support, and list of related services including type and amount.

Related Services

As we discussed yesterday, the federal law lists a number of possible related services. These services include: Audiology, Counseling, Early Identification and Assessment, Medical Services, Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT), Orientation and Mobility, Parent Counseling and Training, Psychological, Recreation, Rehabilitation, School Health, Social Work, Speech Pathology, Transportation, Interpreters, and Assistive Technology.

It is important to note that the federal law specifically states that the services include those listed but that services are not limited to those listed. What does that mean…Not limited to?

Well, that means that your child may receive other services under Related Services. As we mentioned yesterday, the services are determined based on your child’s needs. Thus, the IEP should carefully document what your child needs in order to benefit from education. Some examples of other related services include:

  • Nutrition
  • Medical services that are not limited to an MD
  • Music therapy

ABA as a Related Service

And of course, our favorite related service is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Yes, ABA may be listed in your child’s IEP as a related service. In fact, so many children in Connecticut have ABA as a service that the state actually has a law that will go in to effect this year related to who must supervise the individuals providing the ABA services to children with IEPs.

As we approach IEP season, make time to participate actively in the development of your child’s IEP. Work diligently to ensure that the document carefully reflects all of your child’s needs. Make certain that your child receives all of the related services that he/she (or you) need in order to benefit from education.

If you like the information here, you may find other resources on this same topic to be helpful.

 

Let's BEE Friends

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about behavior. Today’s question comes from an anonymous writer who recently learned about services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). Individuals who are eligible for services under the IDEIA, may receive a variety of services including but not limited to:

  • Audiology
  • Counseling
  • Early Identification and Assessment
  • Medical Services
  • OT and PT
  • Orientation and Mobility
  • Parent Counseling and Training
  • Psychological
  • Recreation
  • Rehabilitation
  • School Health
  • Social Work
  • Speech Pathology
  • Transportation
  • Interpreters
  • Assistive Technology

The anonymous reader asked, “Parents can receive services under parent counseling and training? Do schools have to teach ABA to parents?”

The short answer to these questions: yes and yes.

The long answer is a bit more complicated.

The IEP and IFSP Drive Services

The document that is developed is incredibly important. The document, whether it is the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), determines what services are needed. Take extra care when developing your child’s IEP or IFSP.

Parent Counseling and Training Defined

The IDEIA has defined parent counseling and training. Specifically, parent counseling and training is for assisting parents in understanding the special needs of their child, providing parents with information about child development, and helping parents learn the skills that will help them carry out their child’s IEP or IFSP.

Thus, if you need to learn ABA in order to carry out your child’s IEP or IFSP, then by all means, the agency must provide you with training on ABA.

Treat the IEP and IFSP as a Contract

We cannot stress enough the importance of carefully developing your child’s IEP or IFSP. Read over every single detail before agreeing to its implementation. The signed document is your child’s contract with the agency until the next IEP or IFSP is developed.

If you have questions about behavior, email Missy at askmissy at appliedbehavioralstrategies dot com.

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Among individuals with autism, anywhere from 25% to 40% may also have a seizure disorder. Parents and other caregivers of these individuals must learn to recognize triggers for seizures, how to help during a seizure, and what to do after a seizure. Parents and caregivers must also deal with medications and complementary and alternative medications to control the seizures. It is certainly an aspect of the caregiver duties that none of us signed up for.

I (Missy) know first hand because my brother has been having seizures since the day he was born almost 33 years ago. I do not proclaim to be an expert on seizures by any means. However, I am certainly an expert on my brother’s seizures, or at least so I thought.

Recovering from a series of seizures

Recently, my brother contracted a stomach bug which resulted in massive diarrhea and a trip to the ER. The following day, he had a seizure. While he sometimes has a postictal phase, he seemed fine because he responded to questions and he was mobile. Usually, his postictal phase is brief and uncomplicated. For example, he may forget how to put on his shoes, or he may not remember where the towel goes. Sometimes, he is sleepy and prefers to lie down and rest. (For additional information on postictal phases, you may read here.) On this day, it was all different.

About 3-4 minutes immediately following the seizure, my brother walked right past our hotel room door (He has the memory of an elephant!). I called his name and asked him to stop and he continued walking. Then I realized he was in a postictal phase.

I walked ahead to get him and guide him back to our room. He immediately began screaming and physically attacking me. I grabbed my phone and called 911. My brother was engaging in behaviors we have never seen before. I grabbed a cool rag and began rubbing it on his head. The sirens became audible and I told him that help was on the way. He said, “uh oh” but continued to scream and attempt to run away. When the first responders arrived in our room, my brother was still in a postictal phase but he was beginning to settle down. Finally, after about 10 more minutes, he returned to normal.

You are probably wondering why I’m telling you this story. I’m telling you this story so that you increase your awareness of seizures and all the phases of a seizure. You realize that if I had not seen the seizure, I would not have recognized that my brother was in a postictal phase. I would have wrongly assumed he was having a fit/tantrum and all of my reactions would have been different (and potentially contra-indicative to his needs).

And you see, this happened to a dear friend about 3 months ago. She did not see her son’s seizure. When he entered the postictal phase and began attacking her, they were in a very public place. The police were called instead of paramedics. Everyone treated the individual as a criminal instead of a medical patient. He was arrested instead of being treated.

Parents and caregivers, if your loved one has a history of seizures, become the expert on your child so that you may help clinicians recognize your loved one’s unique needs. Behavior analysts and teachers, we must train our front line behavior therapists and technicians to recognize seizures so that we respond appropriately to behaviors.

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I’m not sure if you’ve heard the saying, but rumor on the street is that behavior analysts make the worst parents as well as the worst pet owners.

Lucky for me, I am (Missy) neither. Rebecca, on the other hand, is both! I bring this point up because I am hoping that I will be able to use all of my best behavior analysis skills today. I am packing up my family and dragging them across the country to Austin, Texas to see Rebecca and her family, visit dear friends, and show the girls why I love Austin so much.

My wonderful family in Bar Harbor (with a couple of friends)

Our travel group today will include my other half and his two children ages almost 8 and 10 going on 16. Sadly, my brother is not going with us. He took off a week from his day program in January to go to Florida so he must stay behind. We will miss him. Well, actually, we may not miss him much when we are on the plane. He has autism and an intellectual disability and that makes travel difficult for us all.

Yesterday we wrote about how difficult travel is for families, particularly when traveling with a child with disabilities. I believe strongly that traveling with children is difficult, regardless of their abilities. As such, I know that I will be following our own advice for readers today as we make our trek.

I have a couple of strategies that I use with regularly our girls to help the travel go smoothly. I follow much of the advice from yesterday, minus the visuals. We count down the days, we review the schedule, and we definitely pack snacks. The other strategy that I use has worked well thus far.

We Pack Together

  • I sit down with the girls and we brainstorm all of the things that we think we will need on the trip.
  • I take notes using simple words in handwriting they can read.
  • I break the packing into categories (clothing, toiletries, backpack stuff, and other)
  • I make a copy of the notes so that each child has a list
  • I send the girls off to their rooms to lay it all out

Why This Works

  1. First, the girls now feel that this trip belongs to them (at least in part).
  2. The girls cannot complain about their outfits–they picked them!
  3. The girls cannot complain about being bored on the plane–they picked out their backpack items
  4. It keeps the girls out of our hair while we are packing
  5. All I have to do is check their work and put their items in the bag

See you in Austin!

For our readers in the Austin area, Rebecca and I will be at Central market for coffee and conversation on Wednesday, February 22 at 9am. We are looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about behavior.

It’s the start of winter break for many families in New England. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the tradition, many families in the north-east plan trips to much warmer locations. This means that the stress level for many families is high right now due to packing, planning, and other cortisol-raising activities. All of this is exacerbated for families who have children with disabilities. Traveling with children is difficult but traveling with children with disabilities is even more so.

One question we receive often is “How can we travel with our child with disabilities? What can we do to make travel easier for him/her? What strategies do you recommend to help?”

One of our first recommendations is to help prepare your child for the trip using visual schedules. We have written about visual schedules previously (and we just recently learned it continues to be our most visited post).

So, we have created a sample schedule that may be used to support your child if you are traveling by plane.

Even if your child does not have a disability, preparing them for safe travel by reviewing the steps involved will help alleviate some of the stress associated with travel.

Safe travels to our New England Readers. To those of you in warmer locations, some of us are headed your way!

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Our poll last week was such a success that we thought we would continue the fun. Please take a look at our cartoon. Thanks go out to Rick Detorie, creator of One Big Happy for such great humor.

So tell us, why do you think the behavior will continue?

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Wow! How did we get to 100 posts? It feels like we just started this blog!

Readers, we simply cannot thank you enough for visiting our blog, sharing our blog with others, and communicating with us about your needs. THANK YOU!

In honor of our 100th post, we thought we would highlight the top 10 posts on our blog and we’ll do it Letterman Style.

10. My Child Won’t Poop in the Toilet: HELP!

9. Homework Habits that Work

8. Using ABA to Teach Math

7. Children Do Not Outgrow Autism!

6. Toilet Training: How Long Will It Take?

5. Scream Rooms Violate Children’s Rights

4. Mary Lea and Sonic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

3. Peanut Butter and Bread: Battle It Out?

2. Updated iPad List

And the number one most frequently visited post on our blog…………………………………

1. Do You Use Visual Schedules?

Who knew that visual schedules would be such a hot topic? We sure didn’t. We will certainly add some more information on this important topic.

In the meantime, thank you to all of our readers for letting us in to your homes and offices. Here’s to another 100 posts!

Now we want to hear from you! What topics do you need more information about? What topic would you like to learn about? Do you have any suggestions for us as authors?

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