Posts Tagged ‘IEP’

Hi all,

I am pleased to announce that I will be conducting a free webinar  for Cigna on March 10th at 1:00pm. We will be talking about IEPs and parental rights during the process.

Please join us!

For more information, visit the Cigna website.

For more information on this topic try these previous posts:

  1. Whey they say No.
  2. Requesting an IEE for an FBA.
  3. Clients First.Always.

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about their child’s behavior. Today’s question comes from a participant in our workshop on Saturday. After reviewing Special Education Law and the associated ethical issues for practicing behavior analysts, the following question came up:

“How do we attend IEP meetings and participate without taking sides? We cannot be on the school’s side and we cannot be on the parents’ side.”

We have no choice but to turn to our “Ethics Bible” to help us answer this question. We use the Bailey and Burch (2011) “Ethics for Behavior Analysts“. We feel strongly that every behavior analyst should have this book and they should keep it out where they can easily access it (paperback is much cheaper). The book reviews the Guidelines for Responsible Conduct that were developed by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (and to which all behavior analysts agree to follow). The book also provides illustrative case examples to help behavior analysts avoid finding themselves in sticky situations.

Responsibility to Client

In this book, you will see that Guideline 2.0 states, “The behavior analyst has a responsibility to operate in the best interest of the client.” Thus, when you attend IEP, IFSP, and other relevant meetings, your first concern belongs to the client you serve. While you may be paid by one party, any contract you sign at the outset of services, should clearly state that you have a responsibility to the client, even if it means that your professional recommendations do not align with  the party who pays your salary.

Responsibility to Other Parties

If you go on to read, you will see that Guideline 2.03 states, “The behavior analyst’s responsibility is to all parties affected by behavioral services.” Now you will see that you also have a responsibility to the parents as they are directly affected by your behavioral services. However, if you serve your client in the school setting, now you have a responsibility to the school as well. If you find yourself caught in the middle of the parents and the school, your number one priority is your client so act on his/her behalf.

Client Rights Under the Law

Finally, Guideline 2.06 states, “the behavior analyst supports individual rights under the law.” As a behavior analyst who works in schools, you have the responsibility to become educated on the laws that affect your client. You have a duty to ensure that you follow those laws and that you support your clients rights under those laws. If you do not know special education law and want to learn more, consider enrolling in one of our workshops on this topic. We will be conducting a day-long workshop at the ABA International Conference in Seattle and we will offer our webinar again in the fall.

In summary, if you find yourself stuck in the middle between parents and the school, remember, your first responsibility is to the client and then you have equal responsibility to the parents and the school team.

How many of our fellow behavior analysts have been in this position? I have to also ask, how many fellow teachers have been put in this position? Teachers, too, have responsibilities to their students. They often find it difficult to advocate for the child when they know how expensive services can be. Readers, how have you handled these predicaments?

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In the social media world, you can make many friends. Our list of Tweeps, Facebook friends, and LinkedIn folks is growing every day. Recently, we met a blogger who is a great resource for families in the special education world. Her website is The Special Education Advisor and her name is Dennise Goldberg. You can follow her on Twitter @SpecialEdAdvice. (If all of the social media is confusing to you, we wrote about how Twitter can help you.You can read it here.)

Dennise asked us to write something for her website and, well, since it is IEP season, we thought a great piece on IEP minutes would be helpful for readers.

So, instead of reading our post on our site, hop on over to hers to read it there. Look around her website and check out the resources she has available.

Thanks for having us Dennise!

Also, we linked our blog from Monday up with Bruna over at Bees with Honey. Hop on over there and see what all of her friends have to say. It is another way to meet other bloggers and blog readers.

Bees With Honey

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For those of you who haven’t noticed, or who are walking around with your eyes closed so you won’t notice, spring has sprung! This, of course, means only one thing for educators, parents of children with disabilities, and behavior analysts: IEP Season is nearing!

You can recognize the signs anywhere:

  • school personnel are scrambling around trying to get consent to re-assess
  • parents are panicked that their child is going to have the same IEP again
  • behavior analysts are writing progress reports to submit at meetings
  • we are all checking our calendars like we are Hollywood elite

Stop. Take a deep breath. Relax.

IEP Season does not have to be chaotic. We have a few tips for you to remain in control of your life during this busy time.


Stay on top of your work load by keeping your calendar with you at all times. We realize that some of you may be stuck in the dinosaur ages with your paper calendars. Utilize a digital calendar such as Outlook to manage your meeting schedule. Sync it up with your iPhone, Blackberry, or other PDA. Be sure to sync it often so that you do not inadvertently double book yourself.

Many digital calendars have reminders. Set the reminders and heed their warnings. You can remind yourself days, weeks, and even minutes before the scheduled activity.

Calendars are a great way to keep track of your appointments, mileage, and due dates.

Task Lists

Task lists are another tool that you can use to simplify your life. Software such as Outlook allow for a task list that comes with due dates, alarms, and space to indicate progress. Some people prefer to start the day by developing a task list for the day. Then items may be crossed off as they are completed. Whichever strategy you prefer, choose one and use it.

Just Say No: to Procrastination

The weather is turning beautiful in many places. Do not forgo a deadline in order to bask in the beautiful sunlight–unless you can kill two birds with one stone. This time of year, it is hard to make yourself remain indoors to finish that report or send that last email. However, if you don’t work through that Task List, you will find yourself in a panic as the deadlines near.

Just say No: to Requests You Cannot Fulfill

Only you know what your task list and calendar look like. Thus, only you can determine if your schedule permits you to take on another task. If you do not have the time to complete the task correctly, consider declining the responsibility. If you are the only person who can complete the task, then you may be spread too thin and work adjustments should be made.

Use Assistance and Assistants Wisely

Many of us have an assistant available who can perform some tasks for us (e.g., returning phone calls, printing documents, etc). If you have access to an assistant, use the assistant wisely to make the most of your busy days.

Even if you do not have an assistant, be aware of the resources that surround you. Seek out assistance from others when possible. Is it feasible to ask someone else to complete a task? Is the task within their skill level and training competency? Are there individuals who are looking for more opportunities? Enlist their assistance as part of on-going training and experience.

Clean Your Desk Daily

Take a few minutes each day to clean your desk and organize your piles. Starting each day fresh with a clean desk will help you organize your daily task list. Additionally, if you clean your desk each day, your files will remain better organized and you will spend less time searching for that elusive note or document. Finally, if your desk is clean, you will be certain to avoid any HIPAA violations.

We hope you approach this upcoming busy season with great success. We would love to hear what strategies you use to remain sane during this busy time. Please share!

Let's BEE Friends

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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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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 Erin who asks

Last week, my four-year old son was just diagnosed with autism by a neurologist. However, at the IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting back in March, the school told us our child was “fine” and that he no longer needed services. We moved to a new school district a few months ago. So when we received the autism diagnosis, we went to the new school to ask what to do. They told us that since we had our IEP meeting back in March at the other district, that whatever happened in that meeting determined what services would be available to us now.

Our child needs help! He has been kicked out of several day cares because of his behaviors. He is hyper, biting, loud, and wiggly. I cannot take him in public. Where can I get medication to make this all better? Can’t someone help us?

Wow Erin, I’m speechless. First, I am sorry that your child’s behaviors feel so out of control for you. It sounds like he definitely needs some help  in that area. But also, let’s not forget that he was also given an autism diagnosis and thus, he is going to need help in the three main areas related to autism: speech and language, social interactions, and other behaviors such as stereotypical behaviors and/or adaptive behaviors.

Request an IEP Meeting

I am going to back you up and have you start over with your new school district. Go to the district and bring copies of the new diagnosis and that person’s recommendations. Bring a letter that you have hand-written and dated (and saved a copy of at home) requesting an IEP meeting as soon as possible–preferably before the holiday break. While the IEP meeting in March resulted in your child being dismissed from services, new information is available suggesting that your child does, in fact, need services. The school must arrange an IEP meeting to be held within a reasonable amount of time.

At this new IEP meeting, the new team will determine if your child is eligible for services. According to federal guidelines, two things are required for him to be eligible for services. The first is that he must have 1 of the 14 disability categories identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). Autism is one of those 14 categories , so you are in luck there. The second requirement is that he needs special education in order to benefit from education. Your child cannot possibly benefit from education because he has been kicked out of an educational setting due to his behavior. Thus, he needs special education services to address his behavior so that he will benefit from the education available to him.

Develop a Behavior Intervention Plan

This brings me to another point. Under federal guidelines, if a child’s behavior interferes with his learning, then the team must consider positive behavior supports. By definition, in order for a child to receive positive behavior supports, he must first have a Functional Behavioral Assessment to determine why his behaviors are occurring. The assessment is then used to develop the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). All people involved in your child’s program must be trained on the plan and they must implement the plan. This includes you, your husband, the bus driver, the teacher, the speech teacher, and so forth.

Design a Program

Throughout the meeting, the team, including you and your husband, should develop a program that will address each and every one of your child’s needs. This is in addition to the BIP that should be developed. During the program development, it will be important to identify a number of goals and objectives that your child needs to master throughout the course of the year.

Particular attention should be paid to the three main areas of autism: communication, social skills, and behaviors. Additionally, the school is required to use evidence based methodology to teach your child. Currently, instruction based on principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), is widely recognized as one successful method for teaching children with autism. Any ABA program should be overseen by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or someone with training and experience equivalent to a BCBA.

To Medicate or Not

I can certainly relate to your desires to medicate your child to control his behaviors. However, before you go down that route, might I suggest that you try other proven strategies first. For example, we know that certain foods may cause an increase in behaviors. You may read a bit more about that here and here.

Additionally, the BIP and comprehensive IEP, should be designed to teach your child to better control his behaviors. Multiple strategies, including the use of self-management, should be a part of his program.

If, after 6-12 months of following all of these techniques, your child’s impulsivity and hyperactivity has not improved, then perhaps you should visit an appropriately trained health care practitioner to discuss medication options.

You have a long road ahead of you. However, research has shown that an autism diagnosis is not the end of the road. Children can recover from autism and go on to function independently and indistinguishable from their peers. Get to work! And please send me updates!

If you have a behavior question that you need assistance on, please email: askmissy at appliedbehavioralstrategies dot com.

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from parents who are having difficulty with their child’s behavior. Today’s question comes from no one in particular but from many parents. Every time we show a parent how effective the iPad is for their child with autism, they instantly want to know how to get one for their child.

While some of our readers may not understand why a family cannot just run out and buy one (we know some families with 3 and 4 iPads!), many of the families with whom we work are struggling financially. So, if you have the finances, then definitely purchase an iPad for your child (and make a donation to the Holly Rod Foundation so more children can have iPads). If you do not have the finances, please read on.

There are several ways to get your device funded so I will carefully review each.

School Funding

First, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), every child with a communication impairment has the right to an assistive technology (AT) evaluation. Only children with an IEP are eligible for this benefit. If the AT assessment result shows that the child would benefit from services, then the child should receive the device and services at no cost to the family. Training for family members, teachers, and all school staff who interact with your child is also included.

When purchased this way, the device belongs to the school district. Thus, when your child graduates or leaves the school district, the device does not necessarily remain with your child. The IEP team decides TOGETHER if the device should go home with the child each day. Obviously, if a child needs a device at school to communicate, he most likely needs it at home too. However, in some instances, the team may decide against this, especially if your child is prone to throw his device out the school bus window or if you frequently “forget” to send the device back to school.

Your child’s school district is also responsible for the care, maintenance, and repairs of your child’s device. Because the device belongs to the school, they are also ultimately responsible for any apps that are purchased and placed on the device. This means that your child’s app selection may be somewhat limited.

If you already had your IEP meeting, do not fret. Simply write a note to your child’s teacher requesting an additional IEP meeting to discuss AT (and any other thing you would like to talk about). The district must schedule the IEP meeting within a reasonable amount of time. You may have as many IEP meetings each year that are necessary to meet your child’s needs.

If you received an AT assessment and the results suggested that AT was not appropriate for your child, then you need to disagree with the assessment report and ask for an Individualized Educational AT Evaluation. This is known as an IEE and your child may have one IEE at no cost to you if you disagree with the evaluation that was completed by the school team. When your IEE is approved, carefully select an evaluator that will consider the use of an iPad for your child. If a second evaluator decides that an AT device is not necessary then your child will not be eligible for a device from the school district.

Insurance Funding

Your child’s insurance may cover the cost of a device. Coverage for devices varies based on your state of residence, your child’s insurance type, and other factors. Some insurance companies (e.g., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois) have gone so far as to state that devices like the iPad are not augmentative and alternative communication devices. If this happens to you, connect with your state health care advocate and file an appeal.

If you are lucky enough to have the right type of insurance, you will have to work closely with your child’s speech and language pathologist as well as your child’s primary care physician in order to get a device approved. The process will be time-consuming but when you use this option, the device belongs to your child. You will be responsible for its care, maintenance, and repairs. You will be responsible for purchasing any new applications.

When the device is purchased with insurance funds, the device is serving as a mode of communication. It should not be used as a toy.


There are many non-profits and foundations out there that are focused on helping provide iPads to children with autism and other disabilities. My favorite is the Holly Rod Foundation. My brother was a recipient of one of their iPads and he uses it to Skype our Dad and to Face Time me. One of my clients also received an iPad from the Holly Rod Foundation. We cannot thank the Foundation enough. Get on their mailing list so you will know when the next round of iPads will be given away.

If you live in Texas, the state has a program called STAP grants that are available to individuals who need to be able to communicate with others. Your child’s speech and language pathologist must complete the application on your behalf. Similar to insurance funding, the device must be used for communication purposes and not for games. This device will belong to your child and you will be responsible for its care and maintenance.

We have recently been made aware of other groups that are giving away iPads. We have not had any experience with these groups so use caution before providing them with information such as your social security number.

Babies with iPads is hoping to give away 4 iPads per year. Their website is here: http://babieswithipads.blogspot.com/

Snapps4kids is also giving away iPads. They recently merged with Easter Seals. Their website is here: http://www.snapps4kids.com/funding-sources-directory/

Have you had success getting a device for your child? Please share so that we may celebrate with you.

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