IEP advice needed for the Mother of an Autistic Daughter
November 21, 2010 8:12 PM   Subscribe

Please help my someone-I-know-as-a-name-on-the-net-kind-of-friend set up her autistic 3rd grade daughter's Individual Education Program (IEP).

My SIKAANOTNKOF asks:
I am currently in the process of getting my autistic daughther's IEP set up in school. I have been asked by the school for suggestions on how to deal with what they see as thier biggest concern, her behavior of "shutting down" and refusing to participate when she feels challenged or has to try or apply herself at all. I am at a loss and looking for suggestions on how best address this behavior in her IEP, so far nothing her teachers have tried works and at this point she is in the third grade and reading at a Kindergarten level still.

I feel like <DAUGHTERNAME> is high functioning enough to be able to learn at a normal school, but at this point I am about to give up and start researching special ed schools. The teachers she is working with don't have the skills to be able to teach her and she really needs to not fall any farther behind!
Family lives in SoCal. Have pointed her to this previous AskMe. Mom is without account, but will be monitoring responses.

Thanks in advance.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey to Education (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
As an educator, this feels a bit backward. It is appropriate for the parent to state what "works" or "doesn't work" at home in terms of behavior interventions, but it is the IEP team's responsibility to figure out what might work at school.

If I were this parent, I would suggest that, perhaps, it might be a good idea to bring in a specialist if the classroom teacher can't find a way to deal with the problematic behaviors. I would then continue to escalate this up the line as necessary until her daughter is receiving an appropriate education.

The last step (and, one I used myself with my own son who had a learning disorder) would be to bring in her OWN specialist to make suggestions.. but, of course, this costs money...
posted by HuronBob at 8:29 PM on November 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have an autistic son who is now 16 years old. He attends a charter school specifically for autistic children, with teachers and staff who are fully trained on how to work with these kids. He was in public schools for many years, but we eventually had to pull him out because he just wasn't getting the specialized attention he needed. The teachers meant well, but they just did not have the training or materials/equipment to give my son what he needed to succeed in school.

I don't know if your friend has access to a similar school, but if they do I would seriously recommend they look into it. Best of luck, it is a very difficult road to travel.
posted by Lokheed at 8:33 PM on November 21, 2010


Good your city + iep + advocate

There are people that can help you with this.
posted by k8t at 8:49 PM on November 21, 2010


Disclaimer: I am a behavior interventionist who works for a school district in California.

That's great that the teachers are asking for input from a parent, but seriously, if what the teachers are doing isn't working, they should be trying a different tack. It's not okay to just throw their hands up and say, "Well...I dunno."

If the school doesn't have an in-house behavior support program, or if that program isn't working, your other options include getting a non-public agency to come in and provide support for your daughter in class. Because this is an expensive proposition, the school is going to be reluctant to pay for it. Do not let them tell you that it isn't possible. It is.

My entire job revolves around situations like this one--if a strategy isn't working to help a particular kid function and learn at school, we don't stop until we find something that does. Teachers rarely have time to spend designing and implementing interventions for students with special needs, so behaviorists come in and take care of that for them.

I realize that I don't have the other side of the story, but I'm seriously ticked on this kid's behalf.

And yes, HuronBob is right on the money with the suggestion that you have someone assess your daughter and make their own recommendations. Get it all in writing so you can show it to the appropriate people.
posted by corey flood at 8:50 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is a system of Parent Training Information Centers funded by federal grants whose whole mission is to help parents through the IEP process. You can call them, they'll call you back within 24 hours, and then you can go over your whole case over the phone with them, and it doesn't actually cost anything (I should mention that I actually work for one of them, but not as an advocate, and I don't really know much about the IEP process). To find the one in your area, you can check the directory at the Parent Center Technical Assistance ALLIANCE website.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:18 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree wholeheartedly with corey flood's comment above. It sounds like the school is trying to eschew responsibility, but don't let them. In CA this is veeeery common, because the districts are so strapped for cash right now, but it is your child's right to have what she needs, just as it is the right of every student in the district. Some kids I know have been able to go to charter schools or specialized schools after the IEP process, and have been able to flourish academically, emotionally, and socially. It might be helpful to work with an educational advocate, because if there's a possibility that Daughter can get coverage under AB3632, that could be a great resource for free support.

One thing--if Daughter does already have some support services (a therapist, or occupational therapy, ABA therapist who comes over to the house, anything) set up? If so, make sure to get these people included in the IEP process too.
posted by so_gracefully at 10:00 PM on November 21, 2010


Mentioning this has already paid off in a private MeFi mail, so I'll throw it out to the rest of the Hive Mind: Military fambly. Daddy is off far away with Uncle Sam. Any angles/resources that fact opens up are most welcome.

Y'all rock.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:08 PM on November 21, 2010


This all seems very strange to me, too. My niece is about that age and has autism and has an assistant with her the whole day. My sister-in-law is constantly being told stuff they think they should do.

On the other hand, everyone in my program in LAUSD had parents who fought tooth and nail to get us in it, and there's a mom who's been trying to set up a highly gifted charter because of how unhelpful the process is. Hmm.

Can you say which district she's in? It might matter in terms of strategy, especially if the answer isn't LAUSD. Dealing with ABC my first two years of school was what drove my mother to transfer custody to my father, to get me better services.
posted by SMPA at 4:08 AM on November 22, 2010


There should be a parent resource center or something specifically designed for the county/district this girl is in. That might be a great place to start--free and focused on her local area.

I'm a speech therapist in the schools, which is special education. The big thing I would say to your internet friend is that you can, as a parent, absolutely push for more services in the IEP. You can have written into the IEP as an "Accomodation" that notes will be sent home every day/week, or that a behavior chart is in place every day. This is something teachers don't always volunteer up front because it's a lot of extra work, and the current thought is "don't add it up front, add it later if it is needed." But we definitely make changes for parents who give reasonable pushes.

My district uses outside, private evaluations for information, but students have to be found eligible for services through the school's pyschologist evaluation. This is because some kids can have a medical diagnosis of something that isn't educationally relevant.

You're a good internet friend to your friend. I hope it goes well.
posted by shortyJBot at 4:18 AM on November 22, 2010


From my daughter, who works with autistic kids:

It sounds like the teachers do not have the training that they need in order to best handle the behaviors that they are seeing. It also seems as if they don't want to handle the behaviors. They would rather have the child taken off their hands. Wrightslaw has lots of information about IEP's and how they are to be handled.

If the parent needs ideas on what to do, here are a few:

ABC chart antecedent, behavior, consequence. Everyone in the childs life fills this out, it gathers data to see what is fully causing the behavior. Is it the way the child is being told? Is it due to not understanding what is being asked of her? Does there need to be another way to communicate?

There are many different factors here that could be causing this shut down. If the ABC chart shows no consistency on how what is causing the behavior, then address the consequences. There are a few ways to do this.

First consistency. Everyone should have the same consequence for the behavior. Whether you want to use extinction, not responding in any way to the child until she does what is asked of her, and then is given immediate reward/reinforcer such as all done with work, balloons, stickers, etc...

Another one being a reward chart, give her tickets to win something at the end of a difficult session of work.

Just some ideas to start with, as you get more in depth with working with the behavior, there is more that can be done.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:54 AM on November 22, 2010


I'm a lawyer, and I'm going to recommend that you consider getting one. I gave a talk to a support group for families of kids with a specific congenital condition earlier this year, and I made that recommendation only to learn that a number of families present had already done that and were really glad they did.

School districts are required by federal law, specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act, to provide all children with an appropriate education. Giving up because your child is causing them difficulties isn't actually something they're allowed to do, and if you get static from the district, you can push back.

A lot of parents with special needs kids move to districts known for their attention to these matters rather than deal with recalcitrant administrators, but this isn't an option for everyone. So you should be aware that if you aren't getting what you need from the district, you do have legal options. Definitely get in touch with some of the agencies and other support resources listed here, but if nothing else, you should approach your negotiations with the district with the attitude that you are asking for something to which you are legally entitled, not asking for charity that the district can deny at its discretion.
posted by valkyryn at 8:13 AM on November 22, 2010


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