Aptos, CA psychologist: parent with child with autistic spectrum disorder & epilepsy asks for advocacy help.Thursday, April 21st, 2011
A mother of child with special needs (Asperger’s Disorder) emailed me asking for help. She lives in Redlands, CA. Her child has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, is hearing impaired and has epilepsy. The child is in elementary school.
Parenting a child with these kinds of problems can be overwhelming. As there are many parents who face these difficulties, perhaps a general post may be helpful both for this one mother and for other families. Most importantly, know that there is help, there are resources and you don’t have to do this job alone.
The mother wants an advocate to assist her in the IEP process. She asks for immediate help.
She — and anyone in California — can call me for a free 15 minute consultation concerning psychological issues. Call 831 688-6002. Leave name, number and brief information as to situation. I will e-mail back a time to call me.
Before calling, find the most recent three year psycho-educational assessment done for the child. Every three years in California the school psychologist, Resource teacher and other professionals write reports summarizing progress. Those reports typically contain invaluable information. I will ask questions about those reports and may ask you to FAX it to me.
For more information about me, Dr. Cameron Jackson, go to Monterey Bay Forum, www.freedomok.net look at the top where it says Autism. Also look under the Categories for Autistic Spectrum Disorders. I wrote those posts.
I have 5+ years experience as a school psychologist in California and I am a licensed psychologist who specializes in assessment of children and adults. I am particularly interested in Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
Here is some general information that may be helpful to this mother and other parents with children with special needs, developmental disorders and autistic spectrum disorders:
1) The parent has the right to call an IEP meeting, again and again. This parent should find out what the IEP coming up is about and get an agenda ahead of time. Let the school know in writing that you as parent plan to request a series of meeting until all issues get resolved. Send the letter to Special Education Director, Principal, School Psychologist. Keep a copy for your file. Do not sign any IEP unless completely satisfied.
2) This child with some form of autism, epilepsy and hearing impaired is probably best served with an IEP under Other Health Impaired. And not served well under Specific Learning Disability (SLD). Autistic-Like is an education category that might be appropriate IF the therapy component is in place. From what the mother told me there is no appropriate therapy going on to address social deficits.
So this parent needs to know what Category the child receives services under and to request that the Category be changed to Other Health Impaired. All the mother needs is a brief letter from her doctor.
3) By California law, this child is entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education — called FAPE. It is not appropriate to put a fifth grade student into a first grade class for example. And, if the school district does not have appropriate public school classes then the district may be on the hook to provide a non-public school placement. Yes the schools and every public agency has budget woes. So, this parent needs to get some self education via the Internet as to what FAPE means.
From the tone of the email this mother sent, it appears that she feels lost in the system. Perhaps this mother can connect with the school psychologist for assistance. Also, there are a number of non-profit organizations that focus on assisting families with special needs. This mom might do well to explore which ones are in the Redland’s CA area. Up in the Santa Cruz-San Jose area for example there are two organizations: SPIN and PHP.
One possible advocate in Redlands, CA: When I Googled Redlands, CA Special Education an article popped up about a school counselor who wants to improved the IEP process. Her name is Yurida Nava and information about her is in the article below. I do not know anything more about this person than what is written below.
Student Encourages Advocacy for Special Education Students
November 23, 2009While working as a school district translator, Redlands School of Education counseling student Yuridia “Yuri” Nava says she became concerned some special education students were not being well served by their school counselors.She says the counselors often attended Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings with students, but did not always advocate for the students during discussions about which services they should receive, what education goals should be set and how their day-to-day school life should function.
“The counselors were there, but I felt they were not really a voice for the students – the IEPs were sometimes finalized in ways that were not in the best interest of the students,” Nava said.
Now, Nava is working to change those shortcomings by calling attention to the problem. One step in that effort came in November, when she presented her research during the California Association of School Counselors conference in Temecula.During the conference, she shared her research exploring the preparation levels of counselors working with special education students. As part of her study, counselors in two school districts were surveyed about their knowledge of the IEP process and whether they were prepared to help special education students and families.
She said she found that most counselors did not recognize their role in advocating for special education students. Some counselors also did not fully understand the IEP process and the role that they should play, she said.
Nava – an aspiring counselor who would eventually like to get her doctorate – said she credits assistant professor Janee Both-Gragg with encouraging her to conduct and present the research.
“The professors, including Dr. Both-Gragg, are like fuel – they fuel the passion that you brought when you came here. They prepare you and encourage you to do more than you ever imagined,” she said. “I’m so excited and thankful to be presenting at the conference and I know I wouldn’t have made it to this point without their support and belief in me.”