My son is very fortunate to be in an autistic pre-school. The program is housed in the school district but is funded through the county Health and Human Services. There are 2 classrooms with 12 students each. There are always over 60 children on the waiting list. Of course most of the kids age out before they ever make it to the program (the program serves 3 and 4 year olds). Our pediatricain recognized the signs very early so we were able to get our son at the top of the waiting list for his age group.
The teachers are really wonderful and they do a great job. They do incorporate ABA. I feel he needs several more sessions each day of the ABA. Because of the number of students and the other activities that are built into the curriculum he only gets three short sessions of ABA each day, but again I do feel very fortunate to have him in the program. If he was not in the program he would be in the pre-school program in the district. None of those classrooms are prepared to teach an autistic child. Usually their main goal for the autistic kids is to keep them from eating the paste.
The school district provided the speech therapy for the students that are lucky enough to be in the autistic preschool. My son gets "15" minutes a week. With transition time to the speech room it is really only 10 minutes. He shares that ten minutes with another student. In our IEP with the school district I challenged anyone to look me in the eye and tell me that they considered 10 minutes a week to be adequate. Hello! It takes 10 minutes to warm up. Anyway there appears to be some loophole in the "must provide an adequate education" dogma that since he is in a "private" school they can get away with the 10 min. and that is that.
Next year he will go to the developmental kindergaten (which will have kids with all types of disabilities). From what I can gather they all get 10 minutes a week of speech also. Supposedly, you should be able to get more through the IEP process but in reality it just doesn't happen. I have him in private speech therapy once a week for 30 minutes and I can see what a difference it makes for him. He needs it every day! I am willing to concede that the ideal education is not going to be provided by the school district, but I certainly expect adequate. I really do not think the 10 minutes he gets a week have made any difference in his progress. Basically they provide this minut amount of service in order to keep their federal funding. (They also did this with gifted eduaction. Last year they did finally add one classroom, a 5th and 6th grade spilt. Until then the only gifted eduaction they had was summer classes that teachers could recommend students attend. Because of the summer classes they were able to keep the funding.)
I have talked with the speech pathologist on the elementary school my son will attend when he is in first grade. She was about the only on who has been up front about the services that my child will get. They kids are grouped by need (with several in each group)and the sessions are 20 min that includes transition time so they really get 15 min of group therapy. Once again I ask, "How can this be adequate?"
I am certain that my son will need an aide when he attends elementary school in order for him to stay on task and learn. However, because he is not disruptive I doubt he will get one. Of course I will fight for it. I will also fight for more speech next year. I feel like I need to fight just to be heard. And all of the fighting will probably never benefit my our child. However, if enough people are loud enough to be heard, eventually some changes will be made that will benefit other children.
Sometimes it is hard for me to come on the healthboards and read about the services that others are receiving. I don't think they always know how fortunate they are. I don't remember who, but awhile back a mom was very upset because without a diagnosis her child could only recieve 12 hours of home therapy. I just wanted to shout. Not at the mom of course. She was right in knowing that her child needed even more services to really reach their potential and I admire her for fighting for it. I was frustrated with the discrepency realizing that is some areas 12 hours of home services was considered minimal while most places provide nothing. When my son was still in early eduaction he receive 40 min. twice a month of speech. (Of course if their were things going on like teacher training that month he would see the therapist once.) That was the most service we have received from the district. I am so happy that some kids are getting alot of services but at the same time it makes me even more angry that most are not. Most areas of the country do not even have any private facilities that you can utilize in order to get an "appropriate education."
I want to scream with you. My son will do better than most because I have educated myself on the Laws and how he is ENTITLED TO A FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION TO APPROPRIATELY MEET HIS UNIQUE NEEDS. My son recieved alot of Early Intervention and I'm truly grateful because it's helped mold him to be the child he is today. I have always been confused about the differences in what the different states offer for Early Intervention Services. There should be some consistency across the board and some government funding to be sure that these children get the much needed services as young as possible. I feel pretty certain that something in their environment has triggered the uptick in autistic cases and there should be someone accountable to oversee the programs across the board to be sure that all kids are treated with the same opportunities.
I pushed for anything I could get for my son in the birth to three program and probably caught some lucky breaks that I don't feel guilty about. I know that my advocating for my son and talking to other mothers about what their children should be getting I am paying back for the breaks we got. I continue to be there to guide and support other parents in this situation because I know what it feels like and how frustrating it is.
I think it's appauling that the level of services differ from state to state, but also various towns with in a state. The town I live in provides much less for a child with High Functioning Autism than the next town over. My son was stripped of all the 1.1 he was getting the day he turned three. He was doing remarkably with this 1.1 but the school feels he should now apply his skills in a classroom setting. They recommend an Integrated Preschool 15 kids 8 typical 7 special need with one teacher and one aide for the entire class.
This just is not good enough and I will not sit still and let this happen. He has a receptive language delay and will get lost without enough 1.1 assistance. I wish more parents would stand up for their childrens rights which would make it better for all involved. I feel the school has basically tried to bully me into accepting their IEP through various tactics, whether it be intimidation, guilt, avoiding my calls. It's just been exhausting but I'm going to keep trying to get the most I can to help him fulfill his potential.
I am prepared to take what ever steps are necessary to get him the assistance he needs without compromising him. I am sorry I have ranted and definately sound like I'm on a soap box. This is just the release of six weeks worth of aggravation, heartbreak, and frustration !!! Thanks for listening.
Last edited by jeffreys mom; 01-04-2006 at 05:26 PM.
Jeffereysmom, that is so frustrating! After giving your son some appropriate help initially it is criminal to take it away because he turned three, especially since we all know that that 3-5 year period is so critical. Keep up the fight. My thoughts are with you.
I'm new to this board but only in a professional capacity as someone who works with autistic children and wanting desparately to provide appropriate services. The first thing that needs to be done is a review of the IEP. The time should have been stipulated at the initial meeting and rarely does anyone provide direct services (OT, PT, or Speech) for less than 60 minutes a week. There have been winning lawsuits against therapists for actually only getting students for 20 minute time periods each session. The minimum amount of time spent in direct therapy (not transitioning to and from class) is 25 minutes but the IEP would have to say 50 min/week instead of 60. The district that lost the lawsuit had to make up the extra therapy time over the summer.
If the IEP indicates that services will be indirect then I'm not sure how much the minimum amount of time legally could be since speech therapy is not the primary service provider of the IEP. If your child's IEP states that he should get 60 minutes of direct therapy, then you have the law on your side and would no doubt win whatever you pushed for. If your child were not in a preschool disabilities program and had an IEP for speech therapy services, the minimum amount of time spent with your child is 60 minutes. I think the main thing is to check the wording in the IEP. As a parent you have every right to push for increased services because it does not appear that FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) is being provided and neither is Due Process. In my school district, for speech therapy, there isn't an IEP written for less than 60 minutes of services. If there was, we wouldn't receive any funds for that child. With a child who is autistic with difficulties with speech and language skills, we'd be inclined to provide therapy services 4-5 days a week for 30 minutes - at least.
I'm battling with the district now on behalf of a highly functioning autistic child who has a speech IEP, qualifies for all day 4k, and can't function in his current regular classroom. As soon as the LEA rep for the district found out about the child's diagnosis, they decided they weren't in a position to accommodate him in a more appropriate self contained class with disabilities and even went outside of the intervention team to reduce the child to 1.5 hours a day of school! Can you believe it? If those parents were just a bit more aware of their rights, they'd realize they had been violated and would no doubt win a lawsuit - probably get a shadow for the child at the very least.
I wish you both luck with the battle. It's a shame when you can't turn to your own school district for the help that your children have a right to! Raising a stink about your child's rights seems to be the only way to get what you're entitled to these days.
I'm sorry to hear that you are having difficulty with your school district. The sad fact is that many speech therapists are so overloaded with the number of students on their caseloads that the children are the ones who suffer. You do have the right as a parent to push for more services. It is my understanding that if the IEP is marked that your child is getting indirect services, that means that the speech therapist does not have to pull your child out of class and work with him in a small group. Indirect services could mean just consultation with the classroom teacher. As for direct services, in my school district there is not a time limit as to how much direct service a child has to receive. It is based on the child's need. Most children get 60 minutes a week of service, however we have children who are getting more than that and children who are getting less than that. It should be based on the need of the child, not the therapists time constraints in her schedule. I hate to say it but the last poster was right, the only way that you will probably get an increased amount of therapy time is to raise a stink and threaten to take the school district to court. Even if you are not thinking of taking it to court,often just the threat of it, will get results. Best of luck to you. I hope that you get the services that your child is entitled to.
[QUOTE=kaybee]The time should have been stipulated at the initial meeting and rarely does anyone provide direct services (OT, PT, or Speech) for less than 60 minutes a week. In my school district, for speech therapy, there isn't an IEP written for less than 60 minutes of services. If there was, we wouldn't receive any funds for that child. With a child who is autistic with difficulties with speech and language skills, we'd be inclined to provide therapy services 4-5 days a week for 30 minutes - at least.
kaybee, although I very much appreciated your post, I have been absolutely enraged all day long after reading it. I quoted the part that really go me. I can not see how anyone could consider anything less than 60 min. a week adequate. And you would think that a child with autism would get speech services several times a week. It just isn't happening in my district.
lynn2291, I am glad you included the part about "threat of a law suite." I think I will feel at little better if at least throw that out there.
I do have an appointment with the director of special eduaction on Monday. I am sure I will be wound up next week! I am very interested to find out what the official stipulations are for children in a private program. What I have been told is that although the district is responsible for the speech therapy they have different regulations than if they were in the public school(that is how they get away with only 10 min.). But no one has been able to tell me what the actual stipulations are.
If you ladies have any advice for me before my appointment I would appreciate it. The issues I would like to address with the director are 1) Let's get him some appropriate speech now. 2) How do I go about getting an appropriate amount of speech written into his IEP for next year.
I think I will put a call in to the state special ed director and ask what type of services I should be expecting this year and in the years to come.
You have a right to ask for an IEP meeting in order to amend it to include more therapy. You DO NOT have to wait until the annual review. If the IEP is ammended now, you can have increased services for the rest of this year.
The public school district is obligated to serve children from 3-21 yrs., according to federal law. If your son's program is being funded by the County for Health and Human Services, who is providing the speech therapy? Is it contracted through that program or is he getting it from a school speech therapist? What I'm getting at, is if the program is contracting with an outside speech therapist, they may be getting around it somehow. If it is being provided by the school district's therapist, then they may be in violation.
So, the bottom line is that you have a right to demand that the public school provide the services. You have a right to demand an IEP meeting immediately and if your son is not receiving OT, PT or adequate speech therapy services, you have the right to demand that the school district provide the services free of charge. BTW, if your child were in a daycare, private school or in no program at all, federal law stipulates that you be provided with any and all services offered by the school district. If your district isn't providing the services that your son is qualified for, then they are obligated to find and pay for therapists who will provide the services for them. Being overloaded or short a therapist is no excuse and not your problem. Use your son's psychological report, speech evaluation, or any other reports as your ammo. I'm sure in the 'recommendations' section you won't find, 'therapy for 10 minutes a week'. If you aren't getting OT or PT services and haven't had an eval done yet, you might want to go ahead and get a prescription from your son's dr, have it in hand at the next IEP meeting and make sure he is evaluated to see if he qualifies for those services as well. Sensorimotor integration therapy is a great therapy for autistic children.
Oh, gosh, sorry this is getting so long. Also, if your district is offering any training in autism, like ABA, ask to be a part of it... Once a district sees that you mean business, you can pretty much get anything you have a right to.
Please don't wait until the annual review! It will potentially waste a half of a year of his time. If, after you have the IEP ammended, and adequate services still aren't being provided, then a lawsuit would get them scrambling. Another bit of advice, if you can't get them to amend the IEP, don't sign it because if you do, it shows that you are in agreement.
Yikes! I'm sorry, but if you've gotten this far, maybe you're still with me...
You may want to find out how to contact a parent advocate and have them attend any meetings with you. I think the district's guidance counselors are suppose to have that info for you. In addtion to enlightening you of your rights, they have a lot of pull with the school district. I'm wishing you lots of luck!
Thank you Betsyann and Karen. This post is right in the middle of my fighting disaster with the school district. I'm too exhaused and quite honestly depressed to even get into the details. All I can say I just want to resolve things and the resistance from the district is rediculous. I have been wishing that the people making the decisions for our kids futures knowing full well they are not providing what's appropriate encounter what we have to go through someday. I know it's wrong to wish problems on others so I just need chill and ...... God forgive me
I hate to hear that you are both going through so many problems. It seems to happen more often than not that parent's aren't informed of their child's rights or the district simply doesn't want to bother with providing the services. To be honest, a diagnosis of autism is frustrating because even tho you may be working with professionals, very few are experts in that field alone.
I'll tell you of the situation that has prompted me to jump on this bandwagon. Actually, there are two: one is that I find myself providing more and more services to children in my county who are not yet diagnosed with autism but are obviously autistic. It seems to be getting more and more prevalent which is really concerning me. The other issue is more frustrating. We have a 4k student that qualified for full day school. After school started, I mentioned that he appeared to have some strong autistic tendencies and only at that time, did the parents fess up to it and show us a report. I was ready to launch the whole intervention thing with OT, PT in addition to speech, look at other placements because a traditional classroom wasn't working for him, and get him started on what he needed. After the 'team' met, The district rep decided on her own and without consulting the team, that the district didn't have anything available and the child was placed on a reduced schedule. He now comes to school for 1 1/2 hours a day. That's it. Talk about discrimination. I have steam coming out of my ears. No other services are being provided. Also, there is no transition between services provided for the birth to 3 yr old and when the kids reach 4. So, whatever intensive program these children may have received through early intervention is dropped when they get into school.
I am on my way to meet with the Special Ed. director. It should be interesting. What I have discovered so far is that my son does not have an IEP, he has a Private School Service Plan (I knew that but had forgotten). It does not come with the same due process as an IEP. Also, I got a copy of the state "Golden Rules" for special ed. It was updated in 2000. It states very clearly that districts are not obligated to provide services for students in private schools. However, it appears that the federal IDEA update of 2004 says that they do. Now since they are providing speech, my assumption would be that they need to do so adequately. I know that we all can agree that 10 min. a week is certainly not adequate. What I am finding is the schools define adequate by what most kids in the district with similar problems are getting. All of the kids in my sons situation are getting 10 min. so somehow that is adequate. In some districts kids are getting 35 hours a week of services so a child getting only 10 hours is getting an inadequate amount.
Thanks to everyone for your support and advice. I will post later about the meeting.
This is what we found out. The IDEA revision of 2004 does mandate that some "district" money be spent on special education for students that are in private schools. There is a formula based on the number of students that have been identified as special needs and are enrolled in private schools. Now here is the interesting part, the district can spend that money anyway it sees fit. It can all go to one school, and it can all go to one cause as long as it fits into special education. They could spend all of the money on busing, or if they were really into occupational therapy they could spend it all there. They can mix it up as well. There is no requirement that my child receive any service as long as he was offered placement in the public school. When my child is in the public education system, there is no guarantee that he will receive what most would consider adequate services either. As long as he is making progress and they at least provide indirect services they have met their requirement. Our IEP should be interesting this spring. I called the State Office of Education and got the same story. Also, without an IEP we do not have the same rights to "due process."
I did talk with the speech therapist today also. She informed me that she has been working with Caden for 20 min. I really was under the assumption that it was still the 15 min slot with transition time (hence 10 min.) I do trust her. So our initially meeting did pay off. But still I believe that it is very inadequate.
BetsyAnne, inadequate is really an understatement. Any speech therapist worth a grain of salt knows that it isn't even worth the child's time for her to be doing such a minimal amount of therapy with your son. The only way anything like that can really work is if she's also working with you on techniques to use in your home and any other setting away from his school. Hopefully she's doing some intense training for his teachers, too. It sounds to me like the district is functioning on a loophole and that's a shame. But at least you know where you stand and now know what you're dealing with. Other agencies out there may be available to your son and may be able to help with increased intervention, like Easter Seals. What kind of program are they using with your son? Is there a whole team of professionals involved?
So, are you being provided with progress notes on a timely basis from everyone that works with him? The district has the burden of proof when they claim he's making progress.
I sound like such a downer but hate to see any district doing this!
My child had different disabilities, however I can fully relate about the school system, My child had to have his 1st seizure( i was in the hospital) before they would pick him up on the disability bus. We live just shy of the 2 mile mark(so you have to walk). I hope all your issues get better.
Wow, an hour or speech once or twice a week? Not here in CA -- kids have to be *severe* to get that much, or not be autistic but classified as having a severe speech deficit..and they have to fight to get that. IEPs aren't regularly written with anywhere near that amount of help.
All kids should be so lucky to get at least 1-2 hours of speech per week, but in reality, I don't know anyone that didn't have to fight -- and even those that fight aren't necessarily getting it. Our schools here are so overcrowded and understaffed, and wonderful staffers that are here can only do so much.
Privately-funded speech and OT are available to some, but not everyone, which is awful. People have resigned themselves to state-provided insurance to get some in some cases, while those of us with insurance we're working our tails off to pay for can't get it covered under the insurance.
We've been fortunate but we're still early in the fight. We've had a couple of issues already, and you are so right -- know the law, and don't be afraid to let them know you know it. Outside assessments can be helpful, and document, document, document.