Aug 022013
 

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Q: I have had to battle my school system for Special Ed Services for my first child. Now my second child is struggling even more. Will it be easier to get special ed services for my second child?


Answer:

Unfortunately, it is my opinion that you will have to battle just as hard, if not harder, to get the right special ed services for your second child.  This is often true when a public school system has already been difficult to work with. I hold this opinion for two reasons:

1)  School systems tend to dig their heels in when you request “more” special ed services, even if they are for a completely different child. The school’s resources and personnel are often strapped for time and money, making them increasingly resistant to readily give special ed services.

2) The schools sometimes have a tendency to look at the first child. Then they make assumptions about a second from the same family. The school personnel may not be as diligent in treating each child according to his or her own individual learning needs.  There is a tendency to “lump” children together when the children come from a single family.  Assumptions about a child’s needs, based upon a siblings needs, can often be off-base. It’s detrimental to your second child if he doesn’t receive instruction according to his individual needs.

special ed services

After our treacherous dealings with the public school with my older son, the thought of having to battle for the needs of my second son made me ill! Our experience was horrible.

When my second son started BEGGING to be homeschooled, I started seriously considering it.  Once we made the decision to homeschool, it was the BEST decision we ever made–It was instant stress relief for EVERYONE in the family!!

After years of battling with the school system for special ed services on behalf of our oldest, we began home schooling. My oldest son went from a 1.9 to a 6.2 reading level in one year of home schooling! You can read about how we overcame dyslexia and other disabilities in my year-by-year information.

It is amazing what can be done if the job is done right, even when you don’t have a background as a teacher. I felt relatively clueless about what I was doing, but was amazed by our results.

I completed an Orton-Gillingham training class before beginning to homeschool. I did TONS of research about how to teach a child with dyslexia.  Being armed with that small amount of information and training enabled us to teach our boys at home SUCCESSFULLY.

If you can consider homeschooling for a period of time, it could help your children a lot. It may be easier than battling your public school for special ed services on behalf of multiple children.

Home schooling was our solution. We couldn’t afford the private schools that actually provide remediation for children with dyslexia. It truly was the best decision we made on behalf of our boys. 

You may THINK, “I could never homeschool,” because you don’t think you have enough patience, you’re not overly organized, etc. However, you might be quite surprised (as I was) about the change in dynamics that takes place when you do homeschool.

If you have any “wish” that you could homeschool, please read Overcome Your Fear Homeschooling. You may decide homeschooling is a possibility for you. If not now, keep homeschooling in mind if you have difficulty getting the right special ed services for your child! 😉

Best Wishes,
Sandy

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Aug 022013
 

Return to Questions

Q: My child recently started school and has been struggling. His teacher thinks he should be evaluated for learning problems. She is having difficulty providing the help he needs. Should I continue to send my child to our public school or do kids get better special education in private schools?


Answer about special education in private schools:

Whether your child will get “better” special education in private schools depends on how readily your public school provides special services and how good those services are.

Some public schools provide excellent remediation programs and do a great job. If your school is willing and provides the needed services, I’d say it would be worthwhile to see if they can help.

If, on the other hand, you have to battle to get services, then you probably won’t get the highly effective instruction your child needs. Services vary widely even when it comes to special education in private schools, so you have to evaluate what your child needs. Then see who will be most likely to provide the services your child needs.

Even with special education services specified in your child’s IEP, he may not get what the school says he will. For example, our child would go to the reading program and watch baseball, play games, or cut out snowflakes. Our school’s personnel just didn’t seem to get it or didn’t want to get it.

We tried being nice and they patted us on our heads and acted like we were idiots in regard to our son’s educational needs. After years of battling, our son was STILL reading on a first grade level even with their “special” services.  Thus, we removed our boys from public school. I don’t regret the removal one bit because dealing with *our* public school was a nightmare.

When starting out, you might want to go with the public school for a time and see if your school turns out to be one of the good ones. If they are, it could be great!!

However, I recommend keeping a close watch on your child’s progress. YOU should monitor your child’s progress. Don’t just go by what the school says.  If your child struggles, but the school says he’s doing GREAT, he may not really be progressing. It always pays to keep an independent eye on your child’s educational progress.

I think it’s important for you to know that there is no obligation to provide special education in private schools. It’s not unusual for a private school to offer no individual special instruction. They often expect the child to attain the same level of academic progress as all of the other students.

The main exception is private schools which specifically cater to children with specific learning disabilities.  If you have a specialized private school nearby that serves children with learning disabilities and you can afford the tuition, it could be your best option.

homeschool instead of special education in private schools

You may find it beneficial to look at the Pros and Cons chart regarding educational alternatives. It’s my two cents for what it’s worth.

Best Wishes to you.. It isn’t an easy road, but if your child gets what he needs.. It is AMAZING how wonderful these special minds can be!! 😀

Sandy

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Aug 022013
 

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Q: My school says they won’t test my child because she is making passing grades. We think our child needs help. What are the rules for special education eligibility?


Answer:

By IDEA laws (Federal), if anyone “suspects” a child has a disability and requests a comprehensive psychological evaluation in writing, the school MUST evaluate the child to determine if the child has a disability.

The referral does not have to come from the school. A parent CAN request an evaluation for learning disabilities. Special education eligibility is NOT dependent upon classroom grades or the movement from grade-to-grade.

Special Education Eligibility Evaluation Timeframes

According to IDEA, an evaluation must occur “within 60 days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation; or If the State establishes a timeframe within which the evaluation must be conducted, within that timeframe.” 

In Georgia, a child must be tested for special education eligibility within 60 days of the written permission to test. However, some states require evaluations in a shorter timeframe.  I suggest checking the special education eligibility laws through your state’s Department of Education.

Your school cannot simply say testing your child is “not a priority” or that they don’t think your child has a disability.

Our school told us because our child was making C’s they didn’t “see a need” for reading services.  I told them I didn’t care if our son was making A’s -he couldn’t read. We suspected dyslexia! Special education eligibility is based upon the presence of a disability, not upon teacher-given grades.

When our son was evaluated, he did indeed have dyslexia. He met the criteria for special education eligibility.

IDEA laws say “it is important to clarify that a child suspected of having a disability but who has not failed, is making academic progress, and is passing from grade to grade must be considered in the child find process as any other child suspected of having a disability.  As noted earlier in the discussion regarding Sec. 300.101, paragraph (c)(1) of Sec. 300.111 has been revised to clarify that children do not have to fail or be retained in a course or grade in order to be considered for special education and related services.” (See Discussion at IDEA.ED.Gov)

Familiarize yourself with legal requirements for special education eligibility. You can learn a lot about IEPs through our Free IEP training at http://learningabledkids.com/iep_training/iep_course_objectives.htm. You can also learn the legal requirements through www.wrightslaw.com, http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home, and your state’s department of education special education eligibility rules.

MANY, MANY school administrators and teachers are mis-informed or uninformed regarding special education eligibility. They mistakenly think that if a child is passing, there is no need for special services. They personally hold to a ‘failure first’ philosophy, which is prohibited by IDEA. Not to mention, a “failure first” approach to special education eligibility is a form of educational neglect as I have written about.

We were able to file a successful due process case against our school system regarding special education eligibility. Take heart, if your daughter needs help.. you can probably get help, but it may not be an easy battle (and it is a battle when the school doesn’t think services are necessary and they refuse to evaluate your child). We got our own private evaluation. Unfortunately, our school STILL wouldn’t provide services because of the passing grades, so we had to file due process. The school admins were MISTAKEN in thinking classroom grades were an adequate measure of a child’s special education eligibility. Classroom grades SURELY don’t indicate the absence or presence of a learning disability.

I hope this information about special education eligibility helps. It isn’t an easy road to get services from schools that fight against parents. Just know, parents are often the first to see their child is struggling and needing help. It is always worthwhile to get help for your child as soon as possible. Hopefully you can get help before the advanced academics of middle or high school catch up with your child and cause failure.

IDEA says Failure is NOT a requirement for a child to meet special education eligibility for receiving services. The goal of IDEA is to provide proactive educational services… So, GO FOR IT! 

special education eligibility

Your child needs you to be his advocate!

You might find the book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy – The Special Education Survival Guide helpful in your pursuit of special education eligibility. The book was invaluable to me in going to battle with our school.

Best Wishes,
Sandy

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Aug 022013
 

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Q: Our child is struggling with reading. We suspect dyslexia. Our school administrators say they can’t diagnose dyslexia in children. Is this true?

Answer:


The school system is REQUIRED by Federal law to provide your child a full and comprehensive evaluation if you notified them you suspect your child has dyslexia. They are violating federal laws by claiming they can’t identify dyslexia in children. If your child has a learning disability in reading, whether or not they choose to call it “dyslexia,” they can evaluate for the learning disability. A refusal to evaluate for dyslexia in children or a specific learning disability in reading is a delay tactic.

You can learn about your child’s rights under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — See http://idea.ed.gov/ ). I would recommend becoming knowledgeable about Federal IDEA laws and trying to stand up for your child’s rights. You will probably find it helpful and necessary to read “Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy – The Special Education Survival Guide.”

There is an online free IEP training course at http://learningabledkids.com/iep_training/welcome.htm. The free course will give you a good overview of the Special Education Process. I’d also recommend checking out http://www.fetaweb.com/ (From Emotions to Advocacy).

You will HAVE to stand up for your child’s rights and educational needs. Unfortunately, your school district is likely to walk all over your child’s rights given they are already refusing to determine if your child has a learning disability in reading. Saying they can’t identify dyslexia in children is either ignorant of them (they don’t even know what dyslexia is.) OR they are purposefully avoiding testing for learning disabilities.

Write your school’s principal a note stating you are requesting an evaluation to determine if your child has a learning disability in reading. You can add that IDEA requires that they provide comprehensive evaluations within 60 days of parental permission to evaluate. Tell them they have permission to evaluate effective with the receipt of your letter. Also include in your note a statement that you will seek a private evaluation at THEIR expense if they do not evaluate your child within the federally required 60 day timeframe. Then, send the letter to them with a delivery confirmation.

Two Choices for Getting Assistance with Schools Which Refuse to Address Dyslexia in Children:

dyslexia in children

1) You can go to this site:  http://www.parentcenternetwork.org/ and click on your state / region to find the agency in your state which may be able to help you with this matter. These are federally funded agencies who are paid for with your tax dollars. They have knowledgeable staff who can help you navigate your local services in order to obtain the services your child needs. The Parent Center Network does not provide legal assistance. They may or may not be effective in helping you get the services your child needs.

2) You can contact an advocacy agency in your state to get help. You can also find local advocates or attorneys through the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. You may have legal grounds to pursue due process with your school if they continue to dismiss dyslexia in children. This is particularly true if your school refuses to evaluate your child for a specific learning disability in reading.

Put ALL of your communications to the school into a written form. Otherwise, they may claim you never requested an evaluation or never said anything about dyslexia in children.

It can be very distressing to suspect or “know” your child has a reading disability and have your child’s school refuse to address dyslexia in children.  It happened to us.  It happens in schools across America all the time.  We could only take so much stress and fighting at the expense of our son’s education. In the end, we gave up on our school and homeschooled to overcome dyslexia. Homeschooling was AWESOME for us! I pray you have a much better outcome with your school than we did!

BEST Wishes!
Sandy

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Aug 022013
 

Have questions about homeschooling?

Questions About Homeschooling

I hope these FAQs will help answer YOUR questions about homeschooling.

If you don’t see your questions about homeschooling listed here, I’ve also written a book with the answers to 75 of the most frequently asked questions about homeschooling. They’re questions I’ve received many times over the past decade. You can look in the Table of Contents of my book to see if your questions about homeschooling are answered in the book. My book is called, “How-To Homeschool Your Learning Abled Kid: 75 Questions Answered.” It’s available on Amazon. You can search the title there.

Between these two resources, I hope you can get answers to ALL of your questions about homeschooling!

List of Questions About Homeschooling :

Q: I don’t want my child ‘labeled’. Why should I have learning disabilities testing? Answer

Q: How do you help your child if she has severe problems with memory and information recall? How can I teach my child how to memorize? Answer

Q: I need information on adequate yearly progress (AYP). My child’s teacher is giving my son good grades, but I am not seeing the progress. I don’t think he’s making AYP. What can I do? Answer

Q: My child can read, but has difficulty writing. Is it possible my child has a writing disability or dysgraphia? Answer

Q: My child can sound out words, but she has to sound them out every single time even though she’s just read the word. She has some reversals of b’s and d’s too. Do you think she is showing signs of dyslexia? Answer

Q: Is vision therapy valid or does my child need vision therapy? Any advice/experience is appreciated.. My child is six and struggling with reading. Would you get an exam? Answer

Q: Please give me your opinion about using any of these services:

1) Neuropsychological Testing through the school system
2) Pediatrician
3) Neurodevelopment Training Answer

Q: How much should I worry about reading speed? Is there a reading fluency program out there that you’d recommend? Or, do you know of any methods to use on a daily basis to slowly improve speed? Answer

Q: I’ve heard the Lindamood Bell is good, but it is so expensive. Is it worth the money? Can you provide a Lindamood Bell review? Answer

Q: We just moved. My child had a 504 plan in school. Where can I find information about 504 plan requirements in my new state? Answer

Q: My child recently started school and has been struggling. His teacher thinks he should be evaluated for learning problems. She is having difficulty providing the help he needs. Should I continue to send my child to our public school or do kids get better special education in private schools? Answer

Q: Our school system says dyslexia is not a valid classification for receiving services for 504. What is a 504 plan and are they just for medical conditions? Answer

Q: I have had to battle my school system for Special Ed Services for my first child. Now my second child is struggling even more. Will it be easier to get special ed services for my second child? Answer

Q: Could you please tell me more about this Davis method? I would like to learn more about it. Can you give a Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review? Answer

Q: My child struggles with writing, and math, and has trouble remembering symbols. Because he reverses symbols, I am wondering if he has dyslexia, but he can read. Is it possible that he has dyslexia and can you recommend a curriculum? Answer

Q: Our school system says our child doesn’t qualify for special services because they think he has a behavior problem, not a learning disability. I think it’s a learning issue. What do I do? Answer

Q: My school says they won’t test my child because she is making passing grades. We think our child needs help. What are the rules for special education eligibility? Answer

Q: My child’s teacher says if they provide *any* modifications for my child, she won’t be able to graduate with a regular diploma. Is this true? Answer

Q: Our child is struggling with reading. We suspect dyslexia. Our school administrators say they can’t diagnose dyslexia in children. Is this true? Answer

Q: We are moving a child with an IEP to a new school. The new school system says our child doesn’t qualify for special services here. Can they just stop special education services? Answer

If you still have questions about homeschooling, you may want to join one of the Learning Abled Kids’ support groups:

You can ask your questions about homeschooling in the Learning Abled Kids’ YAHOO Support Group.
– OR –
You can ask your questions about homeschooling on the Learning Abled Kids’ Facebook Page.
– OR-
You can join the Learning Abled Kids’ private Facebook Group and ask your questions about homeschooling in there.

We have a lot of great homeschooling moms who are willing to answer questions about homeschooling. They know a LOT about a wide variety of subjects!