Disability Advocates/Consultants of South Texas

What's New/News:                               Vol. 1, Issue 2

A change that has occurred  in special education since I first began teaching  involves three year reevaluations. Students with disabilities do not need to be formally re-evaluated every three years as they had been formerly. The thought behind that change was that some children really do not need a formal assessment. For example, a severely, profoundly disabled child may not need a reevaluation if her condition has not significantly changed in the past three years. A child with a terminal illness may not need to go through a reevaluation. In those cases, and in similar cases, the decision not to reevaluate makes sense. However, knowing school districts like I do, I worry about whether the districts will withhold evaluations from children who would benefit from the formal process.

In my opinion, the majority of children benefit from the three year evaluations. Most children with learning disabilities make improvements in one area or another during that three year period. The results of the evaluations provide educators with the opinion of a professional(s) outside of the classroom. I remember when I was teaching science and history to deaf children in middle school. I thought that their speech improved dramatically over the three years that I had them. Fortunately, during that time, the children received their reevaluations. Very often, I was disappointed to learn that I was just understanding the children better. All of the information from the three year evaluations that I received as a teacher helped me to improve my curriculum and individualize instruction.

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Some other points I thought were interesting from the workshops--

1. The schools must provide a notice of transfer of rights to the parents and to the child when the child turns eighteen. At that time, unless a student has been declared incompetent under state law, that adult student has the authority to make critical decisions for herself. The parents can still be present at A.R.D. meetings but the adult student has all the rights that the parents had when that student was a child. Believe me, I went up a wall when my son with orthopedic disabilities turned eighteen and promptly removed himself from special education services. Against my advice, my son decided he did not need any modifications--not one. After about a month, he noticed that his grades were suffering because he did need some extra time with written assignments. He finally broke down and asked me my thoughts on the matter. I suggested that, rather than go through the special education maze again, he request a Section 504 meeting. Under Section 504 of the Civil Rights Act of 1973 (revised in 1978), accommodations can be made and, in most schools, fairly quickly. The school had a 504 meeting and wrote a basic accommodation plan. My son finished high school under that plan and started college, without any modifications or accommodations, this fall.

2. All of a child’s disabilities, if he has more than one, do not need to be listed on the I.E.P. to provide an appropriate education plan. Sometimes, it is best to leave off negative labels especially if that one area of disability is addressed in the I.E.P. However, leaving off labels such as seriously emotionally disturbed if the child is suicidal is not advisable.

3. All goals should be measurable. A layperson should be able to read the I.E.P. and know what the child will be expected to do in the classroom. A parent should be able to understand what his or her child will be taught.

4. Children in special education should have access to the same equipment and services as the children in general education.

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Random thoughts--

If you are the parent of a child with severe disabilities, an incompetent child under state law, you may consider being appointed guardian of your child when your child turns eighteen. Otherwise, the child who may be severely mentally retarded, may be considered to be an adult with all of the rights and responsibilities of an adult in our society. Just to avoid complications, you might want to make the effort to go through the court process of becoming the legal guardian of your child.

A child with disabilities that negatively impact his ability to learn, has access to a school program through the age of 22. That is, services are available to age 21 but also through the school year if the student turns 22 during that final school year.

Children with visual or auditory disabilities can receive school services from birth.

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If you have arthritis or any other disability that prevents you from pumping gas at a self-serve station, please contact me. I would like to have some thoughts on how you cope. I was told that if there are two attendants, one can come out and dispense the gas. If there is only one attendant, you are out of luck. Let me know.

Please email me with your thoughts and questions. I will do everything in my power to find your answers. Thank you.



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