Children with “invisible” diagnoses such as high functioning autism/Aspergers, or ADHD, which are often accompanied by executive functioning disorder and anxiety, can suffer without an individualized education plan (IEP). With the age inappropriate material and speed of common core, suffering in school can be exacerbated. Please read and bookmark the links included here, to ensure your child success in school under the current educational climate.
Is your child doing well academically, yet struggling greatly? You may be told your gifted child, who is twice exceptional in that he also has Aspergers or ADHD, does not need or qualify for an IEP, since their grades are so high. Yet, he loses his homework which results in anxiety and stress. Perhaps you were told there was no reason for an IEP for your honors student, yet he sits alone in the cafeteria and cannot connect with the other children due to his social skills deficits. Or, perhaps you were pushed away from pursuing an IEP because your child tests well, but you see extreme anxiety every night at home. What if your child is repeatedly being disciplined in school for handing in messy assignments that are difficult to read, has inappropriate behaviors in class, or is picked on? Are these diagnosis related issues reasons to pursue an IEP? Why are the districts dissuading you? The answers might be below.
So many parents are going through this. Check out this list of top ten ridiculous comments from an IEP meeting-
“Ridiculous Statement #1
Your child’s emotional disturbance is not interfering with her academic performance so she doesn’t qualify for an IEP.
Fact: There are 13 disability categories under IDEA. In order to qualify for an IEP you must meet the definition of one of the 13 categories and by reason thereof NEED special education and related services. One of the 13 disability categories is emotional disturbance and if that disability is interfering with the child’s ability to access the curriculum then by definition she has a need for an IEP.”
There actually are many possible classroom accommodations for students with aspergers or ADHD.
“Classroom Tips for Students with Asperger’s Disorder
— Leslie E. Packer, PhD
In addition to the core deficits associated with having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, many students with Asperger’s will also exhibit tics, obsessive-compulsiveness, executive dysfunction, and ADHD, even though they may not be formally diagnosed with those disorders.
Some tips or strategies to consider after determining the student’s needs:
* Use visual organizers for daily routine, and highlight any changes in routine. Consistent routine and structure reduces stress for the student and the organization and consistency of your classroom environment is one of the key factors in managing the student’s deficits.
* Verbal skills tend to be a strength or relative strength, so whenever possible, use verbal cues that are short, direct, and concrete.
* When presenting multi-step directions, pause between instructions on multi-step tasks and check for comprehension.
* Because abstract thinking is challenging, incorporate visual cues and graphics organizers for written expression tasks. Visual editing strips, like those described in the executive dysfunction section of this site, can help the student remember what to do and in what order.
* If the student appears to be getting agitated or headed for a “melt-down,” it may be due to stress from the particular situation or frustration. Avoid situations that might produce “sensory overload” for the student.
* Do not expect skills learned in one setting to generalize to another setting. Teach the skill and rehearse it in a variety of settings.
* Provide clear expectations and rules for behavior.
* Foster social skills by direct instruction and teach the student how to interact through social stories, modeling and role-playing.
* Because many students with Asperger’s have handwriting deficits, allow extra time for handwritten work and explore the use of word processors.
* If the student engages in perseverative questioning that interferes with classroom instruction, you can try instructing the student to write the question down and that you will meet with him after class to answer his question. If that doesn’t work, talk with the student, state that his questions are creating a problem for his peers and for you, and ask him what he thinks would work to help him not ask so many questions during class. You may wish to incorporate a private visual signal.
* Behavior modification plans may work well for some behaviors and some students, but it may engender some “robotic-like” or rigid behaviors.
* Be particularly sensitive to peer rejection and bullying. You may need to insure that there is added adult supervision in settings like the playground, in the cafeteria, on the school bus, and in the halls (if the students go from room to room on their own). Pre-plan with the student what she will say or do in particular situations if you expect that they will be difficult for her, then quickly review with her afterward how her plan worked.
* Arrange for the student to get speech and language services in school to help address the pragmatics of communication and conversational social skills. Provide small-group training in social skills.”
Read more examples of how an IEP would be beneficial for children with Aspergers:
A parent shares her thoughts on why an individualized educational plan was imperative to her child’s success.
“As an elementary school student, my child had average and above average grades. However, around sixth grade, the advent of common core along with the added stress of middle school, changing classes and teachers during the day, and an active social life, his stress and anxiety levels increased.
It was suggested we test for ADHD, which could either be ruled out or the very cause for the negative moods and behavior changes. As soon as the diagnosis was made and a CSE district meeting resulted in an IEP being put in place, the positive changes were profound. The IEP ensured that my child had every tool necessary not just to “keep up”, but to succeed with confidence and his self esteem intact. He received just the right accommodations to relieve stress during tests, notes for homework, and assurance that he was keeping up with his peers.
An IEP doesn’t guarantee good grades; it guarantees that every student receives a fair and appropriate education, and good grades aren’t even an indicator of that. Seeing my child strive to do his personal best, enthusiastic and well adjusted, not feeling inferior or less than was all I really wanted. The grades improving was a bonus.”
-Christine Tamke, New York.
Common core is a struggle for so many students. The one size fits all approach, combined with age inappropriate material that moves way too fast, is crushing many students.
Here are more related links- valuable resources to bookmark.
On common core and special needs children-