Monday, September 29, 2014

Henry Winkler Interview About Dyslexia

If you have a question about Dyslexia or need more supports at school for a child with the disorder, please contact Family Matters at 866-436-7842!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

IEPs--To Sign or not to Sign?

Your signature on the IEP: What Does it Mean?



Attending an IEP meeting can be overwhelming as a parent. So much information is discussed and so many decisions are made. Over the years, many parents have asked,  "When I sign the IEP I am agreeing to everything in the plan?"
According to the Illinois State Board of Education’s: IEP Form and Instructions,

"Signing in the participants section of the IEP only indicates attendance at the meeting."

 This wording can be found in the ISBE’s: IEP Instructions document on page 5. The following links will direct you to these documents.


If you have questions regarding your child’s IEP, contact

Family Matters at 866-436-4842

Monday, September 22, 2014

Common Core Video Series

This video series (found at this website: National PTA)  was developed through a partnership with the Hunt Institute as part of National PTA’s ongoing effort to provide accurate information about the Common Core State Standards and to assist PTA membership with developing grassroots advocacy skills.

The Common Core State Standard videos were designed to educate parents on the Common Core State Standards and empower them to support the transition at school and at home. The videos highlight three key principles:

  • We need clear, consistent and rigorous standards across the country to ensure all students—regardless of their zip code—graduate with the higher order thinking skills needed for college and careers. 
  • The standards reflect the relevant knowledge and skills that young people need to succeed in college and to build and maintain an American workforce that can compete in the global economy.
  • National PTA’s goal is for parents to be knowledgeable about the standards and new assessments and to support them every step of the way as states transition to the standards.
The Grassroots Advocacy videos were designed as companion videos for our Grassroots Advocacy training. The videos provide a brief overview of the steps PTAs should take in order to effectively advocate for any issue that arises in their school community, state or Federal issues. The videos highlight:
  • Campaign Strategy
  • Coalition Building
  • Meetings with Decision Makers
  • Working with Media/Social Media

If you would like to know more about Common Core, check out this video series on the National PTA website.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What Special Ed Directors Should Remind Their Teams

Key points:
· Acknowledge lack of parent trust, work to reestablish it
· Address student behaviors that impede learning
· Make individualized decisions based on evaluation data

Review these 5 fundamentals with IEP teams at start of new school year

By Jim Walsh, Esq.*

It's that time of year again where high school marching bands and football teams are getting ready to return to the field.

Band directors and football coaches likely are emphasizing the fundamentals during early school year practices. Band members need to watch the band director, read the music, march in time, and hit the right note. Football players need to block, tackle, hold on to the ball, and know the plays.

Just as bands and football teams gear up for a successful season, your IEP teams should gear up for a successful school year.

Now is a good time to remind your teams of the fundamentals. Work hard to foster meaningful parent participation, don't make promises you can't keep, address students' problematic behaviors, and make individualized decisions for students.

Review the following with your IEP teams:

1. Acknowledge lack of parent trust. It is important to identify when parents have lost trust and try to reestablish that trust. The entire special education system depends upon collaboration and cooperation. Trust is essential. As a school official, you are sure to encounter situations in which parents have lost trust in the school. Sometimes districts deserve this lack of trust; sometimes they don't. But regardless of why parents lost trust, school officials need to acknowledge the situation and do what they can to restore a healthy relationship.

2. Don't say "no" without providing a clearly articulated reason. The IDEA does not intend for the school to grant every parental request, but it does require the school to explain itself if and when it denies such a request. Review with your IEP teams the IDEA's procedural requirement to provide prior written notice. Prior written notice is required when a district acts to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a child or the provision of FAPE to the child. Among other things, the prior written notice must include a description of the action proposed or refused by the district and an explanation of why the district proposes or refuses to take the action.

3. Address students' problematic behaviors. The law requires the IEP team to ask itself each year: "Does this student have behaviors that impede the learning of the student or of others?" And that's not just for students who are identified with behavioral disorders, such as emotional disturbance or autism. Rather, IEP teams must ask this question in every meeting, for every student.

For example, in Pennsbury School District v. C.E. by R.E. and J.E., 59 IDELR 13 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2012), a grade schooler with a speech-language impairment and an SLD exhibited severe inattention and distractibility. The student's district conducted a reevaluation at the end of his second-grade year and found that these problems seriously impeded his ability to learn. But the student's third-grade IEP did not reflect these findings. The court held that the district's failure to conduct a functional behavioral assessment and develop a behavioral intervention plan resulted in a denial FAPE.

4. Don't make promises you don't keep. A failure to keep a promise brings you right back to mistake No. 1: A loss of trust. Thus, when an IEP team commits to something, it is important to identify a specific individual who will see to it that the promise is kept. Sometimes promises aren't kept because no one took ownership of them and everyone assumes that somebody else is following through.

5. Make decisions based on evaluation data. "We don't have that program." "We don't do that here." "Our budget will not cover that." "We don't have the staff to provide that service." All of these statements reflect legitimate administrative concerns and could constitute an appropriate response to any parent other than the parent of the student with a disability. In an IEP team meeting, remember that every decision must be based on the educational needs of the particular child you are serving, as reflected by the evaluation data.

For example, in S.C. by E.T. and R.C. v. Department of Education, State of Hawaii, 113 LRP 21091 (D. Hawaii 05/16/13), the District Court denied the parents' request for reimbursement for private placement and services. The court observed that the IEPs were based on evaluation data supplied by numerous specialists, including an occupational therapist, a psychologist, and a physical therapist, as well as information from the child's classroom teacher.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Behavior Solutions Book Reviews and giveaway!

See below for instructions on how to enter the giveaway!

Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom by Beth Aune, OTR/L and Beth Burt & Peter Gennaro is fantastic. I cannot say enough great things about this book and about its companion book: Behavior Solutions in and Beyond the Inclusive Classroom.

On the cover it says, "See a Behavior....Look it up!" and that is exactly how you use this book. It's almost like an encyclopedia of behaviors one might see in a classroom along with tips on how to deal with them. This book covers everything from "Taking off Shoes" to "Poor Handwriting." The authors explain why the behaviors may be happening and then they offer solutions to the problems.

Let's take a look at one chapter together. "Not Attending/Off Task or Not Following Directions" is my favorite section, perhaps because this is a challenge my own son faces on a daily basis. I like this chapter, because the authors explain that this is not necessarily something a child is doing on purpose. They explain that there are many factors in focusing and being able to pay attention: ADD, sensory overload, auditory processing, etc. I don't think many teachers are aware of this and I find it extremely helpful that the authors point this out to teachers. The authors then offer several possible solutions, such as "provide a quiet space where they can regroup," "Use squeezeballs," etc.

As a former high school teacher, I can tell you that I would have given a lot more than the cost of the books to have this wonderful resource. It's definitely not just for special ed teachers; every single educational professional who works with kids could benefit from these books. This is why I am recommending that parents give these books as Christmas gifts to their kids' teachers.

These books are wonderful resources for teachers and parents of kids who struggle with various behavior issues.  They would make fabulous teachers' gifts this holiday season!

We have one copy of Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom to give away to one lucky reader.

There are a few different ways to enter the contest. You are able to get up to four entries per person!

~~One entry for leaving a comment here.  Please be sure to include your email address so that we can contact you if you win!

~~One entry for liking us on Facebook:!/FamilyMattersPTIC?fref=ts
Just click on that link and hit the 'Like' button.

  (Please mention in a comment on this post that you have liked our FB page or else I won't know to give you an entry).

~~One entry for blogging about our giveaway. Share your link here in the comments.

~~One entry for sharing this post on Facebook. Share the link in the comments.

***Due to shipping expenses, this giveaway is only for residents of the US.

This give away ends on September 22nd at midnight. 

If you are interested in borrowing either of these books and 

you live in Illinois, please call us at 866-436-7842!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Parent Power at IEP Meetings!

parent, teacher, child in school
Your Role? An Active Participant in the IEP Process
IDEA is clear. Parents have the right to participate in the meeting when their child's IEP is developed.
Take an active role as part of the IEP team that determines the services your child needs. Find the IDEA requirements and learn how to Develop Your Child's IEP in this Pop-up.


Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
Do Not Give Away Your Decision-Making Authority at IEP Meetings!
You are a key member of the IEP team. Don't be a spectator. Have questions about how to exercise your decision-making authority...
What is my role? What should I expect? How do I prepare? Can the school have a meeting without me?
You'll find answers to these questions (plus 200 more) in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.

Play Hearts, Not Poker! 8 Steps to Better IEP Meetings
When you negotiate for your child:
  • understand the rules
  • learn the strategies
  • know your goals
  • reduce the risks
8 Steps to Better IEP Meetings - a unique perspective on effective parent advocacy.

mother and boy reading
Parents are NOT Part of the IEP Team...Say What?!
Parents are and always have been members of the IEP team. Parents are listed first in the law.
Check your facts! Learn where to find your rights and responsibilities ...and answers to your questions.