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Gift Giving for Children & Young Adults with disABILITIES
THE BENEFITS OF DOING CHORES
My Silver Anniversary
25 Years of Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans
The Mission of Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans is to educate and connect children and adults with disabilities, and their families to resources, services, and supports to attend school, work, and thrive in their communities.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Gregory Brenan, CPA, CCIFP, CGMA
Jo Ann D. LoRusso, Ph.D.
Denise Barrera, MPH, MSW
Debra Dixon M.Ed.+30
Michelle Archambault, CPA/PFS
COVER STORY: Mary Jacob, Executive Director, Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans
04 Cover Story: My Silver Anniversary 25 Years of Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans
08 The Benefits of Doing Chores
10 Gift Giving for Children and Young Adults with disABILITIES
12 Check it Out
14 Because That's What You Do
15 Executive Functioning Info-Session
16 What's Going On?
18 Special Factors in IEP Development
25 LAdisABILITY Talk
29 LASARD Designing Classroom Environments to Spark Students Success
30 Updates from Social Security
32 Resources for Families & Educators
34 December Awareness
38 Louisiana School Finder
firstname.lastname@example.org - Ext. 207
community outreach specialist
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director of public relations
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information & training specialist
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director of peer to peer support
LAURA S. NATA
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cshs parent liaison
504.896.1340 phone | 504.896.1360 fax
cshs youth liaison
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director of training
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director of administrative services
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Monday: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Tuesday: AFTER HOURS
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Wednesday: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Thursday: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Friday: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
700 Hickory Avenue
Harahan, LA 70123
When I think about being at FHF for 25 years it seems surreal. I realized the rarity of this when I recently attended a national PTI conference and the participants were asked to stand up if they’d been with the agency for 25 years or more. There was a few hundred in attendance and less than a handful stood up. On November 1, 1994, I walked through the doors of Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans for the first time as an employee. This was different than my previous visits to the agency as a mama bear looking for help. This time I was crossing the threshold to be the one providing the help. I remember being nervous and wondering if I knew enough to help others. I recall thinking of the great opportunity this was going to be. My immediate thought was to go in there and suck all the knowledge out of the brains of those that knew so much more than me. My gut feeling was I’d stick around maybe a year or so and then move on to something else. I wasn’t sure what that something else was – but I had just gone through a bank merger where my job was eliminated and I had nothing but time on my hands.
On this date FHF had a total of 4 new employees starting. It was a major growth spurt for the agency. I haven’t said this to many people, but November 1st, 1994, was also close to being my last day as an employee of Families Helping Families. I was completely overwhelmed. I was given a pile of stuff to read and felt so unprepared for this new role and wondered if I was really ready for this challenge. I can honestly say it didn’t happen overnight, but I did ultimately fall in love with my job. I was hired to work 18 hours a week and remember thinking they didn’t give me 20 hours because then I’d earn paid leave. So I remained working 18 hours a week until July of 1995, when I was moved to 20 hours a week. My official title was Parent Trainer and I can remember having to constantly explain what that meant. Eventually, I was given a few more hours and I did some work under our Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority contract. In the summer of 1997, I attended Don Meyer’s SibShop training and became an official Sibshop leader and created and ran SIBCAMP for several years. As I continued to take on other work, we eventually contracted with someone to run SIBCAMP. During this time period, I had also returned to college as I was convinced I would need to get a degree in education so I could learn how to teach my daughters. I was convinced it might be the only way they would learn.
Eventually I became a full-time employee as the Project PROMPT Coordinator and eventually the Interim Director of Project PROMPT. Project PROMPT was the name of our PTI grant before I renamed it Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center. If people were confused as to what a Parent Trainer was – well, let’s just say nothing about Project PROMPT made sense to them. PROMPT was actually an acronym for Parents Reaching Out to Model Parent Training – but we never used it, said it, and nobody knew it. It was also during this time period that I thought about leaving FHF for the first time. I was offered a position that was too good to pass up and yet, I was torn about leaving. The girls were in high school and I was suddenly faced with the challenge of leaving for an incredible opportunity or staying with something that I passionately cared about. This was when I had the revelation that reminded me no amount of money could make me as happy as helping a family get the services their family needed. I now realized I really didn’t want to return to the dog eat dog world of for profit business. This wasn’t any longer a job – it was a passion.
By 2005, I had been promoted to the Coordinator of State Programs when Hurricane Katrina hit. After Hurricane Katrina, I was promoted to the position of Assistant Director and by 2007 was named the newest Executive Director of Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans.
My daughters, Megan and Brooke, do not remember life before FHF. They were literally raised during this time period. Now I have two grandchildren, Liam and Lily that are also benefiting from their Mimi’s career. It’s through their eyes I see some improvements in the education system since I advocated for their mothers. But I also see many of the cracks that still exists from the eyes of many others I assist.
Over the past twenty-five years I’ve seen both amazing progress and less than stellar progress in regards to services for individuals with disabilities. I feel we’ve come a long way and yet, still have a long way to go. Twenty-five years is a long time to be at one place and many, many things can change during this time period. New laws are passed and technology – let’s just say we went from operating like the Flintstones to the Jetsons. Here are my lists of the most notable changes in education and home and community based services over the past 25 years.
25 years of Education has brought many changes nationally and Louisiana specific. Louisiana had five different Superintendents of Education and nationally we’ve had seven Secretaries of Education. Here is my list of some of the biggest changes we’ve seen in education in Louisiana and nationally.
The passage of No Child Left Behind legislation. In 2001 a bi-partisan legislature passed the NCLB act and President Bush signed it into law in 2002. Many people hated NCLB, but in my opinion, it was this legislation that did more for students with disabilities than any other law. Before NCLB, our kiddos weren’t held to any standards and weren’t included in the accountability process. Many were being babysat and written off at a very young age. NCLB was later reauthorized in 2015 and renamed the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA). NCLB and the reauthorization as ESSA were definitely a win for students with special needs.
2. The inclusion of school resource officers. In our state, twenty-five years ago, it wasn’t so common to have school resource officers (SRO) in schools. The federal definition of an SRO is a career law enforcement officer with sworn authority who is deployed in community-oriented policing and assigned to work in collaboration with schools and community-based organizations to fill the specific duties of:
a. Educating students in crime and illegal drug use prevention and safety;
b. Developing or expanding community justice initiatives for students; and
c. Training students in conflict resolution, restorative justice, and crime and illegal drug use awareness.
According to the National Association of School Resource Officers, their main roles include being educators for programs like DARE and information counselors/mentors. They are clear their role is not that of disciplinarians, yet that is what we frequently see on school campuses. School resource officers became very popular after an increase in school shootings. The idea was to keep the bad guys off the campuses. However, can an SRO keep a campus safe from outsiders when they are being tasked with the job of handling normal day to day discipline of students? We are seeing more and more SRO’s working in tandem with disciplinarians. It has been made clear that the role of the SRO is not one of a disciplinarian. Using an SRO as a disciplinarian is criminalizing student behavior which is completely inappropriate unless the student is actually conducting an illegal act.
In order to keep from perpetuating this misuse of SRO’s, specific job descriptions need to be created and SRO’s should be required to have specific training in dealing with youth. Allowing the misuse of SRO’s is putting school campuses at risk. Additionally, students with disabilities are disproportionately involved with SRO’s and this is a huge problem.
3. The proliferation of charter schools or other school choice options. Love them or hate them, charter schools have changed the education landscape in Louisiana – especially in New Orleans. Before Hurricane Katrina they were practically unheard of. Now charter schools are growing in numbers not only in the entire country – but especially in Louisiana. Louisiana charter school law was originally passed in 1995 as a pilot program with a limit of eight school districts. The law was substantially revised in 1997 to allow all school districts to participate. The 1997 revisions included an appeals process that would allow charter operators to appeal to BESE if the local school board refused to approve their charter request. In 2003, a constitutional amendment and four bills impacted the operation of charter schools. The constitutional amendment authorized BESE to take over failing public schools or provide for others to do so. Today we have seven different types of charter schools and a total of 156 charter schools across 25 parishes educating over 80,000 students.
In addition to charter schools, Louisiana has created vouchers and many districts offer magnate choices. We also have virtual school choices and I see more and more parents choosing home schooling as an option.
4. New Orleans becomes an all charter district. Honestly, I’m still not convinced this experiment is working well. But the reality was, Orleans Parish School District was broken and something radical needed to happen. That paired with Hurricane Katrina, set the stage for the first ever all charter district in our country. New Orleans is the only major city you can live in and your child does not have a guaranteed desk in their neighborhood school. Furthermore, there isn’t any assurance that all of your children will attend the same school. If your child has special needs, the charter system can be even more difficult to navigate as many parents still report widespread discrimination against students with disabilities. In an effort to streamline the application process and provide some level of priority based on geographic location and siblings, the OneApp system was created. OneApp allows for parents to fill out one application and pick up to 8 schools they would consider for each child. Before OneApp, parents had to apply to every school they were interested in their children attending. Many parents of children with disabilities reported huge problems with the old system as they were often turned away at the doors when they mentioned their child had a disability. OneApp doesn’t take this information into consideration which gives students with disabilities an equal chance of being accepted.
5. Passage of Act 833. Act 833 of 2014 allows for IEP teams for certain students to have the option of determining how a student will graduate or advance to the next grade level. Some thinks this is the greatest educational legislation ever passed in Louisiana, while others feared this bill would create less accountability to school districts when it came to educating students with disabilities. The law was sought after for students with disabilities that couldn’t pass the 4th and 8th grade high stakes testing requirements, but had successfully completed their coursework. It is estimated that the number of students graduating using an Act 833 pathway is low due to schools still not clear on how to create these pathways.
Some other notable events in education include:
The coming and going of high stakes assessments for 4th and 8th grade students.
Early intervention services (EarlySteps) moved from Department of Education to Department of Public Health to Office of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities.
The creation of virtual schools.
The creation of university post-secondary programs for students with developmental disabilities.
The largest investments ever in early childhood education.
Early Childhood Learning was placed under the Department of Education.
Jefferson Parish opened magnet schools.
The elimination of the LAA2 (Louisiana Alternate Assessment 2).
A huge reduction in state level special education staffing.
Restraint and Seclusion legislation.
Applied Behavior Analysis legislation.
Bullying prevention legislation.
25 Years of Home and Community Based Services hasn’t brought as many changes as education, but the changes that have been made came with a huge impact. One of the most exhausting issue for families has been the continuous need to show up in Baton Rouge and beg legislators not to cut support to families of children with disabilities. Here is my list of some of the biggest changes we’ve seen in home and community based services:
1. The elimination of the waiver waiting list. After decades of an extremely large waiting list for waiver services, the Louisiana Department of Health has created a multi-tiered waiver program that has eliminated the waiting list for families with immediate needs. Through an innovative approach to providing services with developmental disabilities, the LDH is effectively ending the 25-year-old waiting list for home and community based waiver services. The new plan, or tiered waiver, means individuals with greater urgency of need will now be prioritized versus the previous first come, first serve process. As of today, all people screened with an urgent or emergent need now have services.
2. The creation of self-direction. Self-Direction gives individuals with waiver services the opportunity to hire their own staff and cut out the provider agency. For many families, this has been a blessing since they are able to pay their support staff higher wages and have more autonomy over them. Self-Direction comes with more responsibilities since a provider agency isn’t involved, but many families gladly traded in the provider agency for the added responsibilities.
3. Reduction in Institutions. Institutions were once known as the only option if you needed support from the state for your child with a disability. They are now a distant memory. Due to Act 378 and lots of advocating, parents of children with developmental disabilities now have access to state support through Medicaid waivers in their own homes. Institutional care is far more expensive than providing services in the home, which eventually made this a popular choice for families and legislators. Institutional care hasn’t completely disappeared, but now in order to access it requires a significant need.
Some other notable changes in home and community bases services include:
Changes to Cash Subsidy including changing the name to Flexible Family Funding and expanding the list of those qualifying for services.
Major changes to behavior health services and how they are accessed.
The creation of the Family Opportunity Act.
The expansion of Medicaid.
The creation of Pediatric Day Centers.
The creation of a Medicaid managed care network.
The creation of ABLE account legislation.
The passage of TEFRA legislation in 2018. Most people won’t remember that TEFRA legislation was also passed in 1995 with a $15 million dollar appropriation which was then canceled by The Joint Budget Committee. It was further approved in 1999, only to be halted 3 weeks before the implementation.
The creation of the Children’s Choice Waiver
25 Years at Families Helping Families has also brought on many changes. Some of the biggest changes I’ve been a part of include:
1. Hurricane Katrina. Undoubtedly the biggest event for me in my 25 years at FHF was Hurricane Katrina. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and didn’t spare our office. FHF’s Metairie office on Division Street was in complete ruins. The building imploded with the roof caving in which led to the 2nd story floor collapsing onto the first floor with the epicenter being the office of our then executive director. We had over two feet of water in the office and just about everything we owned was destroyed. After evacuating for a month we returned to clean out the office and figure out what was salvageable – which was very little. We moved 3 times to temporary spaces until we finally reopened at 201 Evans Road in 2016 where we remained until we purchased our current building at the end of 2017.
2. Office Space. When I first started at FHF our space consisted of an 8 room office with roughly 1,000 square feet. I actually shared a desk with someone because there wasn’t enough space in the office for everyone to have their own desk. My shared desk was located in the largest room of our space. Included in this room was 4 desks for staff, the copy machine and part of our lending library. We eventually expanded into another suite on Division Street and by Hurricane Katrina we were occupying four suites in the building.
3. Technology. Listen up millenniums, in 1994, most offices didn’t have computers. I know this is shocking, but it’s true. In 1994 our technology consisted of a copy and fax machines – and that was two separate machines, not the new ones that do both. Our secretary had a typewriter. Eventually we had a computer with accounting software that was DOS based. We then had a database that was built in Access. As desktop computers starting appearing in the office, they were still standalone and not networked or even on-line. Eventually we would get modems with dial up services and those of us with private AOL accounts, would access email and information on-line through our personal AOL accounts. I have a love hate relationship with technology, but have embraced it as the most efficient way to do business today. The only days I honestly hate it is when it isn’t working. But today we have a fully integrated network and our copy machine also doubles as a fax and scanner and we are pretty much a paperless office.
4. Trainings. 25 years ago all of our trainings were in person and most were 3 hours in length. Over the years, trainings were shortened to accommodate the requests of families that didn’t want to commit to a 3 hour training. Eventually we’d see the near elimination of in person trainings in favor of webinars.
5. Social Media. Facebook has become one of the most popular ways for families to connect with us. Individuals seeking information still wants peer-to-peer support, but they want it immediately. Social media gives them an opportunity to post questions, get advice and network with others. The biggest issue I see with social media is the constant sharing of inaccurate information. Because of the “I want it now” mentality, people do less research and are more likely to post a question and wait for the answers and opinions to begin. There probably isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t see something on one of the numerous special needs pages or groups with inaccurate information.
6. The ever changing family. Twenty-five years ago families wanted to be taught how to fish. Our entire philosophy was created around this idea. Today’s families want to be fed a fish daily and most aren’t so interested in learning how to fish anymore. This is troubling as I’m a firm believer if we do not understand the past, we are destined to repeat it and I’m not interested in going back there again. The family that would attend a 3 hour training and often drive a few hours to get there, is no longer interested in learning this way. Most want immediate gratification – just tell me what I need to know now. Sometimes it’s not as easy as just giving a quick answer. When families fail to understand why things happen the way they do, they are at risk of wasting time advocating for something that might not be in the best interest of their child. Families need to own their power and understand how and when to use it. Nobody should ever be dependent on others to make these type of decisions for them.
Other notable things about FHF:
FHF was the only FHF Center in the Greater New Orleans area until Hurricane Katrina.
LaDisability Talk started out as a Yahoo Group before it was moved to Facebook.
FHF use to have a counseling center.
FHF use to have a quarterly newsletter that was mailed out. It was eventually replaced with the monthly Exceptional Times newsletters after Hurricane Katrina. This was later replaced with the wildly popular Exceptional Times Digital Magazine in the spring of 2018.
FHF use to operate the EarlySteps System Point of Entry (SPOE) for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes.
When I became the executive director, I created a list of goals I wanted to complete. My number one goal was to create a sustainable nonprofit that would be here for years to come. In order to do this, several things needed to take place and I’m happy to report, these items have been accomplished.
A minimum of 6 months of cash reserves;
The creation of organizational policies and procedures; and
The purchase of an office to eliminate the ever growing price increase in renting office space.
Another proud accomplishment was becoming part of only 1% of nonprofits across the country that have reached the platinum level with GuideStar, the leading nonprofit data search engine for all nonprofits. Not only is FHF a well-run nonprofit organization, it’s an excellent family resource center for those needing disability related support.
As I sit and reflect over the past 25 years, I’m amazed at everything we’ve accomplished as an agency. I am blessed with an amazing staff and many wonderful colleagues I’ve encountered over the years. My board of directors is awesome. Our many donors, sponsors and funders are cherished and most importantly are the many, many families that contact us every year for support. The families that reach out for our assistance is unbelievable. And the ones that still ask for me directly is humbling. Twenty-five years ago I walked into FHF as an employee starting a new job. At some point that job turned into a passion and that passion turned into a mission for me.
My job reminds me of the Mark Twain quote, “Find a job you enjoy doing and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Happy Silver Anniversary to Me!
by Mary Jacob, Executive Director
My Silver Anniversary
25 Years of Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans
continued on p.26
Rebecca Connick is an occupational therapist at Crane Rehab Center- Pediatrics in New Orleans as well as an Early Steps provider. A certified user of The Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding and a Mentored Clinician of the STAR Institutes's SPD Level 1 Advanced Intensive Mentorship program, Rebecca treats many children with sensory processing deficits and feeding disorders. For more educational articles by Rebecca, follow her blog at or on Facebook @fingertipsblog.
The Benefits of Doing Chores
From an early age, children love to help and be involved. This includes a desire to complete activities that us adults perceive as “mundane,” but are new and exciting for our children- chores. Sweeping, washing dishes, mopping, vacuuming- all of it can be so fun to a child! Now, of course children’s motor skills are not as developed as an adult’s, so their performance of these tasks may be less thorough and efficient. However, children completing these chores from an early age is not only great for establishing good habits and responsibility, but it can help your child develop skills such as coordination, visual perception and problem solving.
Take loading the dishwasher, for example. Rinsing plates involves bilateral coordination as you hold the dish with one hand and use a sponge with the other. You’re using muscle grading to wipe the dish off, gripping the sponge as you complete rotational movements that build upper extremity strength. Then, loading the dishes in the dishwasher involves visual spatial skills as you orient the plate to fit, often turning and rotating them just right. Not so simple of an activity! These skills can be hard for some children, which is why practice and skill building in the natural environment can be very beneficial.
Below are 10 easy and safe chores that your child can complete that can also benefit your child’s visual, cognitive and motor development. Keep in mind that it’s about the process, not the product. Skill building and learning comes from a child’s opportunities to problem solve and learn from their mistakes- so expect them to miss a spot :)
Sweeping- When using a broom, you are using two hands together, crossing midline, and building upper extremity coordination. When it’s time for the dustpan, this requires further coordination to both sweep and collect at the same time.
Window washing- Using a towel to wash windows also builds coordination and facilitates crossing midline. In addition, completing wiping motions with your arm raised above your head is great for building shoulder strength and stability.
Loading the dishwasher- Orienting plates, cups, bowls, and utensils builds on your spatial awareness and visual perceptual skills, and when something doesn’t fit- problem solving!
Setting the table- Arranging each component of the place setting is great visual memory practice, as well as building sustained attention in order to complete a multi-step task.
Wiping the table/counters- Again, completing circular, vertical and horizontal arm movements when cleaning a table or countertop builds upper extremity strength and coordination, and getting out those stubborn sticky spots also can teach pressure grading.
Washing the car- This fun multi step sequence is great for building upper extremity endurance and actually involves whole body gross motor work. Reaching all parts of the car to rinse, wash and rinse again is a great endurance task.
Folding clothes and towels- Starting with hand towels and working up to shirts and pants, learning the sequence of folding facilitates use of visual spatial skills, visual perceptual skills and motor coordination skills. This is the same group of skills required for many school tasks such as writing, cutting and drawing.
Sorting the silverware- Sorting utensils by size and type requires tactile and visual discrimination.
Watering plants- Using a watering can or pitcher can help a child learn grading of movements, as sprinkling water and pouring water are very different.
Making lunch- Having a child help to make their lunch gives them an opportunity to build fine motor skills when opening/closing packages and containers and using a variety of utensils (safety first, of course) to spread, scoop and cut.
If you have any questions about additional or adapted chores that are appropriate for your children, feel free to reach out to email@example.com.
I must admit, I dread this time of year for one main reason: I have a BEAST of a time figuring out what to give my 21-year-old son who has autism and an intellectual disability.
I learned a valuable lesson a few years back from a neighbor. Not really a friend, more of an acquaintance, really. My daughter and I met her on our morning walks and we started talking. When Christmas rolled around she came by my house and presented both my kids with gifts. My little one was maybe two at the time—the age where they’re pretty easy to buy for. But when my upper-teenaged son went to open his gift, I held my breath. What he pulled from the package was a very nice set of a trendy body spray and cologne that the TV ads promise will turn the wearer into a chick-magnet in one sniff. While I wasn’t so keen on the chick-magnet idea (that’s my BABY!), I was amazed at my neighbor’s ability to buy a gift for my son that was so wonderfully...appropriate. And that made me start to realize that perhaps the gifts should be more about the person and less about the disability.
When we are thinking of gifts to give people with special needs, why do our minds always revert to baby toys? Unless the recipient is an actual baby, we need to consider their age and interests when shopping (just like we do for every other person on our list!). Now don’t misunderstand me here: if your 21-year-old still loves Sesame Street, I see nothing at all wrong with giving an Elmo DVD or a copy of some favorite songs from the show. But just because the young adult has an intellectual disability, don’t assume that they will automatically like those things.
I've put together a couple of lists that you may find helpful when buying gifts for children or young adults with disabilities.
For preschool/young school-aged children:
Easel and chalk
Fisher Price Little People toys
Kid-sized table and chairs
Kid-friendly book shelf
Dramatic play costumes
Riding toys (inside/outside)
Climbing toys (inside/outside)
Basketball net/soccer net (inside/outside)
Fidget toys (a google search on this one will make your head spin!)
Cause/effect musical toys
Art supplies: coloring books, crayons, paints, art paper…)
Bubbles/a bubble machine
Lava or bubble lamps
Voice distorter toy (inexpensive, looks like a megaphone; encourages speech)
For tweens, teens, and even adults:
Tracing light pad (about $25 on Amazon)
Adult coloring books (sometimes available at the Dollar Tree!)
Listening device, like an iPod Touch or MP3 player
Docking station/alarm clock
Echo dot (some under $50 now on Amazon!)
Netflix or Hulu subscription (Disney also has a streaming service now!)
iTunes or Amazon gift cards
Blue tooth speaker
Headphones—sound-canceling or just very cool ones!
Tablet (some are in the $50 range now, like the Amazon Kindle Fire)
Yogibo products—if you have no idea what this is, google it. They look amazing!
Aroma therapy product, like a diffuser
Squeeze reliever (massages and vibrates on your hand to offer deep pressure)
Pinch me Dough/therapy dough
Fidget toys—a search on your favorite online marketplace will amaze you when you see all the options!
Miscellaneous fun stuff to give
Cologne or body spray
Cool trendy socks or crazy socks
Board games or card games
Puzzles or brain games (check out Perplexus and Moonscape)
Crazy straws or stainless steel straws with cleaning brush
Makeup or a gift card to purchase their own
Photo albums or digitally-produced photo books—consider talking photo albums too!
Something they particularly like, or collect—hats, scarves, bow ties, balls, DVDs, books, comics….
Think about the person when deciding on a gift. Do they live on their own? Perhaps include household items like new towels or a nice set of sheets. Do they like to cook? Maybe offer a cook book or new kitchen gadget. Do they enjoy outdoor activities? Think about a yard game or something like a soccer ball or some Frisbees.
I hope there are some ideas here that will get those shopping juices flowing!
Gift Buying for Children or
Young Adults with disABILITIES
by Sharon Blackmon
CHECK it OUT
Target | Cat and Jack - Kids' Adaptive Clothing
Target's Cat & Jack clothing line provides children with disabilities with inclusive apparel that they can feel comfortable in. The clothing pieces are functional and aim to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Other designers, like Tommy Hilfiger, have adaptive clothing lines for children with disabilities.
---- CLOTHING ----
-- Books --
The abilities in me books
Perfect for teachers, parents and children alike, this book will bring awareness
of these conditions and teach children how to be supportive and be kind. This collection of books show how each child can celebrate their abilities within their disability, find acceptance and create awareness to those around them.
-- Toys --
This picture book is dedicated to children born with a condition called 22q deletion, also known as DiGeorge Syndrome. Explore the day in the life of a young boy with 22q through bright, colorful illustrations and text.
Fat Brain Toys
When it comes to Special Needs toys, our number one goal is to provide you with quality recommendations you can trust. However, we also recognize that we are not Special Needs professionals. That’s why we’ve given the reigns to you, our customers. All of our Special Needs collections are based entirely on customer feedback. Meanwhile, each listing is accompanied by detailed reviews written by real parents, teachers, and therapists. That way you can get a much clearer idea of how these toys can actually help children with special needs develop their skills and enjoy pure, authentic play. 1-800-590-5987
This picture book is dedicated to young children born with a congenital heart defect, also known as CHD. Explore the day in the life of a little girl with CHD through bright, colourful illustrations and text.
This picture book is dedicated to children diagnosed with Autism, also known as ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Explore the day in the life of a young girl and boy with autism through bright, colorful illustrations and text.
I did everything I was supposed to do.
I graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA.
I attended the top public university in the country.
I boasted great grades, a long list of extracurricular activities, and an impressive resume. On graduation day I donned my cap and gown, celebrated with my friends, and thought about my next step: getting a job. Because that’s what you do.
It starts early. I think we all remember this question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And if you’re anything like me, your early career aspirations probably weren’t gonna work out. I wanted to be a dog, which I was told was unlikely, so I set my sights even higher. Unfortunately I was informed that I could not become Robin Williams. I think after that I opted for “teacher” or something more conventional, but I never stopped thinking about being my own personal genie.
After college I needed a “real” job (whatever that means) so I started applying, interviewing, and landed a job working on the administrative end of a healthcare organization. It wasn’t great, but this is what I was supposed to do. This is what everyone was supposed to do, right? Get a job, work 40 hours a week, and make money. That’s what adults did, that’s what success looked like, and more than anything I wanted to live up to this expectation. If other people can do it, so can I! Or so I thought.
I forgot to mention an important detail, something that makes me a bit different: I live with a serious mental illness. High school was full of straight As and symptoms. I struggled with bipolar disorder, and while I was a highly motivated student, it was hard to fit in as a typical high schooler when I refused to take my medication and my brain constantly teetered on the brink of insanity. In college I was unsupervised and un-medicated (again, my ill advised decision) but this actually fueled my “typical” college behavior. Everyone parties, everyone experiments with drugs, everyone hooks up with everybody else. But my bipolar disorder raised the stakes. I was hypomanic and manic the bulk of my college career, which meant I did very stupid things with reckless zeal and unbridled ferocity because I thought I was invincible. I didn’t need to sleep, I didn’t need to eat, I slept around, and I did drugs. I might have looked like a typical college student having a good time but I was living in the extremes. When I was hypomanic and manic I was the poster child for college induced hedonism, but when depression took over I suffocated under the debilitating weight of hopelessness. But this lifestyle kind of worked in college because my responsibilities were limited and not needing sleep was actually pretty useful when it came to doing all of my homework for the semester in the first few weeks of school. Well, other than the fact that it fried my brain. Minor detail. I was living rather dangerously, but my untreated bipolar disorder didn’t stand in the way of my grabbing that degree. I was a success story!
After I graduated I decided that now was the time to become a grownup. I wanted to get my shit together and be a responsible member of society. This meant finally trying to understand my bipolar disorder. Let me tell ya, living with a hidden disability has its perks. Mainly, you can hide in plain sight. Even when I was feeling depressed or slightly hypomanic, I could pretend to have the same kind of brain everybody else had while we milled around the water cooler chatting about last night’s Steeler’s game. Like most people with mental illnesses, you become a really good actor so people have no clue what is actually going on with your brain chemistry. You smile on cue, make small talk, show up to work on time, and you don’t wear mismatched shoes (guilty of this one a few times over). My first job wasn’t exactly fulfilling, spreadsheets will only give you so much joy, but I could pull it off. I was taking my meds as prescribed for the first time in… well, for the first time ever, which felt very adult of me. However, it wasn’t all Seroquel and sanity. A very frustrating aspect of bipolar disorder is that even though I was taking my medication, I was still bipolar. I still experienced symptoms, but for the most part they were muted. Medication helps you manage bipolar but it doesn’t cure it. I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, but whether I liked it or not I’m saddled with bipolar for life.
I did my best as a mentally ill working adult and progressed from one job to another, working hard and moving my way towards my dream job. I finally accepted that I couldn’t be a genie, so instead I set my sights on working at a college as a disability services coordinator. I was convinced that this was it. This was my calling. Helping students with disabilities secure accommodations that empowered them to be the best student they could be. Not too long ago, I was that kid who needed accommodations and I was eager to give back. After a few years I was offered a job working in disability services at a local college, and I loved the work. But something started happening… Every morning and night I dutifully took my meds, I went to therapy once a week, I had a bedtime, I was doing everything right, but something was wrong…
To be honest, I don’t really remember everything that happened leading up to the day my brain gave out. I actually don’t really remember having a psychotic break at all, but my husband and my employer were witnesses. I went from eager employee to psychotic psychiatric patient. While I wasn’t ashamed of my bipolar disorder and I did some public speaking at the time about living while mentally ill, the bipolar I advertised was neat and tidy, aka it was a gross misrepresentation of what my illness was actually like. It’s easy to talk about being mentally ill when your illness isn’t actively taking over your life. I had no problem being the embodiment of a well-behaved bipolar person, but unfortunately that’s not a permanent position. When I had my psychotic break my bipolar catapulted from hidden disability to completely visible. Everyone saw that I was a mentally ill mess, but I think I took it the hardest.
After recovering from my psychotic break I was devastated – that’s putting it lightly. I didn’t understand why my brain had betrayed me. But with some psychiatric illnesses and with some people, even when you take care of yourself things can still fall apart. I had plateaued on my medication and didn’t even know it. I didn’t even know that was possible. I had been taking my meds religiously, but they gradually stopped working and as my illness crept in I lost all objectivity. Something felt amiss, but I sunk into my illness so deeply that I didn’t even know I was drowning. Finding my way out of this episode wasn’t easy. It broke my heart when my psychiatrist insisted on me taking a medical leave and, after further treatment he gave me crushing news. To stay healthy he recommended that I leave my job. Bipolar had officially ruined my life.
I didn’t know what to do next. I was a great student! I was a hard worker! I should’ve been busy with a good job! If I couldn’t be that person, who would I be? How would I live up to expectations and be successful? It took a lot of therapy — and I mean a lot of therapy — before I started rebuilding my sense of self. My psychiatrist prescribed me meds that worked, and we came up with a crisis plan for when (not if, remember this disease cannot be cured) I had my next psychotic episode. I finally started feeling like myself again and wanted to get back on track. I was ready for a new definition.
My psychotic break was terrifying, but I learned that I have to be honest about my bipolar disorder. I can’t hide behind my desire to be a perfect patient; I have to acknowledge that part of understanding my bipolar is accepting that inevitably my hidden illness will break through. My job is to manage my mental health, which requires self-care and authenticity. It includes asking for help when I need it and taking a break when I feel my illness start to gnaw its way to the surface. It means I have to be kind to myself because this isn’t my fault. Today I am an adjunct faculty member at a local college. I teach two classes a semester and I have no intention of applying for tenure. I am a disability studies consultant, an advocate, a blogger, and I have a book coming out next year. This works for my bipolar brain – it works for me. I’m lucky that I’ve found a career that helps me stay healthy and gives me the opportunity to teach and advocate so, hopefully, other people with disabilities can define success for themselves in a way that does not compromise their well-being.
One of the most revolutionary epiphanies I’ve ever had is that there are no “supposed to’s.” We all have to carve out our own path in a way that works for us. There will be barriers, we will make mistakes, and that’s ok. That’s life! We plan as best we can but more than half the time we make up the rest as we move along. People aren’t neat and tidy, we’re messy and complex. And we’re brave and beautiful too. Disability is part of the human condition and we shouldn’t apologize for our differences.
I never could figure out how to be a professional dog but I do have three lovely pups. And technically I never quite made it to genie status. But, I live a life I’m proud of and that was always my wish. So maybe, I’m a bit of a genie after all.
by Dr. Rachel Kallem Whitman
I was taking my meds as prescribed for the first time in… well, for the first time ever, which felt very adult of me. However, it wasn’t all Seroquel and sanity. A very frustrating aspect of bipolar disorder is that even though I was taking my medication, I was still bipolar. I still experienced symptoms, but for the most part they were muted. Medication helps you manage bipolar but it doesn’t cure it. I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, but whether I liked it or not I’m saddled with bipolar for life.
“Because That’s What You Do”
What's Going On?
Introduction to Special Education
Do you suspect your child could benefit from special education and related services? Or, Is your child newly evaluated? If so, this training is perfect for you. This intro to special education will give you a strong foundation to build future knowledge. You will learn the very basics through the philosophy of special education, the laws, evaluation process, and ultimately an IEP.
Co-Sponsor: Families Helping Families of Southwest LA
Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Special Education FAQ
Can the school send home my child’s IEP for me to sign without a meeting?
Can the school suspend my child with an IEP?
What happens if I disagree with the IEP team?
Can the school keep calling me to pick up my child due to meltdowns?
Get answers to these questions, and more in our Special Education Frequently Asked Questions training.
Co-Sponsor: Families Helping Families at the Crossroads
Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Time: 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Basic Rights in Special Education
Whether you’re new to special education or involved for a while, this workshop is for you. This presentation provides families with an introduction to their rights and responsibilities as parents of children with special needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Parents begin to identify dreams and goals for their children, understand laws and learn advocacy strategies that will help them help their children reach those goals.
Co-Sponsor: Families Helping Families NOLA
Date: Thursday, December 5, 2019
Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
IEP Tips and Pointers
This webinar features tried and true tips on how to positively advocate for your children, strengthen the relationships between parents and service agencies, and help create the appropriate IEP program.
This webinar is perfect for families looking for ways to make the IEP meeting a more positive experience for everyone involved.
Co-Sponsor: Northshore Families Helping Families
Date: Thursday, December 5, 2019
Time: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
All About Test and Assessments
This webinar will talk All About Assessments and Testing. It will answer some frequently asked question regarding assessments and testing, when to have your child evaluated and interpreting those assessment results.
Co-Sponsor: Bayou Land Families Helping Families
Date: Monday, December 9, 2019
Time: 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Mapping Dreams (Transition to Adulthood) The transition your child will make from being a child to becoming an adult member of the community is an important journey, and one that requires a plan. It's important to begin thinking about your child’s transition to adult life as early as possible. Your child will need to make many significant decisions during this journey to adult life. In this presentation, we will explore what families and youth can do to help plan for the student’s transition from high school to adult employment, postsecondary education or training, and independent living.
Co-Sponsor: Families Helping Families of Acadiana
Date: Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Time: 11:00 am- 12:00 pm
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Extended School Year Services (ESY) - Did you know that data collected during the holidays often determine if your child will qualify for ESY Services? This training provides an overview of the ESY process for children with disabilities including how children qualify and why in many circumstances the school uses the holiday breaks in determining if a child will qualify for ESY.
Co-Sponsor: Families Helping Families of Northeast LA
Date: Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Time: 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
Educational Plans: IEP’s vs. 504 Plan Students with disabilities will usually qualify for either an IEP or a 504 Plan – but what is the difference and is one better than the other? This training will take you through the eligibility process of both plans, the laws that regulate both, the differences in the plans and parental rights.
Co-Sponsor: Families Helping Families of Greater Baton Rouge
Date: Friday, December 13, 2019
Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Audience: Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals of School-Aged Children/Students.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) lists five special factors that the IEP team must consider in the development, review, and revision of each child’s IEP. Below are IDEA's exact words.
The discussion below will highlight the importance of these special factors in the education of children with disabilities and the need for individualized consideration of these factors in IEP development and revision. The special factors are:
Limited English proficiency
Blindness or visual impairment
IDEA’s Exact Words
IDEA’s regulations for considering these special factors appear at §300.324(a)(2)(i)-(v) and read as follows:
(2) Consideration of special factors. The IEP Team must—
(i) In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior;
(ii) In the case of a child with limited English proficiency, consider the language needs of the child as those needs relate to the child’s IEP;
(iii) In the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP Team determines, after an evaluation of the child’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille), that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child;
(iv) Consider the communication needs of the child, and in the case of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the child’s language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode, academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode; and
(v) Consider whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services. [§300.324(a)(2)]
The IEP team must determine if any of these factors are relevant for the child and, if so, address the factor in the child’s IEP.
Special Factor 1: Behavior
When the IEP meeting rolls around to considering the special factors, the team might begin by asking:
Does this child’s behavior interfere with his or her learning or the learning of others?
If the answer is “yes,” then the team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior [§300.324(2)(i)]. Members will talk about what the child needs and include this information in the IEP. As indicated in IDEA, this will include consideration of the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and other strategies to address the child’s behavior.
More about PBIS and IDEA
The behavior challenges that accompany many children to class these days are well known and of great concern to educational stakeholders from the classroom level up to Congress and back down again. Congress addressed how behavior problems can affect a child’s learning, or the learning of others, in the 1997 reauthorization of IDEA. IDEA ’97 also explicitly involved the IEP team in considering whether positive behavior supports or other strategies were necessary when a child’s behavior was interfering with learning—either the child’s own learning, or the learning of others in the class or school.
Functional behavioral assessments became an important and required element in determining why a child was behaving in disruptive or challenging ways, and behavior intervention plans detailed how the problem would be addressed.
PBIS plays a role in the broader picture of addressing child behavior. It is intended to be used before problem behaviors become interfering behaviors, is based upon understanding why a child has problem behaviors and what strategies might be helpful, and seeks to stop or reduce the problem behaviors so that punishment is not necessary. Much research has been conducted into its effectiveness.
An excellent resource on this topic is the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) that the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) funds. The Center strongly recommends adopting a schoolwide system of PBIS, which has been found to be more effective than individual responses to disciplinary infractions and child misbehavior.
Determining What Behavior Supports Are Needed
How does the IEP team determine what behavior supports might be appropriate and effective for a specific child? As pointed out in the IEP Team section on the regular education teacher, IDEA 2004 indicates that one of the roles of the regular education teacher on the team may include determining what behavior supports and other strategies would be appropriate for the child [§300.324(a)(3)]. This includes supplementary aids and services and program modifications and support for school personnel.
Certainly, functional behavioral assessment, or FBA, can also play a critical part in determining what behavior supports a child needs. According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:
A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a process to identify the function of a student’s behavior. The information collected during the FBA process should be used to create effective behavior supports and plans.
Within FBA, behavior is seen as serving a purpose, as communication, as performing some function for the child. FBA’s goal is to identify what that purpose, function, or communication is for the child. Understanding why a child misbehaves is crucial to developing appropriate behavior supports.
Thus, for IEP teams considering the special factor of “positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies,” the FBA may be a crucial step in determining why the child is behaving in a way that impedes his or her learning or that of others. Fortunately, many resources exist to help IEP teams address behavior issues in IEP development.
Special Factor 2: Limited English Proficiency
This factor relates to children with limited English proficiency (LEP) and the consideration of a child’s language needs as such needs relate to his or her IEP. There are 350,000 LEP children receiving special education, so many IEP teams are likely to discuss this special factor.
Helpful checklist for IEP teams | Check out Resource D-4 in Building the Legacy, NICHCY’s training curriculum on IDEA. It can help IEP teams consider what language needs a child with limited English proficiency might have.
Assessing children with limited English proficiency | School systems and parents are often concerned about how to assess LEP children who also have disabilities. Here are three resources you may find helpful for addressing assessment issues.
Smarter Balanced: Is your state using the Smarter Balanced Assessment with English language learners and students with disabilities? If so, have a look at the Smarter Balanced’s Accommodations for English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities.
RTI-Based SLD Identification Toolkit: Considerations for ELL | From the RTI Action Network, this toolkit provides guidance for the instruction of students who are culturally and linguistically diverse and for making valid decisions for determining special education eligibility.
The National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)’s Standards-based Instructional Strategies for English Language Learners with Disabilities.
How is “limited English proficiency” defined? | IDEA defines “limited English proficient” at §300.27 as meaning the same thing as the definition given in section 9101(25) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which reads:
“(25) LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT.—The term ‘limited English proficient’ when used with respect to an individual, means an individual—
“(A) Who is aged 3 through 21;
“(B) Who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school or secondary school;
“(C)(i) who was not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English;
“(ii)(I) who is a Native American or Alaska Native, or a native resident of the outlying areas; and
“(II) who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual’s level of English language proficiency; or
“(iii) who is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; and
“(D) whose difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual—
“(i) the ability to meet the State’s proficient level of achievement on State assessments described in section 1111(b)(3);
“(ii) the ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English; or
“(iii) the opportunity to participate fully in society.”
Special Factor 3: Blindness and Visual Impairment
The third special factor relates to the needs of children who are blind or visually impaired. For these children, the IEP team must provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille—unless the team “determines, after an evaluation of the child’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille), that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child [§300.324(2)(iii)].
Helpful checklist for IEP teams | A helpful checklist is provided as Resource D-5 in Building the Legacy, NICHCY’s training curriculum on IDEA, and can help IEP teams consider this special factor.
Considerations for this special factor | Following the words and logic of IDEA’s requirement, you can see that the IEP team will need to “provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille,” unless...
…the team determines that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child. And the team can only determine that…
…after an evaluation of the child’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media.
Such an evaluation also must include an evaluation of the child’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille.
The specific focus of this special consideration is on a child’s need for Braille instruction. The IEP team must also consider other appropriate supports and instruction to address a child’s needs related to blindness or visual impairment.
Having accessible instructional materials is essential. Some examples include enlarged print materials, audiotaped materials, math manipulatives, or NIMAS-formatted materials.
Obviously, considering this special factor involves doing so with great deliberation and after gathering the necessary data and evaluation information. Blindness and visual impairment can impact almost all areas related to a child’s academic and non-academic participation in school and must be thoroughly understood by a child’s IEP team.
Special Factor 4: Communication Needs, Especially When Child is Deaf or Hard of Hearing
The fourth special factor that the IEP team must consider when developing a child’s IEP is that child’s communication needs. In the case of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, team members must consider the child’s:
language and communication needs;
opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode;
academic level; and
full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode [§300.324(2)(iv)].
It’s important to note that, regardless of a child’s disability, IEP teams must consider a child’s communication needs. In determining the child’s communication needs, the IEP team might ask:
What communicative demands and opportunities does the child have?
Does the child have the skills and strategies necessary to meet those communicative demands and take advantage of communicative opportunities?
Can the child fulfill his or her need to communicate in different settings?
Does the child communicate appropriately and effectively, and if not, why not? How would the deficit in communication be described?
Considering a Child’s Communication Needs
If the IEP team determines that the child has communication needs, then the team will need to address these in the IEP, including (as appropriate) through the statement of annual goals, provision of special education and related services, supplementary aids and services, which includes assistive technology, or other relevant instruction, services, and supports.
Considering the many elements included in this special factor will no doubt engage the IEP team in substantial discussion. The following may be helpful in framing and/or informing those discussions.
Communication modes | In the definition of “native language” (§300.29), “mode of communication” is described:
(b) For an individual with deafness or blindness, or for an individual with no written language, the mode of communication is that normally used by the individual (such as sign language, Braille, or oral communication). [§300.29(b)]
Some children with disabilities may use one or more of the modes of communication mentioned above. Other children (those with more severe disabilities, such as deaf/blindness, severe cognitive or physical impairments, or more severe forms of autism) may not be able to communicate adequately in any of those ways.
Without question, the communication needs of these children must be taken into consideration when developing the IEP.
Understanding how a child does (or does not) communicate is paramount to designing appropriate instruction and services. And while any significant impairment in a child’s ability to understand and use language plays an enormous role in a child’s ability to learn and make progress in the general education curriculum, it does not, in and of itself, mean that a child cannot learn and make progress. Indeed, meeting and supporting a child’s communication needs can be pivotal to the child’s full participation and progress in the general education curriculum and nonacademic activities.
Alternative ways of communicating | What are some of the alternative ways of communicating? Here are some examples of different communication modes, from very basic to highly sophisticated.
Eye gaze/eye pointing
Facial expression/body language/gestures
Head nod yes/no
Facilitated Communication via Assistive Technology
AAC or Aug Comm device
Communication methods in deafness | For children who are deaf or who have a hearing impairment (see statistics further below), there are a variety of different modes for communicating, including:
Cued Speech Method
American Sign Language (Bilingual/Bicultural)
Total Communication Method. (U.S. Department of Education, 2005)
The first three of these—auditory/oral, auditory-verbal, and cued speech—all include a spoken language approach to communicating. More about all these approaches is available at:
Alexander Graham Bell Association
American Society for Deaf Children
Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse
Interpreting services | IEP teams may find it useful to examine the definition of interpreting services to determine how the communication needs of children who are deaf or hearing impaired can be addressed. Interpreting services are listed in IDEA as a “related service” and, when used with respect to children who are deaf or hard of hearing, include:
(i) Oral transliteration services, cued language transliteration services, sign language transliteration and interpreting services, and transcription services, such as communication access real-time translation (CART), C-Print, and TypeWell; and
(ii) Special interpreting services for children who are deaf-blind. [§300.34(c)(4)]
As a related service, then, these interpreting services may be made available to the child, if the IEP team determines that he or she needs the service in order to benefit from special education.
Supplementary aids and services | Supplementary aids and services are also used to support a child with disabilities and must be specified by the IEP team on the child’s IEP if the team determines that the child needs such services. These often are relevant for children who are deaf or who have hearing loss. They are defined as:
…aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education classes, other education-related settings, and in extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate in accordance with §§300.114 through 300.116.
The IDEA 2004 has modified this definition from the one used previously—it now includes extracurricular and nonacademic settings within its scope. This addition is in keeping with this special factor’s emphasis upon the child’s opportunities to communicate with peers and professional personnel in his or her language or communication mode. Supplementary aids and services provided in extracurricular and nonacademic settings will now enlarge the range of settings in which the child would have such communication opportunities.
A helpful checklist is provided as Resource D-6 in Building the Legacy, NICHCY’s training curriculum on IDEA, and can help IEP teams shape their discussion of this special factor and make appropriate determinations for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing.
A rich source of information on communication can also be found in the Communication Fact Sheets for Parents series of the National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind (NTAC), a member of OSEP’s TA&D Network.
Special Factor 5: Assistive Technology
The fifth and final special factor that the IEP team must consider relates to whether the child needs assistive technology (AT) devices and services.
Helpful checklist for IEP teams | A helpful checklist is provided as Resource D-9 in Building the Legacy, NICHCY’s training curriculum on IDEA, and can help IEP teams consider this special factor.
IDEA 2004’s definitions | The definitions of AT devices and AT services contained in IDEA 2004 read as follows:
§300.5 Assistive technology device.
Assistive technology device means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device.
§300.6 Assistive technology service.
Assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The term includes—
(a) The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child’s customary environment;
(b) Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities;
(c) Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
(d) Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
(e) Training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or, if appropriate, that child’s family; and
(f) Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that child.
Assistive technology devices can help many children do certain activities or tasks. Examples of these devices are:
devices that make the words bigger on the computer screen or that “read” the typed words aloud—which can help children who do not see well;
electronic talking boards—which can help students who have trouble speaking; and
computers and special programs for the computer—which can help students with all kinds of disabilities learn more easily.
AT must be considered for all children with disabilities, regardless of disability, and as is true for other special factors, consideration must be individualized. Assistive technology services include evaluating the child to see if he or she could benefit from using an assistive device. These services also include providing the devices and training the child (or family or the professionals who work with the child) to use the device.
For many children, the first line of inquiry is whether the child’s IEP can be implemented satisfactorily in the regular educational environment with the use of supplementary aids and services. Since AT devices or services can be provided as supplementary aids or services, a child’s IEP team may need to consider whether a particular child requires a particular AT device or service, or whether school personnel require aid or support to enable a child with a disability to be educated satisfactorily in the regular education environment. Section 300.320(a)(4) of IDEA requires the IEP team to include a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child. This would include any AT devices and services (determined by the IEP team) that the child needs in order for the child to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
Another topic that an IEP team may need to consider on a case-by-case basis is whether a child with a disability may need to use a school-purchased AT device in settings other than school, such as the child’s home or other parts of the community, in order for the child to receive FAPE.
The ABCs of AT
The Center on Technology and Disability (CTD) is an excellent place to learn more about AT for children with disabilities. CTD has an entire section of its website devoted to the IEP process, which can be very helpful to teams deciding what type(s) of AT would directly benefit a given student. CTD also offers many of its family-friendly fact sheets and materials in Spanish.
Special Factors in IEP Development
Participants can ask questions, share, and make comments to Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans | Louisiana Parent Training & Information Center staff and your peers about anything disability-related.
This group is private and closed to the public. Parents, educators, providers, etc. are allowed and encouraged to join.
To join, please visit
LAdisABILITY Talk is a statewide online group where we can TALK all day, every day about disability issues!
700 Hickory Avenue
Harahan, LA 70123
Louisiana Student Standards
Have you ever wondered what your child is supposed to be learning in school? Academic Standards define the knowledge and skills that students are expected to learn in a subject in each grade level. Louisiana’s Department of Education has a comprehensive list of all academic standards on their website. All students, even students receiving special education are supposed to be working on these standards.
25 years, cont. from p.7
By Ray Vigil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in El Paso, Texas
FREE UP YOUR TIME BY USING MY SOCIAL SECURITY | Time is one of our most valuable commodities. That’s why at Social Security, we are constantly improving our online resources to make doing business with us easier and faster.
With a my Social Security account, those receiving benefits can change their address and direct deposit information; get proof of their benefits; and request replacement documents, like a Medicare card. If you aren’t currently getting benefits, you can check your earnings record, get estimates of your future benefits, and view your Social Security Statement. In many states, you can even request a replacement Social Security card online. See everything you can do with a my Social Security account and open one today.
You don’t need a my Social Security account to:
Select or change the way you receive information from Social Security if you are blind or visually impaired
Block electronic and automated telephone access to your personal information
Apply for extra help with your Medicare prescription drug plan costs.
Be sure to share my Social Security with friends and family. By freeing up their time, they may plan on spending more of their valuable time with the people they love.
CERTAIN DISABILITY PAYMENTS AND WORKERS' COMPENSATION MAY AFFECT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS | Many people working nowadays have more than one job. This means they have several sources of income. It’s important to keep in mind that having multiple sources of income can sometimes affect your Social Security benefits; but, it depends on the source.
Disability payments from private sources, such as private pensions or insurance benefits, don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits. Workers’ compensation and other public disability benefits, however, may reduce what you receive from Social Security. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid to a worker because of a job-related injury or illness. These benefits may be paid by federal or state workers’ compensation agencies, employers, or by insurance companies on behalf of employers.
Public disability payments that may affect your Social Security benefits are those paid from a federal, state, or local government for disabling medical conditions that are not job-related.
Examples of these are civil service disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability.
Some public benefits don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits. If you receive Social Security disability benefits, and one of the following types of public benefits, your Social Security benefits will not be reduced:
Veterans Administration benefits;
State and local government benefits, if Social Security taxes were deducted from your earnings; or
Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
You can read more about the possible ways your benefits might be reduced here.
Please be sure to report changes. If there is a change in the amount of your other disability payment, or if those benefits stop, please notify us right away. Tell us if the amount of your workers’ compensation or public disability payment increases or decreases. Any change in the amount or frequency of these benefits is likely to affect the amount of your Social Security benefits.
An unexpected change in benefits can have unintended consequences. You can be better prepared if you’re informed and have financially prepared yourself. Visit our benefits planner webpage for information about your options for securing your future.
3 REASONS WHY SOCIAL SECURITY IS IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN | In the 21st century, more women work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. Yet, on average, women face greater economic challenges than men in retirement.
Nearly 55 percent of the people receiving Social Security benefits are women. Women generally live longer than men while often having lower lifetime earnings. And women usually reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets compared to men. These are three key reasons
why Social Security is vitally important to women.
If you’ve worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system for at least 10 years and have earned a minimum of 40 work credits, you may be eligible for your own benefits. Once you reach age 62, you may be eligible for your own Social Security benefit whether you’re married or not and whether your spouse collects Social Security or not. If you’re eligible and apply for benefits on more than one work record, you generally receive the higher benefit amount.
The sooner you start planning for retirement, the better off you’ll be. We have specific information for women here.
SOCIAL SECURITY HELPS VETERANS AND ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY MEMBERS
Every year on Veterans Day, our nation honors the people who risk their lives to protect our country. Social Security’s disability program is an important part of our obligation to wounded warriors and their families.
For military members who return home with injuries, Social Security is a resource they can turn to. If you know any wounded veterans, please let them know about Social Security’s Wounded Warriors website. You can find it at .
The Wounded Warriors website answers many commonly asked questions, and shares other useful information about disability benefits, including how veterans can receive expedited processing of disability claims. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application.
The expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.
Even active duty military who continue to receive pay while in a hospital or on medical leave should consider applying for disability benefits if they’re unable to work due to a disabling condition. Active duty status and receipt of military pay doesn’t necessarily prevent payment of Social Security disability benefits. Although a person can’t receive Social Security disability benefits while engaging in substantial work for pay or profit, receipt of military payments should never stop someone from applying for disability benefits from Social Security.
Social Security honors veterans and active duty members of the military every day by giving them the respect they deserve. Let these heroes know they can count on us when they need to take advantage of their earned benefits.
UPDATES FROM SOCIAL SECURITY
Family Guide to IEP Team Member Roles
This 2019 PowerPoint from NTACT is divided into parts by the roles that various people on the IEP team play. The first part is directed at students and lists 10 questions that a student would answer, such as “What are my responsibilities in preparing for my IEP meetings?” The same structure is used for other roles on the team: parent, teacher, related service provider, VR representative, healthcare professional, and adult disabilities service agency representative.
Bullying and Harassment of Students with Disabilities: Top 10 Facts that Parents, Educators, and Students Should Know
This article in the current issue of eParent addresses the worrisome reality of bullying of children with disabilities. A companion article focuses on the bullying of youth and those with special health care needs, and offers proactive strategies to support these students and prevent their bullying at school.
Understood’s Fact Sheets
Understood.org has redesigned 6 of its fact sheets, paring them down to 1 page, with wonderfully simple reading levels and layouts. The fact sheets in question are: ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Slow Processing Speed, Developmental Coordination Disorder, and Sensory Processing Issues.
A Tale of Two Conversations is a two-part video showing actors playing a parent of a child with a disability and a school administrator. The meeting was requested by the parent and takes place in the administrator’s office. Take One shows the parent and administrator talking about the child’s special education program. They are talking, but not listening. Their communication is unproductive. Take Two shows each person using more effective communication skills. The video was originally developed by the Office for Dispute Resolution in Pennsylvania.
Both video conversations are available for viewing online at CADRE, as is a companion Study Guide that looks more deeply into the effective communication skills shown in the second video.
Before Viewing | CADRE recommends that, before viewing A Tale of Two Conversations, users watch two other videos in CADRE’s Working Together suite. Those videos are: Listening and Understanding Positions & Interests.
Supported Decision Making: Part 1 (Skills to Build Independence)
An important part of becoming an independent adult is being able to make decisions. This 53-minute webinar discusses steps that will help build skills and answer questions such as: What does it mean to be a supporter? How does supported decision making differ from guardianship? When can we begin skill development?
RESOURCES for PARENTS & EDUCATORS
The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education
Video | A Tale of Two Conversations
Seizing the Opportunity: Educating Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools
This report by the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) examines how some charter schools are improving outcomes for students with disabilities and what factors influence their ability to do so. It offers lessons for all schools working to improve how we educate students with disabilities.
Guardianship: Clashing Views from Self-Advocates and Family Leaders
This blog post from Rylin Rodgers at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) readily acknowledges that passions are likely to flare and clash when the topic of guardianship comes up. She focuses her blog on the range of options that exist to provide support without the stripping of rights that guardianship represents–in particular, the role that supported decision-making can play.
Kids with disabilities who attend public charter schools (and their parents) retain all rights and protections under IDEA as they would at other public schools.
A charter school may not unilaterally limit the services that will be provided to a student with a disability.
Students with disabilities have important rights under two federal laws.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504).
In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate you will learn about the rights of students with disabilities in Charter Schools and the schools' legal obligations to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
Implementing PBIS in High Schools: Student Voice
Incorporating student voice in a meaningful way in high schools requires creativity due to the large number of students and staff and the organizational culture of the school. Given what we know about adolescent development, allowing for student voice is critical for building stakeholder support. This 6-page brief from the PBIS Center identifies some of the effective strategies high schools have used to include student voice.
Videos | High-Leverage Practices in Special Education
What do high-leverage practices (HLPs) look like in use? CEC’s new video series on the subject can support teacher educators and teachers with concrete, easy-to-access examples of HLPs in action, in real classrooms, with real students. Definitely a great new resource to share with schools!
Read a Weather Map
Are your children or students curious about how to interpret weather maps and understand forecasts? Teaching kids how to read a weather map can help them understand the weather and know what to expect. Use this guide to learn how the symbols tell about the forecast.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 1 – World AIDS Day - The theme for the 2019 observance is “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community”.
World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988. Each year, organizations and individuals across the world bring attention to the HIV epidemic, endeavor to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, speak out against HIV stigma, and call for an increased response to move toward ending the HIV epidemic.
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
Building on many decades of UN’s work in the field of disability, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006, has further advanced the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international development frameworks, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, the New Urban Agenda, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.
December 3 – Giving Tuesday
GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.
Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.
One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. We've created a directory to help you find organizations, charities, events and more in your own community.
December 10 – Human Rights Day
The UN Human Rights Office upholds values that are the roots of peace and inclusion. We advocate practical solutions to fear and injustice, so governments protect the rights of all their people in line with international law. We monitor their policies and call them out if they fall short. We stand for greater freedoms. Stonger respect. More compassion.
That's What continued p.14
National RAISE Center@SPAN, 11.12.2019 | Because That's What You Do, Newark, NJ, Dr. Rachel Kallem Whitman © 2018 RAISE Center
My psychotic break was terrifying, but I learned that I have to be honest about my bipolar disorder. I can’t hide behind my desire to be a perfect patient; I have to acknowledge that part of understanding my bipolar is accepting that inevitably my hidden illness will break through. My job is to manage my mental health, which requires self-care and authenticity. It includes asking for help when I need it and taking a break when I feel my illness start to gnaw its way to the surface. It means I have to be kind to myself because this isn’t my fault.
The Louisiana Department of Education is committed to helping families find the right school or early childhood center for their children, and providing them with helpful information about Louisiana’s schools.
The Louisiana School Finder is an interactive, online tool that provides families with:
school performance scores and early childhood performance ratings to show how well schools and centers are preparing students for the next grade-level;
basic information about schools and centers such as their address, website, hours of operation, and principal or director’s name; and
listings of course offerings, clubs, enrichment and extracurricular activities.
To find out information about schools and early
childhood centers in your area,
visit www.louisianaschools.com, and type in a school or center’s name, or your zip code.
The Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center (LaPTIC) is a program of Families Helping Families of GNO and a grant from the US Department of Education; Office of Special Education (OSEP) as Louisiana's official and only statewide federally funded Parent Training and Information Center.
Any information provided by Families Helping Families of Greater New Orleans (FHF) and/or Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center (LaPTIC), its staff, and/or its volunteers is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Any information expressed or implied is not intended nor should be construed as legal, medical, or other professional advice. FHF and/or LaPTIC does not render legal, medical, or professional advice or recommendations; nor is legal, medical, or other professional advice implied by any information given. Any information provided should not replace consultations with qualified legal, educational, healthcare, or other professionals to meet individual or professional needs. Reference to any program, service, therapy, or treatment option does not imply endorsement by FHF and/or LaPTIC or by its organizational staff/members and should not be construed as such.
e-Learning Mini Modules are formatted for all devices so even if you are at a ball game, dance practice or waiting for your dinner to arrive in a restaurant, you can log onto our website and watch one of our e-Learning Mini Modules in approximately 10 minutes. That's right - you only need about 10 minutes!
CLICK HERE to go to our website and learn more about the e-Learning Modules!
700 Hickory Avenue
Harahan, LA 70123
The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) has four developmental disability home and community-based waivers, New Opportunities Waiver (NOW), Residential Options Waiver (ROW), Supports Waiver, and Children's Choice Waiver have now been operationalized to a tiered waiver system of service delivery, which will allow for individuals to be supported in the most appropriate waiver. To learn more, click here.