3 Ways to Use Tape Recordings to Help Your Child in Special Education

Are you the parent of a child with autism? Are you the parent of a

child receiving special education services? Would you like to learn

parenting tips that will help you become an equal participant in your

child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting? This article will

discuss 3 ways that tape recording can help you in advocating for an

appropriate education for your child with a disability

3 ways to use tape recording:

1. Tape recording can allow you to focus on what is happening during

the meeting, rather than focusing on taking notes. Listen to

everything that is going on, and do write down important things. Speak

up and give your opinion as often as you need to, for the benefit of

your child.

2. If an IEP meeting is tape recorded, you will be able to go over it

at a later time, and fill in your notes. It will also allow you to

remember things that may have happened that you missed. IEP meetings

can be adversarial. A tape recording allows you to listen to the

interactions in the privacy of your own home.

3. Tape recordings of IEP meetings can be used as evidence at a due

process hearing. In order to use a tape recording, as evidence, it

will have to be transcribed. Tape recorders should be digital, and

powerful enough to pick up several different people’s voices.

A lot of special education personnel become very resistant when

parents want to tape record IEP meetings. Below is an interpretation

of tape recording under IDEA, by the Office of Special Education

Programs (OSEP).

OSEP published its question #12 opinion in the Federal Register Volume

57, No. 183, Sept. 29, 1992 interpreting tape recording IEP meetings

and stated “that it is permissible to tape IEP meetings at the option

of either the parents or the agency.”

There have also been several law suits that have given parents the

right to tape record IEP meetings. One of these court cases in

Connecticut V.W. v. Favolise had the court reason that parents have a

statutory right, to attend and participate in IEP meetings, and the

district could not legally engage in an act to limit the parents

rights.

If special education personnel refuse to allow you to tape record,

because they say that they have a district policy, ask for a written

copy of the policy. OSEP in a memorandum 91-24 July 18, 1991 stated

“Thus any policy limiting or prohibiting a parent’s right to tape

record the proceedings at an IEP meeting must provide for exceptions

if they are necessary to ensure that the parent is able to understand

the proceedings at the IEP meeting. . .” Ask your school district for

an exception, so that you can understand the IEP meeting.

With the written policy in hand, cancel the IEP meeting, and send a

state complaint to your state department of education. Tell them that

you asked school personnel for an exception and they refused. The

state will have 60 days to resolve your complaint.

Tape recording can help you be an active participant in your child’s

IEP meeting. Your child is depending on your help, do not let them

down.

Tips on Helping Your Child Become a Better Writer

The best way to help your child become a better writer is to separate the mechanics of writing (grammar, punctuation, handwriting, spelling) from the creative part. Your child’s strength is in his vivid imagination – an important asset in all writers. Help your child learn that writing is a two-stage process: the first stage is getting the ideas on paper; the second step is correcting or editing the work.

When writing the first draft of an essay or story, encourage your child to write things down in whatever form or order he is comfortable with. Once those ideas are in a written form, you can guide your child to developing a more polished version. If your child is very young, you will have to give a lot of help, but as he grows older, he will learn to do more for himself. Keep in mind that even professional writers hire editors to proofread and correct their work!

MIND MAPPING

A good technique for getting ideas to flow on the paper is to use mind-mapping. Your child will start with a main idea and then write down a few words or will draw a picture representing the idea in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. He will then draw lines that go out from the center for each main idea he has about the subject. At each line he should write a few words or draw a picture. He can also add details to each idea by writing even more words and connecting them with a line to the idea they relate to.

Once the ideas are written down in this mind mapping format, you can help your child develop them into written sentences, using the child’s map as a guide for developing the structure of his paragraph or essay.

POETRY

Introduce your child to poetry or verse. Try using free verse-poetry that does not have to have a particular rhythm or cadence, and does not have to rhyme. One of the advantages of writing poetry is that it frees the child from writing conventions, such as the need to use complete sentences. It also allows your child to experiment with the sounds of words and to use new words that are evocative of a particular mood or feeling.

Your child might enjoy writing haiku, mostly because it is short. Haiku traditionally has three lines consisting of seventeen syllables in total, usually arranged in lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Although the form is very brief, writing haiku will help your child develop sensitivity to the phonetic structure of word segments.

Another fun form of poetry is to make a slideshow poem. You can have your child take 5 or 6 photographs based on a theme (a recent trip, a family member’s life). Import the pictures into a software program such as PowerPoint or iPhoto and have the child write a poem based on the pictures by posting a word or two with each photo image. Make it really fun by adding special effects, transitions, or music to spice up the slideshow poem.

Teach your child how to write an acrostic poem. This is where the first letter of each line spells out his name when read from top to bottom. Once the child writes a poem based on his name, then he can write about family members, pets and friends.

PLAYS

You might also encourage your child to write a play, it is sometimes easier for the reluctant writer to focus only on the dialogue among the characters. Your child might enjoy presenting his play as a puppet show or using a video camera to make his own movie using his own written screenplay.

Writing, like reading is one of those tasks that will only improve through a lot of practice. Set up a designated writing area somewhere in your home and have writing material available to your child at all times. This includes markers, pencils, pens, and crayons, as well as coloring books, paper, and journals. Provide lots of writing opportunities for your child and above all – keep it fun!

5 Lies About Special Education Transportation, and How You Can Overcome the Lies and Get Your Child

Are you the parent of a child with autism or a physical disability, that receives special education services? Does your child need transportation services? Do you think that special education personnel are not being truthful about what the federal special education law (IDEA 2004) says about transportation? This article will be discussing 5 lies that are commonly told to parents about transportation. Also, discussion on how to overcome these lies to help your child receive needed, transportation services.

Lie 1: We can keep your child on the bus for as long as we want. While IDEA 2004 does not address length of bus ride, long bus rides can be negatively affecting a child's education (causing stress, negative behavior). The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) stated in a policy letter to anonymous (1993) that lengthy bus rides may be discriminatory, and may result in denial of FAPE. Why could a long bus ride be discriminatory? If children with disabilities are on the bus longer than children without disabilities, this could be considered discrimination.

Lie 2: No one says that we have to provide transportation to your child, and we are not going to. Transportation is considered a related service and needs to be given to a child, if they need the service so that they can receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Lie 3: The transportation director makes decisions about whether a child needs transportation not the IEP team. In a document from OSEP entitled Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation OSEP states "The IEP team is responsible for determining if transportation is required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education and related services …" If your child needs transportation make sure that it is listed in your child's IEP as a related service (if child not riding regular education bus).

Lie 4: The state says that we can bring your child to school 15 minutes late every day, and take her out 15 minutes early due to transportation issues. Ask the school to show you in writing any documentation that proves that they have the right to do what they want to do. In the above example you could ask for "Please show me in writing where it states that our State Department of Education is allowing cutting short of education due to transportation issues!"
Actually the above OSEP document makes it clear that the school day for a child with a disability should not be longer or shorter than the school day for general education students. Since a child would receive less educational time this could also be a denial of FAPE.

Lie 5: If you want your child to participate in extracurricular activities then you must provide transportation, we do not have to. Actually IDEA 2004 states that a child with a disability has a right to transportation for required after school activities as well as for extracurricular activities. Make sure that the extracurricular activity is listed on your child's IEP, and also listed that they require transportation in order to participate in the activity.

How do you overcome these transportation lies?

1. Learn about transportation requirements in IDEA 2004 (which is the federal special education law). I use the book Special Education Law 2nd edition from Peter and Pam Wright, which is fantastic. This book as well as a lot more advocacy information for parents can be found at: http://www.wrightslaw.com .

2. Call your states Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) for help with advocating for transportation issues.

3. Bring all of the above information to an IEP meeting to assist you in your advocacy.

Good luck in your advocacy!