Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
As we enter into the year 2009 there are many goals and changes I need to make for my two teens on the autism spectrum. I am going to tackle them throughout the year and highlighting them here.
My 13 year old turns 14 in March and will have one more year of California Virtual Academy (CAVA)for Middle School before going back to Los Angeles Unified School Disrtrict (LAUSD). The ITP is the next phase of planning.
My 12 year old is in sixth grade in an MRS class (Mental Retardation Severe) with general ed inclusion for Horticulture and Physical Education.
The focus for 2009 for my nonverbal son will be to get him off the waiting list for the Speech Therapist at his school. If this does not pan out soon than a State Complaint is the next step. He went the entire year of fifth grade with no speech related services. We already had compensatory time from fourth grade that was carried over. We want services, not a number of hours owed on an IEP.
I received a letter from his Middle School during the holiday break that needs to be signed by me in regard to his last progress report. "We are sorry to inform you that based on the December 12 progress report there is a possibility that your child may not culminate at the end of the 8th grade or meet the criteria for Middle School Certificate of Completion."
This is for Horticulture where his MRS class goes into a general education classroom. My son is one of four kids in that class and goes with his teacher and aide. The teacher's comments state - Does not complete assignments/tasks. His grade is D, work habits are U for Unsatisfactory and E for Excellent on Cooperation.
For his other classes the teacher's comments - Grade based upon a modified curriculum. It seems to me that the Horticulture teacher is not following a modified curriculum for my special ed child. I find it interesting too that the pictures to be added for his Go Talk 9+ communication device for Horticulture did not come home until December for my other son to do the voice output for these. They were - hoe, shovel, gardening can, hose, rake and gardening. Without these pictures to show my child what he needed to do for Horticulture how did she communicate to him what his assignments and tasks were? This is not fair and I plan to visit the school to make a complaint in January.
The IEP for my child indicates his curriculum - Alternative - Special Education Curriculum
Assistive Technology Devices - shortened writing utensils, grips, highlighters, voice output device
Accommodations and Modifications - Repetition of instruction, rephrasing questions, redirection of activities, modeling of task, reinforcement, visual cues to modify behaviors and for transition, visual learning strategies, shorter assignments, task at a set area where gives him less stimulation and more sensory input.
Additional supports - Appropriate trained staff for behavioral support, AA in class and on school bus, assistance with communication and toileting
Supports for Participation in General Education Activities - recess, lunch, fieldtrips, assemblies, library, computer lab, toileting and communication. Special Day Program/AUT Teacher, AA, baseline assistant.
Standards Based Promotion - "Matthew's ability to meet grade level standards is impacted by his autism. It affects both receptive and expressive language; it affects his ability to access curriculum and it affects his social-emotional interactions. He is also impacted in his ability to remain in long periods in a general education class."
During my search I found this Reference Guide on student course codes for The Curriculum Guide for Students with Moderate to Severe Disabilities. I am thinking Horticulture would fall under Science.
I sent to the school the first day a Daily Report form we used throughout Elementary School. The teacher has filled it out almost daily and placed it in the backpack for me. They are all in a file. Here is a sampling of what has been mentioned regarding the Horticulture class.
12-19 - watched Mickey's Christmas Carol in Horticulture
12-18 - watched a movie in Horticulture
12-16 - Ms Suzuki worked with matthew while in Horticulture
12-15 - watched a movie because it was too wet to do gardening
12-11 - worked on pulling weeds
12-05 - watched a movie in Horticulture
12-04 - watched a movie in Horticulture
11-26 - had a picture test in Horticulture
11-21 - Horticulture - reviewed information on flowers
11-18 - went over parts of a flower
11-17 - Horticulture - watched movie, checked out germinating seeds
11-14 - Horticulture test
11-13 - Horticulture - watched a movie
11-07 - Horticulture - observed a seed germinating
11-06 - spent 20 minutes in restroom during Horticulture
11-05 - Germinating a seed in Horticulture
11-04 - Horticulture - learned about seeds
11-03 - dug a path for Horticulture
10-30 - worked on a pumpkin in Horticulture
10-29 - watched carving a pumpkin during Horticulture
10-27 - had a substitute who showed video for Horticulture
10-24 - watched a movie in Horticulture
10-23 - he did not participate in Horticulture
10-22 - he was noisy during Horticulture
10-21 - we did not do gardening in Horticulture
10-20 - ran a lot during Horticulture
October - C, S, S - Horticulture
November - C, S, S, - Horticulture
December - D, U, E - Horticulture
I heard back a few times from the aide after they got off the bus that some tasks were too dangerous for Matthew, like when they were laying down bricks and some of the tools were heavy. He came home several times with his white shirt filthy. I was told he liked pulling weeds.
Now this general education teacher is going to be the reason for my son not completing Middle School. I wonder if this is the way they keep special education students in school longer. I know my son can be in school until either 21 or 22, not sure the exact age for the State of California.
I did not appreciate this form letter and will be bringing IEP along with the daily reports to the school to straighten this issue out. The letter also states the following:
Students will receive a District approved Certificate of Completion if they meet minimum requirements for grades six through eight as indicated below.
1. Passing all courses, and
2. Meeting Standards-Based Promotion criteria identified in BUL-721 (Rev.)
Participation in the eighth grade culmination activity includes:
1. Passing all courses in grades six through eight,
2. Having no more than 2 U's in Cooperation during the eighth grade year (the two U's must come from different teachers when the student's schedule reflects multiple teachers),
3. Having no more than 2 U's in Work Habits for the eighth grade year (the 2 U's must come from different teachers),
4. Having an attendance rate of 95% for grades six through eight including a a serious or major illness, and
5. Abiding by school and District policies with respect to student conduct and school property.
The letter has a sentence to check off, print student name and parent signature - I have received and understand that my child is in danger of not meeting the criteria for Middle School Certificate of Completion.
It is a good thing I start the two-year term as Secretary in the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for LAUSD in January 2009.
7-page document - BUL-721
Summary of Performance Requirement for Students with Disabilities Graduating or Reaching Maximum Age of Attendance - LAUSD Reference Guide, April 25, 2008 - 12 page document