Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
In October I attended the amended IEP meeting for my nonverbal son that was a result of my request for an Occupational Therapy assessment. That request was made at the annual IEP the previous school year.
Based on the information presented and shared at this IEP, I requested right there an Assistive Technology assessment. The good news is that Occupational Therapy was not switched entirely to a consult basis, so the services are still in place for a Therapist to be in the classroom.
With the addition of speech services this school year - this has always been on his IEP, but there was no therapist at his Elementary School his fifth grade year and he was on waiting list last year at this Middle School. We are now having speech therapy one time in the class with the therapist and one time for the entire class. We also go to a Non-Public agency that is through the school district for speech therapy one hour per week during the school year and extended school year, which means we can go during vacations and started sessions the last month of summer.
Speech was included in the amended IEP meeting per my request so we could work on a new goal. I also requested a goal in writing from the NPA therapist, which turned out to be very similar to the school site speech therapist presented goal.
At the meeting the speech therapist mentioned how he had requested an Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Specialist to consult. This was taking place the following week with the same Specialist who did Matthew's initial AAC assessment when he was in preschool. I was happy to hear that this therapist was seeking another opinion and wanted someone from AAC to observe Matthew utilizing the Go Talk 9+ and come up with new ideas on how to implement it further in the classroom.
Another AAC Specialist was at Matthew's triennial IEP back in Elementary School and did a presentation for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Special Education Multicultural Advisory Committee (SEMAC). The topic was Purposeful Communication Techniques.
The reason for the Assistive Technology assessment request is that I learned more about Matthew's behaviors. He continually runs out of the elective computer class that his special day class goes to. This is part of a general education class. I inquired to the time of this class and how his schedule for the day goes. It turns out that this is the class after lunch. Last year he had Adaptive Physical Education (APE) after lunch. The aide is eating lunch at this time.
The teacher believes this is a game and the aide thinks Matthew is running out due to the aide not being there. I said he needed to gain interest in the computer class with the use of an adapted keyboard like the one he used in Elementary school when the Occupational Therapist brought in Assistive Technology for this very reason.
I also inquired where Matthew is running to when he leaves the computer classroom - he is going to Physical Education. Last year Matthew had Horticulture as his elective class, which brought about another set of issues relating to grades.
The schedule last year for Matthew flowed better with Horticulture before lunch and Adaptive Physical Education after lunch with vocational being his last period where he usually is raking up leaves outside the classroom.
To add to the changes this year Matthew is the only male in the class and they are also eating nutrition and lunch there as well. I feel this is not following the percentage of time Matthew is to be in special education by not having him integrated during meal times. There is a new girl that has some hitting issues so a classroom aide is going to get the meals at both times.
At the parent-teacher conference last week I suggested that Matthew accompany the aide to the lunch room to help carry the trays and food back as this will give him a movement break. I also said that depending on the outcome of the Assistive Technology assessment (as of this date has yet to be done, but the date for the IEP is set), I will be asking for them to amend the IEP to have Matthew do a lap around the track after lunch prior to going into the Computer classroom.
The Teacher is hopeful that the class will go back to the lunchroom soon as he is losing his freedom at that time. I might even have it added to Matthew's IEP that he have his lunch outside the room. There are some pros and cons to this though because of the microwave and toaster in the classroom if Matthew does not like the school lunch there is always an alternative he can have like english muffins or pizza.
On the school report form it is written that Matthew ran out of the computer class or maybe regular classroom and most times where he went to. It does not seem to be a game to me because his running has a purpose - to get to PE. Most times as parents we need to gather all the information we are given from the school and evaluate what is right there.
By comparing last year school schedule to this years and knowing where he is going and the time this is taking place; it is evident he wants to do some running. Add to the mix that he is stuck inside his class for nutrition and lunch it is clear that Matthew needs some running and outside time before sitting still looking at a computer screen. With the adaptive keyboard he might actually take an interest. There could also be some modifications to his classroom.
I am also considering a revision to his behavior support plan since there are no consequences being given or consistency for what transpires when he gets back to either classroom from the running out. It might just be time for a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) or Functional Analysis Assessment - (FAA) to get another set of eyes to weigh in on this. The outcome from an FBA would be a new Behavior Support Plan.