I recently accompanied a family to an IEP meeting in a small town that has never before had parents question the services their children receive. I come from San Diego, where services for children on the Autism Spectrum are fairly abundant in comparison. A typical IEP meeting for me is at least three hours long and includes an average of five additional team members. I was prepared for a long fight for what my client needed in order to make meaningful progress toward his goals, especially since this was his first real IEP meeting. (Every meeting for him up to this point was 20 minutes maximum!) Not surprisingly, the meeting lasted well over three hours and is now known as "The longest IEP in the history of the school district." -I think it is important to point out that my client received everything his parents requested, all of which was reasonable.
I wanted to share this experience because I know there are many parents used to showing up to their child's IEP for a brief meeting that turns into a simple conversational review of the progress made (or lack of). When the school district is held accountable for the education they are supposed to provide and the IEP is dissected line-by-line, the meeting will certainly last longer than 20 minutes. I know parents can be exhausted by the terminology and sometimes condescending attitude of school officials, which is why I often recommend bringing someone along to be your voice. I understand that I do not make many friends in school districts by advocating for parents, but frankly I don't care. I simply want our children to receive the services they are entitled. Fight the good fight!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you, as parents, badger your service providers to follow through with the services they claim to provide. If your regional center, school district, etc. talks to you about setting up a home program, school support, or other service, ask them when. Make them commit to a time-frame. Do not allow them to throw your child on the back-burner for when they are ready to get to you. Remember that "the squeaky wheel gets the oil?" Squeak as loud and as often as you can until your child is getting what he/she needs!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
There has been quite a bit of discussion as to whether ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) programs are better than AVB (Applied Verbal Behavior) programs and which program design is best for what type of child. It is important to understand that Verbal Behavior programs are designed based on the principles of ABA. Some people are under the impression that ABA programs only utilize Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) and do not focus on Verbal Behavior. While there are (unfortunately) consultants and agencies which mostly utilize DTT in their programs, DTT is not interchangeable with ABA. Again, DTT was designed based on the principles of ABA. DTT can be utilized to teach a variety of skills, including Verbal Behavior. I know the alphabet-soup associated with the treatments for educating individuals with developmental delays can be very confusing. I hope this short explanation can help to shed some light as to what a few of the terms mean. All the methodologies discussed are based on the work of Skinner. The procedures of instruction have been altered and improved slightly since he published "Verbal Behavior," but the concepts are all traced back to his work.