10 Pet Peeves of a School-Based OT

Learn 10 pet peeves of a school based Occupational Therapist

10 Pet Peeves of a school-based Occupational Therapist

In the spirit of teaching the general public about OT, I’ve decided to share some of my “O.T. pet peeves”.  The teachers that I work with know me pretty well.  As a true Sagittarius,  I am a very easy going person, but some things drive me nuts! (Yes I believe in that stuff)

My pet peeves are all with good reason, I swear! Over the years, I’ve managed to rub my “O.T. ways” off on many of them.  Here are my pet peeves with explanations:

CUT THE CLUTTER

1) Over decorated classrooms –  A classroom with too much stuff going on can be really distracting for kids with attention issues.  Too much clutter, every wall covered, things hanging from the ceiling, desks covered with pictures and visual cues, etc.  Children who are easily overstimulated get distracted by all of these things.

Teachers wonder why so many kids have such poor attention – maybe all the clutter is what is distracting them?  Also, when children are trying to copy from the board, they need to change the position of their head (as well as their visual gaze) from looking at a vertical surface (board) to a horizontal surface (notebook). Think of all of the visual distractions in the path from the board to the notebook.  No wonder they have difficulty copying!

Check out my video with tips for “copying from the board” here.

This post contains affiliate links.

2)  Gluesticks – The teachers that I work with know that I NEVER want glue sticks if we are working on an art and craft project.  I prefer regular good old Elmers glue!  Why?  I know they can be messy at first, but that’s because children need to learn how hard to squeeze. They need to be able to recognize that the glue cap isn’t open.  They need to use their little hand muscles to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.  Real glue, please!  Also – need a quick glue cap #OThack for little hands?  Use a Wikki Stix  (aka Bendaroo) on the cap so kids know where to pinch.  It also helps them to hold, so their little fingers don’t slide when they twist.

pet peeves of a school based Occupational Therapist

SENSORY PROCESSING

3)   Too many cushion seats – This one is in a special case.  Generally, if a teacher asks me for a cushion seat, I’m psyched.  I love that they are looking for a strategy to increase a child’s ability to focus.  BUT – when a teacher approaches me and says “I need five seat cushions”, my immediate reply (in my head, of course) is “Um, NO, you need to change your classroom routine.” If that many children are having difficulty sitting still or focusing, the classroom routine should be altered to include lots of brain breaks, heavy work, and changes in position.

A cushion seat should be the exception, not the rule. Kids need to move! 

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How to Improve Communication From Your Kid’s School Therapist

Communication: the key to success!

Since it’s the beginning of the school year, I’ve decided to share my best advice for improving communication with your child’s therapist. Parents sometimes feel helpless because they don’t know what their child is doing in OT, PT, or Speech.   You can’t be with your child all day long, so you don’t know if they had therapy that day, if it was cancelled, if he/she did a great job, etc.  If your child is non-verbal it’s even more of a mystery.

 

Communicate from the beginning!

My best advice for starting the year off right is to communicate with the therapist.  I like for parents to send in a notebook so I can write a short blurb about what we worked on.  I like to give handouts for suggestions at home and let them know how their child is progressing.

 

However, some therapists don’t like notebooks.  For example, my sister-in-law is a speech therapist. She sees children in groups of five. That means that at the “end” of her session, she would need to write in 5 different books.  With 7 therapy periods a day, that would be 35 notebooks a day. Now, what is more important? Writing in the books or working with the kids? You can guess the answer.

 

For me, I see children individually or in a group of two. So it only takes a few minutes to jot down what we worked on and how the child did.  I have some parents who write me back or put a checkmark every time I write.  Then I have a few others who don’t do anything.  Now I don’t know if they read my note  or even saw it.  Did the book even go home? After a few of these, I have to be honest: I am less motivated to write in that book. Because 1) why bother if you are not reading it and 2) it takes time away from your child.

Communication Notebooks don’t always work

Sometimes parents send in a book and then they get annoyed when the therapist doesn’t write in it. Here is my advice for that:

1)  Write to them first.  Tell them you want to communicate and would love feedback about how your child is doing.  You would love suggestions for home, etc.

2) If it’s been a few weeks and you haven’t heard from your therapist, write a note to the teacher.  Maybe the book is lost or maybe your child sticks it in his desk instead of his backpack.

Sometimes the schedule (the therapist’s or the child’s) interferes with writing in the book, too.  In Long Island, most districts do not have their own OT’s and PT’s.  So the therapists are from contract agencies, working in multiple buildings and even multiple districts in one day.  This means that sometimes they eat lunch in their car in between schools.  Life is chaotic.

Anyway, my point is that a day in a therapist’s life is often rushed and scheduled down to the very minute.  So is your child’s.  They have to fit your child’s OT or PT session around lunch, literacy block, other therapies, resource room and specials.  This means they may pick up your child straight from music and then bring them right down to lunch. Maybe they go straight off the bus to the OT room and then the class picks them up on the way to art. The child isn’t in their classroom and therefore they couldn’t grab their notebook.

Communication: Don’t believe what you hear!

Then there is also this scenario:

Mom: “What did you do in OT today?”

Johnny: “We colored”.

The OT: “Johnny colored in a color-by number sheet to work on visual perceptual skills and matching while laying on his belly to increase upper extremity strength and stability.  He is working to increase his endurance for writing.”

Mom: “What did you do in OT today?”
Johnny: “We played games!”

The OT: “We’ve been working on visual perceptual skills and fine motor skills. Johnny has trouble tracking from left to right when copying from the board.  We played “Battleship” because it works on all of those skills at once. We also played it laying our bellies to improve Johnny’s shoulder stability.”

See the difference?  Kids work hard to sit it school all day, so OT and PT are a great chance for them to move and “have fun”.   So most therapists try to work on their therapy goals while incorporating movement and fun for the child.  To the outsider it looks like all fun and games.  But there is some hard work going on.

Your therapist isn’t going to tell your child all the things they are really working on. So your child won’t tell you.

Communication is KEY to progress and carryover.  Your child’s therapist wants them to succeed and so do you.  If the notebook doesn’t work, ask if you can email. Some districts don’t want teachers to email, so if that’s the case ask for monthly updates or a phone call once in a while.  Keep in mind that your child’s therapist may have between 20-60 other kids on their caseload.

Do you have any tips for communicating with your therapists? Please share!

Miss Jaime OT

Have a great year! ~Miss Jaime, OT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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hair pulling

Ask Miss Jaime OT: How do I stop my child from pulling/playing with hair at naptime?

 

Hair pulling during nap time…

Question from Jamie  in Naples, Florida:

“Hey Miss Jaime! Wondering if you have any sensory ideas to keep my daughters hands busy. She will be three in April.  She would always play with her hair when she was tired and during self soothing before bed, but it’s escalating to some pulling of her hair at school during nap time out of boredom I believe since she will no longer take naps. I suggested giving her books to read, but is there anything else you would recommend?”

Replace the behavior…

Thank you so much for taking the time to write in. Most children (and adults for that matter) have habits or self soothing behaviors that they find calming. Using her hands to play with her hair seems to be your daughter’s way of relaxing. Books are a good idea, but if your daughter is seeking sensory input, you may want to give her a tactile toy or blanket to replace the hair habit.   You could also try pulling her hair back for a while so there is nothing to play with (if it is long enough!)   Here are some cute tactile blankets and toys that might help.  I listed some “Taggies” products, but there are some popular fidgets and sensory products as well.  Good Luck!  I hope it helps!

 

*Affiliate Links

 Taggies Monkey Blanket

 

 

 Taggies Plush Toy, Cow

 

 Tactile Hand Fidget

 

 Pull and Stretch Ball 

 

 Stringy Play Ball

 

See-Me Sensory Balls

 

   Touchable Texture Square 

 

Slumbers Bedtime Bear

 

 

Happy Fidgeting!

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~Miss Jaime, O.T.

* I am an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you click on something that I link and purchase it, I will receive a small commission.


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Ask An OT: “What pencil grip should I use for my child?”

Question from Dena Rich in  Albany, NYdena(1)

 

“Hi Miss Jaime!  Love, love your articles!!!! My daughter Emilia still struggles with her pencil grip (using whole hand instead of proper 2 fingers). I’m having trouble finding a pencil gripper. Do I have to go to a parent teacher store? Love the tweezer separating sprinkles idea. Do u think this will be too hard for her?  She turns five in March. “

Hi Dena!  Thanks for the compliment!  You don’t need to go to a teacher store; you can buy anything online!

Children who are four are often still developing a comfortable pencil grip.  It can be hard for children to develop separation of the two sides of the hand, but a pencil grip can help.  I usually try not to use a grip until I’m sure that the child is physically having difficulty.

That means that I have taught them many times where their fingers should go and where the pencil should sit in their hands.  When I ask them to hold the pencil correctly, they try to and they know what I mean.  The problem is that due to weak strength and endurance, they can’t maintain a proper grasp.  So then, I use a pencil grip.  My favorite “go-to” grip for preschoolers is called “the pencil grip”.  I like it because it’s “fatter” towards the back which helps kids to open up their web space.  This is the area between the thumb and the index finger.    There are specific spots for each finger, but even if they hold it wrong, it’s still ok.   Here is what it looks like.

Another good one that I like for kids Emilia’s age is the “writing claw”.  This one can be a little tricky to learn how to use, but once a child gets the hang of it, it’s great.  There are spots for the thumb, index and middle fingers.

 

Pencil grips can be uncomfortable for children at first.  That’s ok, it’s uncomfortable because the child is now using the correct muscles, and they aren’t used to doing this work.  Keep encouraging them and use it consistently.  It will pay off!   Also, you can help your child to “tuck in” the ring and pinky finger by having them hold a pom pom or a cotton ball in those fingers.  It helps to keep the pinky side of the hand separate from the thumb part.

Another way to make it easier for your child is to play games and work with toys that require separation of the two sides of their hands.  Classic games like  Bed Bugs, Lite Brite, Operation, etc. are examples of toys that encourage this.

Good Luck, Dena!  Keep us posted!

 

  ~Miss Jaime

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Ask An OT: How to desensitize a child’s skin…

theresa2

Ask Miss Jaime OT!

~from Theresa Allender in Seattle, Washington:

How to  Desensitize Skin…

Question:
“My four year old has a super sensitive body. She is uncomfortable with kisses and hugs, she will only wear certain clothes because of how they feel, she is the same about shoes, it’s uncomfortable for her to have her head washed, etc. I was wondering if I could desensitize her to make her more comfortable in her skin.

Also, is this hypersensitive body related to her inability to hear others around her sometimes? For example it seems like she is blocking people out on purpose but she is genuinely startled to be tapped on the shoulder or yelled at for not responding.”

Answer:

Thanks for writing in Theresa!  It sounds like your daughter has tactile and auditory hypersensitivity.  Sensory processing difficulties are very difficult to pinpoint without an assessment.  Even with an assessment, many children’s sensory issues change from morning to night, day to day, or season to season. What bothers them one day may not bother them the next.  Your daughter sounds pretty consistent, which may be helpful in figuring out how to help her.   In terms of “desensitizing” her, you could try massage.  A friend of mine is a Massage Therapist and she happens to work with children.  She says that gentle massage every night after a bath would really help the desensitization process.    You know what your daughter can tolerate, but start slow and gentle with some lotion.  She said that one very important thing is to decrease the time significantly for a child.  Start with five to ten minutes if she can tolerate it and then try to increase it.  But even 20 to 30 minutes total is a great accomplishment and will help to start the desensitization process.  You could try some lavender or pleasant smelling lotion if you think she would like it. If not, go plain.  If you already do this, systematically make your massage a little longer.  Then you can try pressing more firmly, etc.  If she has very sensitive spots, avoid them.  After you brush her hair, you could gently massage her scalp while you talk to her.   If the massage becomes ok, you can “step it up” by using a soft washcloth for the massage, or follow up the lotion with a “drying” massage with a towel or soft cloth.

Pediatric massage can help improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and improve aversion to touch.  It’s also great for improving the parent/child bond.

As for the second part of your question, children who are hypersensitive to auditory stimuli may appear not to hear you because they don’t hear you.  Children who have auditory hypersensitivity will hear every little thing around them, which may limit them from hearing something closer.  Leaves blowing outside, the sirens blowing two blocks away, or the hum of the air conditioner are competing with the voice of Mom.  All of these background noises can be hard for a child with auditory hypersensitivity to “tune out”.  This means that these background noises may be equal or more pronounced than closer noises like mom calling her name.   So it makes it hard for her to respond at times.  Often children learn how to self-modulate so that they can “tune out” the background stuff.  If it’s really impacting her, you could consider a “Therapeutic Listening” program.   You would need to find a therapist who is certified in it, but it seems pretty cool.  Check out this link for more info:

http://www.vitallinks.net/

or you could look at this You Tube Video to get an idea of what it’s all about:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oINBi8zRQUc 

Thanks for taking the time to “Ask an OT”!  If my readers have any other advice for Theresa & her beautiful daughter Maya, please comment!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for stopping by!

~  Miss Jaime, OT

If you have a question for Miss Jaime, O.T., please leave a comment on this page or go to “About Me” and leave your question.   Thanks!

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Holiday Toy Suggestion List from Miss Jaime, O.T.

What to get your O.T. Kid for the holidays…. Printable list included

Do you feel like your child has everything?  Not sure what to get but hoping to get something that will help them learn and progress with their skills?    Here are some ideas for each and every kid out there…

 

As the aunt of 12 nieces and nephews, I have to admit that I have always been partial to giving “educational” gifts.  “Educational” to me means that it will work on some type of skill.  Not necessarily math or reading, but anything that they should be developing naturally  (fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, coordination, etc.).  Of course I want my loved ones to have fun and be excited about their present, but I can’t help but want to work on age appropriate skills – it’s become ingrained.  As an OT, I am constantly searching for ways to “hide” work in fun activities or games.  It’s amazing what you can discover about a child when you actually sit with them and play. This list is very general; its purpose is to get you thinking about what you think your little one might need to improve.  If you already know, go right to that section.  If not, look over the list and think about your child’s strengths and weaknesses.  Some of these games may seem really old- they are the classics!  “The oldies but goodies” and they are still a lot of fun.  Also- keep in mind, just because they seem old to you, doesn’t mean they will seem old to your child. If they have never played them, they will still be tons of fun.

 

Target and Kohls always have good sales on the classic games like Checkers, Connect four, Jenga, Battleship, etc.  For other games such as Scattergories,  Pictionary, etc.,  I would check on-line. You should be able to get great deals.  I have also heard that “Five Below” has a ton of “knock-off” games for a great price.   Oriental Trading is good for gross motor and sensory items like a tunnel, body sock or zoomball.  When I am buying for my school (ie, it will get a lot of use and needs to be REALLY durable), I will buy gross motor stuff at a therapy company such as Abilitations or Achievement products.  If it will be a family toy or used by one child, I stick with Oriental Trading.  Click on the “Hands on Fun” link to get to the “OT stuff”.   Barnes and Nobles tends to be a little more expensive, but during the holidays, they always have “fancy” versions of the classic games. They come in nice wooden boxes and would make a great gift that would last for years.

 

My favorite stores to shop for crafts are AC Moore and Michael’s.  They always have cheap crafts for boys and girls that work on fine motor skills, bilateral skills, and visual perceptual skills.  When in doubt, I go to AC Moore – they have paint by number, color it your self backpacks and jewelry boxes, wooden models and build it kits, etc.  They also have great crafts for the “tweens”, learn how to knit, learn how to make a friendship bracelet, learn how to do origami, science kits, etc.  Great for those blizzards that are around the corner!

 

Speaking of blizzards, so many Long Island families spend weekends away upstate; maybe skiing or visiting friends.  These are the perfect times to break out the classic board games.  Some of my best holidays memories involve all the laughs surrounding a family game of Jenga with my grandparents or a game of Old Maid with my parents and brothers and sister.   Rather than constantly relying on the DVR or some movie rental, break out some crafts or a good game and play with the kids.  Then, let them play a few rounds on their own to “practice”.  This is how kids learn to take turns, play fair, etc.  So many games nowadays only require one player.  How do kids socialize when they are playing by themselves?  Just because they are sitting next to their cousin playing “Minecraft” doesn’t mean they are actually bonding and interacting with them. So enough of my preaching – you know what your child likes, needs, and is capable of.

 

Here are some additional ideas to get you thinking.  Notice that I didn’t put ages on this list.  I hope that isn’t an inconvenience, but many children with disabilities are delayed in their motor skills and need toys that may be geared toward younger children.  That’s ok, they are still fun and “fun”ctional.

Fine Motor Games/ Toys 

Perfection

Jenga

Legos

Duplos

K’Nex

Kerplunk

Lite Brite

Honey Bee Tree

Tricky Fingers

Lacing cards

Stringing beads

Lanyard Sets

Wikki stix

Silly Putty

Colorforms

Mr. Potatoe Head

Dot Art

Mosaic Art

Wack-A-Mole

Nuts and Bolts

Cut-in-half Food

Playdoh Fun Factory

Stacking rings

Sequencing toys

Model Magic clay

Mancala

Pegboard games

Games with tweezers (bedbugs, operation, etc.)

Cards (uno, playing cards)

Crafts (beads, jewelry making, weaving, knotting quilts)

Scatterpillar scramble

Weaving loom

Sewing craft kits

Pop beads (Large or Small)

Bracelet or friendship making kits

Perler Beads

Hook and Latch Rugs

Model cars

Wooden Build-it kits (home depot)

Shrinky Dinks

Chinese Jumprope

Gross Motor Activities/ Toys/ Equipment

Bicycle, rollerblades, scooters, etc.

Tunnels

Sporting equipment

Vecro ball and target

Velcro catch

Zoom ball

Jumprope

Hopping Spots

Scooter (to sit on)

Mini Trampoline

Chinese jumprope (Klutz)

Hippety-hops

Ball pitt or “Jumpolene”

Twister

Bop It

Pogo-stick   

 

Visual Motor/ Visual Perceptual

Legos- any and all kinds!  The tiny ones make a great stocking stuffer!

Knex – often come with a “make this” guide, so children have to copy the picture

Don’t break the Ice

Thin Ice – anything with marbles is great – unless you have a “mouther”

Hungry, Hungry, Hippos

Memory

Aqua Doodle

3 D Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles

Velvet color/paint  by number

Etch-a Sketch

Crayola magic wonder markers

Crayola pip squeak skinny markers – one of Miss Jaime’s favorite things (only if they are skinny; better for little hands)

Crayola Twistables

Tracing stencils

How to Draw Books

Rush Hour and Rush Hour, Jr.

Perfection

Battleship

Word search books

Guess Who

Spirograph

MagnaDoodle

Easy Bake Oven

Mad Libs

Scattergories

Perfection

Pictionary

Boggle

Simon Says

Sensory  Materials, Games, Equipment

Radio/ CD Player with headphones

Earmuffs

Sound Machine

Aroma therapy materials (diffuser, scented lap pads, etc.)

Bath stuff – Massage Glove, loofah

Mini Massager

Floam

Moon sand

Wikki stix or Bendaroos

Fingerpaint

What’s In Ned’s Head?

Bean Bag chair

Wiggle Writer Pen

Hippity Hop

Play-doh and Accessories

Koosh Balls, Stress Balls

Model Magic clay

Body Sock

Cuddle Loop

Play tent

Kinetic Sand

Ball pitt

WANNA PRINT THIS LIST? CLICK HERE  FOR A PDF holiday suggestions.pdf

Again – this is a general list meant to give you some ideas.  Please feel free to share and leave a comment if you have any other great ideas!! Happy Shopping!

~ Miss Jaime, O.T. logo

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Need to fill a stocking or a goody bag? Need one more gift to make "eight"?  Check out this link for some Dollar Store Sensory Ideas!

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Tips to adapt your Holiday Cookie Tradition for an "OT kid"

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Getting Your Preschooler Evaluated for Special Education Services

 

Preschool Special Education Services…What does it all mean?

If your child is between the ages of three and five years old and you suspect they may have a delay or a disability, you should contact your school district’s Committee on Preschool Education Department (CPSE).  You can almost always access the contact information on your district’s website.  Smaller districts may combine the preschool and school-age offices into one big Special Education department.  Either way, if you call the Special Education number and tell them you need to speak to someone about your preschool age child, they will direct you to the proper person.

Early Intervention services are different than preschool services. For information about getting your child under three years old evaluated, click here. 

special ed, preschool special ed, CPSE

So then what happens?

If you suspect a delay and wish to have your child evaluated, you need to make a referral to your district CPSE.  A referral can be made by a  parent, a teacher or a professional in your child’s school,  doctors, judicial officers (such as a family court judge or a probation officer) or a designated person in a public agency.  In addition, a referral may also be made by someone from an Early Childhood Direction Center, an approved preschool program or an Early Intervention Program that serves children with disabilities from birth to age three.

A referral is a written statement directed to your school district asking that your child is evaluated to determine if he or she qualifies for special education services.   You should submit the letter to the CPSE chairperson or Special Education Director.  When you write your referral, it is a great idea to include some details about why you are requesting the evaluation.  This will help the committee to make sure they are assessing your child appropriately in the areas that you are concerned about.  Also, include your child’s name and date of birth.

The evaluation process will include various assessments from educational professionals.  Each child is tested according to the Committee’s concerns.  For example, if a parent or teacher voices concerns over the child’s language skills, a speech and language evaluation may be included as part of the child’s evaluation process.   Another child may have strong language skills but very poor motor skills, so that child would be evaluated for occupational or physical therapy, but not speech and language.

special education, CSE, special ed, testing, preschool, getting your child evaluated

As I mentioned before; give some details about why you are concerned.

“My son Johnny has a lot of difficulty running without falling down, he struggles to sit up straight, he appears clumsy and bumps into furniture, etc.”  

“Annie still has a very limited vocabulary and is difficult to understand when she is talking.  My husband and I can understand her, but strangers don’t know what she is saying.”

“Jayden still switches hands when he picks up his scissors or a crayon. He dislikes wearing socks and tantrums if we insist that he uses a spoon instead of his fingers.”

“Matthew’s teacher states that he only likes to play by himself.  He needs constant reminders not to shout indoors.  He has been getting aggressive with his friends, and he hit someone last week when he was upset”  

This will help the committee to make sure they are assessing your child appropriately in the areas that you are concerned about.   After all, you know your child better than we do!

***Miss Jaime OT’s #1 tip – as you begin this process, get in the habit of being very organized. Get a binder or a file folder and keep all of your child’s evaluations, IEP’s and paperwork in one spot.  You won’t regret it!

Next, you will receive a request for your written consent to have your child evaluated.  Make sure you return the papers!  I can’t tell you how many times a parent has complained about the evaluation taking too long when it is simply because the district doesn’t have written consent.   It may seem redundant, but legally the district has to have their “ducks in a row” before they can get started.

The evaluations can take place at your child’s preschool or your home.  Your district will provide you with a list of evaluators or agencies that you can choose from.  I suggest asking your friends for input- did they use an agency that they really like?  If you don’t know anyone whose child has been evaluated, you can ask your CPSE chair for suggestions.


The evaluations will take place at no cost to you.

The evaluations must be comprehensive and will be conducted by a psychologist and other professionals that have specific knowledge about your child’s disability (special education teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist, etc.)   It will probably take a few sessions to get all of the testing done. In addition, you will be contacted for information regarding your child’s milestones, habits, strengths, weaknesses, etc.  This is called a social history.

The results of the evaluations will be shared with you face to face or by mail.  You will then have a formal CPSE meeting where all of the professionals who worked with your child will go over the results of their testing.  You can bring any additional information or testing to this meeting to add to your child’s case.   The point of this meeting is to get a complete “picture” of your child and to determine if they meet the criteria to qualify for Special Education services.  If you have questions about any of the reports prior to the meeting, feel free to call that evaluator or the CPSE chairperson.  It is only fair that you understand what you are reading. Sometimes the educational reports get very wordy and confusing for someone who isn’t in the field.  It’s Ok, just ask!

 

In order to be eligible to receive services, your child must meet the criteria set forth by the New York State Education Department.  It must be determined that your child has a disability which impacts his ability to learn.  Here are the NY state regulations on determining if a preschooler meets criteria to receive special education services.

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/preschool/guide/eligibdeter.htm

So all the testing is done… Now what?

 

If the CPSE determines that your child is ineligible for Special Education services, they will explain to you why your child doesn’t qualify and provide you with written notice of this decision.  If you disagree with the recommendations or decisions of the CPSE, you can begin steps to request mediation or an impartial hearing.  Click on the link above for more information regarding mediation.  You can also consider going through your health insurance.  You would need to speak to your family physician as well as your insurance company to see if these services are covered.  A final option would be to pay privately for the services you feel your child needs.  Much like a tutor, a private teacher or therapist would work on your areas of concern at a schedule that is convenient for you.

If the CPSE determines that your child is eligible for Special Education services, the Committee will then take the steps to develop an IEP for your child.  An IEP is an individualized education plan that is developed specifically for your child’s educational needs.  The Committee can consider providing your child with just related services (speech and language or OT) or counseling.  Sometimes a child needs a SEIT Special Education Itinerant Teacher or even a half day program.  Each IEP is designed to address your child’s strengths and weaknesses in the Least Restrictive Environment.  The Committee will discuss the supports, services, and modifications to meet your child’s needs.

Once the IEP is developed, you will receive a written copy which will include the goals that the professionals servicing your child are working toward.  The district will follow a timeline to set up the services for your child in a timely manner so that he or she can begin getting the help they need as soon as possible.

Here is the link to the New York State Special Education Website, which includes more detailed specific information about the process.

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/preschool/brochure.htm

The process takes a while to learn, but soon you will be an expert!  Consider joining your district’s SEPTA (Special Education Parent Teacher Association) to learn more about the Special Education process and all the supports that are available to you and your child.

Knowledge is power!

Good Luck!

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