As we all know, having a child with special needs may require a lot of effort at home and a ton of effort working with schools to ensure your son or daughter is receiving the services they need.
Idealism and the desire to help people is often an overarching view of many young people fresh out of school and ready to contribute to the world. For Adrienne Oliveira, my guest today, she saw a career as a special education teacher as her chance to contribute.
Adrienne reflects on her time working in three different schools in three different states and the dramatic differences she found in each district. All these experiences gave her a unique perspective after her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Suddenly Adrienne was now a parent at an IEP instead of a teacher.
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the key document, roadmap, etc. for a child securing special education services.
Rich and I talk about the IEP and what important aspects you should know and understand as a parent or caregiver.
Community Advisory Committees (CAC). Have you heard of them? Ashley Lopez has and she has some interesting information to share! Every school in California is required to have this organization to facilitate communication between parents of children with special needs. Checkout Ashley’s committee here.
Ashley, who has a strong sense of advocacy and a seemingly endless supply of energy, realized that her CAC needed an “upgrade.” After some pushing and agitating Ashely came to understand that the community in this school district was not being well served. While she was able to secure services for her son, others did not have the same resources to do the same.
Our sensory system has a profound impact on our everyday experiences and how we react to our world. Maybe a noise is annoying, a light too bright or an article of clothing feels just not right. For children with special needs such as autism, ADD and more, sensory struggles may be magnified to the point where they have a significant impact on their perception of the world. What may seem just fine to us, may be threatening to them.
Understanding the sensory system and its roll in a child’s life is what I talk to Dr. Susanne Smith Roley about today. We cover a lot of exciting material including sensory seekers, sensory avoiders, body awareness and much, much more. By the end of this podcast you may find yourself having a good understanding of terms such a proprioceptive, vestibular, temporal and spatial awareness. Wow!
This post is a summary of an interview I did with Richard Isaacs, an attorney here at CSNLG. Check out the full interview here.
Lawyers who handle special education cases know and understand that getting legal services may intimidate families. One thing that not all parents know is that there are three possible ways to pay for attorney’s fees:
- Upfront Payments – Client pays the fees upfront from their own pocket as the attorney completes the work.
- Retention Fees – Client pays a retention fee and the firm attorney from it and recovers additional fees during a settlement with the district.
- No Upfront Charges – Client pays no fee and all final fees are recovered during a settlement with the district.
Different firms have different payment structures… but clients should know they control the case and are always part of the decision process to continuing to pay for services.
A typical firm charges an hourly rate and retainer fees will vary. Attorney’s fees run from $200 to $500 an hour and cases, on average, run 20 to 80 hours. Depending on the complexity of the case, fees run from a few thousand dollars up to a hundred thousand. That final number is rare and involves an attorney working a case to and beyond an appellate court.
In California, about 97% of special education cases are settled outside of trial. From Richard’s experience, costs are about $3,000-$5,000 for a basic case and the average is from $8,000-$10,000. Parents and the school district usually go through due process, an informal hearing, with a judge provided by the state. When the judge’s decision favors the student, the parents have the right to recover the attorney’s fees from the settlement.
In the end, a good lawyer will clearly explain the fees, give you a sense of control over how much you wish to spend, and will ultimately focus on what is best for the child.
Disability Rights California is a non-profit organization with a mission “…to advance dignity, equality, independence and freedom for all Californians with disabilities.” It provides information and advocacy.
DRC, explains on their front page, some of the services they provide:
- Direct representation in criminal law, family law, bankruptcy or evictions
- Personal injury lawsuits
- Filling out Social Security application forms
- Obtaining guardianship or conservatorship
More specific details on how they serve, and who they help, are explained on their eligibility page
For information on how to contact them at a local office, see here.
If you are advocating for yourself or someone else, the website features the Special Education Rights and Responsibilities (SERR) manual loaded with information on specific rights and how they apply in different situations. We use this site for training here at CSNLG and find it one of our top resources.
This PDF has a link to all their resources. It is a bit overwhelming though.
In general, the website is loaded with links and options and the organization of it all can be hard to follow. It takes some time to “learn” how the site is organized and the areas that are best for your situation.
DRC has a social media presence, and if that is a preferred source for you, be sure to check out them out:
I don’t know about you, but the thought of hiring a lawyer for any dispute makes me go into a near panic. Right away I start to think about just how much it is going to cost? This is especially true for parents like us who have a child with Special Needs. Is it worth the cost to hire an attorney to advocate for better or additional services for your child? Would it simply be better to take those costs and use them for services or therapies out of pocket?
If you have a child with special needs such as autism, you may quickly start hearing about Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and Verbal Behavior (VB) as therapies that are helpful to children.
Today I talk with Dr. Denise Eckman president and executive director of Creative Behavior Interventions. We discuss an overview of what ABA is and which types of children, and even adults, benefit from this type of intervention. We go a little deep and by the end of this show, you will have a functional understanding of behaviors, their antecedents and a breakdown of different types of communication we find in language. In fact, if you listen carefully, you may be able to discuss Mands, Tacts, Intraverbal and Echoic communication!
You notice your child is not performing in school as well as his/her peers and you begin to think something is going on. It is at this point that you, or an educator, might suggest an assessment be given.