Special Education in the Midst of COVID-19

We find ourselves in unprecedented times, with schools closed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It can be overwhelming and uncertain, but as your trusted advocate, I am here to help guide you through the process and provide the best information I can.

Here is what I can tell you right now.

  1. This has never happened before, so we all need to take a pause and figure out how we can tackle this together.
  2. There is no ‘one size fits all’ plan, or specific answers regarding your child’s IEP.
  3. Each school response or plan for education while closed will vary. Some schools are on an extended spring break, others are offering a digital platform or support via telephone or Skype, and some have implemented specialized curriculum-based instructional activities.
  4. You should not demand extra services, but you can and should ask for them if your child needs them to access the educational platform that is being provided to all students. As an initial first step, email your child’s teacher asking how to support your child’s educational needs while he or she is at home.
  5. Remember you are not alone.

Right now, there are many questions and not a lot of answers, because this has never happened before. So, let’s all take a pause and figure out how we can tackle this together. My role is to be your trusted guide, keeping you informed regarding procedure while focusing on your child’s individual needs and your academic concerns.  I’ll update you

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Resources for Students Who Have Low Vision

The Children and Young Adult Services department at The Cleveland Sight Center recognizes the difference between accommodations and modifications when teaching students who have low vision using the general education curriculum alongside their peers.  Sylvia Snyder, the Director, has generously shared some helpful resources:

Accommodations and Modifications at a Glance

The Michigan Vision Services Severity Rating Scale

Expanded Core Curriculum Subjects and Skills

Assistive Technology

PR-07 IEP Form – Children with Visual Impairments

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The Right Fit: 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Transitioning into a new school year can be exhausting; watching your child run out of his/her flip flops and walking into their school shoes. As parents, you understand the importance of having perfectly fitted shoes when strolling into the school year. It is equally important to have an academic plan tailored to your child’s needs. Students who require specially designed services need to start on the right foot to promote a smooth transition. Being mindful and faithful to your child’s disability can only ensure your child’s academic year is off on the right path.

If your child has a learning disability and requires accommodations to succeed in the classroom, there are a host of specialized services available. These specialized services are provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Understanding what your child qualifies for and how to access those services can be a challenge. Understanding the difference between a 504 Plan and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be your first step.

What is a 504 Plan and is it a good fit:

A 504 Plan is based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a civil rights law that prevents discrimination based on physical disabilities. This federal law requires schools to eliminate any barriers that prevent students with disabilities from participating fully in their education. It also ensures that accommodations and support services are provided to students so they have equal access to education.

504 Plans are available

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Independent Educational Evaluation: Disagreeing Creates Clarity

Your parental role is crucial in the formation of your child’s Individual Education Program (IEP). While the school district may have your child’s best interests in mind, that doesn’t mean that disagreements won’t occur. For example, you may take issue with how the district qualified your child for an IEP, or you may not agree with the goals written in your child’s IEP.

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Our Girls

Girls who struggle with mental health issues, including but not limited to: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, conduct disorders, and panic disorders, are being stigmatized even further in the educational system.  They are not qualifying for the specially designed instruction they not only need, but deserve and have a right to receive at their schools.  These girls are able to lean-in, show up, or simply make it through the day and a more clearly defined system of who qualifies for specially designed instruction will help girls, in the long run, both academically and mentally.

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Understanding Your Child's Report Card

Understanding Your Child’s Grades

Only YOU understand your child and appreciate him/her as a whole learner.  Parents are living through their child’s deficits, not only in school, but at home.  One aspect that has changed the educational experience at home for families is the report cards.  From the format, to the timing, to how the earned grades are delivered to parents, it is incredibly different today.

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