From Both Sides of the Table is my chronicle of what special education may look like through the lens of the School Psychologist and the parents of the child referred. I have been in both roles. So, please feel free to refer to the last few blogs if you missed them.
So we continue…
The process of psychoeducational evaluation is very overwhelming. Shorthand seems to be the norm and for many parents – this is just too much. As a parent, you may feel like you need a translator for all the terms. Then there is the time spent on the part of the parents – mostly completing forms and attending meetings. The forms seem quite personal, too.
You also may be wondering about these questions/topics, too!...
Why do they need to know about my pregnancy on the survey I received? And any health and mental health issues with MY parents or siblings. Isn’t it enough to get information about hubby and me?
Why do they need to know about what we eat at home? If we have a consistent work history? If there are “stressors” within our home – doesn’t every family have their own share of stress?
Why am I asked to complete questionnaires that seem redundant? The speech and language evaluator is asking me the same or similar questions as the psychologist – don’t they share documents?
My child seems worried about this testing- but no one seems to give me any advice on how to prepare her for the evaluation. I would like to have some clue as to what to expect to help her feel better about “what is to come”.
How come it takes FOREVER to get the results? I am feeling anxious and would like my child to start getting help pronto! But, it appears that we are in a holding pattern for at least another MONTH or MORE!
And now I am in a meeting getting the results and it sounds like a foreign language is being spoken. The professionals are talking so fast and even though I am asked if I have questions it seems like we are too rushed to really get answers. Plus, I would like to make some clarification of what I wrote or said during a survey- can they amend the reports?
I am not sure I like the results – don’t I get a say as to what happens in, the meeting?
Will my child get better? Improve? Be “normal”? Ever have friends? Stop biting? Start talking? and the list goes on and on…
In reality, as a parent, I found the need to and did ask questions along the whole process. When there were terms or tests being offered that I didn’t know (or hubby didn’t know) we asked. I understood the reason for all the surveys and personal questions, but other parents may be interested in knowing that many times contractors are used who are from independent companies and they don’t talk. Not usually.
I also made sure that I requested a time during the day that I knew my child would be “at his best”. I also made sure that I had the reports prior to any meeting so I could review, and take notes. And, when possible I talked to the evaluators before any meetings. I didn’t like surprises when it came to the welfare and education of my child.
As for the meetings I made sure hubby and I both attended. (Suggestion: bring along another trusted adult during the formal meetings to help you recall information or take notes.)
And yes, there were times I disagreed with the conclusions. But, in lieu of due process, we decided to work WITH the team to come together to create a plan. Being on opposite sides of the table doesn’t mean you are on opposite sides with the approach. Working together – respectfully- is something I strive for as a parent and a professional.
Terms that may be useful to know:
LRE: Least Restrictive Environment
FAPE: Offer of free and appropriate publicly provided education.
Due Process: When you disagree there is a system to have your grievances heard via a third party.
IEE: Independent Educational Evaluation – requesting another “do-over” evaluation in the event that a party on the IEP team (usually the parent) does not agree with the outcome or feels something was overlooked.
Related Services: These are services that are outside the usual- such as occupational or physical therapy. Counseling also can be a related service.
ERMHS – a California term (usually) for Educationally Related Mental Health Services. Some states refer to this as a related or adjunct service. The student must have an IEP to obtain these services and go through a process.
Educational Advocate: Someone who works with the parent to explain the IEP process and also to advocate for eligibility or services for the child via the IEP or 504 process.
See WrightsLaw.com for more terminology and about Due Process, etc.
I couldn’t do this alone…
Many parents feel very isolated when their child starts special education. it could be because their child is not included in the neighborhood or school events like the other children? That hurts – big time! Perhaps, that is when it may be a good time to seek support groups of like-minded people. Schools often have such groups as do local community centers. I remember joining the local and national chapters of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder). Through these groups, I learned that I wasn’t the only parent not sleeping due to a child who only required four hours a night. I also felt comfort and validation. Sometimes my son’s actions were misunderstood and I was glad to see that he was “accepted” among this “group”.
I also felt the need to advocate for my child, actually children, in their classrooms. You see I have been discussing my son and his traumatic birth and infancy. But, little did I know that lurking in my home was the dyslexia gene and it was about to come for a visit in my daughter’s classroom!
So now I am the parent of two children who need special programming due to a variety of unique challenges. So, I start to recite a mantra that has stuck with me til this day…
A parent is a child’s number one advocate and resource for unconditional love, support, and guidance. Be that parent.
More from the series BOTH SIDES OF THE TABLE:
PART 1 – intro
PART 2– let us start the process
Coming soon – Part 4.
Please share your experiences in the comment section below – respectfully, of course.
Thank you for reading this series and any other articles on this blog.