Is a 504 plan Right for Your Child- Via Military Special Needs Network


School starts next week for us (thank you!). Last night was our open house and the children got to meet their new teachers prospectively. Of course new situations don’t come without a few bumps we must maneuver around along the way. On is named Ms. Pérez, who happens not to be Diva’s kindergarten teacher for the entire year. For half of the school year, Ms. Pérez will be the teacher subbing for Diva’s real teacher who is on maternity leave until Christmas. However, at this point I feel that is the least of Diva’s worries.

Up until this point Diva as not been in a public school education or qualified for IEP to obtain admittance to a special needs preschool. She has been tested twice and told, even though she was mute during both testing periods, that would not impact her education and she still passed all the tests. Her passing the tests was remarkable to me since they reported she didn’t say one word, does not know how to spell, read or write. So here we are a year later in a new state and a new school district. Seeing Diva in a preschool setting I feel she will not qualify for a IEP, however, I feel there are certain accommodation. So how do we get those accommodations for her if she has no IEP to write them in? Say ello to my ittle friend… the 504 Plan.

I have been looking for the Dummies Guide to IEP’s and 504’s and found one today. Who can say “awesome sauce”!? Just say thank you to Samantha over at Military Special Needs Network provided us with a great explanation of the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan.

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Mommy Moment Mondays: I Sterotyped My Kids


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I talk… a lot. I especially talk a lot when it is a topic I know or feel I know a lot about. So when it comes to talking to a group of moms about being an advocate for your special needs children I want to jump up and down raising my hand screaming “pick me!” because I can’t contain all the information, helpful advice, funny stories, realizations and resources I have accumulated over these short years. I just want to word vomit over everyone. And then I start sounding like a know-it-all. I hate that most. I don’t think I know everything, but I have been through so many different experiences on this topic that I feel what I can saw and the little I do know can help and be comforting to some people; whether or not you actually want to hear it. So today I was overjoyed when someone like me, who has much older children, was speaking at my MOPS meeting. I wanted to soak in every bit of information she was going to word vomit on me; I just couldn’t wait. I would be her in so many years and I am a little afraid of that. I am starting to look for people like me who have been through this type of parenting before- parenting older children with special needs. I felt it was a sign that I needed to hear what she had to say today. I just didn’t imagine how dejected it would make me feel.

Her talk was great. It touched base on the main points I always give to parents who have just received a new diagnosis for their child. You have to be your  child’s advocate; but her message was more than that. She described how you needed to be an advocate for all your children; not just the one who require additional care. That was when I realized it; all these years I had been so proud of myself for not really labeling my children and what I was actually doing was defining them.

I lump Bug and Diva into a group that requires more time, more of my energy and more of my attention to parent because of their special needs. In the corner sits SB, happy as a lark, but with her own parental requirements that are not being met. The speaker’s point that touched me was that just because her two oldest children did not require any above average assistance to navigate life, didn’t mean that they would not eventually need someone to fight for their rights.

I like to talk about how I treat my two ASD children as “normal” as possible. I don’t want them growing up feeling things are made different (or easy) just for them. I want them to experience life as humanly normal as can be. I strive very hard to make that happen. I put them in preschool, dance, sports and schedule play dates. Ask me if I have done that for SB. No, Why? I felt like she doesn’t need the extra attention (and she is only 2). That is my mistake. She may need more.

I noticed it briefly with Diva before she was diagnosed. It is a behavior where one child sees all the extra attention, people, and “fun” games and work the other child gets to do. They child without the therapy starts to get upset and feels lonely and like something is wrong with them. Not realizing, it is the total opposite. As quickly as I saw that train of thought appear on Diva’s face she was diagnosed and given her own set of “friends”. I haven’t seen that mind set in SB yet; but I know one day it will come. When that day does I need to be ready. I actually need to be ready now. I set her to the side mentally at times knowing she is fine, “normal”. However, it’s wrong and it is now that I realize that I do sterotype my own children into categories of special needs and “normal”.

Where Diva and Bug need me to fight for OT, speech and other services including IEP’s or 504’s; SB will need me to fight for her to be included in games and activities. SB is a lover, not a fighter. She is strong willed but not competitive. She will happily watch her siblings play games and try to join, but as soon as she is rejected she shuts down. Someone needs to fight for her. Someone needs to show her that if you aren’t able to play that game, there are many more that will come along. She also needs someone to fight for her and show her that she is always loved. That just because she doesn’t have her own “friends” filtering in and out of the house all week long, doesn’t mean anything is wrong with her. It means just the opposite. It means she perfect. Not perfect because she is “normal”, but perfect because she is exactly who God made her and wanted her to be. It was God’s choice to give these three precious gifts for me to grow and nurture into amazing humans. It is my choice to accept and love them for who they are no matter their labels, abilities or inabilities.

Digging Deeper into IEP: What is PLEP?


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I was educated this week about new procedures Tricare is now requiring potential and current patients of therapy (OT, Speech, PT and ect) to renew or approve their requests. Due to this, my son’s OT has now been denied twice by insurance. When I called both times they stated it was due to X reason. So I fixed X reason, and it was denied again. Then a few days later Bug’s OT got in contact with me and told me the real reason behind his therapy denials per Tricare. But before insurance would consider renewing his services, they required proof that he was not receiving OT during school hours.  You can no longer receive private therapy if you are also receiving the same therapy provided by the school system. Another way companies are trying to cheat their customers. Another day another post. To solve this issues, Bug’s OT asked for a copy of his PLEP.

<invison jaw dropping here>

For the past three years I have dealt with the special education platform. Being involved with it for three years does not make me an expert by any means, but I have become familiar with some of the parts, pieces and protocols involved with IEP’s and the SPED. So I had to look up what PLEP was and figured since I had to, I’d pass on the knowledge and a little extra to help be one step ahead on understanding your child’s IEP.

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The Autism Center for Education has a great resource online here, explaining what PLEP and PLAAFP are. In addition to what they have provided there is also a well written explanation on the steps of how one is put together before the IEP meeting. I don’t see you or I sitting down to write a PLEP or a  PLAAP (unless you are a SPED teacher), but seeing how they are written allows us as parents and advocaters to be one step ahead and educate ourselves on the process so we are able to ask more educated questions about the IEP itself.

Wordy Wednesday…RTI(squared)


It’s hard for me to believe it, but it’s Wednesday again!  This week, I’m tackling an acronym I heard for the first time yesterday.  I was at a meeting put on by my school district for parents of special needs kiddos in the district.  They called it “Special Education 101.”  We meet at the main office of the district in the board room and they tackled topics like the different sections of the IEP, how the district’s new progress reports will work, what to do if you can’t come to a consensus at an IEP meeting, and different resources that the community offers.  It was great since we are still new to the area.  It would have been easy for me to have skipped the meeting, thinking, “I used to be a classroom teacher, I’m sure I’ve heard it all before,” or, “I’ve been attending IEPs for my kids for over two and a half years now, I’m sure it will be nothing new.”  But I’m so glad I didn’t because I got lots of great information.  If you have kids of your own in your school district’s special education program I would be definitely encourage you to attend a similar type meeting if one is offered.  If not, ask for something to be put together.  That’s how the meeting I attended came about.  Parents had come forward and asked for something that would give them a basic overview of what special ed. in the district looked like.  Possibly, something similar could come about where you are if enough interest is shown.

One of the most exciting parts of the meeting yesterday was hearing about RTI2 (that’s supposed to be a 2 like an exponent).  Here is some more info about it:

Response to Instruction and Intervention is a framework for teaching and learning. Helping students succeed is the fundamental mission of the Tennessee Department of Education, and Response to Instruction and Intervention is a significant priority towards that end. This work is about empowering districts to give every student the opportunity to meet high expectations and the support to reach them. The work described in the RTI² Manual matters to every academic division in the department.
The Tennessee State Board of Education has approved Special Education Guidelines and Standards regarding Evaluations for Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD). This change in current standards from use of a discrepancy model of identification to a Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI) model becomes effective July 1, 2014. This change will require all districts and schools to use RTI² to determine eligibility of students to receive Special Education services in the category of Specific Learning Disability. RTI² is a path to providing instructional opportunity to any student struggling to succeed and should not be viewed as a path to special education eligibility.

The way it was described to us yesterday, it’s a way of determining specific needs of special ed students and responding to those needs with proven instructional methods.  They may be modifications to curriculum, accommodations that improve students’ success, and specific methods of instruction.  The environment that a student is placed determines their success to such a great extent. As a mother of two boys with ASD I have especially noticed this, and am so happy to see the district developing new ways of assessing student need, ways to track their progress and constantly growing to help them achieve their goals.  Please check out the above post and link for more info.  What are some things that your district does that you are happy about?  What are some things you wish were different.  Have a great day!

Wordy Wednesday: IEP vs IFSP; The Difference


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There is no secret we are a military family. With being a military family, there is no secret that we move quiet often. Sometimes every few months and sometimes every few years. Knowing we can move often we always need to have all our ducks in a row for a quick turn around. This means we need to always have copies of past IEP’s, school records, shots and I suggest a letter from the previous teacher regarding the students performance.

Why a letter? TIP: As we know, it takes a unspecified amount if time for a child with ASD to deal with the changes. With the moving process, there are a lot of them. Knowing where your child was pre-move can help the new education team see where regression has accrued and show when normalcy or progress has been made. It is a great bench mark to use.

Monday , I mentioned we might be moving. We have known for a while. However, one month it’s we are moving “here”, the next month it’s “there” and the month after it’s “were staying another two years”. So we are trying to sit back and let the dust settle. In the process of waiting…. And waiting….. And waiting I found out some of our vital paperwork needed to move was expired. Then I found out that the paperwork that was expired was wrong… For 4 years! Yes, I’m aggravated however, there is nothing we can do but fix it. Fixing it means enrolling the right child into an educational EFMP program the Army requires us to due to Bug having a IEP. Why was the paperwork wrong? Bug was never enrolled; he has had a IEP for 4 years. Diva, who never had an IEP, was enrolled two years ago claiming she had a IFSP. Wait, a what? And this is where the old dog learned something new.

There is something called a IFSP; individual family support plan. It is applied for ages birth through 2. At age 3 is where an IEP comes into play. I was going to create a cute little infographic, but why recreate the wheel? I found a great PDF that explains the difference between IEP vs. IFSP from the Pacer Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Click here for link to PDF.

Hope this helps explain some things!