Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Power of Nothing

Lifted this from Penny at   Thanks, Penny!
When I meet with families, I will tell them that sometimes, it LOOKS like I'm doing "nothing".  This explains why better than anything I can tell them.


Nothing works!
We hear this frequently from parents and professionals .
“No matter what I do, my child won’t:
play with me --- respond or initiate --- imitate actions or sounds
do anything new or creative ---- make different sounds
talk with me---stop irritating me --- behave well --- show me what he knows.

After many years of careful observing, we find that adults frequently
Make the decisions without seeing what the child wants.:
Do not give the child enough time to interact.
Do things for the child that he can do himself.
Do not give the child enough time to respond.
Do much more than the child without waiting.
Do not learn what the child can and wants to do.
Interrupt and talk for the child.
Try to get the child to respond in specific ways.

In our work with hundreds of families , we find that
Nothing often does work
We find that the less an adult does the more a child will do.
When we define Nothing as silence, waiting, giving the child time
and simply observing the child carefully,
Then we find that Nothing really works to---
Help the child interact more
Encourage him to both initiate and respond more.
Give him time to prepare a response.
Allow the child to be creative.
Make him more spontaneous.
Show you are interested in what he can do.
Allow him freedom to be himself.
Help you be a real partner
How can you make nothing work for you?
Wait silently for the child to start an interaction
Respond briefly, then wait again.
Wait with a look of anticipation .
Do one thing then wait for your child to take a turn.
Play in a back and forth way, each doing about the same amount -.
Wait when you think he can do more.
Discover that the more you wait, the more he surprises you with what he knows.
The more you wait , the more you learn what really motivates the child.
Consequently, doing “nothing” helps you know your child more.
Play sometimes without talking unless he does.
Learn that he needs time to figure out what to do.
Expect and enjoy the surprises you get as you wait.
Realize that you do not have to do it all; he needs to do half.
Realize that your child learns by doing, so give him time to do.
Learn that his own response will tell you more about him than responding to what you want.

Copyright James D. Mac Donald 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

IEP Checklist

 I found this on one of my groups and thought it was a useful piece of information, especially for those who have younger children. It was posted by Jeff Gottlieb, an education attorney in CA.   For you "old hats", please let me know if there is anything else that you would recommend and I will add that.

IEP MEETING CHECKLIST (please feel free to share with parents of special education children)

An Individualized Education Program (IEP), is a written document that's developed for each special education eligible child. The IEP is reviewed at least once a year by an IEP team; an IEP team typically consisting of parents, teachers, school administrators and others who have information pertinent to the special education eligible child. The IEP can be viewed as a contract between the child (child’s parents) and the school district regarding an appropriate placement and scope of educational services for the child. Accordingly, it is critical that the IEP meet the highest standards of what the school district should offer the child. As a tool to help parents receive the best IEP, the following is a general check list to be used by a parent in preparation for an IEP meeting. The list is basic and is not intended to be exhaustive. Legal advice may be required for specific circumstances.

• Confirm with the school district the meeting day and time of the IEP, a date and time that is agreeable to you and anyone you want to attend the IEP meeting.

• Provide the school district with written notice, via mail and fax, that you will be taping the IEP meeting.

• Request in writing, a copy of your child’s entire educational file (everything!)

• Request in writing that you be provided with all new assessments, prior to the IEP meeting.

• Attempt to make an appointment to observe your child in his/her classrooms, sometime prior to the IEP meeting.

• Review all IEPs, all assessments (past and current); identify comments within the previous IEPs. Summarize test scores and trends that support any requests that you make on behalf of your child.

• Make a written list of your concerns.

• Write down your child’s strengths.

• Know what you want in terms of placement, services and goals and why you want each item and what objective and subjective data/information supports what you want (put all of this in writing as part of your own confidential notes). Know your bottom line.

• Be organized. Have copies of all pertinent documents in a binder.

• During the IEP meeting, maintain a positive and “controlling” attitude. Take a leadership role in the IEP meeting.

• If during the IEP meeting, someone states something supporting changing the IEP in your child’s favor, concisely repeat what was stated and request that the other person’s statement be reflected in the IEP notes.

• If someone makes a statement during the IEP meeting that you do not understand (e.g., is confusing); ask for clarity.

• Ask questions during the IEP meeting (for example, how many times did you observe my child and for how long).

• If during the IEP meeting, someone states something different from you want stated, then politely acknowledge the “opposing” statement and state your disagreement and why you disagree.

• Discuss how much progress has been made on goals from the last IEP, which goals will need to be continued, and which will need to be modified. Ask for specific examples of how progress has been measured on the current IEP.

• Review the IEP before leaving the IEP meeting, making certain that key concerns and statements have been reflected in the IEP notes.

• Remember the school district is generally only responsible for what’s written in the IEP, so make sure it says what is agreed to and get a copy before you leave.

• Generally, do not sign the IEP until you have had time to review it at home (treat the IEP as if it is a binding contract).

• Remember, the power to say No! You can disagree as to all educational offerings within an IEP or agree in part and disagree in part. With very few exceptions (e.g., by a court order), a school district cannot unilaterally change your child’s current educational program without your consent. However, at this point of a disagreement with a school district you may want to seek legal counsel.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The things illness can bring out

I've had three kids on my caseload have strep in the past month!  I have no sore throat, but still wonder if I could be a "carrier", without having symptoms.  Two of them do not present in the typical way, when they get strep.  No sore throat, good appetite.  But there are behavioral differences.  One of my girls just got stuck on wanting "screen time", which "we" don't do.  The other was becoming a little stuck on her comfort zone item, but at the same time doing some "new" things--like WANTING to paint.  This is a girl that has had no use for artsy-craftsy things and, in the 2 years I've worked with her, she has never initiated anything like that.  I have a "rainbow paint set" in my basket of "things" and she pulled that out, two weeks in a row and we painted!  Now that her strep has been diagnosed and treated, I wonder if she will want to paint anymore.  Was it the strep or is she growing into other interests?  I can't wait to find out.

PLAYing with Passion

Autism, Floortime, PLAY Project