It’s important that your child quickly develop ownership of his device and learn to keep it near him. When he is away from you (e.g., at school), teachers and staff will not always remember to bring his device or keep it near him. For this reason, your child needs to learn to carry his device with him when moving from room to room, out in the community, or at school.
Most devices will include a carrying strap that can be worn over the shoulder. Teach your child to carry his device by placing the strap across his body. When he is seated at his desk, playing on the floor, or engaged in other stationary activities, he should remove the device and place it near him. If your child enjoys swimming or needs access to communication during bathtime, your therapist can assist you with creating a laminated paper communication board from a screenshot.
At first, you will need to remind your child to keep his device near him. As he learns to use it to communicate, he will likely need less prompting. If your child is resistant to carrying his device, your ABA therapist can help you with how to shape and reinforce this behavior. Avoid carrying the device in a backpack or other bag out of your child’s reach. Likewise, when at home, your child should have constant access to his device during waking hours.
If your child is using an AAC application on an iPad, it is tempting to allow him to use the device for videos and games as well. Please do not do this. If your child is watching shows or playing a game, he will not be able to communicate simultaneously. Additionally, we have consistently observed that children who have access to games on their device are much less likely to use the device to communicate.
It is critically important to your child’s communication skills that his device be used only for that purpose. Many families choose to have second device available as a “play tablet” that the child may use for games and videos. Low-cost tablets such as the Kindle Fire may be appropriate for that purpose.
The “guided access” features on Apple devices are an excellent tool for ensuring that your child’s device stays locked in the communication application, and that he does not make accidental changes to settings or vocabulary. If you are unfamiliar with the “guided access” settings, your therapist will be happy to show you how to set those restrictions.
We are excited that your child is beginning his communication journey with high-tech AAC! We would love to hear from you about what AAC-related topics you would like to read more about in future posts. Please comment with your suggestions and questions.
Written by Cresanna Kahrl, RBT
In this post, we will briefly discuss three important ways you can care for your child’s device to ensure that it is kept in good condition and available for him whenever he needs to communicate.
Keeping it Safe:
If your child is using an iPad with an AAC application, you will need to purchase a case to protect the device. We also recommend using a screen protector. In most cases, a rubberized case with a handle and carrying strap will be sufficient (insert picture of a PureSense case).
Ask your ABA therapist for guidance if your child engages in any destructive behavior toward the device, so that a behavior plan can be implemented.
Keeping it Clean:
Your child is carrying his device everywhere with him and it will need to be cleaned frequently. Wipe down the case with a disinfecting wipe daily to remove grime and germs. Clean the screen carefully to prevent a sticky buildup. If your child has a dedicated communication device, refer to the device manual for specific cleaning instructions.
Keeping it Charged:
Develop a routine of plugging in the device every night when your child goes to bed so that it will be fully charged for the next day. If you find that the device battery is not lasting all day, there are several setting adjustments that can be helpful.
Settings that affect battery life include turning off bluetooth and wifi, ensuring that the device is used only for communication, lowering the screen brightness slightly, and setting the device to dim when not in use. If the battery is still not lasting all day after making these adjustments, you may want to purchase a portable external battery pack to supplement the device battery.
In part 3, we will review some early steps to help your child develop ownership of his device and how to keep it available for communication.
Written by Cresanna Kahrl, RBT
Getting an AAC device is an exciting development in your child’s communication journey! Research has demonstrated that teaching a child communication skills is a very effective intervention for reducing challenging behavior. Support from parents and caregivers is critically important to a child’s success in learning to communicate with AAC. We hope that these brief posts will help you feel confident as you begin this journey with your child.
In this 3-part series, we will cover some AAC terminology, how to care for your child’s device, and keeping the device available. In Part 1, let’s briefly review some of the acronyms and “jargon” you may hear as you enter the world of AAC.
AAC is the acronym for Augmentative and Assistive Communication. This term covers many forms of assistive communication including picture exchange systems, sign language, low-tech devices, dedicated speech output devices and iPads with communication apps.
AAC is the most common acronym, but you also may hear the terms Voice Output Communication Device (VOCA) or Speech Generating Device (SGD) used in some settings, such as IEPs, journal articles, or billing documents.
There are a wide variety of high-tech AAC dedicated devices and applications. Some of the most common are LAMP Words for Life, Proloquo2Go, TouchChat, GoTalk Now and Tobii Dynavox. Each device or application has features that should be carefully considered when selecting the most appropriate system for your child. This decision should be made in collaboration with your child’s speech therapist, and may include consultation with your child’s teacher, BCBA, or occupational therapist as well.
Most families have a preferred way of referring to their child’s device. Common terms include “talker”, “voice” or simply “device”, “tablet” or “iPad”. You can choose whatever term feels most comfortable for your family. It is helpful to communicate to your child’s team what term you prefer so that everyone can use the same language when speaking with your child.
In part 2 of the series, we will discuss how to care for your child’s new device and keep it in working order.
Written by an ABA Interventions therapist, Cresanna Kahrl, RBT
Written by Charles Galyon, Ph.D. & Carolyn Blondin, Ph.D.
Following a psychoeducational evaluation, you should have a results session with your examiner to discuss the results and the meaning of the results. However, even an extended results session may leave you with unanswered questions. The time to discuss results is limited, your examiner will not be able to anticipate all of your questions, the amount of information you receive may feel overwhelming, and you likely will have many other questions come up after the results session. The information provided below is here to help you figure out what to do next after your results session and how you can get additional help and information when you need it.
What does a diagnosis mean?
First, remember that a diagnosis is only a “functional label.” By itself, a diagnosis is not helpful. The reason you might seek out a diagnosis is to get better ideas about what you can do to improve the problem. With a diagnosis, then you can get an idea of what may happen in the future, and what kinds of accommodations or treatments may be helpful. For example, when you know your child has a cold, then you can expect it will be unpleasant for a period of time, but that your child will get better without need for medical intervention. On the other hand, if your child has a severe case of the flu, then you can expect the child may need medical assistance, and that a pediatrician will have an idea of what treatment will prove most helpful.
How reliable and permanent is a diagnosis?
When making a diagnosis, the examiner is looking for a combination of symptoms and characteristics that tend to occur together, which may indicate some underlying condition (for example, a learning disability, an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or a developmental delay). The examiner is well-trained in a variety of disorders, their symptoms, and how to test for other characteristics that would be consistent with a disorder. However, it is ultimately “clinical judgment,” and some individuals simply do not show symptoms in the same way. Also, the examiner only sees you or your child for a limited period of time and typically only in one setting (such as a clinic). While the examiner is aware of these limitations and tries to take them into account, you may have important information that would affect the diagnosis. For that reason, be sure to share all information you believe may be important with your examiner.
Keep in mind that as you or your child grows, learns, and develops new skills, things may change with respect to the diagnosis. Many diagnoses are considered “permanent” (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder), meaning that if the diagnosis is received earlier in one's life, then it stays the same regardless of changes in the symptoms. However, the degree of impairment can change considerably, which is ultimately the goal of receiving a diagnosis and treatment.
Is there a cure?
Generally speaking, there are no “cures” for disorders; however, many disorders are better understood now and can be greatly helped with different treatments. For psychoeducational disorders, many of the treatments are called, “interventions.” Interventions may include skill training, behavior modification, or therapy. Medical treatment is also often used in conjunction with interventions to improve the effectiveness of interventions and reduce potentially more severe symptoms (which may interfere with the ability to benefit from interventions). Though your examiner may be able to discuss medical treatment to a limited degree, remember that they are not trained in medical practice. To gain more information regarding options for medical treatments, you should speak with your family physician.
What is involved with “training skills, modifying behavior, or receiving therapy”?
Skill training. Training skills is used for academic difficulties (improving math, reading, or writing skills), adaptive behavior (day-to-day activities), and to teach compensatory strategies (such as for problems with organization, memory, communication, or social skills). Skill training usually occurs periodically (such as once per week), involves assessing the current skill level, using a scientifically-validated training program, and measuring improvement in the skill to make sure the training is working. Skills training can be an invaluable approach to addressing disorders and may reduce problems associated with the disorder. It generally provides significant improvement, but does not completely eliminate the problem.
Behavior modification. Behaviors may become a regular habit over time, and often occur without thinking. Most behaviors are appropriate and desirable, but sometimes behaviors are not desirable (misbehavior) and need to be changed. Many problems may be effectively addressed by modifying behavior or replacing an undesirable behavior (for example, throwing toys), with a new desirable one (such as, expressing anger verbally). Behavior modification requires several steps, including identifying the “antecedent”, “target behavior”, and “consequences”. This process is known as “Functional Behavior Analysis” and is done before behavior modification begins. The “antecedent” is what occurs before the behavior and may act as a trigger. A simple example would be: when a traffic light turns green, the driver applies his/her foot to the gas pedal of the car. The “target behavior” is the behavior to be changed. The “consequences” are what occur after the behavior that increase or maintain the behavior. This is easy to understand if you consider how you might respond if you got $50 each time you said, “Hello” to someone (you would probably say, “Hello” a lot!). A major goal of behavior modification is promoting “successful behaviors” (behaviors that we desire and that result in good things) and making them more enjoyable than the previous, undesirable behavior (typically by using rewards for the good behavior).
Therapy can take many forms, but when applied to psychoeducational disorders, it often focuses on desensitization, counter-conditioning, restructuring thoughts, and other anxiety reduction strategies. Therapy should be “solution-focused”, meaning it identifies a specific problem, creates a plan to reduce the problem, and evaluates progress throughout therapy. Therapy in this context is typically relatively short (for example, 7 to 12 sessions over a period of 2 to 3 months).
Now I've got a diagnosis, what should I do next?
There are a variety of steps that you may take next. Some disorders may benefit from medical treatment, such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or severe Anxiety Disorders. In such cases you should meet with your physician to discuss your concerns and bring your evaluation report with you. You may want to request a letter for your physician from your psychoeducational examiner. The letter is a helpful way for the examiner to briefly state the evaluation procedure, results, and provide contact information for the physician.
It is also appropriate to begin treatment planning following the diagnosis. Treatment planning can include a variety of steps, such as those mentioned above, as well as identifying additional resources that may be helpful (such as local support groups, clinics, or material resources). If the disorder has an educational impact, then it is appropriate to begin the process of requesting accommodations from the school. An educational impact generally means the disorder interferes with the ability to succeed in academic work, or that the disorder produces behaviors or stressors that interfere with the ability to function in an academic setting (which may include social difficulties).
Though your examiner has provided a brief description of the diagnosed disorder in the evaluation report, it is usually helpful spend some time learning more about the disorder yourself. Your examiner is one useful source of information and should be consulted if you have additional questions, but there are also a variety of helpful resources that can be located elsewhere, including books, support groups, and internet resources. You should be careful to evaluate the credibility of these sources, though, because not all sources are factually accurate or well-researched. Your examiner may also be able to provide some suggestions for resources that are reader-friendly and scientifically valid related to the diagnosis.
I didn't get the diagnosis I came in for, now what?
Possibly one of the most frustrating experiences is to come in for evaluation due to problems, but not get a diagnosis to confirm or explain the problems. Just like getting a diagnosis does not solve the problem, problems can exist even if a clinical diagnosis is not made. Sometimes problems are “sub-clinical”, meaning that a problem is evident, but the degree of severity of impairment is not enough to warrant a diagnosis. Your examiner may still provide recommendations related to the problems you are experiencing, and these recommended solutions can still be beneficial. It is also possible that a problem may change over time and become more or less severe, which would change the eligibility for diagnosis. If you feel a problem has persisted or becomes worse over time, then consider requesting a re-evaluation.
Why does my child struggle despite not having a diagnosis?
This is a common question and point of frustration for parents, particularly when a child is struggling in school, but there is no apparent explanation. There is not a simple answer, but there are a number of possibilities that may make it easier to understand (though not necessarily easier to deal with). When making a diagnosis, there are two primary questions that must be asked: 1) does the child exhibit the symptoms consistent with a disorder, and 2) is the impairment significant enough that it affects daily functioning? Most often, when a child does not receive a diagnosis, it is the second question that comes back with the answer, “No.”
To help improve the reliability of diagnoses (so that different examiners will reach the same conclusion), certain scores must be reached to indicate significant impairment. A child may struggle, but their scores could be right on the edge, meaning they will not get a diagnosis. However, it is possible that if the problems continue, the child will qualify in the future. Therefore, if you do not receive a diagnosis initially and the problem is still present (or worse), then it is often a good idea to ask for a re-evaluation.
Why won't the school help my child?
Rest assured, the school wants to see your child succeed and is not intending to frustrate you. Similar to the previous question, schools are required to use certain criteria in deciding if a child will receive services. Because schools have limited funds, they often must be cautious with regard to identifying children for services. As a result, there are a limited range of disabilities and disorders for which children may receive services in a school setting.
Unfortunately, if a child struggles academically because of a cognitive processing deficit (for example, poor short-term memory, low processing speed, or difficulty with recalling information), then they may not qualify for services because these are not recognized “disability categories” within education. These difficulties are still very real and can cause a great deal of frustration for the child. In such cases, it is strongly encouraged that you try to work with your child's teachers to see if some reasonable accommodations can be made (such as extra time on assignments or tests or allowing the use of scrap paper for jotting down notes during tests). Keeping communication open with teachers about behavior, progress, and/or concerns can be very helpful. Many teachers are willing to work with students and parents to help the child succeed.
Should I get a re-evaluation? When?
Re-evaluation may be recommended under a few circumstances. If the previous evaluation did not produce a diagnosis, but the problems persist or have gotten worse, then re-evaluation may be helpful after some time has passed. Usually you should allow at least a year to prevent a “practice effect” (when a test scores artificially high because it has been seen before). You should also be sure to inform the examiner of any previous evaluations that were done, when they were done, and (if known) the tests used for evaluation. This helps the examiner select an appropriate test.
Re-evaluation is also necessary periodically to check progress and to figure out if a new plan should be developed. This kind of re-evaluation is typically conducted once every three to five years. Information from these evaluations can help determine if there is improvement, if there is a new need, or if a different approach to treatment would be better.
And finally, an evaluation may be periodically required for progress monitoring. Schools often require recent evaluations when determining if accommodations and services are necessary. Many colleges and universities also require recent evaluations for services. Though “recent” may have different meanings between schools, in general, evaluations should not be older than 3 to 5 years.
Should I get more evaluations from other professionals?
The initial psychoeducational evaluation may only be a starting point in terms of identifying needed services. Psychoeducational evaluations typically assess cognitive, academic, and psychological functioning. This means that other skills, such as motor skills and language skills, are not evaluated in depth. Though the psychoeducational evaluation may provide some information about language skills, it is not intended to be a thorough evaluation of language skill, which is more thoroughly examined by a speech-language pathologist. Motor skills are also not thoroughly evaluated as part of a psychoeducational evaluation, and are usually assessed by an occupational therapist.
Depending on the diagnosis, your examiner may recommend follow-up evaluations by other health professionals, including speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists. If unsure, ask your examiner if it would be appropriate to seek further evaluations.
Should I share this report with anyone?
You may share your report with anyone you desire (it is your report); however, it is typically helpful to share your report with your family physician, any counselors or social workers with whom you visit, and schools. Your family physician may need the information to begin a collaborative treatment plan (as is often the case with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). Your counselor or social worker may need the information to better understand how to best help you. And schools may need the report to set up a program of services and accommodations for your child. For example, you may require services under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. Ask your examiner for a further explanation of these programs and what is involved in them. Similarly, sometimes it is appropriate to share the results of the evaluation with your employer to secure workplace accommodations (as protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act).
Written by Crystal Wilson, RBT
What is positive specific behavior praise? It is a statement that describes the observable behavior with a positive label. Examples include, “I like how you put your clothes away.” And “Thanks for using nice words when asking me if you could have a cookie.”
When using praise, we are identifying the behaviors we enjoy and want to increase.
Acknowledge what a person is doing correctly or appropriately. Can they appropriately play by themselves for 5 minutes? Can they ask you for items and activities using nice words? If so, praise them while the are being appropriate and engaged in the behaviors we want to see increase!
We enjoy making others smile. Being specific when praising your child will boost their self-esteem and allow the child to know exactly why they are being praised!
Written by Dr. Charles Galyon
Part of raising a child means teaching them almost all of the skills that they will need to get by as an adult (schools and the community pick up some of the job too). This means lots of correcting misbehavior. However, for many parents (especially those who have more “spirited” children), it may feel like this begins to dominate their interactions with their child and leads to frustration on the part of the parent and the child. It may begin to strain their relationship. Nobody wants to have a relationship with their child that is dominated by yelling, scolding, or other punishment, but this pattern often develops naturally and for good reason.
Is My Child Always Misbehaving?
In truth, the answer is definitely, “No, they are not.” Why does it feel like you always have to get on their case and correct their behavior then? Let’s use one somewhat extreme example to explain this: Are you more likely to remember all of the people that waved at you and said, “Hi” or the people that slapped you in the face whenever you walked by? One of those is common and expected, the other is unusual and extremely offensive. As an adult responsible for the child’s behavior, you will naturally notice misbehavior very quickly. Misbehavior, by its nature, tends to be offensive (meaning it aggravates us), which means it will get your attention.
Why Does It Feel Like That’s All I See?
Some children are more prone to behaviors that are considered “wrong” than others for a variety of reasons (hyperactive, anxious, easily frustrated…). Some children may specifically engage in behaviors that are antagonistic (such as aggression, defiance, or non-compliance). Almost all children engage in a variety of common appropriate behaviors. Appropriate behavior can range from common (playing quietly, eating food…) to uncommon (helping someone, doing chores voluntarily…). Uncommon appropriate behavior is likely to be noticed, but common appropriate behavior is usually overlooked. Why is this?
Common appropriate behavior is generally what is expected (for example, “well, of course they should not hit their brother”) and much of it doesn’t draw attention to itself as a result. Uncommon appropriate behavior may draw attention to itself, but it is not frequent, therefore you will still feel like your child is “always misbehaving.” So if a child could receive attention for uncommon appropriate behavior, why don’t they always do that? Well, why don’t you (as an adult) stop and help every person you see every day? It would be exhausting and the opportunity doesn’t actually present itself that often. Children do not have that many opportunities to engage in uncommon appropriate behavior, and it’s a lot of work. It’s great when it happens, and we want to pay a lot of attention to it, but it’s rare.
Though a child may often demand your attention for their inappropriate behavior, this is not the only thing they do, it just feels like it. Many children will misbehave precisely because it has gotten parental attention before. However, it would not make any sense for a child to always engage in behaviors that will receive corrections and punishment. They would undoubtedly prefer enjoyable, high quality attention from you.
What Can I Do Then?
There is no simple, fast cure for misbehavior, but there are things you can do to begin improving it and at the same time strengthening your relationship with your child. This article is about one thing: Changing the attention you give to your child’s behavior.
You need to learn how to identify and give attention for the appropriate things your child does (the common and uncommon appropriate behaviors). It is extremely difficult and you will have to train yourself to do it. Think of it as building a new habit. Learn to look for things your child does right (even “playing quietly”) and give them attention for it. Your goal is to get in there and give your child attention for appropriate behavior before they demand your attention with inappropriate behavior. It’s almost a game, and a very tricky one because we’re not really well-practiced at it. It may help to set a timer for yourself to remind you approximately every 5 to 10 minutes until it gets easier for you. In addition, you have to learn how to ignore some of the small misbehaviors that don’t really need attention or things that we specifically want to avoid giving attention (such as whining). Some of these behaviors will worsen before they get better (particularly whining), but if you give your attention to them, they’re likely to become stronger and last even longer.
Addressing misbehavior can be a complicated and challenging process. The first part of improving your child’s behavior is re-training yourself to identify and give lots of positive, high-quality attention to common appropriate behaviors. Later, you start learning more effective ways of dealing with the misbehaviors (including selectively ignoring them). Though a challenging task, keep in mind that your child would almost certainly to have praise and positive attention. We want them to learn how to get that attention appropriately instead.
by Mary Staub, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA
Independent play skills do not always develop naturally and sometimes must be taught. One way to teach independent play skills involves breaking play into a doable schedule in which the child receives reinforcement for completion of the activity. Some ways that independent play can be encouraged in the home involve using “play bins” in which a single mastered play activity is put in a bin and an activity schedule is made to signal what the child is to complete before earning reinforcement. All materials can be things that you already have at home and that the child would typically have access to so that the presence of designated bins can be faded out for more naturalistic play.
Following are steps on how to use in the home:
Teaching the use of a play schedule can be useful for increasing independent play and can also be a tool to use when your child might not have immediate access to parent/adult attention and must engage in an activity independently. An example of when this might be useful could be when you are in the kitchen cooking or need to make a phone call and cannot play with the child.
Task analysis teaching steps
Example of a play schedule
Blog entry written by Mary Staub, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA
What are visual supports?
Visual supports are any picture or object that are used to communicate information. This can be in forms of actual objects, pictures, words, or lists. We have visuals in our daily lives that communicate certain information to us such as: 1) traffic lights are visuals to help us know when to go or when to stop; 2) grocery lists remind us of things to get at the grocery; and 3) we place certain objects by the door to remind us to take it to work the following day. When it comes to children with autism spectrum disorder, visuals help communicate information in a way that is easy for the child to understand.
Two Effective and Popular Visual Supports
Blog entry written by Jenny Baggett, M.Ed., BCBA
IEP and 504?
There are many options for students to receive additional support and services in school. Parents are encouraged to discuss their child's needs with the school. Collaboration between parents and schools can help build a good relationship and tends to be far more helpful for the child. It may be possible for a child to receive unofficial accommodations (such as the child being seated closer to the teacher to improve on-task behavior) without the need of a formal plan. However, sometimes a child needs more support, which may include an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan. These terms and the processes involved in them can be confusing for parents. It can also be challenging for a school to explain these services to parents.
Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and a Section 504 Plans are both formal plans to help a child receive additional support and accommodation in school. They both offer protection for the child as well. Both require the child to have an identified disabling condition, and the disability must affect the child's ability to function in the school environment. This article provides a brief primer on these two options for students, but it is not exhaustive and cannot accurately capture the variations in each state's, district's, or school's implementation. It is important that parents consult with their schools to learn more about the processes involved in developing these plans.
Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
An IEP is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is designed to ensure that all students receive an appropriate education regardless of a disability. I usually explain to parents that an IEP is basically a more substantial support system. It will involve more paperwork, more meetings, and can provide more protections for the child. IDEA is federally-mandated and partially federally funded. The funds supplied may not actually be sufficient to cover all of needs of students within a school (the notion that schools "profit" by identifying disabilities is not unsupported by evidence). A student may receive an IEP for any of 13 categories of disability. Some of these are fairly obvious and easy to understand (e.g., blindness, deafness, autism, learning disabilities...), while other disabilities tend to get lumped into the category of "Other Health Impairment" (or "OHI"). OHI includes medical disabilities that may have an educational impact, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Another category, Emotional Disturbance, can be harder to understand, but essentially includes any persistent, severe emotional disturbance that impacts the student's ability to function in the school (such as severe depression or anxiety). Students with severe behavioral problems may not be covered under an IEP.
An IEP includes identification of the primary (and secondary) disability, a set of goals for the student (e.g., significant improvement in academic skills) and a set of accommodations and services that will be put in place to help the student achieve the goals. All of this is established at a meeting with the parents and school representatives. Parents play an important role in setting and agreeing to goals and, if parents are not satisfied with the goals and accommodations, then they can refuse to sign the IEP and enter Due Process. However, whenever possible, the parents and the school should reach an agreement to help the child receive the support they need and to help maintain a collaborative relationship between school and home. It is important that parents ask questions when unsure about something, to prevent later disagreements or frustration. The meetings can be intimidating for parents, which is also why it is important that they take their time in reading through and understanding all of the materials and decisions involved. The school psychologist is an advocate for the child and an important resource for parents to make use of.
ADA - Section 504 Plan
A Section 504 Plan is part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is intended to ensure that all individuals with disabilities receive free and appropriate accommodations. Because of this, Section 504 Plans can serve a very broad range of situations, including temporary medical disability (for example, a broken leg). Any medical condition that may impact the child's ability to function in the school environment and school activities may receive accommodation under Section 504. As mentioned, this may include temporary medical conditions, but also long-term or persistent medical needs, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Section 504 Plans are typically "lighter" than an IEP in that they may not have as long of a duration, may require fewer meetings and less paperwork, and may not provide as extensive accommodations. Nevertheless, Section 504 Plans can be very valuable for students.
Section 504 is federally-mandated by law, but does not receive the financial support that may be available under an IEP. More intensive accommodations and needs are usually served under an IEP instead of a Section 504 Plan. However, it is possible to have both a Section 504 Plan and an IEP at the same time.
Parents are often concerned about their child being "labeled" by receiving services. This is a valid concern, though not always as likely as parents may fear. There are two broad types of services students may receive: pull-out and inclusion. Pull-out services involve the student being removed from the classroom or school activities for a period of time to receive services to meet their educational goals. Pull-out may range from very brief (e.g., 15 minutes) to very long (e.g., entire day in a self-contained classroom). Schools generally try to minimize the amount of pull-out time, partially because it has been found that students tend to develop better socially and are better adjusted if they are in the classroom with their peers. As a result, schools have increasingly relied on inclusion services, which keep the student in the regular classroom, but with additional supports or modifications to assignments or activities. Inclusion classrooms may feature two or more teachers to help tend to the individual needs of students receiving services. These teachers often help all of the students in the classroom, though, which helps reduce any stigma from receiving special education services.
Students and teachers are often unaware of the specific needs or category under which a student is receiving services. That information is considered "privileged", so only those who need to know about it are granted access. Nevertheless, it is likely that students will be able to identify differences between them and their peers, regardless of measures taken to prevent it. Students are very sensitive to differences, and even if a student received no accommodations for a disability, their peers will likely be aware of a difference anyway. Therefore, it is usually best to ensure that the student is receiving whatever services are most helpful, regardless of the potential for stigma. The benefits typically outweigh the costs.
Blog article written by Dr. Charles Galyon.
Have FUN! Remember the first few sessions of ABA therapy?
Remember that your child’s functional communication and language use can improve with appropriate use of pairing. Language is powerful, functional, and should be reinforcing for your child. When a child seems to be refusing, throwing, or avoiding their communication device, it is very likely that it has only been used for aversive task demands or it was only paired with a four letter word…work. Your ABA therapist most likely started with mand training (learning to request things that he/she WANTS) to teach the child that their communication system can be used to access their favorite things in the world. Once the child requests a favorite thing, model Core, Verbs, and other fringe words on the communication system. They are more likely to be engaged, attentive, and motivated when working in an enriched environment with preferred items.
Have a “spoiled rotten” play session. Place highly preferred activities/items/snacks in a clear bin and work on requesting and talking about the items with your child as you play. Example: edible sensory play! Make whip cream faces for the sweet tooth child. Language opportunities to prompt or model: I want whip cream, more whip cream, spray, push, it’s a circle (face), we need eyes, I want m&m eyes, red m&m, I want candy corn nose, this is fun/silly, table is dirty, napkin(please), model colors, shapes, numbers!
Blog article written by Elizabeth Ginder, MSSW, BCBA