September 14, 2020

Common Topics in Special Education During COVID-19

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Takeaways:  

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

2.  Change takes time. 

3.  Be flexible.  

In this episode I address the most commonly asked questions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the past six months I’ve helped my own clients and have spoken with parents and staff at many disability organizations about decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Things have twisted and turned, but we always land on the same themes.  I have compiled a list of the questions that I’ve been asked most, and I’ve answered them.  

We’ll talk about how to address regression, what compensatory education is, when to schedule a meeting and what kind of meeting to schedule, how to prepare for an IEP or informal meeting, how to advocate for more adult support (like an aide, teacher’s assistant, instructional assistant), how to decide on the right learning platform for your child (even if you’re divorced), and how to know if it’s time to make a change.  

This episode if super content-rich, so I recommend that you grab your favorite pen and a pad of paper!  


It is so important to be proactive in special education advocacy.  Too many parents and educators rely on allowing things to runs their course, hoping for the best, and relying on other people.  This episode helps listeners and viewers take matters into their own hands by using three simple strategies: Communicate, Progress Monitor, and Get Involved.  Sarah and I discuss examples of communication that parents should send before the school year starts like All About Me Books and back to school emails.  We talk about what parents should do if they don’t know what is happening at school.  She explains how parents can engage in their student’s education by progress monitoring.  And she talks about WHEN the communication should occur (Hint: it’s never too late to get things back on track!).  

In the past six months I’ve helped over 100 of own clients and have spoken with parents and staff at many disability organizations about decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Things have twisted and turned, but we always land on the same themes.  I have compiled a list of the questions that I’ve been asked most, and I’ve answered them.  

We’ll first address the possibility of regression.  What happens if a child stops making progress and actually regresses?  When should it be addressed, and what should occur?  We’ll also talk about compensatory education, a topic often dreaded by schools.   Here’s a fact: compensatory education will be awarded in more cases in the next couple of years.  Here’s another very important fact: That’s okay.  CompEd doesn’t have to be an elephant in the room.  Children are going to regress.  They’re going to miss services.  That won’t always be anyone’s fault.  Nothing will be perfect.  We must address compensatory education with the child in mind and provide the child opportunity to make up for lost time and loss of skills.  If we can all agree on that and face a CompEd discussion objectively, we’ll be just fine.  Okay, off my soapbox. 

We’ll also talk about when to schedule a meeting and what kind of meeting to schedule.  Some districts are requiring IEP meetings for every child.  This seems impracticable to me.  It also worried me if districts are suggesting that IEPs are changed.  The federal government and many state Departments of Education have published guidance indicating that the requirements of IDEA are not to be waived during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Schools have been closed before due to natural disasters and other circumstances, and special education services were not halted or altered.  To the extent that services cannot be delivered, compensatory education should be discussed (see above).  In most cases, I’d encourage teams to consider scheduling informal meetings to discuss Distance Learning Plans rather than changing IEPs.  

Next, we will discuss how to prepare for an IEP or informal meeting.  I’ll go through the method explained in the guide on my website, Preparing for Remote Learning. Grab your copy here: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/5f43f5fda25f1c0029564135

The number one question I’ve been asked in the last few months is this: How do I advocate for more adult support (like an aide, teacher’s assistant, instructional assistant)?    I walk you through that in this episode.  The quick answer is that the child is entitled to all services in the IEP, so if that includes access to adult support, s/he should get it, no matter the learning platform chosen.  The real answer is far more complicated, so we’ll discuss factors like the school’s insurance policy, the adult’s availability (time and other logistics), and the efficiency of learning at home.  

We’ll finish the episode with some strategies on all the decision-making…. how to decide on the right learning platform for your child (even if you’re divorced)and how to know if it’s time to make a change in learning platforms.  I’ll give you a step-by-step way of looking at things so you can choose the right outcomes objectively.  

This episode is super content-rich, so I recommend that you grab your favorite pen and a pad of paper!  


Prepare For A Remote Learning Plan in 2020

This tool will help parents, caregivers, teachers, school staff, and community members that support children with IEPs to prepare for remote learning. Download here!

 

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Part 03: The 6W's of the Ashley Barlow Co - The Who

Calling all parents, teachers, school staff, self advocates, disability organization staff, doctors, therapists, coaches, tutors, grandparents, babysitters, community organization staff, volunteers, … Calling anyone that supports a student with a disability!!!

Part 04: THE 6W'S OF THE ASHLEY BARLOW CO - THE Where

Parents of a child in special education are exhausted. Teachers and school staff are about the busiest professionals in the workforce. Nobody has time for in-person trainings, and thanks to COVID-19, few can safely access in-person trainings right now! 

Part 05: The 6W's of the Ashley Barlow Co - The how

How’s this all going to work? This is the great part. You don’t need to worry about how the content will arrive, especially if you join my mailing list (link in bio), like me on Facebook and Youtube, follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to the podcast. 

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The Special Education & Advocacy Lab is an on-line, on-demand training course for parents of children on special education that are interested in improving their advocacy at the IEP table. Each of the ten modules is a little under an hour, so in about 6.5 hours – less than one work day – or a few weeks’ time we go start to finish in Special Education Advocacy. We cover Parent Rights and the nuts and bolts of the IEP Meeting, the basics of the law, a deep dive into the IEP document and goal writing, progress monitoring and specially designed instruction, due process, document organization, communication strategies and so much more! Each module is jam packed with content and collaborative, reasonable, objective advocacy tips.

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