[ABCs of SPED] L is for Least Restrictive Environment (or LRE)

abcs of sped inclusion May 16, 2018

If you, like me, are over the age of 30, you probably do not remember having students with disabilities in any of your classes throughout the entirety of your school years.

This is because educational inclusion is a relatively new concept. Though the concept of "least restrictive environment" was first put forth in 1975, most of us were long outside of our school years by the time students with disabilities were routinely included in the general education classroom.

Prior to this, most students with disabilities were educated in self-contained special education classrooms or in special schools that were intended solely to serve students with disabilities.

The IDEA mandate for "least restrictive environment" (or LRE) sets the expectation for how and where students with disabilities are to be educated in their local school system.


“To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care...

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[ABCs of SPED] K is for Knowledge Transfer

abcs of sped May 09, 2018

Have you ever been asked to give a speech? Did it make you shudder with anxiety? I might be one of the few crazy people out there who loves public speaking. I know, however, that most people don't. 

Why is it that someone can have a conversation with me one-on-one, and can share all sorts of facts and opinions and ideas, but when they get in front of a crowd they don't seem to know anything at all?

Why is it that in some contexts we can perform certain skills, but in other contexts these skills evade us?

This issue is caused by a breakdown in the transfer of learningAnd this idea, knowledge transfer, is the K in our ABCs of SPED blog series!

So what is Knowledge Transfer, as it relates to education? It's the ability to apply acquired knowledge and learned skills to new situations or contexts.

And it's one of the ultimate goals of our educational system! After all, is it any good if a student can label coins on a worksheet but can't count out the...

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ABCs of SPED: J is for Jargon

abcs of sped May 02, 2018

I first got a glimpse into the world of educational acronyms on my very first day of a new job many years back. I had been called into a meeting to listen in on a conference call, and they spent the whole time talking about an "L.O.A." An L.O. ...what? I was totally in over my head, and I had no idea at that point how many other acronyms and abbreviations I'd come to learn over the next few years.

Today, I'm breaking these down for you so that you don't have to be the odd one out at your next meeting (or conference call)! 

(And by the way, L.O.A. stands for "Letter of Agreement"-- it's not as common in the education world but it may be familiar to those of you in business!)

Rather than expound the virtues of each abbreviation or acronym, today I'm giving you a neat and tidy list. Are you ready? 24 of my most-commonly used acronyms coming at'cha!

A.B.A.: Applied Behavior Analysis
A.D.A.: Americans with Disabilities Act
A.T.: Assistive Technology
B.C.B.A.: Board...

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[ABCs of SPED] I is for Independent Education Evaluation

abcs of sped Apr 23, 2018

We talk a lot about paperwork in the special education process and few things are as dense as a psychoeducational evaluation report (say that 3 times fast!). 

If you're new to this world, a pyschoeducational evaluation is typically conducted as part of the eligibility process (learn more here!), and it includes a variety of measures to determine your child's strengths and weaknesses and to assess how they may affect his or her academic functioning.

Typically, one of these evaluation reports is 12-20 pages long and includes a narrative history, IQ test results, achievement test results, test conditions, limitations, and finally recommendations and suggestions. These reports (and the results they provide) are typically the biggest factor in determining whether a student has an "educational disability."

So what happens if they school conducts one of these evaluations and you think the results are terrible?

It is not uncommon for parents to disagree with the evaluation...

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[ABCs of SPED] H is for Homeschooling

abcs of sped Apr 19, 2018

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just get so fed up. Advocacy work can feel like pushing a boulder up a hill, and it's often two steps forward and one step back when fighting for something your child needs. It's hard to work within a system that is rigid when you have a child that is out-of-the-box.

If you've ever felt like this, you may have found yourself wondering, "Would it just be easier if I homeschool?" or "Certainly a private school would be better than this, right?"

Today's post is about the various considerations you need to be aware of if you're thinking about pulling your child out of the public school system.

First, let me say that I am generally pro-public school. I am a product of public school and I am a former public school teacher. Because of the opportunity to be with (neighborhood) peers, I think public school is a better option than homeschooling for most students. I also believe there are many resources out there (including our IEP Guru resources!) to...

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[ABCs of SPED] G is for Gifted (and Twice-Exceptional) Students

abcs of sped Apr 09, 2018

I'm going to let you in on a surprising and little known fact:

Gifted education often falls under the umbrella of special education.

Huh? You might be thinking, "But my child's disabilities mean she's struggling to meet average benchmarks-- why is she in the same category as those students who are way above average? Shouldn't special education focus on students like mine who really need the help?"

And you wouldn't be the first to think that. 

But let's go back to what special education is really about...

It's about serving students who require specially designed instruction in order to access an appropriate education.

And gifted students fall into this category.

So what does "gifted" mean, and why should this matter to you? 

Intellectually gifted refers to a child whose intellectual abilities, creativity, and potential for achievement are so outstanding that the child's needs exceed differentiated general education programming and adversely affect educational performance.

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[ABCs of SPED] F is for F.A.P.E.

abcs of sped Apr 04, 2018

Ahh yes, the acronyms again! I swear there are more acronyms in special education than in any other field. I could write an entire email that would include 25% text and 75% acronyms and it would take a CIA code-cracker days to read it. 

My hope is that (if you've been following IEP Guru for awhile) you could crack that code in under an hour. 

Today I going to discuss the second most important acronym in special education after I.D.E.A. (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)...

We're talking about F.A.PE.-- free, appropriate, public education.

F.A.P.E. is the foundation upon which special education is built. F.A.P.E. ensures that our kids with disabilities are able to access their right to an education just like those without disabilities. F.A.P.E. means that the learning of our students with special needs matters as much as it does for any other student.

But what is F.A.P.E, really? And what does a free, appropriate public education mean?

Let's break it down...

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[ABCs of SPED] E is for Eligibility

abcs of sped Mar 26, 2018

You may not know this about-- I have a toddler at home.

She is wild and busy and headstrong and sweet (as toddlers are). She certainly gives me a run for my money most days, but the hardest part of parenting a toddler, other than the constant redirection and gentle discipline, is the wondering...

Is my child on track?

Is she supposed to be running or jumping by now?

Why can't she identify colors like the other kids in music class?

How many words can she say? Does "wa-wa" count as a real word if she knows it means "water"?

You know the drill. There's that constant internal nagging to be on the lookout for something amiss. (Or maybe that's just me, since I work in this field! My guess is that I'm not alone though.)

Today's post is all about eligibility, or the process of determining whether a child needs and qualifies for special education services. If that nagging feeling that your child may need something more has lingered into school-age, this post is for you.

Like nearly...

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[ABCs of SPED] D is for Due Process

abcs of sped Mar 21, 2018

Are you ready for a heavy post today? We're talking about your rights for when you get stuck... really stuck... too stuck to talk it out or make a compromise or have another meeting...and when the issue you're stuck on is fundamental to your child's identification, evaluation, educational placement, or access to FAPE (a free, appropriate, public education).

That's right, today we're discussing due process which is the "D" in our ABCs of Special Education series.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer-- the content of this blog post is solely meant to be informational. If you're concerned that you may need legal advice, please seek the help of a special education attorney.

So what is due process?

Due process is a formal means to resolve conflicts or disputes with your child's school.

Due process is a series of steps that a family or guardian walks through with the school and other external parties to come to a decision about an item in dispute. 

Here's what this looks like:

1. The family...

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[ABCs of SPED] C is for Consent

abcs of sped Mar 14, 2018

Welcome to week 3 of our ABCs of SPED series! Today we're talking about consent.

It seems like it should be obvious that you, as a parent, have a right to give or withdraw consent on behalf of your child. After all, they're a minor! 

But do you really know, within the special education process, what you must give consent for and what the school is able to do without your approval? And what you need to do to withdraw consent?

After this post, you will!

First and foremost, please know that all of your rights and responsibilities surrounding consent in the IEP process are outlined in your Procedural Safeguards packet. I'm going to use this as yet another opportunity to state the obvious: you must read your procedural safeguards. Read them, know them, love them. Nothing will help you more in the IEP process than knowing your rights. I also need to include a disclaimer that I am not a lawyer, and that the content presented in this blog post is solely meant to be informational.


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