Parents of children with speech disorders are faced with a choice: private speech therapy or speech therapy through the public school system? Each choice has its own benefits and drawbacks, but some parents prefer to consider a third, less conventional option: homeschooling. Considering alternative options may seem confusing or even intimidating at times. For starters, there usually isn’t as much information available, and often parents don’t know where to look for help. The trick to evaluating alternative options is to look at the idea from every angle, and instead of being intimidated, perceive it as an opportunity. That said, homeschooling isn’t for everyone, and it can be especially difficult to homeschool a child with a speech disorder.
Depending on whom you ask and which PR campaign you wish to believe, it’s called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or simply, Obamacare. President Obama signed the healthcare law on March 23, 2010, and it was upheld by the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012. The healthcare law was intended to decrease costs and increase the number of insured Americans. Whether you prefer to call the law “Obamacare” or the “Affordable Care Act” is a strong indicator of whether you approve of the law or not. Few healthcare laws have been met with as much controversy as the ACA. Even the autism community appears quite divided. It’s not the purpose of this post to say whether the law is good or bad, but rather to discuss the potential impact of the healthcare law on autism coverage. You can read the full law here.
If you’ve ever negotiated with your child to eat just one more little celery stick before he can have his Jell-O, then you’ve already got the gist of what mediation is all about. After you file for due process, the first step is a resolution meeting. If you and the school district cannot come to an agreement in the resolution meeting, mediation is also a possibility.
If your child qualifies for speech therapy and other services through an early intervention program, the service coordinator for the program will schedule a meeting to write his Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). The IFSP details the services that your child is to receive. You are your child’s best advocate and you understand his needs well. You and your entire family are strongly encouraged to get actively involved in the development of the IFSP. The IFSP is written with the view that the entire family is essential to the child’s progress, so it takes a family-centered approach. That is, your child’s needs will be identified, along with the needs of the entire family in supporting your child.
It’s easy to get lost in the mountains of paperwork and miles of red tape that comes with the special education process. And it seems like there’s always one more hurdle to clear before your child gets access to the services he needs. After you file a due process complaint about your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), you can’t automatically jump right to the due process hearing, for example. First, you’ll need to attend the resolution meeting, which is similar to mediation. The purpose of the resolution meeting is to hammer out an agreement so that both parties can (possibly) avoid the due process hearing. You’ll have lots of prep work to do to get ready for the meeting, so here’s a quick guide to the basics.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that public schools must provide resources for children with qualifying disabilities, such as speech disorders. However, each state has its own programs to implement the law. States may also have their own special education policies, so long as those policies comply with the federal law. If you live in Arizona, your child may be able to get help through the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP). AzEIP covers children from birth through 36 months. AzEIP is implemented in conjunction with several state departments, such as the Arizona Dept. of Health Services (ADHS), the Arizona Dept. of Education (ADE), and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), among others.
What Is It?
If your child is in school and requires special education services, he’ll have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). But it is also legally required that younger children have access to needed services and support. This is where the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) comes into play. The IFSP is a written document that all children have when they qualify for Early Intervention (EI). (Early Intervention is the version of special education for younger children.) The document is customized to your child’s specific needs. However, unlike the IEP, the IFSP also takes into account the needs of your entire family insofar as familial support is crucial to attaining a favorable outcome for your child.
If you have a complaint with your child’s proposed Individualized Education Program (IEP) or the way in which it is implemented, you have the right to file for due process. The resolution meeting is a legally required part of due process. While it might seem like just another hassle in the special education bureaucracy, the resolution meeting is an opportunity to negotiate with the school district and reach an agreement. If successful, a resolution meeting can allow you to avoid a formal hearing. Preparation is a critical component of successful meetings. Thoroughly reviewing all of your child’s special ed documents will help you remember the important little details during the meeting. Check out last week’s post on resolution meeting preparation.
If you do not agree with the school district’s proposed Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child, you can try to negotiate with them. If that fails, you have the option to file for due process, which is a legal procedure by which disputes are resolved. There are several different components to due process. The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004 mandated that the first step in due process must be a resolution meeting. Resolution meetings are similar to mediation in that the primary objective is to work out differences before resorting to a formal hearing. However, you should be aware that there is no neutral third-party present to moderate the discussion.