My friend lives in a world by himself.
Sometimes, he lets me join him.
Sometimes, he doesn’t.

My friend is like the sun.
Sometimes, he shines.
Sometimes, he disappears to a place I can’t see.

My friend is like a puppy dog.
Sometimes, he listens to what I say.
Sometimes, he just doesn’t understand.

My friend is like Abraham Lincoln.
Sometimes, people are amazed by his honesty.
Sometimes, they are angered by it.

My friend is like an Encyclopedia.
Sometimes, all his knowledge is very impressive.
Sometimes, I get bored and want to put him aside.

My friend lives in a world by himself.
Sometimes, I invite him to join my world.
Sometimes, he joins for awhile.

Public School Issues- IEPs

IEPs…so different from state to state, district to district, child to child.

Who needs an Individual Educational Program? In all states, a student must be identified as a student with a “Handicapping Condition” in order to receive an IEP.

Whether a social communication weakness by itself is a considered a handicapping condition varies from place to place. In the opinion of some school districts, only those who are having academic difficulties (because of their handicapping condition) are eligible for services through an IEP. Those without academic problems don’t have a “handicapping condition” (because they are getting the work done) and can receive what is known as a “504” plan. This plan provides modifications and services that must legally be provided to the student based on his/her needs. It can be absolutely wonderful and has worked effectively for many a student. Some parents even like it, because they don’t want their child to be “labeled.” However, the problem with a “504” is that the student will not receive any therapeutic services through the school, except (depending on the school) some counseling- and that’s just a perhaps. Many times, this is the only service that highly intelligent but socially awkward students get. Sadly, many counselors are unfamiliar with social communication disorders in the clinical sense. So the counseling they provide may not target specific needs.

One way to counter this “academic only difficulty” is to consider the state standards. Each state has a set of standards, but it’s primarily the academic standards that are on report cards. All the standards, however, are areas that schools need to address to produce functional, prepared, competent young adults. There is one standard that SLPs use consistently: The student will listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations (or words to that effect). To advocate for special education eligibility, this particular standard needs to be discussed. Generally, eligibility can be found when using this standard as a basis.

As far as goals and objectives themselves, it is good, no matter whom you are, to come prepared with ideas and prepared to listen to other people’s ideas. Come with an open mind and a willingness to consider that you might be wrong. Come with a point of view and a desire to be heard. The most productive IEPs are neither adversarial/confrontational nor are they kum-ba-yah and we-all-think-exactly-alike. They are a serious discussion of the student and his/her needs. People bring different perspectives to the table, and they need to be heard. General Rules for Good IEP Meetings:

  1. There should be an agenda, but allow for flexibility to discuss issues that arise in the meeting.
  2. LISTEN well, understand and then respond. Be respectful, open, and honest.
  3. Meetings should not be too long. Thirty minutes to two hours is usually enough, depending on complexity and people involved. Schedule a continuation, if they are longer than that.
  4. The goals/objectives should be specific enough to be clear but general enough to be able to have a variety of means to teach/address them.
  5. Goals/objectives need to be limited to a reasonable number and tailored to the most urgent needs, rather than a laundry list of what everyone brought to the table.

If you have a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Jeffrey Cohen, a parent of a child with Asperger Syndrome, has written a book called Guns A Blazing: How Parent of Children on the Autism Spectrum and Schools Can Work Together- Without a Shot being Fired. It’s a worthwhile read for IEP meetings and other issues related to school.