The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
May 3, 1999

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Issue - 31

ISSN: 1538-3202

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The Special Ed Advocate is our free online newsletter about special education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, educational methods that work, and Internet links.

We publish this newsletter occasionally, when time permits. Back issues of The Special Ed Advocate are archived at our web site -


As a subscriber to The Special Ed Advocate, you will receive announcements and "alerts" about new cases and other events. Contact, copyright, and subscription information can be found at the end of this newsletter.

It’s IEP time! Our mailbox is filled with messages from parents who have very specific questions. Unfortunately, we are unable to answer specific factual or legal questions.

When we can, we try to answer general questions. If one person asks a question, we know other people have similar questions. In this issue of The Special Ed Advocate newsletter, we share some questions and answers with you.

1. MD Mom has Question About Individualized Services in the IEP

My child is 13 years old and goes to middle school this fall. Last week, we went to the school for a preplanning IEP meeting.

Our daughter needs speech therapy. The middle school speech therapist said that our daughter could not receive one-on-one speech therapy. She said "There is no individual speech therapy. Speech therapy can only be in groups because it is the least restrictive environment." She said "individual therapy wouldn't be in the least restrictive environment."

She knows the law.

Where can I find more information about speech therapy and least restrictive environment? This is the first time I have heard this and it made me very uncomfortable.

Dear Maryland Mom:

First, don’t assume "She knows the law." The law does not say that a child cannot receive individualized instruction or one on one instruction. Many children with disabilities require direct instruction or remediation.

Here are some tips that will help you get the answers to your questions.


Go to the Law Library our website. Download the statute and read it for yourself. Use a highlighter to mark passages that relate to your questions. The statute is in black type. Pete's comments are in blue type. Here is how the statute is organized on the site

Table of Contents & Short Intro By Pete

Purpose of Special Ed Law, Definitions

Law About Private Placements, Child find, Least Restrictive Environment

Law About Evaluations, Eligibility, IEPS, Placement

Procedural Safeguards to Protect Child



Suggest that you download the special ed regs from the site, then print them.

You can also download the regs in Adobe Acrobat format

Look for the regulations that address your issues. You want information and guidance about "least restrictive environment." After you download the files, you can search the regs for the term "least restrictive environment."


You can now search the Wrightslaw site. When you search using the phrase "least restrictive environment," you get 22 "hits." To search, go to



You can know all about your legal rights and not get the services your child needs. To get appropriate services, you will need to use "tactics and strategy."

Your private sector expert must be willing to say that for an appropriate education, your child needs one-on-one speech therapy. (As a Mom, your opinion will not be given any weight.)

Write a short polite letter to the school. Explain that you went to a "Pre-IEP Meeting" and were advised that your child could not receive one-on-one speech therapy.

Ask the school to provide you with a copy of the law, regulation or policy which says that all children with disabilities must have speech therapy in groups, regardless of their needs. The tone of your letter should be polite and businesslike. Keep us posted.

2. From Washington Dad About and IEP Attachment

I have a 5 yr. old autistic son in the public school special education program.

I hope to consent to an IEP that is on the table but I want to add an IEP attachment about what I think should be included in the IEP. I expect that the special education people will vigorously object to this.

Is there any law or regulation or any other thing that the special education people can come up that would prevent my adding such a statement? Thanks.


Read the statute and regs about IEPs, especially Appendix A. Appendix A is 40 Q & As about IEPs, in part about strengthening the parental role. There is a section in the statute that discusses the need to improve special ed outcomes by strengthening the parental role so you are on firm ground.

Here is the link to Appendix A

Check your state’s education regulations or proposed regulations to see if there is anything that helps.

Our clients often ask that a Parent IEP Attachment be attached to the child's IEP. This attachment can serve many purposes –add important information, document your concerns, etc.

Suggest that you follow up the meeting with a letter that documents your understanding of what transpired. Good luck to you.

3. Wise Advice From California Mom

I just had to let you know what a valuable tool your website has become for me. In fact, I'm recommending it to parents whenever I get a chance who are struggling with their LD kids in school.

My son is dyslexic. Without your help on how to deal with the school, he would still be ignored – and the school would be telling us parents that he's lazy, etc.

The biggest piece of advice I can give parents is to document and make a record of EVERYTHING. Most schools have e-mail, and e-mail creates a permanent record. Phone conversations can't be recorded without both parties agreeing, but e-mail is much more convenient and creates that "paper trail." Also, tape record the IEP meetings -- I've had to refer to specific sections on the tape for future use. :)

The other thing I would strongly advise parents to do is to understand the test scores, and goals and objectives from IEP meetings. When I compared the test scores from three years ago to today, I discovered that my son had actually REGRESSED in over half of the areas.

The school psychologist didn't complete some sections of certain tests.

Jaws dropped at my son's IEP meeting when I blew apart their program with their own tests and scores. My son's school didn't bother to check whether or not he was making any progress -- quite frankly, they didn't care. The school psychologist was so rattled that she walked out of the meeting.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!

4. Good News From Nebraska Mom Who Used Wrightslaw and "Won"

I had my son's IEP meeting today. The meeting was supposed to be next Friday. Yesterday, I got an email telling me that the meeting was changed to today after school. (The school knows this is when I am in class.) I skipped school to go to the IEP meeting. When I got to the school at 3:30, there was a note for me saying that the principal and reading teacher couldn't make it so the meeting would be rescheduled again. I blew a fuse.

This happens often at our school - IEP meetings are canceled at the last minute. Months pass before the meeting are rescheduled. The school wanted to reschedule this rescheduled meeting for June 8th – I said no way.

I had all of my son’s test scores from the beginning to the present. I had graphs that showed regression in reading and writing. At age 8 ½, he is just beginning to learn how to read. These graphs showed that his areas of greatest deficit had never been addressed in the IEPs (i.e., weak auditory and verbal skills).

We had the IEP meeting after all. The new IEP provides for 2 additional hours a day with an aid, new teaching strategies with information about when the strategies are implemented and how my son’s learning will be measured objectively.

Thank you for all you do for the children.


What good news - you are learning the steps to the dance!

You looked at the tests and figured out what your son's weaknesses are. You learned how to measure educational progress using objective tests. You learned how to present this information with charts (visual aids). You got an outside expert involved who is willing to say what your son needs. You documented your discussions and concerns in writing.


5. Editor's Choice From the Advocate's Bookstore: Great Books From May!


"Better IEPs" is our #1 book recommendation for parents, advocates and attorneys who are trying to develop good IEPs.

The Third Edition has been completely updated and revised. Better IEPS guidelines about HOW TO and HOW NOT TO develop IEPs and examples of IEPs – good and bad.

For more about "Better IEPs" go to




Our favorite Kindergarten teacher writes:

"I love the book you recommended on your site, Greenspan's "Challenging Child." It is my Bible right now for some of my students. I really like the way he suggests working with these temperaments to change some things around. Very clear, very positive, innovative.

"I have a student who is the Active Aggressive kid to the max. Greenspan talks about this child's need for lots of stimulation because he doesn't perceive stim well at a low level--This kid loves loud, noisy, tactile, strong sensations and yells rather than talks. I keep stuff on his desk just for him to fiddle with, and it helps him to relax.

"I also really like the way Greenspan discusses talking with these children to help them develop the language and ideas to express themselves, rather than to rush into immediate action because the ideas, the ability to think about something (vicariously) just aren't there yet.

"I was talking with this child today, "What will you do at recess? Who will you play with? What else might you do?" And he could NOT say --I kept plugging away, pulling this out--yet he was so driven to get to the playground.

"I am curious about these kinds of conversations, the ploys you can use to help a child (is this the word?) ideate. Must look for more of his stuff. And my school is going to buy this book. Thank you!"

For information about "Challenging Children" go to



We added another book by Dr. Greenspan to the Advocate’s Bookstore.


Covering all kinds of disabilities--cerebral palsy, autism, retardation, ADD, and language problems--this comprehensive guide offers parents specific ways of helping all special needs children reach their full intellectual and emotional potential.

This is what one reviewer had to say about "The Child with Special Needs":

"Nature or nurture? One of the most intense debates in understanding the development of the human mind is whether cognitive ability is based in genetics or developed through learning experiences.

"While biology clearly plays a part, recent research shows that the interactions experienced during infancy and childhood can actually change the physical structure and wiring of the brain.

"Does this mean many children with developmental and learning disorders--such as autism, PDD, language and speech problems, ADD, Down syndrome and others--can make greater progress than previously thought? The research cited by Dr. Greenspan and Serena Wieder strongly supports this idea."

For more information about "The Child with Special Needs" go to



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