Unique Needs: CHILD NEEDS NEW IEP, SCHOOL INSISTS ON NEW DIAGNOSIS

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Cara: I am a social worker working with a family who has a 9 year old son having a very hard time in school. He is on an IEP, since Kindergarten in a small integrated classroom until 3rd grade. This year, no longer a small integrated classroom for 3rd graders, and the school said he could go into a general ed classroom. He immediately began to show signs of distress: self electing to wear noise cancelling ear phones, crying, outbursts, wants to kill himself or others. He was evaluated by Emergency Services in the school, transported by ambulance to a CBAT hospital for children to have an evaluation, and hospitalized for 5 days.  His IEP is only for communication issues; but since September he is becoming more and more social/emotional issues. He was discharged from the CBAT, exhibited none of these behaviors there. Was evaluated for medication, determined he didn’t need any. He is good at home, and in individual therapy he is also cooperative, engaged and appropriate. The behaviors are primarily only in school. The school is saying there is nothing they can do unless his dx is changed and then amend his IEP. Getting a psych eval and a report and a new IEP could take months. What do we do for this poor little guy NOW ?

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Iris

I agree, time for an IEE. My son age 8, 3rd grader developed sudden onset OCD during the 1st week of summer camp, 2015. Then he started a new school per the IEP team recommendation, home school with 5 hours support only, previous grades more pull out. He could not tolerate being in a general education class due to movement of classmates. He was mainstreamed fall of 2nd grade gradually, so the new school found his behavior bizarre. The new school referred us to the Crisis Center, Psychiatrist was not available for almost 6 weeks. After two weeks we moved him back to his old school but same behavior (hitting, threatening to harm himself, cussing). He was a shy quiet child before. He spent 7 months home, after an IEE they placed him in a special education school with a one-on-one Aid.

Trish

Time for the parents to ask for IEE Independent educational evaluation, in writing, in areas of OT, Speech Language pathology, and a comprehensive evaluation by the school psychologist. This will be granted, unless the school can demonstrate, in a hearing, that their evaluations are appropriate. If theirs are not current, they might ask parents if they can update them instead. This is one of many actions that sets the school’s time clock in motion – look at the law and give them something they have X number of days to do. They do like to stall, but they have a limited number of days to evaluate if you ask in writing (no limit on stalling if request is at IEP meeting; they only have to evaluate every 3 years, because no one is disagreeing with evaluation results).

Sharon L.

If you did not sign the IEP to agree to this change the school cannot unilaterally change the placement from a small integrated classroom to regular ed classroom without an IEP meeting & an agreement. Even at best case scenario they should have offered a transition plan to move him from the integrated classroom to regular ed provided everyone thought this would work. This means provide a tutor and/or aid and slowly help him transition from the small classroom into the larger classroom. This will take some planning on the team’s part but they should know how to do this. If you do not think he should be in the reg ed class than you need to meet & decide some other alternative education setting in the school (meet with a tutor in a small group, etc).

Jill G

There is no reason that the school cannot try some strategies “informally” now, then revisit the IEP after the evaluation results are in. In fact, this would be really smart – the school would have an idea of what may and may not work. It can be thought of as part of the evaluation process. Perhaps there are some strategies that the parent or former teachers can suggest.

It’s kind of ironic – more often, when the school is digging their heals, the troubling behavior is occurring everywhere but at school. With the behavior happening at school, there is no excuse for them not to act.

Jill G

Cara –

First, if the school thinks that the IEP needs to be changed, then the school needs to be doing the evaluation – not asking the parent to go get another diagnosis.

Second, the IEP is supposed to be based on the specific needs of the child, and not simple on his disability category or even diagnosis.

I suggest a two-prong approach. Unfortunately it is hard to know exactly what may be going on with this boy without an evaluation. I encourage the parent to ask the school to evaluate any area that may be potentially leading to their son’s struggles – at the very least, social/emotional skills and sensory responses.

I also encourage that the parent ask that the school to not wait for the evaluation results to try to find some solutions for this boy.

There is no reason that the school cannot try some strategies “informally” now, then revisit the IEP after the evaluation results are in. In fact, this would be really smart – the school would have an idea of what may and may not work. It can be thought of as part of the evaluation process. Perhaps there are some strategies that the parent or former teachers can suggest.

It’s kind of ironic – more often, when the school is digging their heals, the troubling behavior is occurring everywhere but at school. With the behavior happening at school, there is no excuse for them not to act.