Tag Archives: Therapy

Getting the Most out of Your Child’s 504 Plan

504

Getting the Most out of Your Child’s 504 Plan

One of the biggest complaints I get, as a therapist, from parents is their child’s teacher is not following their 504. I can sympathize completely, but as a past public school educator, I can sympathize with the teacher as well. Most classrooms are designed to have 504 and IEP students with an “Inclusion Teacher”. What this means is…the students are generally put with a teacher who requests to work with more challenging students or is made to work with more challenging students. How they become the “Inclusion teacher” is irrelevant; their work load is the still the same.

Responsibility

Many teachers receive information regarding their students within the first few days of class when they are overwhelmed with paperwork. Generally, they get copies of a student’s IEP, but not the 504. One year, I actually never received my student’s 504…I was simply told they had one. Being a new teacher, I did not know I could pull the child’s cumulative folder and research this information myself. Yes, I know, I could I have been so oblivious?

This leads me to…whose responsibility is it really to make sure your child’s 504 is being implemented? Personally, I believe it is up to the schools Learning Services Coordinator (LSC).  By law the school does not have to include you in your child’s 504 annual meeting. Therefore, I would recommend you find out who the LSC is at your school and become friends with them. Let them know you want to be an active participant in your child’s education.

Participation

In order to be an active participant and have a say in your child’s 504 plan; you must BE NICE, but firm. When you show up to meetings have samples of your student’s work, be ready to say what is working or not working, and have concrete accommodation ideas ready to share. Don’t just listen to the educators. You have valuable information to share. Talk about your child’s behaviors…things he says or doesn’t say can be invaluable.

There are many ways to help children with learning and attention issues to succeed in school. Accommodations and modifications can come from several walks of life; such as: work presentation student response, setting, timing, scheduling, organization, assignment modifications, and even curriculum modifications. When helping to design a 504 plan, make sure you understand terminology being used by educators.  Make sure the educator who is responsible for implementing the accommodations name is clearly defined in the paperwork. Also ensure that what is to be done to help your child is specific and clearly understood.   Finally, be sure to get a copy of your child’s new 504 plans and keep in contact with the person listed on the plan as the student’s interventionist.

Communication

If you find yourself at odds with your child’s teacher, Principal, or LSC, request a mediator or child’s advocate from your state public school office. If you still cannot reach some type of understanding, you can always file a law suit with the Federal Office for Civil Rights. However there is a way to avoid these extreme situations.

Parents, your child’s teacher works hard and struggles daily to keep data clearly organized in their brain on each student. They are human and will make mistakes. Communication is the key! Talk to your child’s teacher regularly. Not once a school year or even once a semester. I’m talking about every 3-4 weeks. Children change and grasp new concepts every four weeks or so. What was once working may not be working anymore; maybe you discovered or the teacher came across a new and refreshing idea. It takes a village to raise a child and all of its inhabitants must play their part…including the student.

Garden in the pocket

Dyslexia Therapy with Fidelity

Fidelity is defined as “faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.” Many parents have the best intentions and want their children to be successful. They are loyal and supportive of their children, but are they always faithful to the cause? Regretfully the answer is no.

EXCUSES

I have heard a lot of excuses since I became a therapist such as “it’s just too far to drive”, “ I just can’t afford it”, “my child has a headache”, “I can’t find a ride”, “my kid has a super head lice, that I just can’t get rid of”, “we have a flat”, “I’m out of gas”, “my kid wants to go to a camp or go visit someone”, and “I forgot”. Now you may be thinking some of these excuses sound legit and in a normal situation you would be right, but several of these excuses came from just one parent. Some parents decide it’s too far after only 3 lessons. Some parents believe when their student complains of a headache just before class, that they really do have a headache; when actually they’re just trying to get out of class. Some parents want the therapist to hold a spot and then only bring they’re child 1-2 times a week.

HOMEWORK

When my classes first began, I told my parents consistency is the key to growth and that your student will get out of the class what he/she puts into it. Periodically, I pass out very light homework. I tell the students to practice, get a parent signature, and you will get a sticker for being proactive of your own learning. They do not get punished for not doing their homework, just a simple reminder that they will get out of this class what they put into it. Unfortunately most students do not do the work. In fact, they blame their parents for not getting it done or they say they forgot. They lose their folders or the folder stays in the car and only comes into class with no effort being shown that they had did the work. The students that put forth more effort seem to grow faster and have better attendance records.

ATTENDANCE

In a dyslexia school setting therapy would be given daily. In an after school program, it is given three days a week. It is imperative that the student attend regularly and does practice outside of class. The more effort a student puts into it now the faster they will grow and the sooner you will no longer have to pay for therapy. I understand that life happens, things come up, and you just can’t get the student to class. However from a therapist’s point of view it is disappointing when you get a student who has so much potential and learns things quickly, but he/she has missed a lot of classes. Each student has the potential to attend 9 to 12 sessions in a 30 day period, but I have had students attend maybe only 4 to 6 of those classes in a 30 day period. I have also had students quit or make excuse for their attendance for 1-2 months in a row and then come back. The parent who eventually leave always say they know I’ve made a difference and find me a blessing and all I can think is….if they had attended regularly than your child would be an even stronger reader.
I don’t like losing my students until I feel like I have made a crucial impact on their life. In order for me to do that they must attend class regularly, practice outside of class, and finish the program.

How Homeschooled Dyslexics Compare to Public Schooled Dyslexics in Therapy

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How Homeschooled Dyslexics Compare to Public Schooled Dyslexics in Therapy

Self Esteem

One of the hardest things to do when teaching dyslexics is to build their self esteem. Why is that? Is it because they have experienced so much failure that they don’t care anymore? No! Are they incapable of learning? No! What is it? Do you agree with the lesson “you get out of it what you put into it”. Well sure you do…dyslexic students and regular students for that matter have not internalized this valuable lesson.
Students see school as something they have to do. Something they are being forced to do. Therefore learning cannot be joyful. It does not matter how much planning and excitement you put into a lesson. If a student is not open to learning you will never reach them. Students become helpless. Unable to trust that they can learn, they just haven’t discovered what works for them.

Desire to Learn

Believe it or not there is a huge difference between homeschooled kids and public school kids when it comes to learning or should I say their desire to learn. Home schooled students that come to me enjoy being in class. They practice outside of class. They never complain and get excited when they do well. My public school kids come into class with a scowl on their face, they complain during class, they have an attitude, sometimes you can tell they have been crying, and they always want to know how much time is left.
Now the key to understanding what I am saying comes from whether these behaviors were noticed from the first day of class. In the beginning, my home school students were very much like my public school students…they were scared, afraid to try, and doubtful of their abilities. As time went on and the students became more confident, all their attitudes began changing.
The home school students became confident and eager to learn more. One home schooled student in particular was placed with a public school student for class and he has decided he really does not like the public school students lethargic attitude about the class. He wants to learn as much as he can while he’s in class, while the other student struggles with attentiveness. How do I know this? He has begun complaining with groans and sighs.
The public school student also groans and complains, but for very different reasons. They do not want to be there. They come to class with defiant behaviors or will try anything to get you off topic. That’s the master mind of my older students…to deflect.
You could chalk it up to bad behavior, home training, or anything other thing you want to blame, but I have my own theories as to why I experience these behaviors on a daily basis.

My Theories

Recently, I decided to take my public school dyslexic third grader out of the public school system and homeschool her. I began giving her therapy after school when she was in the first grade. In the beginning she loved it. Towards the later part of that year she was more confident and was reading on grade level. I gave her therapy throughout the summer and she started second grade reading on a third grade level. This was a huge boost to her self esteem. Of course, she believed she didn’t need therapy anymore and the attitude took over. She complained about having class and would sometimes be very uncooperative. Second grade was a struggle to keep her in therapy, but I consistently made her go even with the attitude. Suddenly her grades began to fall, her personality changed, and I got one sassy little girl. It turns out she was being bullied and was bored with what she was learning at school. She would complain that they never do anything fun. At the end of second grade, she asked me if I would home school her if third grade was more of the same. I told her let’s give it 30 days and see what happens. Within two days of school starting she already said class was boring, we only got five minutes of recess, her teacher was mean, and the kids who had bullied her the previous year were in her class again.. She begged me to take her out, so after only two days I took her out of the public school system. Being an ex-public school teacher, I had my own qualms with Common Core and other instructional methods of the public school system and felt that what was best for my child was to homeschool her.

Deciding to Homeschool

We have been homeschooling now for about a month. All I can say is wow! The last month has been a huge eye opener for me and I started taking notice of all the things I have discussed so far. I began to analyze what I had been experiencing all along.
My daughter appears happier now that she does not attend public school; even her Grandparents have taken notice in her change. She never complains about therapy anymore and actually likes deck review to be her daily motivator to get the day going. She has therapy, math, and bible daily. We typically do two days in a row of science and then two days of social studies. Friday is our field trip/make up day. I think I will stick with one thematic unit at a time. Finish it and start a new one in the future. I believe we can go deeper in less time teaching in this matter.
I believe the biggest factors in her change of attitude is that she got to choose what she wanted to learn in Science and Social Studies. Plus with our field trips we always do some type of assignment that makes her think about what she’s learning. Inquiry based learning has a lot to do with motivation. She is currently writing a narrative about when we went skating and she learned to skate. She has not complained once and she has written a lot of words. This is a task that is usually excruciating for her…more so when she has to copy things because she doesn’t spell well and has to look at every letter in order to transfer the material. Another reason for the change in attitude would be lack of competition, student attitude transference, and hours spent at school.

Public School Dyslexic Kids

Public school dyslexic kids are exhausted by time they get to me. They are mentally frustrated from not being taught how they learn, most do not have recess, music or art. How are they supposed feel success if the academic subject areas are not their strong points? How are they suppose to learn how to communicate effectively if they do not have recess? They are told to be quiet, they do not choose what they want to learn, and they are forced to be there because they need to learn. Attitude will ensue because they are frustrated and made to feel they have no say in their education.
Not everyone is capable of homeschooling their children. Many are frustrated because they see this attitude in their child. They know they are frustrated, but don’t know what to do about it. I wish I had the magic answer, but I pray that by reading this you realize you are not alone. You must do what you feel in your heart is the best thing for your child.