Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I just made reservations for our upcoming RV trip. We are leaving this Saturday, heading south to the beach for 5 days. Now its time to start making my lists of what to pack, what to buy, what to cook and freeze to bring with us, etc etc.... I hope the nights are not tooo cold in the rv. Other than that, it'll be a blast.

Friday, December 15, 2006

present moment

in this moment, I am so grateful for you. For your existence. for your support. thank you. read the purple goddess entryn on squid's blog about the movie about secrets. stay focussed. stay present. stay happy. you can do it. you can. really. iloveyou. really i do.

be strong. be real. stay focussed. believe




Sunday, December 10, 2006

tricky balance

Walking that fine line between being totally overwhelmed and understanding that I'm doing the best I can in this moment with these circumstances. I keep tilting back into overwhelmed as I can't quite disregard my self-expectation to be the best at what I try to do.

Friday, December 08, 2006

4 visits to Kaiser in 1 week

Started with B on Monday, to get a blood draw (poor little guy) and hand xray, order by his ped bec. we are concerned, get this, abt his new patch of pubic hair. At 7, it's a bit young. Doc agreed, hence the lab tests. We saw the endocrinologist today, who says probably nothing major to worry about, but he may wind up with an early growth spurt and then stop growing before his peers, and wind up being pretty short. Not surprising since neither his papa nor I pass the 5-4 mark. And a tendency towards diabetes. Again, not surprising, since his papa is prediabetic and his paternal grandfather had diabetes too. But really, I could have done without the additional worry.
Yesterday A had his extra (aka shark) tooth removed, which required IV sedation. While he was under, they took xrays, did a bunch of fillings and sealed everything sealable. It was his first time under anesthesia, so I was quite worried (even though B has been under 3 x already).
And just to really make it a fun week, on Wed I get a call from the school nurse (what, they actually exist?!?) who says that A's teacher called her bec she was concerned that A had 3 (count em, 3) pee accidents at school. Could be a uti or high blood sugar she says (in a VM msg of course). So I get him in to his Ped. (who is really just the sweetest guy) who runs a quick urine test, rules out anything abnormal, and suggests it is a behavior. (conclusion which was reinforced today when I checked on him in the shower and found he had pulled his underpants out of the laundry basket, and was wearing them, soaking wet, in the shower. I guess there must be something sensory-pleasing about wearing wet underwear.... oh no)

Monday, December 04, 2006


I am what I am. Isnt that what Popeye said? Real heartfelt acceptance of who one is, and who others are. That seems like one of the lessons that I need to learn.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

spinning planets

I always wind up overwhelmed at the end of conferences on autism. So much information, so much more to be done, all the time, every day. So many skills required that stretch me to my limits. But lots and lots of good information. My favorite part (I guess I'm watching too much Dora) were the presentations by Jerry and Mary Newport, two adults (married) with aspergers who are so incredibly articulate and insightful. They've written several books, and their movie has recently been released Mozart and the Whale. The best line of the weekend was when Jerry said something like If the Creator weren't at least a little bit autistic, then why did he make all the planets spin?!? The handouts should be posted shortly at www.autism-conferences.com

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey-Anxiety Syndrome

Ok, so maybe you'll have to remind me that every year I tend to freak out that the turkey is a total failure, but it tends to work out just fine in the end. Not a reason to do the thanksgiving dinner again next year, just a realization that for some reason cooking turkey makes me unusually anxious. Oh, and please remind me that just before the panic sets in, I should pour myself a glass of wine. So here's what happened last night:

After venting here, I poured myself that much needed glass of wine, turned the oven back on, put the turkey back in there, set the table with all the other yummies we (read: T.) made, such as asparagus and brussel sprouts smothered in garlic, tomato salad, two different cranberry sauces, pan-fried stuffing, and the inevitable olive tray of my childhood. Plus some leftovers for my beautiful boys, who refuse to eat anything green (or red). Although to give credit to B, he stuck his finger in the cranberry sauce and tried it, and was really fascinated by the brussel sprouts (i think b/c they are ball shaped) and would smell them but did not want to taste them. And we sat down to a truly lovely meal. At 8pm when the turkey was finally ready, T carved it up, and we all sat down and devoured it. B absolutely loved it, gobbling down a plate of white meat without once trying to escape from the table (which has become his sop at mealtime). We were all so full that we decided to put dessert off until this morning, and have it for breakfast.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Remind Me

Please, remind me next November, that I do not actually enjoy cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Remind me NOT to do Thanksgiving dinner next year. Remind me that the fantasy family that lives in my dreams lives only there (and they can eat fantasy turkey). Remind me, come November 2007, that I should rent an RV and spend Thanksgiving weekend at the beach or the mountains, giving thanks that I do not have a half raw/half burned turkey in my oven, stuffing stuck to the pan, and not nearly enough wine on hand to get through the evening.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Proud Mama

I am so proud of A. I went to his school this morning for a Thanksgiving breakfast with his class. It was so great to see him being a completely well-behaved little boy who knows his routine and how to follow directions, interested in the other children, playing nicely, following prompts to speak to instead of touching the other children. Just lovely. And all the teachers/paras were just soooo nice, really lovely people interested in and concerned about the children. It made me feel really good abt his placement. A always goes off to school with a smile, and I can really see why. I think it is a good place for him. And for this, I give thanks.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Luckily my cynicism didn't last (does anyone know how to spellcheck on blog?). I ventured on the the SELPA's Community Advisory Committee (council, commission????), which is not really advisory in much at all, I learned. Nor are the meetings well attended. Or purposeful. But hopefully that can all be changed! Amiga, your idea of the Spec Ed pta is absolutely right, and should be the next step. Let's make this happen. Basically 1-2 parents in SMFCSD made theirs happen, and it is incredibly well attended. So I'm sure we can do the same here.

A Speak

Ah wah buhbuh djoo

Totally spontaneous, unprompted, out of the blue.

For the uninitiated, this is a close-to-perfect rendition of I want bubble juice.

For those unacquainted with a 7 year old, this means sparkling juice.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why do they call it "Blue Ribbon"?

So, I've got the Superintendent's ear. She and her 3 top dogs met with one other parent and me this morning regarding our concerns about the County's lack of appropriate programs for children with autism. I'm embarrassed to say that I think we walked away from the hour long meeting with me feeling more empathy for her situation then her for mine. I guess that's a sign of a good politician (or a bad advocate). Too many kids, not enough funding, union/employee rights, our hands are tied, etc. etc etc. Hopefully the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Autism (which I also have the honor of participating in) will come up with all the answers. Or maybe we'll all just talk our heads off for 4 more meetings until the mandate is up, without producing any real results. Pardon my cynisism (esp since I can't come close to spelling it correctly). As usual, it is much easier to be on the outside protesting in, then on the inside actually coming up with viable solutions. Let me know if you have any good ideas.

Friday, November 03, 2006


what is it about the holidays that totally overwhelms and depresses me?
i need to work on modifying my expectations to be more in tuned with reality.
i think if i had nt kids, it'd be so much easier to just blow off the holidaze bs, since i really don't buy into anyway. but now it just seems like one more way that we don't fit in.....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Delighting in my talking children

What a delight to my ears! Alex requesting ortilla without even a model. Benji asking for ooooo (juice) without even a model. Just spontaneous self-initiated requests. Heaven.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Very good movie. Go see it. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll clap for the 7 year old girl who is "different" from her "peers" but she and her family are ok with that. At least I did.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


B. -- Will talk for bubbles too.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Read this


This is a link to a powerful articulate statement by an adult with autism, directed to parents of children on the spectrum.

Here's an alternative link. Thanks, Squid, for the heads up.


Usually, I'm not really big on self-pampering. I've never in my life gotten a pedicure. Once a manicure (for my baby shower, of all occasions). Get my hair cut at Supercuts. But I totally splurged the other day at Costco, and bought myself a vibrating toothbrush (not those hi-tech systems, a 3-for-$12 pack). And I am LOVING it! Just had to share.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A thousand meetings, trainings, emails, and conversations later, and I still can't secure a decent (oh, excuse me, appropriate) placement for my own kids. B's teacher is leaving. Just found out today. I swear, I didn't have anything to do with this one! I've been trying to be nice to her and share information without telling her that she's an incompetent idiot. I'm not particularly upset abt losing this particular teacher, just about another transition for B, the message it sends to the paras, a whole new learning curve, and some fear and trepidation abt who they might bring in. If we're lucky, maybe it will be Sub K. Although I understand that as of this July 2006, the whole emergency credential game goes down the drain, they actually have to scrunge enough enough real credentialed teachers, and actually pay them decent enough wages so that they'll stay.

I wish I knew how to make everything better.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Will talk for water! I love that!!!

Rough Week

So this morning the doctor said that both boys are fine, no need after all to take A to the emergency room for stitches (because there is a risk of infection if done more than 12 hours after the injury) on his chin, to heal the deep gash he sustained falling down in the shower (apparently it is not safe for young children to climb up the shower wall). And B does not seem to have suffered any internal damage from the school bus accident on Tuesday morning. Yeah, B's bus driver was rearended on the 280 by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel. CHP detained the bus for about an hour while he examined everything and did his rpt. Noone bothers to notify parents at this time, or anyone with any idea on how to deal with a bus load of very special children on their way to PV. I can only imagine that hour. And then get this: At 3:20 that afternoon, I get a call from a spec ed administrator who asks me to pick B up at school bc the afternoon busdriver refused to take him home because he was missing the buckle guard he usually uses to prevent him from unbuckling himself and walking around the bus. Well apparently in the hoohaa of the bus accident, the am driver lost the little plastic gadget.

I better stop here - writing it increases rather than decreases my stress as I relive how frustrating the whole thing is.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Not to be outdone by his older brother, B is determined to make his own water related milestones. In order to get his own access to that precious liquid, he scrunched up his lips in the exaggerated "w" shape we all make when we want B to imitate a sound, and forced out a whaaa sound. Here you go, buddy, a brand new water bottle for you!


Not surprisingly, the answer to A's first independent response to a WH question was agua. The question, of course, was "What do you want?" I'm particularly proud of him because it was clearly not even a scripted answered, since no-one has been teaching him to answer questions asked in English with Spanish answers.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I think I am having a harder time with this transition than my boys. Possibly because they are not fully aware of what is happening to their home program. They've been pretty welcoming to the new tutors, some testing, but it seems ok. And D. will still be around, and I'm sure we'll see her for respite from time to time. I should see if she wants to set up a steady schedule, once a week, once a month, or whatever. But today was T's last day. She and I were both teary when she left. She's been working with the boys for 3 years, now, and by far has logged in the most hours with them. And of course they adore her. She's one of the few people who really believes in them. I'm going to miss her alot.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

iep forms link


An excellent website with links to IEP info, forms, etc.

Everything you always wanted to know about IEPs but...


March 2006
IEP Form 1- Information/Eligibility
Items above the solid line may be completed prior to the meeting, based on information contained in the student information system.
1. Introduce participants and set a warm and positive tone for the meeting.
2. State purpose of the meeting and review agenda.
3. Review dates for accuracy. Check accuracy of data and update any changes in identifying information, such as English Language development, migrant status, address, phone number, etc.
Review Results of Evaluation to Determine Eligibility for Special Education Services, if appropriate. If not, record information from the most recent determination regarding the student’s disability and go to Step 8.
4. Consider evaluation results in all areas of suspected disability:
􀂉 Psychologist
􀂉 Special Education teacher(s)
􀂉 DIS/Related Services Staff
􀂉 General education teacher(s)
􀂉 Other school staff
􀂉 Other agencies
􀂉 Parents
􀂉 Independent evaluations, if appropriate
5. Verify that there are no other areas of suspected disability that should be evaluated at this time.
6. Eligibility: Determine eligibility for special education services.
􀂉 Identify primary disability based on state and district/SELPA eligibility criteria:
o If team determines student has a learning disability, complete Specific Learning Disability Team Determination of Eligibility form.
o Evaluation team members sign form as appropriate
o Identify secondary disability if any
􀂉 If student is not eligible for special education:
o Document reason for decision and other options to address student’s educational needs on IEP Team Amendment Page (Form 8).
o IEP team members sign as appropriate.
If parent(s) do not agree that the child is not eligible for special education services, note their concerns, discuss options for resolving their concerns, and review Special Education Rights of Parents and Children – Notice of Procedural Safeguards.
7. How Disability Effects Educational Performance: Describe how the student’s disability affects his or her educational performance.
􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Are all sections of the form addressed? Is the evaluation complete? Does it appropriately identify whether the child has a disability and provide information regarding the content of the child’s IEP?
IEP Form 1A - Transition Services
IEP Form 1B – Individual Transition Plan
1A must be completed for students ages 16 or younger. If the student is younger than age 16 and consideration of transition is not appropriate, skip IEP Forms 1A & IB and go to IEP Form 2 – Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance.
Form 1A
8. How Student Participated in the Process: Describe how the student participated in the process. If for some reason the student was not able to attend describe how the student’s interests were determined.
9. Student’s Post School Preferences/Interests/Goals: Begin the transition planning by identifying the student’s dreams, preferences, interests and goals.
10. California High School Exit Exam: Discuss the student’s participation in the California High School Exit Exam, including his or her need for accommodations or modifications. Discuss the need for submitting a waiver if a modification is used.
11. Document that no later than grade 9, the parent(s)/guardian(s) and student have been informed of the requirement for the student to pass the CAHSEE in order to earn a diploma.
􀂉 Indicate the date if the student has already passed the CAHSEE in English Language Art and in Math.
􀂉 Note if student will be taking the CAHSEE with accommodations.
􀂉 Note if student will be taking the CAHSEE with modifications. Remember a waiver is required if the students will be getting modifications.
12. Transfer of Rights: On or before the student’s 17th birthday, explain that he or she will assume all special education rights and protections upon turning 18 (unless a conservator has been appointed by the court.) Review the Special Education Rights of Parents and Children - Notice of Procedural Safeguards with the student.
13. Credits: Update the credits the student has earned, which courses are required for graduation, and additional courses related to goals, graduation, and/or vocational interests.

Form 1B
14. Age Appropriate Transition Assessments: Document results of age‐appropriate transition assessments.
15. Other Vocational Evaluations: Note other vocational evaluations that should be conducted.
19. Measurable Postsecondary Goals: Document appropriate measurable postsecondary goals to be completed, including person/agency responsible and timeline. Document when the activity is completed. Include:
􀂉 Training: Document specific measurable goals that student would need training on.
􀂉 Education: This would include measurable academic goals.
􀂉 Employment: Specify activities in which the student may be involved, such as career exploration, competitive or supportive employment, etc.
􀂉 Independent Living (when appropriate): Specific measurable goals in the area of independent living skills.
􀂉 Other: Include other measurable goals that the student need for postsecondary transition.
􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Is the transition plan developed in accordance with the student’s post-school preferences, interests, and goals?
Are all areas of transition needs clearly specified, with corresponding measurable goals and responsible
persons/agencies identified as appropriate?
Are the transition activities and services specifically designed to prepare the
student for employment and independent living?
IEP Form 2 - Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance
Except for the Concerns of the Parent, a draft of this portion of the IEP may be prepared prior to the meeting. Each section should be discussed at the meeting and changes made as appropriate based on input by members of the IEP team.
20. Strengths, Preferences, and Interests: Identify student’s strengths/preferences/interests.
21. Parent Concerns: Ask parent(s) to express their concerns relevant to their child’s educational progress.
22. Test Scores: Scores reflecting the student’s performance on state, district wide and other assessments may be gathered prior to the meeting. Review results of the assessments including, as appropriate:
􀂉 California Standards Test
􀂉 CAT-6
􀂉 Other Assessment Data, including results of district wide and/or individually administered assessments. If the student in an English Learner, document performance on the CELDT.
23. Pre-academic/Academic/Functional Skills: Summarize Pre-academic/Academic/Functional skills, including the student’s performance in the classroom, levels of mastery of the California content standards, progress in the curriculum, etc. Pre-academic and Functional skills should address the student’s development of readiness concepts for continued academic progress in the general education curriculum, as appropriate.
24. Communication: For students with identified areas of need in communication, describe the student’s articulation, voice, fluency, and language needs. If none, indicate "no concerns noted at this time."
25. Gross/Fine Motor Development: For a student who has been identified with motor development concerns, describe his or her specific skills and or needs. If none, indicate "no concerns noted at this time."
26. Social/Emotional Development: Describe the student’s social/emotional strengths and needs.
27. Health: Describe pertinent medical information that relates to the student’s educational progress. If none, indicate "no concerns noted at this time."
28. Vocational: Include strengths, interests, and needs related to pre-vocational/vocational skills. Address traits such as work habits, initiative, completion of classroom or school site jobs, etc.
29. Self-Help: For those students with needs in self-help, specify skills such as dressing, toileting, feeding, etc. Indicate "age appropriate" if no concerns are noted.
30. Areas of Need: Based on the information regarding the student’s Present Levels of Performance, identify all areas of need to be addressed in goals and objectives/benchmarks.
􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Are all sections of the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance addressed?
including documentation of "no concerns noted" or "age appropriate"?
Does this clearly reflect the student’s current performance in the educational setting?
Does the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance include all needs identified in the assessments?
Are all areas of need identified that should be addressed in goals, and objectives/benchmarks if required?
IEP Form 3 - Special Factors and Participation in State/District Wide Assessments
31. Assistive Technology: Does student require assistive technology devices and services or low incidence services, equipment and materials to meet educational goals and objectives? Indicate yes or no. If yes, specify the type of devices, services, equipment, and/or materials needed.
32. Blindness or Visual Impairment: Is student blind or visually impaired? Check yes or no. If the student is visually impaired, indicate whether instruction in Braille will be provided, and if not, why?
33. Deaf or Hard of Hearing: If student is deaf or hard of hearing, specify the strategies and specialized instruction and the mode of communication. If the student is not deaf or hard of hearing, indicate "N/A".
34. English Learner: Is the child an English Learner? Check yes or no. If yes, specify how student’s level of English proficiency, related to the IEP, will be addressed.
35. Behavior: Does student’s behavior impede learning? Specify yes or no. If yes, describe how the behavior impedes learning. Specify positive behavior interventions, strategies, and supports to address the behaviors. Check if there is a Behavior Support Plan or Behavior Intervention Plan and attach a copy.
36. Participation in State/District Wide Assessments (STAR): Indicate how the student will or will not participate in each of the State/District Assessments:
􀂉 CAT-6/California Standards Test:
If the student will participate in this test, check all boxes as appropriate.
Specify accommodations if required by the student as part of his or her regular instructional process.
Specify modifications if required by the student as part of his or her regular instructional process. Remember modifications fundamentally alter the test therefore the score will not be counted toward AYP.
If the student will not participate in all or part of the CAT-6, indicate why and describe how the child will be assessed.
􀂉 California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA). If the student has a significant cognitive impairment, indicate the CAPA Level that is most appropriate to measure student progress.
􀂉 Grade Exempt. Check the box to indicate that the student is below grade 2 or above grade 11 and therefore is exempt from the STAR.
􀂉 Specify any accommodations or modifications the student may need to participate in other state or district wide assessments, including writing proficiencies, physical fitness tests, etc.
NOTE: Do not put parent exemption on the IEP form as a reason that the student will not participate. The IEP Team must address how the student would participate even if there is a parent exemption.
37. Promotion/Graduation Standards
Check if the student will be meeting the district promotion standards or if the student will be promoted to the next grade based on making substantial progress toward meeting goals and objectives.
38. Frequency and Type of Progress Reports: Check the frequency that parents will be informed of their child’s progress towards the goals and indicate the type of report.
􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Has the IEP Team addressed all the special considerations the student may require?
Are accommodations/modifications on state and district wide?
assessments in accordance with state guidelines?
Do all team members, including parents, understand the progress reporting requirements?
IEP Form 4A - Annual Goals and Objectives
IEP Form 4B – Annual Goals and Benchmarks
IEP Form 4C – Annual Goals
Use IEP Form 4A or 4B for students who take the CAPA. These students require annual goals AND objectives or benchmarks. Use IEP Form 4C for all other students. Objectives or benchmarks are no longer required for students who are accessing the general curriculum. Draft goals (and objectives or benchmarks, if required) may be developed prior to the meeting and reviewed with the team for changes. Annual goals, objectives, and/or benchmarks must be measurable, and at least one annual goal must be written for each area of identified need.
39. Measurable Annual Goals: Develop measurable annual goals including short-term objectives or benchmarks individual that are unique to the needs of the student based on assessment(s). These goals and objectives/benchmarks must relate to: meeting the student’s needs that result from the disability; meeting the student’s needs to enable involvement in and progress in the general curriculum; and, meeting other educational needs that result from the disability. In addition the goals and objectives must be linguistically appropriate.
• Note subject area of need (reading, math, social emotional/behavioral, etc.)
• Write measurable goal annual goal and document baseline for the goal.
• Include the personnel responsible for the goal.
• Most goals should be aligned to general curriculum; therefore document state standard #.
• Develop at least two short term objectives or benchmarks for each goal.
For progress reports, include the date and the summary of the progress.
􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Are there goals and objectives for each area of need and vice versa?
Are the goals and objectives/benchmarks measurable?
Do the goals and objectives enable the student to be involved/progress in the curriculum?
Are all other educational needs resulting from the disability addressed?
If the student is an English language learner, are the goals linguistically appropriate?
Is the person(s) identified who will primarily be responsible for implementing the goal and monitoring progress?
Are the progress reports being sent to parents as scheduled?
IEP Form 5A - Services
Special education and related services are determined at the IEP meeting only after goals and if appropriate objectives/benchmarks have been finalized. Placement decisions must be made in conformity with the least restrictive environment (LRE) provisions. These provisions direct that to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities be educated with typically developing peers, and that special classes, separate schooling or other removal of students from the general educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general education classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. The placement must be made in the school that the student would attend if the student did not have a disability unless unique circumstances prevent this placement. Special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, should be based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable.
40. Service Delivery Options Considered: Discuss and document service delivery options considered. The team must always first consider placement in the general education classroom with supports prior to recommending a more restrictive setting.

In determining the LRE consideration must be given to any harmful effect on the child or quality of services that the child needs. Follow the continuum of services below as a guide to determining LRE:
• General Education Class
• General Education Class - Supplemental services or aids
• General Education Class - Some direct instruction. Less than 21% of time out of the classroom for special education services.
• General Education Class - 21% to 60% of instructional day in pull out.
• Some/or no instruction in General Education Class - Minimum of 60% of the instructional day in a special setting (intensive services).
• Some/or no Instruction in General Education Class - School based day treatment.
• No instruction in General Education Class - Special day school facility.
• Residential School.
• Hospital Program.
• Home Instruction.
41. Supplementary Aids and Services: Note supplementary aids and services and/or supports for school personnel (consultation to teachers, preferential seating, enlarged text, etc.). Team must also document modifications and or accommodations that will be needed in order for the student to progress toward annual goals while participating in the general curriculum. Accommodations do not fundamentally alter or lower expectations or standards in instructional level, content, or performance criteria (extended time on an un-timed task, enlarged text, etc.). Modifications fundamentally alter or lower exceptions or standards in instructional level, content, or performance criteria (alternate math assignment, etc.). Document who will be responsible for the supplementary aids and services, the start and end date, duration, frequency, and location.
42. Special Education and Related Services: The team needs to determine the special education and related services that would provide educational benefit and facilitate progress on the goals and objectives for the student (e.g. SDC, RSP, speech/language, etc). Identify the type of service, start and end date, duration, frequency, and location for all services. Location must be specific (gen ed classroom, special ed classroom, speech room).
43. Extended School Year: Discuss if student needs ESY to receive FAPE and fill out the type of services the student will receive, start and end date, duration, frequency, and location.
ESY shall be provided to a student with a disability who the IEP deems requires special education and related services in excess of the regular academic year. Such students shall have disabilities which are likely to continue indefinitely or for a prolonged period of time, and interruption of the student’s educational programming may cause regression, when coupled with limited recoupment capacity, rendering it impossible or unlikely that the student will attain the level of self-sufficiency and independence that would otherwise be expected in view of his or her disability. (5 CCR 3043)
IEP Form 5B - Placement
44. Physical Education: Check the type of physical education, if applicable.
45. Location of Services: Document the district where the student is receiving services and the school of attendance. These are required CASEMIS data fields. Note the school type (public day school, special education center, nonpublic day school, juvenile court school, etc.) and if in preschool, note the preschool setting (early childhood setting, early childhood special education setting, separate school, etc).
46. Is Student Receiving Services in School of Residence: Check yes or no to the question "all special education services provided at student’s school of residence." If the team determines "no," rationale must be documented.
47. Percentage of Time Outside of Regular Education Environment and In Regular Education Environment: Document the percentage of time the student not participate in the regular environment and document percentage of time student will participate in regular education environment. Consider the full day including lunch, recess, passing periods, etc.
48. Subject Areas Student Will Not Participate in Regular Education: If student is not participating in the general education 100% of the day, note the subject areas that he/she will not participate and the rationale (Least Restrictive Environment requirement).
49. Other Agency Services: Note other agency services. It is especially important to document services under county mental health.
50. Promotion Criteria: Check the option that applies.
51. Progress Reporting: Check the frequency of the progress reports and the how progress will be reported.
52. Transportation: Note if the student needs transportation (curb to curb, wheel chair lift, etc.) as a related service.
53. Graduation Plan: This needs to be done for students in grade 8 and higher. NOTE: The IEP Team must use caution when determining if the student will be working towards a diploma or a certificate of completion. Students must have the opportunity to work toward a diploma if they have the ability to do so.
54. Transition: If the student is going through a transition (preschool to kindergarten, special ed to general ed, etc.), document the activities to support the transition.
􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Are the appropriate services identified to support progress toward all goals?
Do the services support progress in the general curriculum?
Are the services appropriate to support participation in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities?
IEP Form 6 - Signature and Parent Consent
52. Participants Attendance: Have all meeting participants sign and date that they were in attendance. Make sure to include title.
53. Parent Consent: Check the parent consent box if they agree in whole or in part to the IEP. If they agree only in part, document the areas they are not in agreement with. Steps to resolve the disagreement should be documented on Form 7.
54. Not Eligible: If team determines child is not eligible, check the appropriate box.
55. No Longer Eligible: If team determines child is no longer eligible for special education, check the appropriate.
56. Parent Signature: Have parent(s) sign and date.
57. Students Enrolled in Private Schools by Their Parents: If student is enrolled in private school by his/her parent, check the box and develop a Services Plan, if appropriate.
􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Did all IEP Meeting participants sign?
Do the parent(s) consent to all components of the IEP?
If not, are areas of agreement and/or disagreement clearly specified?
Are the next steps identified for reaching resolution if appropriate?
IEP Form 7 - IEP Team Meeting Comments Page
• Not a required component.
• Used by most districts to document key points of agreement and/or areas of disagreement.
• Should be a summary of what happened.
• Generally keep it "short and "sweet.
􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Is this information a summary of the meeting?
Does everyone agree that the information accurately reflects what was
discussed and the agreements that were made?
IEP Form 8 – IEP Team Amendment Page
IDEA Section 614 3 (D) In making changes to a child’s IEP after the annual IEP meeting for a school year, the parent of the child with a disability and the LEA may agree not to convene an IEP meeting fro the purposes of making such changes, and instead develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP.
IDEA Section 614 3 (F) Changes to the IEP may be made either by the entire IEP Team by amending the IEP rather than by redrafting the entire IEP. Upon request, a parent shall be provided with a revised copy of the IEP with the amendments incorporated.
• Serves as the option for making minor amendments to the IEP if the parent(s) and district agree that a meeting is not needed (adding additional DIS LSH minutes after a phone conversation with the parents and agreement with school staff, etc.)
• Attach this form to current IEP after getting signature from parent(s).
• Districts need to designate who can serve as the LEA representative. LEA representative is authorized to approve the amendments.
• Parents may request a copy of the IEP with the amendments incorporated.
􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Is the amendment clear?
Do the parents and staff agree on the amendment?
Are all affected staff (special ed teacher(s), DIS provider(s), gen ed teacher(s), etc.),
including the LEA representative, informed of the amendment/change?
IEP Form 10 – IEP Team Member Excusal
"IDEA Section 614 (d) (1) (c) IEP TEAM ATTEDANCE‐
‘(I) ATTENDANCE NOT NECESSARY – A member of the IEP team shall not be required to attend an IEP meeting, in whole or in part, if the parent of a child with a disability and the local educational agency agree that the attendance of such a member is not ecessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting, ‘(ii) EXCUSAL‐ A member of the IEP Team may be excused from attending an IEP meeting, in whole or in part, when the meeting involves a modification to or discussion of the member’s area of curriculum or related services, if—‘(I) the parent and the local educational agency consent to the excusal; and ‘(II) the member submits, in writing to the parent and the IEP team, input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting. ‘(iii) WRITTEN AGREEMENT AND CONSENT REQUIRED‐ A parent’s agreement under clause (i) and consent under clause (ii) shall be in writing."

1. Enter the date of the meeting the team member/s will be excused from attending.
2. Enter the name of the team members who will be excused.
3. Enter the area or curriculum or related service that the team member is responsible for addressing.
4. Check the appropriate column that explains why the IEP team member is being excused form the IEP meeting in whole or part.
5. Get signature of parent or student as appropriate and LEA representative.

􀀦 Educational Benefit Reminder:
Did the parents agree prior to the IEP Team meeting that the team member/s could be excused?.
Did the excused team member/s provide written input prior to the IEP Meeting to the parents and the LEA?
Was the excused Team member’s written input complete and sufficient for the IEP team to develop an IEP for educational benefit?
Did the excused team member/s receive a copy of the IEP?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

School Placement Needs

Facilitated interactions with typically-developing peers
Opportunities to integrate/mainstream daily with typically-developing peers (currently approximately 30% of day is mainstreamed with support).
Multiple opportunities to expressively communicate throughout school day using Alex’s chosen method of communication – PECS, sign, use of assistive technology and/or verbal communication. (not just at snack time).
Meaningful access to the general education curriculum based on 2nd grade State standards.
Structured environment
Visual supports used consistently throughout day for enhanced receptive language and greater independence.
Safe environment without dangers.
Positive behavior management.
Professional identified as Team leader with capacity to convene and communicate with entire team of professionals (OT, SLP, behavioral consultant, APE specialist, school psychologist, family, etc.)
1:1 ratio to ensure follow through throughout day.
Teacher capable of ensuring appropriate sensory diet throughout day.
Coordination with home program team to ensure generalization across settings.

Long Term Goals

Long Term Goals to be met through 1:1 behaviorial support home program

I. Communication
A. Able to fully and spontaneously express himself verbally to communicate his wants, needs, observations, feelings and social interactions.
B. Able to fully understand and comprehend verbal language spoken by others in all settings and contexts.

II. Self-Help
Completely independent with the following:
A. Personal hygiene
i. Toileting
ii. Bathing
iii. Handwashing
iv. Teethbrushing
v. Grooming (hair, finger/toenails)

B. clothing
i. dressing, including orientation and fasteners
ii. folding and putting away clothes
iii. selecting appropriate clothes for weather
iv. identifying when clothes are clean/dirty
v. laundry skills
vi. able to tie shoes
C. Meals
i. Basic food preparation
ii. Basic nutrition awareness
iii. Completely independent in serving self, eating, cleaning up
III. Personal Safety
A. Consistently avoids dangerous situations (eg, cars/traffic, fire/heat, fans, bullies, drowning, unknown animals, height/falling, etc.)
B. Engages in no self-injurious behaviors
C. Does not act aggressively towards others

III. Learning Readiness Skills
A. Attending: Independently able to attend to Instructor in full classroom and small group instruction for 6 consecutive hours.
B. Follows Directions: independently able to follow series of 3-5 sequenced directions given verbally without contextual clues.

IV. Appropriate Behaviors
A. Reduction of self-stimulatory behaviors to 5% of his day, and only in appropriate settings (eg, alone in bedroom)
B. Complete elimination of self-injurious behaviors
C. Total elimination of inappropriate aggressive behaviors towards others.
D. Able to express frustrations verbally and seek physical/mental relief through age-appropriate outlets.
E. Able to self-regulate by choosing appropriate activities (eg deep breathing, heavy work, physical exertion, exercise, etc.)

V. Daily Living Skills
A. Demonstrates appropriate understanding of time, calendar, money, spending/saving, daily schedule.
B. Able to successfully navigate self in community (school, park, store, etc.)
C. Able to independently access public transportation.
D. Understands sexual education training and knows how to appropriately interact with others in this regard.
E. Demonstrates competent understanding of the laws governing society.

VI. Leisure Skills and Extra-Curricular Activities
A. Able to independently participate in group sports and games.
B. Demonstrates ability to identify, select and participate in meaningful extra-curricular activities.
C. Able to appropriately interact with peers in school and social settings.

VII. Academics
A. Meaningful participation in age-appropriate grade level State standards in all learning areas.
B. Able to generalize concepts and skills learned in school, and able to functionally use these skills in the community.

VIII. Vocational Skills
Demonstrates vocational skills sufficient to secure employment in chosen field.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My new book club

Companies are developing a computer program that reads peoples faces and determines their emotional state, thus helping to more accurately target advertising messages to their precise mood. The ASD community thinks this could potentially one day help the aspies and other HFAs, to help them clue in to the emotions of their communication partners. I was thinking it would be really great at IEP meetings, too. I mean, are those administrators sitting their smirking at me while I furiously scribble notes or lean over to consult with my partner, or to they manage to keep the compassionate look of concern glued to their faces?
Seriously, though, we had a surprisingly positive iep for A yesterday. I kept waiting for them to say no, but they really didn't. I can't help wondering if I missed something. They didn't make reference to my parent handouts in the narrative, but I'm going to make sure they get included in the final iep document, whenever we finally finish this meeting. Yesterday was day 2. Each segment has so far lasted 3 hours each. Next segment is scheduled for Wednesday 7/5, after we look at one more possible classroom option for A. And we get some goals written. Yeah, just little details like goals and placement.
I'll try to type up the handouts I did -- one was my long term vision/goals for A, and why he'll need a home program until he's 25 or can do his own laundry, whichever comes first; the other is a list of the essential components in a classroom placement for A. I'd like to have boilerplates of these available for other parents -- seems like such an essential part of the process that never gets written out.
Maybe I'll start a blog with essential IEP tools, like templates for these docs, some really relevant legal quotes, etc.
Oh, and did I tell you about the new book club I joined? The bookclub meets monthly in Santa Clara. The book we focus on is by Pam and Pete Wright -- From Emotions to Advocacy -- The Special Education Survival Guide. Each month we go over 1-2 chapters. Now, this is my kind of book club!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pebble Beach

Wow, what a magical, enchanted place! Today the baby seals swam practically right up to us to check us out -- 5 of them! A and B loved climbing the rocks, exploring the tide pools, throwing stones into the water. Pure peace and beauty. Felt like home.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Please sign and circulate

Dear Friends,
The special education teachers of the San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) are standing up for small class sizes for our children. The SMCOE is trying to raise the number of students that they put in the special ed classes. While currently there are no caps, there are some recommended levels for each classroom. These recommended numbers of students are based on safety factors (for the students and the staff) and the ability of the educators to teach our children, not just be babysitters. I was at the SMCOE Board of Education meeting this week, and there were about 40 educators there trying to convince the Board not to raise the numbers of students in each class. As a parent, I support these teachers. While of course I don’t always agree with my sons’ teachers on every single issue, to me this is clearly an issue where parents and teachers can stand together and support our children and each other. With a small group of parents, we have drafted the letter pasted below. Our goal is to get at least 100 parents, relatives, caregivers and supporters to sign on to this letter, and we will send it to the SMCOE Board of Education, with a copy to the teachers association. If you agree, please send your name as you’d like it to appear on the letter, and email it to smallclasssize@hotmail.com

Even if your child is not in County classes, and even if your child is not in special education, this is an important issue that deserves your support. Please distribute widely to your own networks of friends and family, as well as other listserves.
Thanks for your support.


We, the undersigned, are parents, relatives, and supporters of children in special education and regular education classes in San Mateo County. We are concerned about the proposal to raise the number of students in the County’s special education classes. We understand that the current recommendations for class size are based on several important factors, foremost among them the safety of the educators and the students. Current class sizes also promote the appropriate education of the students, as is intended in the I.D.E.A. Adding additional students to these classrooms will increase noise levels, increase the staffing needs, and create safety hazards. We urge the San Mateo County Office of Education to maintain the current class sizes and not jeopardize the education of any student. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Overwhelmed Again

Or maybe still. The trigger: upcoming ieps. Guilt that I've let A. stay in a bad placement all year, without working hard enough to make it better. Unsure that things will improve next year. Scared about the future. Other triggers: B's health issues. Haven't started serious detox yet b/c of elimination issues. Can't seem to get back on track with the suppl's. I feel like I have more issues with task completion than my kids do! I can't seem to focus, finish. Depressed, I guess. Treating it with alcohol. not wise. Getting through the day to day, but not accomplishing anything. And when anything gets out of whack, boom, everything gets out of whack. No wiggle room. Not sure how to break the cycle. Take a break from work? Maybe... Could we swing it financially? Maybe if I can figure out fmla and T gets this new job...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Started off the day good, ended the day good, but had a few rough spots in the middle. I tend to get a little sad on Mother's Day. I guess I get stuck on how much nicer it would be to spend Mother's Day in Italy instead of Holland.

We had a beautiful afternoon/evening on the beach. I am so proud of B. He tries so hard to overcome his fears (of which he has many). Last time we went to the beach, T made the boys go to the waters end. This time, as soon as we got there, B. grabbed T's hand and led him right to water's edge. And stuck his foot in all by himself! Just to do it. To prove to himself that he could. And he paid super close attention to the waves the entire time, judging how far up the shore the water would come, when he needed to run back up the shore, when he could stay where he was, when it was safe to put his foot in quickly, and when the next wave was coming too quickly. It was really beautiful. At one point, B was paying more attention than T, who wound up getting wetter than he would have liked! A great end to Mother's Day.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Are coincidences really coincidences
or are they one of the ways that the spirits and powers that be help push us in the right direction?
I ran into Amiga's friend and Boxcar maker extraordinaire twice during the past week, while I was hiking and waterplaying with A (B stayed home with his papa, where both of them seem happiest these days). Maybe A and L will become friends.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

random thoughts today

Between what I imagine my life's mission to be
And how I actually prioritize my time and energy

The gap between theory and practice


Envision the big picture, longterm solution
Act step by step
Strategize like a chess player to make all the pieces fall into place
at exactly the right time
Yet be present in each moment

Tuesday, April 04, 2006



This is the link to the Air Carrier Access Act, which is a federal law that ensures that airlines cannot refuse service to individuals with mental and/or physical disabilities "solely because the person's disability results in involuntary behaviors that may affend, annoy or inconvenience crewmembers or other passengers." So that means they can't kick B. off the plane tomorrow if he starts to whine or kick the seat in front of him. And it means the idiot customer service agent I spoke to today on the phone was ignorant, rude and stupid. And I'm so glad I got her full so name so I can report her to her supervisor. Please, remind me not to travel by airplane again. I am so incredibly stressed out just at the thought of it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


I went out to breakfast with my oldest son today. Just the two of us. We sat at the counter at Dennys. We were both extremely well behaved. He ate a plate of french fries and a glass of orange juice. (I won't tell you what I ate!) I am SOOOOO proud of him!!! It was truly a pleasure to be out with him, spending the morning together. The highlight was getting to watch an entire tray of beverages overturn as a two servers collided right in front of us (no-one was hurt, just a huge mess involving LOTS of liquid -- A. showed great restraint by returning to his seat with just one prompt). B. has been much more difficult the last few days -- terribly whiney. He's probably just experimenting with his newfound voice, and I shouldn't complain about that at all, but 24/7 whining? A bit hard to handle.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


That's how I'm feeling lately. Overwhelmed with everything. Unable to focus or significantly advance forward, on anything. I move one step forward on understanding my children's rights to an appropriate education, and then wind up dropping important parts of their biomedical treatment. I can't seem to find a balance, an equilibrium. Too much to do, too exhausted to do any of it. Stressed out by vacation. Stuff like that.