What’s old is new again, so I’m reworking some old posts to bring them to the front page again. And, going totally retro with a feature I used to do in 2011 and 2012 and beyond.

It was called “Ask an Advocate” and readers would email me their IEP questions and I’d answer them on the blog. This question is from an IEP parent who has concerns about her son’s AAC device and staff training.

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Today’s question:

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my son is completely non verbal he has a novachat communication device we can not get the school to provide specialized training for him or the teachers with the device he needs one on one speech therapy with the device as well as classroom help. none of his teachers know what to do with the device and administration will not provide support for them.

He is supposed to be getting speech therapy in a therapy room per his iep but it is not happening the speech therapist just co-teaches the whole class when she is there with the teacher.

How can i get this into the iep? Help i am beyond frustrated. it took close to a year of trials etc. just to get the device now we HAVE to help him use it.

Your issue is relatively simple to resolve through the IEP process. Let’s just hope your district cooperates and doesn’t drag this out. Parent and staff training is often a part of the IEP, we just need to get it included in yours.

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AAC Training on an IEP

First, let me share with you what IDEA says about Parent and Staff Training on an IEP. Mind you, I am copying and pasting this verbatim.

  • (IV) a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child, and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided for the child—
    • (aa) to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals;
    • (bb) to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum in accordance with subclause (I) and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and
    • (cc) to be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and nondisabled children in the activities described in this subparagraph;
IDEA Section 1414 (d) (1) (A)

Much like the rest of IDEA, it’s not very specific. And, it doesn’t say anywhere that a school HAS TO provide staff training.

But, here are my thoughts–

  • It doesn’t preclude a school from providing training either. So if your school team says, “well we can’t do that because…..”
  • Why would it be in IDEA if our Federal government didn’t expect schools and kids to need this?
  • I in IEP is for Individualized. If your child’s staff need AAC training in order for him to get FAPE, well, then that’s FAPE for him.

AAC Solutions

When you meet with your IEP team about this, you want to have solutions to bring to the table. That doesn’t mean you have to be the AAC expert. You can still have ideas (not pun intended) to offer at the meeting.

Here are a few items to consider:

  • Ask whoever did the AAC or AT evaluation and trials what they recommend.
  • Look at the manufacturer’s website and see if they offer anything. Call them, email them.
  • Ask the SLP, OT or whoever else is the overall contact person for the device what they recommend.
  • Ask your child and the teachers what they really need.

Getting it Added

Here are some next steps once you have your information gathered. This is the approach I would recommend to you–utilizing Parent Concerns. Here are some steps to follow–make sure EVERYTHING you do is in writing.

I’ve written before about a Parental Concerns letter for your team. Read that article to see my advice on compiling that letter.

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Learning to pair a Parent Concerns Letter with a PWN is one of the best things you can do on your advocacy journey. I spend a bunch of time on this, specifically, in my online advocacy training if you want to take a look.

What you want to do is outline all of concerns and request an IEP meeting to discuss them. Do it in letter format, like you are writing to the entire team. Take your time, do it well, then you’re ready to request the IEP meeting.

When you are putting together the words, make sure the focus stays on your child. For example: Do not state that the Speech Therapist is not giving him instruction. Word it such as “Per his IEP, he is to receive X amount of speech therapy each week, however I do not think he is receiving that much.”

Put the emphasis on what your child is or isn’t receiving, rather than pointing the finger at someone for not doing their job. Make sense?

Request an IEP team meeting in writing. If you don’t hear from them in 7-10 days, I’d ask again.

When they do respond with a formal invitation to the meeting, RSVP to them with “Great, I can make that day and time, now here are my parental concerns. I will also email them to you so that you can copy and paste them into the parental concerns portion of the IEP.”

Give them a printed copy with the IEP meeting invitation and then follow up with an email.

From there, you have to decide how far you want to push this. If I was the district, this is not a battle I’d choose to fight. Providing some team training on AT seems like a relatively simple solution to this. I don’t know why they’d fight you on it.

However, if they do, you have to decide how far you want to push back. You can file for mediation or due process. When the IEP meeting is over and you are given an IEP and NOREP/PWN to sign–make sure you are in agreement with all of it, or then you will have to choose whether or not you are going to disagree with it.

Every state has a P&A group, so you may want to contact yours and see if they can offer assistance.

Also, you may want to review the post I’ve done on the 6 Principles of Special Education, in case they deny you full parental participation.

Ask an Advocate

Do you want to see your question featured on the site? All you have to do is join our Online Message Boards and submit a question on there. Then, email us the link at IEP at adayinourshoes.com and tell us that you want to be featured on the site.

Every question that is posted on the message boards is answered by a working advocate within a few days of posting. But if you want it answered on the blog as well, just let us know.

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