IEP Regression and Distance Learning
Regression is one of our biggest fears as parents. Our kids are already behind their peers and we work so hard to help them close the gap. So it’s incredibly disheartening to witness regression.
I did a Facebook Live today with Dr. Monica McHale, President of the Learning Disabilities Association of America. You can watch the video here in this post, plus I will share the resources that we talked about.
IEP Regression Tracking
Please note that this post and this video has to do with skill regression and the current national quarantine crisis that we are experiencing. Once we have returned to normal, I will edit the post to be more general and deal with regular IEP regression.
Causes of IEP Regression
Some regression is planned, like what we’re dealing with now. Most IEP skill regression is unplanned.
- extended illness
- summer breaks
- lack of appropriate instruction
- insufficient amount of instruction
- lack of opportunity/reinforcement
One of the reasons I feel less stressed about the current possibility of regression is that we can plan for it and attack it before it happens.
Focus on the Positive
Many of us, for the first time ever, are going to have 100% control over our kids’ environments. And, it’s happening to everyone, not just our kids.
We’re also a bit lucky in that we have IEPs. We know what needs have been identified in our kids and what interventions are working or not working. Many parents have not been giving that and have no starting point. We do.
What is Regression?
Speaking in IEP terms, regression is the loss of previously attained skills. These can include, but are not limited to:
- academic skills
- social and emotional learning (SEL)
- ADLs, activities of daily living
- executive functioning skills
- mental health skills such as coping mechanisms
- Academic/Cognitive: language arts; math; other academic/nonacademic areas.
- Social/Behavioral: harmful, uncooperative or refusal social/ emotional/physical behaviors that interfere with her learning (e.g., hitting; kicking; pushing; blurting out; non-compliance; negative comments/gestures; anger; frustration; poor on-task/work completion; anxiety; unwillingness to follow directions; poor peer interactions; weak social/emotional problem solving).
- Communication: impairments in your child’s receptive language (ability to understand) or expressive language (ability to use) being addressed by speech and language therapy.
- Gross/Fine Motor: delays in your child’s controlled, coordinated and efficient motor skills being addressed by occupational and/or physical therapy
- Self-help: skills needed to encourage responsibility, such as independent dressing, grooming, daily hygiene, chores
- Postsecondary Education/Training: transition goals are integrated into the IEP by the time your child turns 15. These focus on her transition to postsecondary education, training, employment, or independent living.
Focus on what you can control, and that is: Your child’s current environment, the opportunities that will be presented to them (to our maximum ability and resources) and the feedback they receive.
This is huge! We can do intense case studies right now and have data to give to the schools.
Distance Education: Regression Monitoring Templates
By popular demand, I created a couple of templates. And, a friend also shared some with me, including one in Spanish.
For each domain you use, ask and answer how your child responded to instruction/services this week. For instance: Was excited to see providers on screen. But saw an increase in refusal behavior. Ask teacher for specific strategies to help with refusal behavior.
Decide what your priorities are for your Child.
Gather your IEP regression planning data.
But, what you teach and do over the next few weeks doesn’t have to be all about the IEP. You can work on ADLs, valuable life skills, toilet training, cooking, and other personal skills. Keep it needs-based, but it also should be fun.
You can use your IEP present levels section as a source of baselines, but you should also include real-life experiences. What are you seeing now? If your IEP says your child can do this, can they?
- Be specific. List each material received for home instruction (eg., Google Classroom; video consultation; links to websites; teletherapy; workbooks; manipulatives, etc.) and explain how your child responded to it (Did it work? If not, what about it didn’t work?). Add details; the more thorough you are, the more helpful your discussions will be, and the more your team will be able to individualize the IEP/504 Plan, adjust assignments, and dive into different modes of instruction.
- Clarify what isn’t working. If the team doesn’t know your child is struggling, they will continue to provide the same lesson plans and services in the same manner. Be clear when she is having difficulty with an assignment, isn’t responsive to particular materials or platforms, or refuses to participate in a specific activity. Remember, they only see what they see….and what you tell them.
- Include what is working. Some kids are more engaged and responsive to online instruction. If this is the case, your team will want to include more of what is working during the remainder of distance learning, as well as when your kids return to the classroom.
- Individualize the form to make it your own. Look at your child’s IEP/504 Plan, ask yourself what goal/objective the assignment is targeting, and add it to the specific section on the form. If you don’t know, be sure to ask your team.
- Have additional conversations with your IEP team. When something important needs to be addressed that can’t wait for the weekly sheet, reach out immediately by email or phone. For example, if your child is hostile and unable to complete assignments, teachers can change a lesson plan, prioritize easier work, or intersperse more difficult tasks throughout the day. If you think a goal isn’t being addressed appropriately, ask what IEP data the team has collected and how it determined “satisfactory progress.”
Develop a Regression Attack Plan.
Don’t overthink this. Keep it to what you need and what you are capable of doing. That includes what resources you have, how much time you can commit and what cognitive horsepower you have, including emotional. These are tough times. It’s ok to admit that and dial it back a bit. A lot is being asked of some people right now. If it’s too much, cut back.
You can do this.
When we return to school, we are going to hear about a whole spectrum of learning experiences. Some parents will have done nothing, and that’s ok–not everyone can. And some parents will have built mini-classrooms in their homes and done an extraordinary amount of teaching. And everything in between.
You do you. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have.
How to Deal with IEP Skill Regression
How to Deal with IEP Skill Regression
- Gather Data.
What data do you have available to you right now? IEP, Present Levels, life experiences that you are witnessing.
Knowing the data and resources that you have available to you, decide what you want to accomplish in the coming weeks and months.
- Develop a plan.
Plan out what you’re going to do. What are you going to do, what are you going to use? How much time will you spend on this daily or weekly?
Implement your plan.
- Record and review.
Write down what you’re doing and what the results are. Doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. A simple notebook will do. Review and adjust as necessary.
- Compile your data.
When it’s time to go back to school, review steps 1 and 5 and have your data ready to present to the school.
Resources we talked about
- Sonday System
- Sonday System on Ebay
- Learning Disabilities Association of America (sign up for email so you will be notified when they put out new resources!)
- I’m also including some printable data collection sheets, if that helps.
Distance Learning Templates
Most importantly, hang in there. We’re all in this together and we will get through it.