Special Education/AIDE/para

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Question
Do parents have any say in the type of AIDE/para their child receives? Can they change the person annually? I am concerned about adjustment. Thanks

Answer
ABCs for Life Success
ABCs for Life Success  
Hi Shirley,

First, thank you for asking me a question and for using this site.  I see that within 4 minutes of your question, another parent also asked about a 1:1 aide, so you may want to check that answer as well to aide in your advocacy for your child.  

Your question is whether you as a parent have any say in the selection of the aide for your child, and whether the school team can change the aide from year to year?  You are concerned about adjustment.  While I would like clarification about your concern for 'adjustment' (do you mean your child adjusting to new people?), I am clear about your questions. Let me see if I can answer and assist you.  

First we want to be sure the aide is listed in your child's IEP.  If so, it should be clear what goals, areas or tasks the aide is assisting.  Usually, it is for a reason such as attention to task, behavioral regulation, or similar area.  

Depending on the age of your child, and whether your child is otherwise in the general education classroom, the use of the aide is an important discussion for the IEP team.  The team and you should discuss and document the duties of the aide, the role of the aide, training needed, etc. and these should be services in the IEP.  

If that is done properly, the personality of the person should matter less, and it should be an easier transition from one aide to the next.  Students can become dependent on the aide, and the aide can do too much for the child, so a plan for fading the aide's assistance and for increasing independence for your child should be a primary concern and discussion between you and the school team.  

It is my experience that the aide is hired and selected by the personnel offices in the school district.  I have had clients whose aide changed multiple times throuhgout the year.  So I think you have a say in terms of what your child needs to receive a free appropriate public education but I don't have experience that the school district allows parents to be part of the hiring of the aide.  I have been in many hearings and meetings, where school district professionals say that as long as the child is receiving a FAPE, the hiring practices are an internal function of the school district.  That is why I strive to put as much into the IEP related to the function and role of the aide as possible.  

There is an assessment called a functional behavior assessment, which brings the team together to address why behaviors are occurring and what to do about it.  The plan is called a behavior intervention plan, and it's part of the IEP.  So perhaps you'd request an FBA to move the discussion and plan to the next level, for the role of the aide and the characteristics your child needs.  

Here is my blog, FBA:
http://asktheadvocateedmatters.blogspot.com/2014/04/functional-behavior-assessme

and a nice resource site about FBAs:
http://asktheadvocateedmatters.blogspot.com/2014/04/functional-behavior-assessme

I don't know legally if there is another perspective on this as I am not an attorney, but I would say that the school district has an obligation to provide a FAPE to your child, which means your child should make meaningful progress, access the curriculum, have an IEP that is beneficial, and overall attain the goals set out for your child.  If you can show that changing the aide is detrimental, then the IEP should reflect this.  But practically speaking, the district will not be able to force someone to stay in the same position or guarantee that the person will not change due to various reasons.  

A few tips regarding aides:
Observe in the classroom often
Ask the aide to document what supports and prompts are needed for different tasks
Ask the aide to collect data
Be sure the aide receives training

I hope my answer has helped you as you advocate for your child.  Thank you once again for contacting me and using this site!

If you need consultation, contact me!  
abc4success@msn.com

Special Education

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Michelle R. Davis, M. Ed.

Expertise

I can answer questions about disability definitions and criteria for services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, No Child Left Behind, 504 plans, how to craft an IEP that drives the appropriate services, school placement, dispute options, and least restrictive environment. I worked in the public school system as a special educator and am now in private consulting practice where we assist parents as they navigate the special education process. I have expertise in all educational disabilities except blind/visual impairments and deaf/hard of hearing. This includes ADHD and other health impairments, medical conditions, dyslexia and learning disabilities, Autism, emotional disabilities, language processing problems, and interfering behaviors.

Experience

10 years as special educator and administrator in public school system; Director of ABCs for Life Success since 1998; Expert services such as analysis and testimony; Author: Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book: What you can do now to advocate for your exceptional child's education; Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute; internet radio show Teach Your Children Well: Hot Topics in Education; author School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders released March 2010 (Prufrock Press).

Education/Credentials
Masters in Special Education with Emphasis on Inclusive Education (Johns Hopkins University); B.S.in Special Education (James Madison University); Conduct training for Universities, public and private schools, parent groups. Adjunct professor current George Washington University and prior George Mason University.

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