Special Education/Mainstreaming

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Question
My son is in an 8:1:1.  He has moderate autism.  Progress is slow. My husband and I are concerned that this class is not appropriate. There are only 3 kids in it even though it's 8:1:1.  Mainstreaming my son for special periods offers no real social opportunities. My son likes kids. My son has a para and I think he could handle mainstreaming for some of the day. As it stands now we feel we are re teaching subjects. When we consented to 8::1:1 we thought 8 kids would be in the class.

Answer
Dear Danielle,

Thank you for writing to me and for using this service.  I hope that my response will be valuable to you.  

If you feel your son will benefit from additional time in the general education setting with non-disabled peers, I think it would be helpful to write a letter to the school, requesting that he be placed in whatever subject area you feel he would be successful.  If there is a behavior intervention plan, it may need to be adjusted to reflect his needs in that setting.  Also, the IEP may need some revision, because general education classes can be more demanding than special education classes with three students.  

If your son is diploma bound, then the main issue will be selecting a class where he is able to access the curriculum, not only social opportunities.  If he is not diploma bound, then this will be less of an issue. The law says that a child must be placed in the least restrictive environment and only be removed from the general classroom when the nature and severity of the disability makes it impossible to successfully provide accommodation.  

I would suggest you try to observe the general education classroom, and talk with the Principal about selecting a teacher who is proficient working with students with disabilities, and who is proficient in differentiating the instruction.  

If the team resists changing the IEP, you may want to request a 'trial' in general education, from now through the end of the year, so that the school can see that he will be successful.  

Lastly, if your son's testing has not been updated, you may want to ask for a reevaluation, to analyze his strength areas.  For example, if he is very good at reading but math is a problem, then you will want to seek more general education in strength areas.

I hope this answer helps you advocate for your child!  If you want to provide me with more information, I may be able to provide a more detailed answer.  I wish you all the best as you advocate for your exceptional child's education!  

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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