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Does your child act out? Does s/he tantrum, hit, curse? Do his/her disruptive behaviors get in the way of his/her learning? Your child may be identified as a student with an Emotional Behavioral Disability (EBD).
Before making that decision a parent and school should make sure that all other areas of need have been addressed, including a consistent well developed positive behavior plan provided to your child in school, in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This area of eligibility has many difficult, complicated and involved criteria that requires a good understanding of psychology and the law. Parents may need help in understanding the intricacies of the law and services. We are here to help.
Some of the concepts in the law regarding EBD are listed below.
A student with an emotional / behavioral disability in Florida has persistent (is not sufficiently responsive to implemented evidence based interventions) and consistent emotional and behavioral responses that adversely affect performance in the educational environment that cannot be attributed to age, culture, gender, or ethnicity.
An evaluation for EBD must include a functional behavioral assessment (FBA).
The FBA must identify the specific behavior(s) of concern, conditions under which the behavior is most and least likely to occur, and function or purpose of the behavior.
A well-delivered, scientific, research-based behavioral intervention plan of reasonable intensity and duration delivered with fidelity is required for eligibility determination.
In extraordinary circumstances a behavioral intervention plan is not required before determining eligibility.
The school will document your child’s response to general education interventions, compile a social / developmental history and a psychological evaluation will be completed including behavioral observations.
Make sure to get a thorough Psycho-educational evaluation.
It would be a disservice to the student to address their behavioral needs but never assess their reading, language or math delay which may be caused by a learning disability.
Rather than assume the delay is caused by the EBD, get the evaluation. The assessment will help point out the student’s strengths and weaknesses making it easier for the IEP team to draft an appropriate IEP.
A student with an emotional / behavioral disability must demonstrate an inability to maintain adequate performance in the educational environment that cannot be explained by physical, sensory, social-cultural, developmental, medical, or health (with the exception of mental health) factors; and must demonstrate one or more internal and / or external characteristics described.
Autism is a developmental disorder that effects the brain’s normal development of communication and social skills. Communication development is impaired for children with Autism.
A complete and thorough psycho-educational evaluation of a child suspected of having Autism should include a language and speech evaluation. If a child is nonverbal a communications evaluation is appropriate.
Pragmatic language should be assessed along with the six subsets of language assessment (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, receptive and expressive language). Beware of IQ tests. It is nearly impossible to get an accurate IQ score an IEP team can rely on. Most IQ tests are highly dependent on language comprehension.
The communication deficits that face all students with ASD along with a deficit in social skills, atypical interests, disruptive behavior and inattention make administering the test as required a problem. If you are consenting to an IQ assessment assure that the assessment is a nonverbal intelligence assessment. The test of Nonverbal Intelligence, 3rd edition (TONI-3) and the Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised are two possible options.
Before a psychologist meets with a student to evaluate them they should accommodate their need by meeting the student a few times first and test in a familiar environment to reduce anxiety. Disruption in routine is often challenging for a student diagnosed with ASD. Prepare the student for the upcoming testing, include the testing in their daily schedule. Accommodate sensory needs by covering items or eliminating distractions. Present directions slowly, pausing to allow time to process. Allow visual directs or prompts if allowed. Mix the levels of difficulty of the questions. Use positive behavioral reinforcers throughout the test.
Children diagnosed with Autism often have sensory issues. Loud noises, tags on clothing, lighting can all effect the child’s ability to learn. A sensory diet is often successful in deceasing sensory overload. A sensory diet is a personalized activity plan that provides the sensory input a student needs to stay focused and organized.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders. It can continue into adulthood.
Symptoms include difficulty maintaining focus and paying attention, trouble controlling behavior and over activity (hyperactive type).
There used to be three subsets to distinguish the differences: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and combined.
Now all subsets are referred to as ADHD. Checklist evaluations like the Conners or the Vanderbilt ADHD parent and teacher scales are used to confirm observations.
A medical doctor should rule out hearing loss and seizures before ruling in ADHD. A school cannot require a student to take medication to attend school. The decision to medicate is between the parent, child and the doctor. Input from the school and how behaviors are affecting success and impairing confidence should be balanced into the decision making process.
If a student only needs accommodations like extra time, a quiet room for testing and reduced assignments a 504 Plan may suffice. If the student will need a teacher who is trained in divergent learning styles to re-explain concepts or review classroom work than an IEP is more appropriate.
A thorough psycho-educational evaluation should include all aspects of learning. If the student struggles in any academic areas an assessment would be warranted. It would be a disservice to the student to address their attention and organization needs but never assess their reading, language or math delay which may be caused by a learning disability. Rather than assume the delay is caused by the ADHD, get the evaluation. The assessment will help point out the student’s strengths and weaknesses making it easier for the IEP team to draft an appropriate IEP.
There are multiple parts to learning to read. The three primary parts are:
Decoding: Which is the ability to sound out unknown words
Sight Words: Which are the most common words in the written language (some that cannot be sounded out and are best memorized with speed)
Comprehension: Which is the ability to understand the information you are reading.
Is your child struggling to decode unfamiliar words? Do they have poor reading fluency? Do they struggle to read unknown words quickly, correctly and smoothly? If so your child may have Dyslexia.
Comprehension breaks down into the ability to answer concrete questions and inferential questions. Concrete questions are sometimes referred to as “right there” answers. Inferential questions are implied from the information around it. John’s thick white hair blew in the cold wind as he walked with his cane down the street. An example of a concrete question is “What color is John’s hair?” An inferential question is “Is John young or old?”
If your child’s reading struggles are related to comprehension then your child should be evaluated in the area of language as well as reading achievement. If your child is significantly behind and the interventions provided them in school are not catching your child up to their grade level classmates, they may be eligible as a student with Specific Learning Disability (SLD).
Rochelle Marcus can help you make sense of your child’s reading struggles, assist you in understanding your child’s evaluation or re-evaluation and pursue appropriate services to remedy the reading delay.
Does your child hate math? Maybe they do very well in Language Arts, Science and Social Studies but complain constantly about math. Is your child’s achievement significantly below grade level or is there a significant difference between their reading and math achievement scores? Has your school’s Response to Intervention (RtI) failed to achieve projected results to catch your child up to their grade level peers?
If so, then your child may be eligible as a student with a specific learning disability in math. It is also important to determine if computation or word problems (language part of math) is the area where your student struggles. The achievement scores of the evaluation plus the data collected during the Response to Intervention (RtI) should be used by the IEP team to determine eligibility. Less formal classroom testing offers additional valuable information.
Maybe your student struggles in writing. Writing involves multiple processes.
There are many components to the acquisition of language. Significant delays in any one area may qualify your child for services. Florida schools use Response to Intervention (RtI) to see if additional support will advance your child up to their grade level peers. If the data does not support their attaining grade level then special education and related services and supports are often needed. The six components of language impairment eligibility are:
Language includes oral communications and written communications. Pragmatic language skills which is using language appropriately in social situations, is also covered under language impairment.