Special Education is Crashing – What Will You Do?

I’ve been having issues with my computer.  First, is was crashing.  Then email wasn’t working.  Next it crashed again.  I could only run one or two programs at a time, which didn’t work for me.  I would fix one problem and then another one would occur. I even took my computer to the local store.  First they said there was nothing wrong.  Then they found a program hidden in the computer written in a foreign language.  After removing the program, they were sure it would work.  Less than one hour later, it crashed again. Finally, I had to take a step back and evaluate.  Do I keep patching together issues and solutions for my computer or do I choose a new computer based on my ever changing needs?  I choose the new computer.  I am much happier.  Clients are much happier.  Work is getting done quickly and effectively.Does this cycle remind of your child or student’s IEP?  All special education issues start somewhere.  One program not working or one tool not being used and the student, family, and/or teacher become frustrated. A single element of the program is looked at and perhaps at first nobody can find the problem.  Then the issue is found and fixed!  All is supposed to be well and then CRASH!  It happens again.  Hmmm, let’s find the next issue in the IEP and try and tackle that one.  Done!  CRASH!  Here we go again.  We call in professionals to continue fixing the IEP, but maybe we need to step back.Most times when crash after crash is happening in special education, the entire IEP should be reevaluated.  How to get started:…Someone on the IEP team must take responsibility to stop the cycle of “fixing and crashing” the IEP.  You?…Team members (staff, parents and student) must talk with each other to find out what IS working throughout the program.  Find the positives!…Team members must then communicate what IS NOT working in the program.  Be honest because it might just be your piece that is not working.HINT: All team members must be aware of this process of stepping back to look at the overall issues, not just isolated incidents.  Otherwise, you will still end up with patchwork fixes.Based on your lists of what is and is not working, how can you begin to restructure and re-prioritize the child’s day to meet their current needs?  At this point, don’t worry about the formality of changing the IEP.  Use the current IEP as a blueprint for making your lists, start the restructure for a new program and when success begins to happen, make the documentation in the IEP. HINT: You don’t need an IEP meeting to have elements of change in the program documented.  Simply writing changes in a form letter and submitting a copy to the file will put it on record and may be good enough until your next IEP meeting.  Bottom line- get it in writing and get it in the file. Example:  You may find out that in the overall picture the child had too many transitions in the day.  With team effort, transitions were minimized.  Successful learning and minimal meltdowns were now occurring.  The parent or teacher writes one page that states the situation, changes made and results seen.  The one page document is addressed “To:  The Team of (Student Name)” and CC’d to the FILE.  All team members are now aware of the information it has been documented for long-term reference and accountability.Remember, not all changes are big.  Not all students are going to need a brand new IEP, as I needed a brand new computer.  But by taking a step back and evaluating current needs, what is and is not working and what can be changed in the child’s overall program, you may be amazed at the change in productivity by all team members, especially the child.

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