Friday, May 29, 2009

IEP Question of the Day--Why Is My Childs School not Using his/her Communication System?

Question from Parent:


Thank you very much for sharing this valuable information with all of us.You helped me a lot when I had my first IEP for my daughter (you probably don't remember, but I'll never forget)anyways, I have a question for you. I live in California and my daughter's school is supposed to be using my daughter's communication system but I feel they are not doing it. A few reasons that make me think that way are:

1.- When I come to observe, I have never seen anybody using it.

2.- The book looks perfect, like brand new (it hasn't been used)

3.- The speech therapist made some comments that make me think she doesn't get the idea of the system.

My question is, what do I do to get the staff trained with the system? BTW the system we are using is the one used by Linda Burkhart. I feel everybody involved in my daughters day should be trained with the system directly with her. I have showed them how I use it, but it is not the same. It is in my daughter's IEP that they should be using the system, and they say they are doing it, but so far I don't have proof of that. For me it was very hard to grasp the concept behind the system until I went to a conference and saw the developer.


You may be missing an important person on your daughters team. I went through this with my daughter who is nonverbal and relies on Augmentative Communication. During Preschool I quickly learned that the SPLs in our school were not experienced with Augmentative or Alternative Communication. They were pulled from working on Speech Articulation into classrooms of kids who are nonverbal. They had no idea what they were getting into. Although they were trying, the children were not receiving the services they needed. For example: Augmentative Communication requires a high degree of technical skills and computer knowledge. Some SPLs do not have that training as some do not even like to use the computer. The result was the classroom would go through three SPLs a year and sometimes parts of the year had no staff. Never mind the goals on the IEP were not worked on.

Two years of advocating and mediation and my daughters services in that area are absolutely great now. What Happened? I made them write in her IEP that Kaitlyn would only receive SPL from a Therapist who was trained in Augmentative/Alternative Communication. When they didn't have that type of person on staff they had to hire someone. Kate's Augmentative Therapist came from a local hospital. She worked with Kate on developing all kinds of communication systems. When it came time to trial the MyTobii she came to the evaluation and gave her input. She knows how to calibrate it, set it up and work easily with any computer generated devices. She teaches everyone in the class how to use her communication devices and makes sure they are using them throughout the day and properly. Note: If your child is working with high tech. devices you also want to mention that in your statement.

Not only did Kaitlyn benefit from this SPL/Augmentative Therapist. The school saw how well she did, realized what they had been missing and hired her full time to work with all the nonverbal kids.

If I only knew to put the following one sentence in her IEP it would have saved so much wasted time: "Kaitlyn will only receive services from a SPL that is trained in Augmentative/alternative Communication since she is nonverbal."

Also, it helps to put consults in writing on the IEP. If the school does not know how to use a communication system than putting one to two hours a week for staff training from a outside consult can help. You can even compromise on having a consult come in to teach the SPL and Classroom Teacher once a week for a couple hours instead of direct services.

You can make sure progression with the communication system is one of her goals with objectives on her IEPs. Then they need to track her progress automatically. But really..if they don't know how to use the system no matter how much effort they put forth still may not help the child.

I can go on about noncomplaince and reprimanding etc..but I am a digger.(meaning I will try to get to the root of the problem to solve it). I found that complaining did nothing and the actual problem was not having the person trained to do this type of work in the school.

Good Luck and really push for that much needed person on your team!!!

(Advocates, People Familiar with the Linda Burkhart system and others welcom to comment)

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