The Dragonfly Forest

They have been given names such as devil’s darning needle, ear sewer, horse stinger, skeeter hawk, and the snake’s servant. Actually, Dragonflies are beneficial, peaceful, and stunning. You are a Dragonfly if you are: ADD/ADHD, dyslexic, dysgraphic, Asperger’s, NLVD, autistic…

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why are students failing if schools are required to provide a free and appropriate education?

I continue to struggle with the concept of allowing students to FAIL, especially students with disabilities. What I mean by fail is - failing to be taught, the student failing to learn, failing grades, failing to protect a student's self-esteem,  failing appropriate educational strategies/curriculum...  Parents should not have to be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for outside tutoring (this is very true - I have proof if people don't believe this).

I do NOT understand how people who work with students do not know what a 'free and appropriate education' means.  I was in a meeting recently trying to explain what it is like to live in the learning disabled student's shoes (and parent's shoes) to educators.  They became very defensive claiming that they fully understand and took offense to my comments because this is what they do for a living.  

Well, I take offense to educators blaming and shaming students (all students). When an educator puts in writing that a student with learning disabilities is "unmotivated" and "unwilling" that is proof these educators lack empathy and have no idea how hard it is for a student with disabilities to learn in a classroom setting where their disabilities are ignored.   Yes, it can be frustrating for a teacher to have to explain the directions to a student 20 times, but if that is what is needed for the student to understand, then that is what they need to do. 

A 'free and appropriate education' (FAPE) means that every student should be taught. Allowing a student to fail is not teaching them.  I have seen high schoolers who read at elementary school levels.  This is evidence that the school did not provide the student FAPE, especially if they did not qualify the student as a student with a disability.  I have evaluated a number of high school and college aged students who had very low reading skills that have never even been evaluated for a disability.  How could teachers, year after year, fail to teach these students to read?  Why were they passing a student who could not read (or write in some cases).   Not one teacher or other educator noticed this child was struggling with academic skills?  If the student received any kind of support from the school then that is enough evidence to think there might be a disability and therefore the school is legally required by law to evaluate that student to determine if the student does have a disability (Child Find Law).  Some students are not evaluated because educators blame the student or parents for the child not learning.  

If the student is evaluated many times they are not found eligible for special education services that will allow them to receive specialized services to help them learn.  Again, the student and/or parents may be to blame. Also, students don't qualify because schools do not fully acknowledge hidden disabilities and some outright ignore hidden disabilities.  The district now has proof that the student doesn't need specialized educational support and therefore it is the student's fault.  Parents are then left to pay for outside tutoring and educational support while the student is left feeling helpless and stupid.  School districts are then creating a bigger problem - student Learned Helplessness (this post is very important to understand). 

If school districts really did care about making sure all students were educated then they would not allow teachers to fail students.  Administrators would tell teachers that they MUST make sure the student is learning the curriculum - this means all students not just the ones that are easy to teach.  This means the students that are difficult to teach.  The ones who have difficulty staying focused in class, the ones who cannot read at grade level, the ones who cannot spell or write, the ones who have anxiety and therefore do not willingly participate.  

Students do not have the brain maturity to make adult decisions so adults need to help guide them- no matter how long it takes.  Students do NOT want to fail but some students would rather others think they are 'lazy' and that is the reason they are failing because it is too painful to fail after putting in effort (these students have spent years putting in effort & getting poor results). 

Students are not "unwilling" they are actually unable.  Students are not "unmotivated" they lack the skills necessary to do the work so they are lost.  I just heard a parent say to me that even if his child was offered a million dollars to do the work the child still wouldn't be able to do the work - it's just too hard.    

Don't believe me?  Orlando bloom, who is dyslexic once shared that his mother used to try to bribe him to read.  He wanted a motor bike really bad and she told him if he would read 50 books she would get him that motor bike.  He never got that motor bike.  

So, the bottom line is - if educators really had empathy on what it is like for the student who has a disability they would NEVER allow them to be excluded from learning.  Educators are excluding them by not providing them with an appropriate education & accommodations.  

This picture is an example of what is not appropriate and I know most educators would NEVER do this but they do it every day when they allow a student to leave their classroom without fully understanding the material they are expected to learn (such as knowing how to read).  They do it when they blame the student for not being prepared, for not studying, for not passing a test... Would you blame this boy for not being able to stand with his peers on the bleachers?  Is HE being "unwilling" or "unmotivated" to join the group?   



























Here's a picture that really resonated with people with disabilities- they said this is exactly what it is like.  Here's the blog post to go with the picture:  Why We Should Help Students With Learning Disabilities .  If teachers had empathy then no student would ever drown!   This is unacceptable! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to not let the bad in the world control you

Are you heartbroken by all the pain and suffering that is happening in the world?  Some people obviously want this to occur because they are the ones causing the pain and suffering.  We cannot change these people but we can make changes in our own lives! 

I deserve to have a good life and so do you.  We have value and worth and we don't have to settle for all the negative that is occurring around us.  





















Sput this quote on your mirror and read it every morning~~  
"I am the narrator of MY life so I choose to see the beauty in the world all around me.  I notice the details of things, appreciate my connections to people, and feel grateful for what I currently have in my life!  I also have the power to disconnect and/or no longer interact with people and events in my life that cause only negative experiences. I create a positive world for myself and those around me.  I will show empathy to others and live my life with integrity!"



Friday, November 11, 2016

Post election grief!

The elections are over and America elected Donald Trump as president but not everyone voted for him and those who did not want him to become president are going through serious and real emotions.  

The reason it is difficult to move on is because people have to go through the stages of mourning and grief.

If you are one that is struggling with accepting Donald Trump as president, know that you will experience the five stages of normal grief explained by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  Understand, the amount of time you spend in each stage will be different and you may not follow them in the same order.
  • Denial & Isolation:  We often experience this defense mechanism as a reaction to overwhelming emotions, stress, and trauma.  Even if you are the one wanting to move on you can still experience the feelings of denial that it is happening or you may feel bouts of isolation.  Just remember this is temporary and the feelings will change soon.  Although there are times you may wonder if this is some bad dream.
  • Anger: When the denial and isolation feelings start to subside we may have intense feelings of hurt and pain.  This makes us feel vulnerable and scared so we project these feelings as anger. We may direct this anger at strangers, friends, loved ones, or even inanimate objects.  This is why people are out protesting. They are angry and they want to express this anger. I have heard recently that not all the ones causing destruction are actually Trump supporters and they just want to make these protests more negative but I'm not sure if this info is accurate.
  • Bargaining: Eventually people may get to the bargaining stage and try to figure out a way to make the electoral college process change or even ask for a re-count.
  • Depression:  When going through this process there may be many that experience depression.  This may be harder to get over and sometimes people don't realize they are depressed because of the election.  Some may just have an overwhelming depressed feeling.  Depression is real especially for those who did not vote for Donald Trump because they are able to see his hate and anger.  There is real fear that his behavior may appear acceptable to other Americans and more hate and anger will occur.  
  • Acceptance:  For those people in any of the above stages the stage of acceptance appears to be impossible.  Eventually some people may actually get to this acceptance level and accept Donald Trump as president.  
I read an article recently on HOW WE VOTED - BY AGE, EDUCATION, RACE, AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION which was very eye opening as to who the people are that may have to go through these stages of grief.  I have also read a number of Trump supporters write some very negative racist and sexist things.  I believe that Trump resonated with those that voted for him because Trump was willing to say out-loud the exact things these people are thinking.  They think just like him but know that in our current Politically Correct society that they are not free to say these things out-loud and then comes alone a wealthy guy who has the balls to do and say these things.  I also believe that some voted for him because they are white and want white America back.  I have read a number of people support a comment - "White men have not been entitled in the last 8 years so it it time for America to be white again."  - I don't know who originally stated this or if it was just someone I am FB friends with but I have seen it frequently & know this is why minorities are scared.  

I am in the process of acceptance.  I will have to accept what happens and know that all I can do is be the best person that I can be and keep true to my own integrity.  



           

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Power of Outrospection and Importance of Empathy

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I have worked hard to help the world understand Empathy here is a great video that can help you learn more about what I mean every time I stress the importance of Empathy.  We need to teach children how to become more Emphatic.  Every school should have Empathy as a goal for their students! We need to practice empathy on a daily basis!  

Here's the direct link if needed: RSA Animate-The Power of Outrospection 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What it might be like to have dyslexia

October is Dyslexia Awareness month so this article will help you understand what it might be like to be a person with dyslexia.  I used the words “might be like” because one of the first thing to understand is that dyslexia is different for each person.   Everyone is an individual and the brain is a unique as a person’s fingerprints; no two are alike! 


Let me explain in a simple way how the brain processes language.  

This is the NON-DYSLEXIC brain working.  When the person sees the words on the page they quickly go to the language center of their brain.  In the non-dyslexic language center the information (letters, sounds, numbers, colors...) are all stored in an orderly sequential way so that each piece is easy to retrieve. Having an organized language center makes learning, especially learning to read fairly easy.













The language center of a person with dyslexia is very different.  
Here the person sees the words on the page and goes up to their language center of their brain to find the corresponding letters and sounds.  When they get to their language center, it is not organized.  Depending on how dyslexic they are, their language center can range from having only a few things out of place to major chaos.  If the person also has ADD/ADHD there may be even more difficulties.  A person with dyslexia doesn't often come back quickly with information because they are sorting through all the mess in their language center to find just the right words, letters, sounds, numbers...  This can be seen when a student has low reading fluency and/or difficulties with Rapid Automatic Naming (RAN). Since the language center is disorganized the person often struggles with sounding words out and may read the words incorrectly.  A great deal of time they will just guess a word based on beginning letters and the shape of the word because it is very time consuming searching all over their language center for just the right match.  
   






















Hopefully this gives you an idea of what it might be like for a person with dyslexia.  If you look up on the internet what it is like to be a person with dyslexia you may come across some activities that "simulate" dyslexia.  I'm not a fan of these "simulations" (explained below) but what I hope you get from these is an understanding of the frustration and feelings of learned helplessness (important topic to understand) that comes from being a person with dyslexia

So, why am I not a fan of some of these simulations?  Well, for a few reasons.  As I pointed out before, every person with dyslexia is different and often these "simulations" give the impression that these experiences are universal and they feed into many myths.

The first one I don't like is the one where the people have to read from a paper where the letters are backward, squiggly, or missing parts.  The point is to demonstrate how hard a person with dyslexia has to work in order to read.  The problem with this simulation is the way the letters are presented.  For the most part, people with dyslexia do NOT see things differently.  It is NOT a vision problem.  True, there are some people who also have difficulty with convergence or have eye problems but this is NOT dyslexia.  A better way to present this activity is to try to read something in a foreign language that you do not understand, especially out-loud. These are real words and in order to read them you have to know the phonetic codes that go with each letter and foreign language. Try this:


















The other simulation I'm not fond of is the "mirror writing."  Again, this is to show how frustrating it is for the person with dyslexia to share their thoughts on paper but it also adds to the myth that people with dyslexia have difficulty with their vision.  Also, not everyone with dyslexia also has dysgraphia.  Dysgraphia is often common in people with dyslexia but some people with dyslexia are great at writing (penmanship & written expression).  Most people don't even know about dysgraphia which is similar to dyslexia. See, in writing there are also a lot of steps the brain has to go through to process the language and tell the hand how to form the letters, space the letters, spell the words, formulate the sentence, and express thoughts.  Some people may be dysgraphic and not dyslexic - remember everyone is unique.  Doing the mirror activity can be very confusing for people.  A better way to simulate the difficulties with writing for some people with dyslexia is to have people listen to a few sentences in different foreign languages (ones they do not know) and have them write down what they are hearing.  Remember that most adults have learned to adjust to the most non-phonetic language, English so for some people this task may be fairly easy. So to add to the challenge have participants write with their non-dominant hand and go quickly so there is no time to sit around an think.  It is also good to have the sentences to be dictated by someone who fluently speaks that language.

Thanks for still reading this post.  I know it is long and I made it that way on purpose.  People with dyslexia don't like to read because it over works their brain. This is called cognitive overload.  When students are in school all day they will experience cognitive overload.  These students are working 2, 3, and sometimes even 4 times harder than their non-dyslexic peers but it is not often obvious.  So only when a non-dyslexic person (parent or teacher) understands this then changes can be made to the way the person with dyslexia is viewed and treated.  I hope you now have a better understanding of what it might be like to be a person with dyslexia.

Finally, the very best way to know what it is like for a person with dyslexia is to ASK them!  Have them explain what it is like for them in school or work.  They will have the most accurate insight into what it is like to be a person with dyslexia.    










Friday, October 21, 2016

Fox on Friday!

This fox came and visited a girls soccer game last night & I just love how cute this fox is so I'm sharing here...  enjoy!  Happy Friday!



JM





Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Must Watch TV show about Dyslexia from 1984

I miss ABC After-school Specials.  The episodes on this series allowed the view to live vicariously through the experiences of the characters.  After-school Specials were educational and entertaining. ABC also did some other things right- they made sure it was multicultural.  Growing up in a very multicultural environment I appreciate seeing people of all races and cultures not just one.   What I don't like is how they make dyslexia look like a visual disorder but I love how Brian (the main character played by River Phoenix) gets others to help him out.  

Here is episode 6 from Season 12 - Backwards: The Riddle of dyslexia.  This episode aired in March 1984 and stars young River Phoenix (RIP my friend)  and his younger brother Joaquin who went by the name as as Leaf back then.  This episode is broken down into 5 short parts so that you can watch is more easily since the whole show is over 45 minutes long.  Enjoy...

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Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Part 4

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Final Part 5



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"The Blame Game! Are School Problems the Kids' Fault?" article by Pam Wright

                          The Blame Game!   
Are School Problems the Kids' Fault? 

by 

Pamela Darr Wright, M.A., M.S.W. 

Licensed Clinical Social Worker**

** This article is being shared with you from Wright's Law article "The Blame Game."  I am sharing the article to assure you read this article since some people do not click on the links provided.  This is very important information everyone should understand! All credit goes to the author, Pam Wright!  I have shared this many times over the past few years and I find it very sad that I have to share it at the beginning of a school year. Blaming & Shaming have to stop - here's another past post regarding Shaming. Finally, if you want to understand what it like for a person to have a learning disability please read about Learned Helplessness (it's not what you think).

"They think Brian’s school problems are my fault. When I said he needed more individual help from the LD teacher, they shook their heads. They only "do collaborative" now. They told me I shouldn’t use the word "dyslexia" because it sounds hopeless. Then they asked how my husband and I were getting along! (Denise, mother of a boy diagnosed with emotional problems, later found to have severe dyslexia.)

The school psychologist said Shannon's learning problems were her fault, that she was lazy and unmotivated and we had to pressure her to work harder. We didn’t allow her to watch television. We didn't allow her to go out with friends. Homework took hours to complete, even when we helped her. She got terribly depressed. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t want to raise a lazy child. (Emory & Elaine Carter before they learned Shannon had dyslexia and ADHD. See Florence County School District Four v. Shannon Carter, 510 U.S. 7, (1993)). 

The Blame Game
Parents of special ed kids often say that they are intimidated, patronized and made to feel guilty and inadequate by staff at their children’s school. These parents feel helpless, frustrated, and defensive. 

Not surprisingly, parents behave exactly like other human beings when they are blamed or attacked. Feeling threatened and uncomfortable, most parents try to explain and justify their position, in hopes that they will be understood. A few go on the offense, firing volleys of blame back.

Many parents find these experiences exquisitely painful and humiliating. If they withdraw and try to avoid school functions, they find that they've been labeled as "uninvolved parents." Again, they are blamed for their children’s learning problems.

Sometimes, emotions get out of control. Feelings of anger, bitterness, and betrayal consume parents and school personnel - who are then unable to work together to make educational decisions. In these cases, everyone loses. The child is usually the biggest loser if the parents and educators cannot work together effectively.

What is the basis for these negative experiences? Are parents too sensitive? Do they misperceive and misunderstand what happens in their contacts with educators? Or are parents just over-protective of their children, as many educators claim?

If you are a "special ed" parent, you know that it's hard to fight - and almost impossible to bail out. If your child receives special education services, you have to attend school meetings and you have to cooperate in developing your child’s IEPs. How can you do this?

And here's another question: If the school staff believes that you or your child are responsible for your child’s problems, how can you work with them so your child’s interests are protected? How can you ensure that your child gets a good quality education?

School Culture
If you have run into a "brick wall" of resistance when you tried to obtain changes in your child’s educational program, you need to understand how schools really work. You need to learn about "school culture" and the beliefs held by many educators, school psychologists, administrators, and guidance counselors.

Dr. Galen Alessi, Professor of Psychology at Western Michigan University, conducted a fascinating study on school psychologists. Dr. Alessi’s study illustrates why so many parents have problems dealing with schools. Dr. Alessi’s article is "Diagnosis Diagnosed: A Systemic Reaction" published in Professional School Psychology, 3(2), 145-151.

The primary role of the school psychologist is to evaluate children to determine the reasons for learning and behavior problems. According to Dr. Alessi, when a child has trouble learning or behaving in school, the source of the child's problem can usually be traced to one or more of five causes.

First, the child may be misplaced in the curriculum, or the curriculum may include faulty teaching routines.

Second, the teacher may not be implementing effective teaching and/or behavioral management practices.

Third, the principal and/or other school administrators may not be implementing effective school management practices.

Fourth, the parents may not be providing the home-based support necessary for effective learning.

Fifth, the child may have physical and/or psychological problems that contribute to learning problems.

School psychologists from different areas of the country were interviewed and asked to complete an informal survey. The school psychologists were asked if they agreed that the five factors listed above play a "primary role in a given school learning or behavior problem." (Page 148) The school psychologists agreed that these factors, alone or together, played a significant role in children’s learning problems.

The school psychologists were surveyed about the number of children they evaluated during the past year for learning problems. The average number was about 120 cases (or kids). These numbers were rounded to 100 cases for each of the 50 psychologists for a total of 5,000 cases.

Alessi asked these psychologists how many reports they wrote in which they concluded that the child’s learning problem was mainly due to curriculum factors. "The answer was usually none. All cases out of the 5,000 examined confirmed that their schools somehow had been fortunate enough to have adopted only the most effective basal curricula." (Page 148)

Next, he asked how many reports concluded that the referring problem was due primarily to inappropriate teaching practices. "The answer also was none. All cases out of the 5,000 examined proved that their districts had been fortunate enough to have hired only the most skilled, dedicated, and best prepared teachers in the land." (Page 149)

Then, he asked the psychologists how many of their reports found that the problem was due mainly to faulty school administrative factors. "The answer again was none. All cases out of 5,000 examined demonstrated that their districts had hired and retained only the nation’s very best and brightest school administrators." (Page 149)


When asked how many reports concluded that parent and home factors were primarily responsible, the answer ranged from 500 to 1,000 (10% to 20%). These positive findings indicated that we were finally getting close to the source of educational problems in schools. Some children just don't have parents who are smart, competent, or properly motivated to help their children do well in school.
Finally, I asked how many reports concluded that child factors were primarily responsible for the referred problem. The answer was 100%. These 5,000 positive findings uncovered the true weak link in the educational process in these districts: the children themselves.
If only these districts had better functioning children with a few more supportive parents, there would be no educational difficulties. (Page 149)

Dr. Alessi noted that in IEP disputes, "family factors are invoked most often when the parent does not attend the meeting, or if the parent is involved in a way deemed ‘inappropriate’ by the school staff. Otherwise, child factors alone seem to carry the explanatory burden for school learning and behavior problems." (Page 149)

Based on the results of these 5,000 reports prepared by school psychologists, "the results indicate clearly no need to improve curricula, teaching practices, nor school administrative practices and management. The only needs somehow involve improving the stock of children enrolled in the system, and some of their parents." (Page 149)

Alessi expressed serious concerns about his findings. If school psychologists define children’s learning problems as existing solely within the child, "it is equally unclear how school psychologists can help resolve this kind of problem. School psychologists seem to define school problems in ways that cannot be resolved."

When Dr. Alessi shared these findings with the school psychologists, many protested that "all five factors are indeed responsible for school problems in the cases they studied, but that informal school policy (or ‘school culture’) dictates that conclusions be limited to child and family factors.

Many feel that they could lose their jobs were they to invoke school-related factors. Certainly, they claim, their professional lives would be made very uncomfortable . . . The fact remains that no school psychologist in the group had determined that any existing problems were due to school-related factors." (Page 149) 

The "Child-as-the-Problem"
Dr. Alessi discussed several additional reasons for the prevailing "child-as-the-problem" perspective of school psychologists. Graduate school programs focus on child problems and ignore or exclude school-related factors. Workshops and papers presented at school psychology conferences share the "child-as-the-problem" focus. Most school psychology journals focus exclusively on child factors.

School psychology textbooks have a clear "child-as-the-problem" bias. After examining several "mainstream" school psychology texts, Alessi found that when assessing children’s reading problems, school factors were mentioned as a factor between 7% and 0% (zero) of the time. "Child factors" were held responsible for reading problems between 90% to 100% of the time.
Citing a classic book on reading disability, Alessi noted that it included no chapters about the connection between reading problems and school factors. The entire book focused on "child factors." (Page 150)

The "child-as-the-problem" bias also pervades school psychology research and practice. Alessi referenced one work that presented an extensive review of the research on learning disabilities. "Of the approximately 1,000 studies reviewed, not one examined the relation between school factors and learning disabilities." (Page 150)
In conclusion, Alessi observed that "Parents trust school psychologists not to adopt assessment practices that are inherently biased in ways that could hinder, rather than help, their children." (Page 148)

"Ethical Burdens" on Psychologists
Dr. Alessi discussed the "ethical burdens" on school psychologists:
As this body of research grows, school psychologists will increasingly face the burden of deciding whether they work for the schools or for the children, in cases where the interests clash. (Page 150) 'We end with a discussion of the ethical burdens on school psychologists to be forthright and honest when reporting their findings.'
He posed some questions: (Page 150)
Are we really helping children by concluding that children alone are responsible for their educational problems?
Are we helping the school system at the expense of the children?
How do we balance the rights of those who pay for our services against those who receive our services, when interests clash?
Is the role of the school psychologist to label children to help schools avoid improving faulty educational practices, or to help schools improve faulty educational practices to avoid labeling children?

Implications
As the parents of a child with special educational needs, what does this study tell you?

If you believe the staff at your child’s school are not willing to look at what they need to do differently to help your child learn, you may be right.

If you believe that you and/or your child are being blamed for your child’s learning problems, you may be right. 

And if you believe that school factors (i.e., an inappropriate curriculum, faulty teaching, ineffective school administration and management practices) are contributing to your child’s problems, you may be right. 

Now what?
What are the implications of this study for you, the parent of a special needs child? Your job is to work with the school system to secure educational services for your child.

To make good decisions about your child's educational program, you need accurate information about your child's educational difficulties and educational needs. You will find this information in psychological and educational evaluations of your child. If you cannot rely on evaluations by school district personnel for this information, what can you do? Should you ask the school for an "independent educational evaluation?"

You have learned that many people who work in schools share the belief that the problems they have teaching children have little or nothing to do with the curriculum, their own training and experience, or school administrative factors. Instead, they believe that the child’s problems are caused by the child himself. 

Many people who work in schools -- school psychologists, guidance counselors, principals, and special education directors -- share this belief. Because school staff associate with other school staff, they continually reinforce the view of the "child-as-the-problem" in their dealings with one another.

As a parent, can you force educators and school psychologists to change their beliefs? No. This view of the "child-as-the-problem" exists and persists because it serves a purpose.
What would you think if the next time you attended an IEP meeting, the school staff told you that your child’s worsening problems were caused by an inappropriate curriculum? Inadequately trained teachers? An incompetent principal? This won't happen.
As the parent of a special ed child, your job is to negotiate with school staff and secure a good quality special education program for your child. In your role as a negotiator, what do you need to know?

As a negotiator, your single most important tool is to understand and be able to explain the position of the "other side" as well or better than your own!
Once you understand the beliefs and perceptions of the school staff, you will be in a stronger position. You are more likely to accomplish your objective. When you understand how school people think and what they believe, you'll be able to generate "win-win solutions" that meet your child's needs -- and theirs.

Solutions
To accomplish your objective of getting a good educational program for your child, you must have accurate information about your child. This information includes the results of different psychological and educational tests. If you don't have good quality private sector diagnostic evaluations, you wont' be able to develop an appropriate educational program for your child. Knowing that school psychologists are often biased, what options do you have?

Independent Educational Evaluations Parents ask: "Why can’t I tell the school that I want an independent educational evaluation done on my child? Money is short. Private testing is expensive. Aren’t we are entitled to this?"

Before we answer your question, let’s change the facts.

If you belong to a managed care health plan, you have a primary care doctor. This person entered into a contractual agreement with your insurance company, and agreed to abide by certain rules. The most important rule is that this doctor agreed to hold medical costs down by managing care.How does this work?

In managed care,your primary care doctor acts as a "gatekeeper," regulating (limiting) your access to medical treatment. If you go to a specialist without an appropriate referral by your primary care doctor, your insurance company does not have to pay for your treatment. If your doctor is successful in holding costs down, the insurance company will reward him or her with financial bonuses. If your doctor isn't willing to play by these rules, the insurance company will probably cancel his contract. He will lose you and many other patients – and his livelihood.

Now, let’s assume that you have a sick child. You take your child to your primary care doctor who is associated with the managed care company. Although the doctor makes a diagnosis and prescribes treatment, your child gets sicker. You ask for a referral to a specialist. After discussion and disagreement, the doctor refers your child to a specialist – who is also a member of the managed care plan.

This specialist signed a contract with the managed care entity in which he is forbidden to fully inform you about the treatment options for your child - this is called a "gag order." If you learn about these treatments, you will want them for your child. The best solution from the insurance companies perspective is to keep you ignorant about these treatment options. because your HMO or managed care group does not want to pay for them.

Do you want your sick child treated by doctors who are not permitted to inform you about certain (expensive) treatment options? Of course not! Your child’s health is at stake.

Now, let’s return to your question about independent evaluations. Earlier in this article, you learned that most school psychologists officially consider only child or family factors when they assess children’s learning and behavior problems. Aren’t things different with independent evaluators?

The relationship between independent evaluators and school districts is often similar to the relationship between managed care specialists and insurance companies. In many jurisdictions, people who are on the approved list of independent evaluators have agreed to abide by certain rules. When they perform evaluations on children, they are paid by the school district.
As a parent, you have to ask yourself this question: If my evaluator is paid by the school district, how independent can he or she be?

In our practice, we see cases in which an independent educational evaluator recommends that a child receive more or different special education serves than the district wants to provide. After making pro-children recommendations, these diagnosticians were dropped from the school district’s approved list of evaluators.

Private Sector Evaluations

Get a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation of your child from an expert who is truly independent. The evaluations used to make educational decisions must contain accurate information about what your child really needs – including changes that need to be made in curriculum, teaching methods, and/or school structure. The only people who will provide this information are experts in the private sector.

Low-Cost Evaluations
Many parents of kids with disabilities are financially strapped. Where can you get a quality psycho-educational evaluation of your child - without breaking the bank?

Contact local colleges and universities - if the school has a psychology program, you may be able to get an low cost or free evaluation of your child by a graduate student who is supervised by a professor.

Call child guidance clinics and community mental health centers. Ask about sliding fee scales.

Visit your state Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities for evaluators, academic tutors, advocates, and others who help parents get services for children.

Ask other parents - they are often your best resource. More advice about finding and working with evaluators and consultants.

A Personal Message from Pete & Pam Wright

If you are the parent of a child with special educational needs, you must learn about school culture - how schools work and beliefs held by many school personnel. When you understand school culture, many of the obstacles you face when you advocate for your child will be clear.
Children can do without many things they want and not be damaged. But your child needs an appropriate education. The most meaningful gift you can make to your child is the gift of a good education. This gift will pay dividends for the rest of your child’s life.
Focus on what you need to learn and do to obtain an appropriate education for your child. Good luck!"

** I conduct full psycho-educational evaluations that not only help you understand how your child learns and thinks but I also explain to your child how his/her brain works & ways to work smarter and not harder.  Finally, I go to the school with you to help them understand it is NOT the child or parents fault and steps they, the educators, can help the child.  I am not on school lists for IEEs but if tell the school you want Dr. Jill Lam at Forest Alliance Coaching to conduct the IEE the school district will pay for my services.  Don't forget to check out the links above for a full understanding of shame and learned helplessness.