I'm going through one of those 'if I only knew then what I know now' moments.
I understand the basic concept of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) as it pertains to Kayla and school. I understood what it was for, how they (mostly) work, who attends them, what we do in the meetings, what is discussed in the IEP. I've skimmed over info from Wrightslaw and have attended a workshop or two. However, it still wasn't enough. I haven't been proactive enough. I haven't researched enough. And I feel like I have failed Kayla, to some degree, where school is concerned.
Trying to make some changes now to rectify that.
I am reading the book Wrightslaw: All About IEPs and finding so much useful information. The topic on Assistive Technology has been particularly interesting.
Up until now I thought of assistive technology (AT) as (mostly) something children used to communicate with - ie if they couldn't speak, or didn't have enough speech intelligibility. Kayla talks. A lot. I think most of it is understandable, especially in context. So ... I never thought much about AT for her. But AT is defined as 'any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability."
Then there was the piece on the Henderson Inclusion school that I blogged about. In it they show a 2nd grade student's comprehension of a story he'd read writing longhand. He wrote 2 short sentences. He has trouble with spelling and handwriting. His response wasn't a 2nd grade benchmark. But then he showed his comprehension of another story by using a computer. He uses a text reader and a word-prompting software to help him produce something more on grade level. Hearing that I thought how much Kayla could use something like that. Reading and writing are laborious for her. It seems to take 'forever' for her to get through reading a short site-word book. I think she actually needs books with NO pictures because she stops after reading 2 or 3 words, looks around the picture, has to be prompted to go back to reading the sentence. I think by the time she finishes the sentence, she's forgot what she's even read.
So, back to the section on AT I've been reading. I've discovered it encompasses all sorts of tools that can help a child be successful in school, but more importantly, help the student access the general education curriculum.
- AT helps children use their strengths to compensate or 'work around' weaknesses caused by the disability.
- Law requires schools use AT devices and services to maximize accessibility for children with disabilities.
- Instead of the child becoming dependent on parents, teachers, and peers for help with schoolwork, AT helps the child be more confident and independent.
Here is an abbreviated list of when AT is appropriate:
- allows a child to perform functions that can't be achieved by other means
- increases the child's endurance or ability to complete tasks that are too laborious to be attempted on a routine basis
- allows the child to concentrate on learning, not mechanical tasks
- provides greater access to the general education curriculum
- allows the child to participate in the least restrictive environment
In case there is some concern that using an AT device (such as a calculator) is a crutch here is the answer to that in the book, "If a child needs assistive technology to have access to the general curriculum and benefit from education, it is not a crutch. A child may depend on a device to perform, not allowing a child to use the device will prevent the child from learning and receiving an appropriate education. If you need glasses to read should you be forbidden from using glasses to read?"
So now I've begun scoping the internet for websites that give examples of AT and how they're used. This one seems to have a lot of great information.
I've also requested that Kayla have an AT evaluation; I think there are tools out there that can help her go so much further in her education.
"For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible." Dr. Katherine Seelman