Come Ask the Advocate on Jan. 19

Bring your IEPs and 504s on Thursday, January 19 at 6:30 pm to Hyannis West Elementary where we will present Ask the Advocate. Your specific questions will be answered!

As trained advocates and parent consultants, we will share our insights on developing IEPs and 504s that provide students with what they need to be successful in school. A question and answer period will follow the presentation.

This is the ideal setting for those with existing IEPs or 504s or families looking to find out more about special education services. Cape Cod Advocate has helped guide hundreds of area families through the special education process for students with learning challenges and disabilities.

Spread the word! We look forward to seeing you January 19 at Hyannis West Elementary School, 549 West Main Street, Hyannis.

Resolve to take action for your child


Make 2017 the year you resolve to take action to improve your child's education!

Many parents delay getting the necessary help for their child, even when learning challenges are obvious. The acronyms, school administration and process can be intimidating. Lack of knowledge about what to expect and fear of labels are other concerns. 

Let an education advocate from Cape Cod Advocate reassure you and simplify the process. As objective experts, we can advise on the best path for your child and assist you in working with the school to implement an appropriate education plan.

Trust our many years of experience to help you achieve your goals. We have the reputation and track record to ensure your child's IEP/504 is working effectively, or to begin the process of creating an IEP or 504 plan. We work only in school systems on Cape Cod and the Islands, and we know them well.

Call or email advocate Christine Riley or Tina Qvarnstrom at Cape Cod Advocate today
and begin making progress toward this 2017 resolution for your child!

What will they learn?


Dear Clients, Friends and Associates ~

May your holiday season be filled with wonder, joy and love! And may we all remember the following wise words during this season and as we enter a new year of hope and promise.

Your Cape Cod Advocates,
Christine Riley
Tina Qvarnstrom


Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.  

 ~Dorothy Law Nolte

Top 3 IEP Questions, Answered!

By: Tina Qvarnstrom, Education Advocate, Cape Cod Advocate

What is the number one subject parents ask us about? They want to know more about  Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and how schools administer them. Below are three common questions, and our answers. 

1. How can I ensure the IEP is being carried out, as agreed upon at the IEP meeting?

Once an IEP is signed, it becomes legally biding. The agreed upon services and accommodations must be provided by the school and begin immediately. The type, length and frequency of services are outlined in the service delivery grid of the document.  

Every time a report card is issued, the professionals providing services to the child are required to complete progress reports. The reports should reflect the child’s progress toward achieving the goal by the annual review date.  Often, goals are adjusted based on the child’s progress.  

Another method to determine whether services are being provided is to ask to see a copy of the service delivery log that teachers and specialists who work with your child one-on-one or in small groups are required to maintain. The school must  provide the log to you upon request. Finally, ask to obtain copies of the IEP meeting notes and minutes immediately after meetings and refer back to them if you become concerned about your child’s progress. 

2.  Do the administrative representatives at the IEP meeting have the authority to make binding decisions?

All IEP meetings should include parents, a general education classroom teacher, a special education teacher, a representative from the school district who is knowledgeable about resources and can commit funds, and an individual who interprets evaluation results. When appropriate, the child with the disability can also attend. Parents should ask at the start of each meeting about the roles of attendees and clarify that at least one participant has the authority to commit resources and funds on behalf of the district.

3.  What if my child is making inadequate progress, but it's not time for the annual IEP meeting?

Parents can request an IEP meeting at anytime. It is best to make the request in writing, briefly outlining your concerns. The letter should be addressed to the IEP Team Chairperson, with a copy to the special education department and the teacher. Once the letter is received, a meeting must be scheduled within 10 days.

If you feel you are not getting the desired response from your child’s school, consider contacting Cape Cod Advocate. With 20+ years experience, we can ensure your child’s education is given the attention it deserves. Give us a call, or email us.  We’re here to help you and your child.

This blog is not intended as legal advice nor to take the place of professional consultation. Each child and situation is different. Call or email Cape Cod Advocate for more information.

Let's tie those shoes!

By: Christine M. Riley, Education Advocate

It may not seem like the biggest parenting challenge, until it is!

One of the most common concerns parents ask about us about is how to help their children learn to tie shoes so they can get out of Velcro. If you and your child are struggling with this issue, you are not alone!

Wearing Velcro shoes well into elementary school years could give rise to teasing and bullying of your child. In addition, learning the skill provides a boost in self-confidence and opens possibilities to a wider variety of footwear. Many sports involve shoes that often must be tied, such as soccer cleats. Help your child help himself by initiating shoe-tying skills as soon as reasonable.

I discovered these shoe-tying videos several years ago and frequently recommend them to clients.

One of the newest methods I've seen is this one from a Mom of a child with autism:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/millions-of-people-have-watched-this-moms-shoe-tying-tutorial_us_57d1862be4b06a74c9f32628?

This video shows the “Ian Knot,” which is an easy and fast method for tying shoes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgSwvDkJVxE
The next video provides the “Magic Fingers” method, which is a bit more complicated, but may be easier for some children. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWl2dPfBQPk

If you have a method that has worked well for your child, please leave a comment below and share with all of us!

Christine M. Riley established Cape Cod Advocate 11 years ago to provide educational consultation and advocacy for children of all ages and disabilities. A certified mediator, she is trained through Wrightslaw and the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN). Christine is a member of  National Council of Parents, Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and Special Needs Advisory Network-Massachusetts (SpaN) and is a former board member of SPaN, FCSN, ISEA and SEAT. 

This blog is not intended as legal advice nor to take the place of professional consultation. Each child and situation is different. Call or email Cape Cod Advocate for more information.






Yes, you should attend back-to-school night



By: Christine M. Riley, Education Advocate, Cape Cod Advocate

Back-to-school night is important, especially for parents of special needs students. Attendance, down nationally, is a unique opportunity to view the classrooms, daily schedules, and teachers through your child’s eyes as he embarks on the new school year. 

One night matters
Experts agree that one night can provide the background knowledge parents need to effectively handle or proactively avoid problems that may arise later on.

Relationship building with the teachers and staff begins on this night, and we all know that your investment and interest can encourage them to view your child and you through a more positive light. It’s an easy way to create a good first impression.

The view from his seat
Back to school night also gives insight into details that may become important through the course of the year: the view from his seat, how his classwork--often on display for back-to-school night--compares with typical peers, possible distractions out the window or door and the sense of place the rooms convey through the five senses. Remember to take a peek in the cafeteria, library, music room, gym and meet those specialists, even if you’ve been there in years past.

Caution
A word of warning: Don’t overstay your welcome or ask questions about your child’s IEP or related issues. While you may be excited and anxious to share all you can now about your child, recognize this is not the time or place for detailed conversations. Save that for parent-teacher conferences or request a separate meeting at another time.

Opportunities to tour the school and meet the staff without restriction or judgment are rare--so don’t let this one pass you by.

Additional back to school tips can be found here:
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/back-school-tips-parents-children-special-needs

Christine M. Riley established Cape Cod Advocate 11 years ago to provide educational consultation and advocacy for children of all ages and disabilities. A certified mediator, she is trained through Wrightslaw and the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN). Christine is a member of  National Council of Parents, Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and Special Needs Advisory Network-Massachusetts (SpaN) and is a former board member of SPaN, FCSN, ISEA and SEAT. 


This blog is not intended as legal advice nor to take the place of professional consultation. Each child and situation is different. Call or email Cape Cod Advocate for more information.

This one tip eases the first day of school

By: Tina Qvarnstrom, Education Advocate, Cape Cod Advocate

Firsts are often hard for children who rely on routine and preparation.

First day of school and first impression may top that list.

We want to share with you a proven tip that works to ease the pressure for many of our clients: Pre-introduce your child to his new teacher with a brief passport letter to help clear the hurdle of those firsts creeping up in just a few weeks.

After all, when your child walks into a new classroom, the teacher knows only what others have said. Put your voice in the mix right from the start!

Compose a brief passport letter to introduce your child and email it to the teacher the week before school begins.

We’ve found this humanizing snapshot helps teachers see your child beyond the IEP, and sets up a friendly, caring start to the school year. Teachers tell us they appreciate the gesture, and the information—as long as it’s brief! Keep it to one page.

Beginning a letter like this can be the hardest part. Set it up with a warm cooperative tone from the start, like this: "My child John is very much looking forward to starting third grade with you this year. I'm writing to introduce John, describe techniques that work well for him, and ask for your help and sensitivity."

What specific information should your passport letter include?

-- Descriptive photo of your child enjoying a favorite activity (printed on the page, not attached)
    -- Specific names of your child’s disabilities and when diagnosed

    -- Positive attributes of your child – stick with three
      -- Symptoms to watch out for, and their triggers      

      -- Techniques to calm your child, including safe words/phrases
        -- Tips on what has worked in previous classrooms, and what has not
          -- Information about your child’s social interactions
            -- Your child’s favorites—subjects, items, foods—which can be motivators
              -- Your offer to help in the classroom, on field trips, with projects

              Close with your contact information and the best methods and times to reach you. By setting up the partnership for success from the beginning, your child’s passport into the next grade can be stamped with approval!