The 3 Year old Transition
Tips for the Transition into the IU
1. Try to think of this as a business transaction. Being respectful and straightforward is important. – Of the evaluators and IU case workers.
2. Discuss with your partner what you want your child to have prior to the Evaluations and certainly prior IEP meeting. This way, you are both on the same page during the meetings. During the IEP meeting, the number of weekly hours of therapy is negotiable. If you are not comfortable negotiating, bring someone with you who is comfortable.
3. It is important that you share your vision for what kind of services and what kind of setting you wish for your child. It is important to do this with each evaluator at the IU.
4. Montgomery County has a reimbursement program for typical preschools. It is a program that is intended for children who have a “socialization” goal on their IEP. If this scenario applies to your situation, it is important to ask about the program. If we had not asked about it, it would never have been offered. – The number of hours reimbursed weekly is negotiable, ask for the maximum amount of hours to be reimbursed and negotiate if necessary. If you don’t ask, the IU will not offer this.
5. For every request you make of the I.U., you need to have a specific reason. For example, “I would like to have speech therapy sessions one on one [vs. group] because my child is easily distracted.”
6. This may feel uncomfortable, but stress your child’s challenges when asking for certain things.
7. If you wish for your child to be in a typical setting at age 3, it is harder for the IU to try to veto that wish if your child is already in a typical daycare.
8. The IU must consider a typical setting first [if that is what you want for your child]. You will actually sign a paper stating this on your first visit to the IU.
9. If you are interested in a typical setting, ask how many kids with special needs vs. kids with no special needs are in attendance at the school.
10. When investigating a school, ask how many children present are verbal and how many do they have that currently have DS.
11. If you are interested in a typical preschool for your child, ask if children need to be potty trained prior to entering the #’s classroom.
Transtition Advice and Thoughts for your child with Trisomy 21
by, Lizanne Magarity Pando
You should start thinking and looking at what you want for your child just after they turn two.
What is your child like?
Make a list – active, shy, loud, quiet, curious, likes music, likes to play with kids, likes to play independent, medical needs, etc.
What are your goals for your child from 3 to 5?
Make a list.
Discuss these lists with your primary therapist and/or case manager (some times your therapists are better suited for this conversation – sometimes your case manager is)
Find the programs that are catering to “Special Needs” in your community and take a walk through. (There was an ICC evening meeting that brought all of the local programs to the PaTTAN bldg. before Jenna Transitioned – this allowed us to talk with many programs in one evening instead of going out to eanch facility.)
Make a list of questions with your spouse to ask while at their facility.
Look into transportation – mobility issues – will you get to keep the same therapists at this new facility or will you have to use theirs? Will your child still receive One on One therapy or Group? What is their policy on communication? on your stopping in? what is the ratio of teacher to student? Do they have after care? Does this mix classes – and how will this affect your child – what is the ratio in aftercare?
Talk to the parents in your neighborhood – where are the typical kids going? Where are the other children in your family going? What are their policies on taking kids with Special Needs? Remember these are the kids they will be in school (and on the soccer team) with.
Don’t let a therapist or case manager tell you that you won’t get services at a typical school placement – that would be the Least Restrictive Environment – and by law they have to bring the appropriate services to you.
*Our experience has been that the policies flow from the top – so if the director seems all for it (or the principal) then the program will fly – but beware of the skeptical person at the top.
*Religious programs such as at a Church Nursery School and Synagogue will not be funded.
The Jenna Pando Story
We sent Jenna to Carson Valley School (a typical program) 5 days a week. She was in a regular program and they sent therapists to the school during the morning and aftercare programs. We had an Aide for her 8 hours a week and they also funded us back these hours for socialization. We had to pay for aftercare ourselves.
We were in written and verbal communication with the school and therapists on Jenna’s progress and I would stop in several times a week to meet therapists there or participate in school activities.
We chose this school because our daughter, Cyndi, was going there and we liked their program.
When we started, the director was all for it and the first few years were fantastic. Each time a problem arose we would come in and sit and address it.
Jenna loved it there and the sisters loved being together. This program was perfect for us. I feel it was the right move for our family.
Remember – if it feels right then it usually is – if it doesn’t feel right – it usually is not.
Please feel free to call me or email me with any questions.