I’ve been watching the Texas Education Agency announcements like they are expected friend’s wedding invitations.

Except it isn’t an invitation to celebrate love or an open bar (let’s be honest 🏆). I’ve tried to picture what my special needs son with autism needs to be successful this year.

The Texas Education Agency states this on their website:

During the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, LEAs must make reasonable efforts to provide the student with the services required by the student’s IEP. If there are services, accommodations, and modifications required by the student’s IEP that cannot be provided during this time, the student’s ARD committee must determine which services it can provide to meet the student’s needs (34 CFR 300.324(a)(4). The intent for guidance and support is to provide LEAs with planning, communication, and instructional resources to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities.

RELATED READING :: Texas Education Agency Issues Comprehensive Guidelines for a Safe Return to On-Campus Instruction for the 2020-21 School Year

How to have school finished in under 30 minutes a day | Special Needs | Texas Education AgencyIf online speech and occupational therapy doesn’t work than they’ll see what they CAN provide. Which may be nothing. Isn’t that nice? What I want to scream from the rooftops at them is to utilize the creative resources you have in the schools. Ask teachers, parents and therapists ways that they could see complete implementation of their student’s IEP. Get creative! For example, can my child receive speech outside? Therapist and student get some sunshine while working on those “R” sounds? Yes, please! They were planning on seeing him either via tele therapy or in person if he were to attend physically. Why not allow children to get therapy outside as a way to consolidate space and also make it easier for social distancing rules to be followed? Also, who doesn’t love learning outside?
Telecommunications for therapy and school didn’t work for every child. When this first happened, we were willing to accept that we were responsible for the success of our student and that any and all communication from you would be limited in scope and, honestly, credibility. We also were vocal about the need for change.
Online services relied so heavily on parent intervention that you feel like it would be better to forgo it and work side by side with your child without the therapist. Many families have 2 working parents who may not have time to oversee online learning and therapy sessions. Or, there are other family situations that dictate that there isn’t as much at home support. If your way doesn’t work, what of them?
This defeats the whole purpose of placing your child in the SPED program. SPED is supposed to provide accommodations and inclusion for all types of learners. This plan does not do this. The efforts that you put towards this population were haphazard and without much consideration. This also means that you missed the mark in understanding the allocation of SPED funds to your schools. Your shortcomings are showing.
I also see your 180 minutes online time requirement. The idea of this is ridiculously short sided. What if the student can’t sit still or has a problem processing back to back information at once? What should we do? Make them? Force them to stare at a screen until they become so upset that all external communication is locked down and the child is upset by feelings of failure, rejection and ineptitude?
Could we allow students to complete these minutes over the course of a day instead of select times every day? Or, can our minutes have some flexibility to allow for natural ebbs and flows for our young children? Can we limit the amount of time spent in idle before instruction starts ( not have to be present for classroom discussions that can sometimes go on tangents)? Could we submit work done at home that focuses on the same learning skills but is adapted to our student’s interest??
Not all guidelines have been released so I say with hope in my heart that they can get creative with some workable solutions. I plan to keep my child home as I don’t have faith in his ability to adequately wash hands, wear a mask or stay away from his beloved teacher. I’m doing my part at recognizing road blocks and trying to find ways around them. But, I feel as if I’m the only one.

When is it their turn? When will someone intuitively think of the children who need some extra help and ways to meet their need? My son is different but not less. Solutions need to be thought of for him and all others that qualify for the program as well.

I understand they have more students than just mine, but some thoughtful answers instead of using the same approach would be nice. Consideration would be nice. A kind voice saying I see your struggles and I will raise you with solutions would be nice.

But, for right now, it seems like a lot of advocating for a school year that hasn’t started.

The Texas Education Agency fell short. Their answers are, at best, unattainable and, at worst, unsafe and lacking. So… TEA, the ball is in your court. Think of others. Think of ALL the students and how you can help them with realistic expectations, effort and options.

And, if you think that you can side step the parent of a child with special needs, we are used to thinking outside the box. Meet you there!


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