Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adaptations for All Learners

This past Monday night, I attended a workshop that was given by Project CHOICES titled Adaptations for All Learners. It was a 3 hour workshop, and we covered a variety of topics. It was very interesting for me as Ethan's mom but also as a teacher....the material spoke to both groups. I learned a are a few of my notes....

1. There are laws in place to protect students with disabilities.

*The Federal Law protects students with disabilities - "The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation."

*The State of Illinois also provides similar protections. Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has a Least Restrictive Environment's policy for schools that states "students with disabilities aged 3 through 21, in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled. The ISBE will monitor programs and institutions that serve students with disabilities to ensure that the first placement option considered is a regular education environment, with the use of supplemental aids and services as needed. Special classes, separate schooling, or other placements by which students with disabilities are removed from the regular education environment should occur only if the student's Individual Educational Program (“IEP”) team determines that the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in a regular classroom setting, even with the use of supplemental aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily."

*Those who spend more time in regular education experienced better results after high school. US Dept of Eduation 1995. Basically, what can we do to grant our kiddos "full membership" into the regular education room.

2. IEP notes. An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan that is a legally binding document which spells out exactly what special education services your child will receive and why. These are created by the student's team. Ethan's was done with many teachers & therapists as well as family members. He will be having his year end review in April where we can revisit his plan & edit if needed.

*The parent or guardian can request an IEP review meeting at any time, but it must be for a valid reason or concern. The school has the option to deny this request. If this happens, which is rare, the parent or guardian can take the next step of requesting a due process hearing.

*Write specific adaptations in the IEP. Things such as requesting study guides to come home before a test or even before the class begins to study that topic in order to preview material, providing the textbook on CD that comes with the teacher's manual, supplying visual aids, etc. The important thing is to implement a process of what will best help the student learn.

3. Adaptations. There are 2 categories of adaptations....accommodations & modifications. Accommodations changes HOW a student learns (providing a book on tape, changing how a worksheet is laid out, adding pictures to word-based materials, etc). Modifications are changing WHAT a student is expected to learn (having the student label the 3 main parts of flower instead of all of them, shortening a student's spelling list, etc.)

4. Examples of favorite section! We made/used...

Word Wackers

Squishy Bags or put them together & make a Squishy Book

PVC pipe phone. A child can hear themselves read.

Plastic Plates as dry erase boards


and lots more! I also met several new parents & teachers, and had a wonderful time. I even won a book! I am so glad I attended this workshop because I have so many more ideas that I would like to incorporate into our home life (visual aids & games). Plus, it was just a big motivator as those things tend to be.

One thing that I was really excited to learn about was an upcoming event for parents! It's an evening with the Sisters of Imperfection, Gina Gallagher & Patty Konjoian, authors of Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid - A Survival Guide for Ordinary Parents of Special Children. If you are interested in learning more, you can go to Heart of Illinois Down Syndrome Association or register at

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