Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Another Victory for Students in Arizona

In another victory for students in Arizona, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Decision of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at Due Process that the parent's choice of school location (Gateway Academy) was appropriate for the student, and the school's choice of school location (ACES) was not.  Attorney Lori Kirsch-Goodwin of Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch represented the family at Due Process and through the appeals.  Although the law allows school administrators to decide on the LOCATION of the placement (after IEP Teams decide PLACEMENT), the location must nevertheless be appropriate for the student.  The outcome means that KGK's client, a little boy, will continue to remain in an appropriate private school to meet his needs. 
Lori had won at due process, but the school (Pointe Educational Services, a charter school) appealed and the District Court reversed.  KGK then appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  A panel of three judges reversed the District Court. The outcome means that KGK's client, the little boy, will continue to remain in an appropriate private school to meet his needs. 
Here is an excerpt from the Decision:
The administrative law judge (ALJ) concluded that the Austin Center for Exceptional Students (ACES) would not afford A.T. a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The ALJ reached that conclusion after finding that ACES would involve excessive transitions between classes, inclusion of significantly older students in academic classes, and exposure to a student population with more severe behavioral issues than A.T. exhibited. The district court found this to be a “close case,” but ultimately concluded that the ALJ’s findings were not entitled to
deference. We agree with the district court that this is indeed a close case, but on balance we believe the ALJ’s findings are adequately supported by the record and should not have been disturbed. ... We find no basis in the record for disturbing the ALJ’s thorough and careful findings on these points. In short, the ALJ’s findings are supported by the record and entitled to
deference on appeal. We therefore reverse the district court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings.
REVERSED and REMANDED.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Autism Support Groups

Adults with High-Functioning Autism/Asperger’s
Contact: Tara at jamethiel9@hotmail.com or (602) 421-2215
Meets on the 2nd Saturday of every month in Tempe

Asperger Parent Network: Resource for families and professionals in the Greater Phoenix Area including family life coaching and special education advocacy services available. Monthly meetings, e-group and web site.
Contact information:
– Webpage: http://www.apnarizona.com
– Phone: 480-759-6329
– Contact: Carolyn Warden

Autism Society of Greater Phoenix and ROK (Recovering Our Kids)
This support group meets at three separate locations throughout the month. A Parent Mentor will be present at each meeting.
Contact Information:
– Meeting location: three locations across the Valley;
  • West Valley location: New Life Community Church, 8155 W. Thunderbird Rd., Peoria, AZ 85381 — 2nd Monday or each month
  • East Valley location: Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant, 959 N. Val Vista Dr., Gilbert, AZ 85234 — 3rd Tuesday of each month
  • North Valley location: Paradise Valley Community Center, 17402 N. 40th St., Phoenix, AZ 85032 — 3rd Wednesday of each month
-Current agenda: http://www.phxautism.org/meetings.html
-Contact Cynthia Macluskie at cynthia.marksmom@cox.net for further information.

Autism Society of Northern Arizona 
We are an organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and providing support to family members and individuals with autism spectrum disorders throughout the Northern Arizona region.
-Meetings: 3rd Wednesday of every month
-Address: NAU Institute for Human Development, Large Conference Room. You can park in one of the metered parking spots in Lot #13. Parking is free after 4:30pm.
-Contact: NAzASAinformation@nazasa.org

AZ ASSIST
AZ ASSIST, Inc. is a group of parents in the Greater Phoenix area who, through experience, are a wealth of information and eager to ASSIST each other through the process of our children growing up and away. Our mission is to provide education, strategies, and support related to transition into the community after high school to parents of teens and young adults on the autism spectrum and to provide transition education and create opportunities for social skill development for teens and young adults on the Autism Spectrum. Check calendar for meeting information.
-Meeting: 3rd Monday of the month, Campus of EdOptions 7-9 PM, 2150 E Southern Ave, Tempe
Teens & Young Adults are encouraged to attend in order to socialize with multiplayer video games (no games rated M or above), air hockey, outdoor games and/or arts & crafts.
-Website: http://azassist.com/
-Email: info@azassist.com

AZA Parent Support Group
The Parent Support Group is a safe venue where parents of children with autism can discuss various topics related to home life, school issues, treatment and every day challenges. Parents will be equipped with relevant information from other experienced parents.
-Meetings: Last Monday of Every Month
-Address: At the Arizona Autism United main office, located in the Disability Empowerment Center, 5025 E. Washington St., Suite 212, Phoenix, AZ 85034
-Contact: Diane Martin, LPC

Connecting, Learning, and Special Education Support (Ahwatukee, Chandler, Tempe) CLASS ACT Support Group
Do you have a child with special needs? Are you looking for support and local information about schools, therapists, and social
interactions for your child? Come join other parents of special needs children for support, information, and networking.
-Meetings: 1st Tuesday of every month at 7pm
-Address: Melissa Shah╩╝s House, 16041 S. 27th Street Phoenix, AZ 85048 (near Chandler Blvd and 28th Street)
-Contact: Melissa Shah

Council for Jews with Special Needs: Provides a range of services.
Contact information:
– Address: 12701 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 205 Scottsdale, AZ 85254
– Webpage: http://www.cjsn.org/
– Phone: (480)-629-5343
– Email: info@cjsn.org

Dads 4 Special Kids: A network of support, resources and encouragement by men caring for children with special needs.
Contact information:
Phone: (602) 909-5463
Contact: Ray Morris-Email: ray@dads4specialkids.com

East Valley Parent Group: This group is for all parents of children with autism. Meets the first Tuesday of every month.
Contact information:
– Phone: (480) 632-5719
– Contact: Janet Kirwan
– Email: janet@autismcenter.org
– Meets: 1st Tuesday of each month

East Valley Autism Support Group for Spanish-Speakers: Group meets with experts from different fields related to autism. Group shares valuable information and offers support to families.
Contact information:
– Phone: (480) 831-1009
– Contact: Alberto Serpias
– Meets: 2nd Tuesday of each month

E.V.A.N. (East Valley Autism Network) formerly S.A.N.E. (Supporting Autism Now through Education)Contact information:
– Address: Gilbert, AZ 85296
– Phone: (480) 782-8960
– Email: wridetribe@cox.net

Family Fundamentals Parent Training Program
This program is a 7-week training course for parents to learn strategies that will improve their child’s communication, socialization, and/or behavior. The class alternates between lecture-based discussions to focus on theory and individual coaching sessions to focus on implementing practical strategies.
Contact information:
– Meets: Contact for upcoming schedule
– Address: At the Arizona Autism United main office, located in the Disability Empowerment Center, 5025 E. Washington St., Suite 212, Phoenix, AZ 85034
– Email: paulina@AZAunited.org

Fountain Hills, In Teaching Our Unique Children (FH-InTOUCH): A support group for parents and caregivers of special needs children living in Fountain Hills.
Contact information:
– Meets: Monthly, time and day to be determined for this next school year
– Email: deninis@cox.netcrlavoie@cox.net

Fragile X Society of Arizona: Provides information on Fragile X.
Contact information:
– Address: 3418 W. Lucia Drive Phoenix, AZ 85085
– Phone: (623) 587-7580/(602) 502-4765
– Email: azfragilex@gmail.com
– Webpage: www.fragilex.org/html/arizona.htm

GANE, Grupo de apoyo para nios especiales (West Valley)
-Address: 7102 W. Thomas Road, Suite 105, Phoenix, AZ 85323
-Phone: (623) 478-7277
-Contact: Gabriela Orozco

MEN…MEET AUTISM, is an informal gathering of men who
have someone in their life affected by autism. Fathers,
grandfathers, adult siblings, friends of someone with autism
come together in a laid back setting and autism is usually
the forefront of most conversations.
Meeting Information:
– When: 3rd Thursday of Every Month
– Time: 7pm
– Place: Big City BBQ in Mesa (north of US 60 @ Alma School)
– Contact: Jason Geroux 480-748-8620
Email mensgroup@arizonaautismsupport.org to get on the monthly email reminder list

Phoenix High Functioning Autism & Asperger’s Family Support Network
High Functioning Autism & Aspergers Family Support Network-Life issues in a supportive and tolerant environment for the Phoenix area.
Meets last Thursday of each month at Scottsdale Bible church, 7601 E Shea Blvd Rm E102. It follows the school year generally. See website for exact dates as they sometimes change.
Contact Information:
– Phone: (602) 225-0052
– Email: hfautism@cox.net
– Website: http://members.cox.net/hfautism

Phoenix West Valley Autism Families: This Facebook support group was created for moms and dads of children with autism in the West Valley in order to connect, learn and share experiences. They hold play dates several times a month and welcome others to do the same.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/PhoenixWestValleyAutismFamilies/

Raising Special Kids Parent Leadership: Raising Special Kids offers many different Parent Leadership opportunities. Whether it’s an hour a month or an hour a day, your time is valued and appreciated. If you are interested in volunteering to help support families of children with disabilities or special health needs visithttp://www.raisingspecialkids.org/ways-to-help/parent-leadership/ to learn more and submit a Parent Leader Application.

SARRC’s Grandparents Group: Informational group focused on educating grandparents of children with autism. Discussion-based group meets monthly to learn from experts on autism and volunteer.
Contact information:
Phone: (602) 340-8717
Contact: Kathy Bosco

Sib Support: Support group for parents of children with special needs as well as neurotypical children; opportunities for siblings to get together at recreational events.
-Website: www.sibsupport.com
-Contact: Larissa Beckstead, Co-Founder of Sibs Support

Support Group for Adults with High-Functioning Autism/Asperger’s
Contact information:
– Tempe Contact: trish_crew@yahoo.com
– Phoenix Contact: Tom at (602) 340-8717
– Tuscon Contact: Newport at jwholphin48@aol.com, (520)770-1591

West Side Autism Support Group Sponsored by Autism Society of Greater PhoenixContact Information:
– Phone: (480) 940-1093
– Contact: info@phxautism.org
– Where: Wee Care Corp., 12409 W. Indian School Rd. #C306, Avondale, AZ 85396 (East of Dysart on Indian School in the Indian School Crossings Building on the south side of the road).

West Side Group for Adults with Autism/Asperger’s
Location: 10854 North 60th Ave, Glendale; Club House
Contact: Hope at hopehagen@yahoo.com, or call 623-979-5555
Website: http://www.meetup.com/Westside-Autism-Aspergers-support-group/

West Valley Autism Parent Support Group
Contact information:
– Phone: (623) 572-5289
– Contact: Shelly V.
– Email: shellyvin@cox.net
– Meets: 2nd Monday of each month from 7-9pm
– Location: New Life Community Church located at 8155 W Thunderbird Rd. Peoria AZ 85381.

Yuma Autism Support Group
-Address: 399 West 32nd Street, Yuma, AZ 85364
-Webpage: www.autismyuma.cfsites.org
-Meeting Information: We generally meet the first Wednesday of every month from 6-8pm at the YRMC Corporate Center located at 399 West 32nd Street in Yuma, Az (beween Mervyn’s and Spragues). Please visit our site for more details and exact dates.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Travelling with children who have special needs

KGK recommends this great article in the New York Times about travelling for families who have children with special needs:  Travel Help for Families With Special Needs

Who must be on the IEP Team? Who must attend IEP meetings?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (the "IDEA") requires school districts and charter schools to ensure that each IEP Team (and thus each IEP Team meeting) includes the following individuals:

1. The child's parents (or legal guardians);

2. At least one general education teacher of the child, if the child is or may be participating in the general education environment;

3. At least one special education teacher of the child, or, where appropriate, at least one special education provider of the child;

4. A school district (or charter school) representative who: (1) is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities; (2) is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and (3) is knowledgeable about the availability of the district's resources.

5. An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results;

6. At the discretion of the parents or of the school district /charter school, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise about the child, including related-services personnel as appropriate; and

7. The child, whenever appropriate.

One reader of our blog sent us the following QUESTION:
I teach a self-contained special ed preschool class. Our district has no general education equivalent. We have been told to bring in kindergarten and 1st grade teachers (with no knowledge of preschoolers or pre-k core standards) to be the gen. ed. team members in IEP meetings. I just looked in IDEA and it says "not less than 1 regular education teacher of such child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment)". My question is: since none of my students are ever in a regular education environment, do I still need to have regular education teachers at the IEP meeting?  
OUR ANSWER:  Best practice would be YES because without having a general education teacher attend an IEP meeting, having a meeting without a general education teacher in your scenario could appear as the school having "predetermined" that the student is not going to be in a general education setting at all.  Not having the gen ed teacher may appear as if the school determined (predetermined)  that the child will not be participating at all in the general education environment.  


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Inviting All Fathers

INVITING ALL FATHERS:  The Fatherhood Collaborative is convening a “Community Forum on Fatherhood” at Mesa Community College on Thursday June 4, 2015 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm. The evening will begin with a networking reception at 5:00 offering display tables with resources for fathers and light refreshments. At 6:00 a panel presentation will address the question: What are the challenges that men face in their role as fathers and what we can do in our communities to encourage and support increased father involvement?
Due to generous sponsorships, admission to this event is free and is open to parents, community members, social service providers, and community stakeholders. Joe Dana of Channel 12 will moderate the seven member panel discussion, followed by a Q and A session.
This event will cover 7 topic areas, in which guest speakers from each department will answer questions and cover concerns in dealing with the key topic.
Education
Legislation
US Military and veterans
Family Court Services
Department of Child Support Services
Department of Behavioral Health Services
Department of Corrections

We hope to see you there,
Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch