Professional DevelopmentFor many special education students, the transition from high school to the next step in life is a challenging one, with many new skills to learn in a short amount of time. Each student is different, with their own unique set of needs and their own learning style, so it can be difficult to know what is best for your student. However, a number of different activities can be beneficial for a wide variety of students, due to their multi-faceted character. These are activities that have social, personal, and active components, although no single person needs to address each component to play a part in the activity. For many, the best way to access these activities is through community service. That’s why many professional development programs include a community service portion.Community EngagementA number of civic and religious organizations are open to special education professional development volunteers. Volunteers can fill a wide variety of roles, depending on their proficiencies and abilities. Some volunteers might excel at interpersonal communication, so they might play the role of a spokesperson for a community movement. Others might excel at detail work, so their job assignment might be on-the-ground, perhaps crafting promotional materials or cleaning community spaces. And, due to the sense of purpose that comes with working for a larger community, and the helpfulness of volunteers, programs that support community involvement often act as an important bridge between special needs and mainstream culture.AwarenessFor many special needs communities, awareness is a constant issue. Professional development programs, as a result, often include campaigns to increase awareness of special needs communities within cities and counties. Special education programs that include community involvement are a huge part of any move towards awareness. Volunteer positions are often highly visible, and they expose community members of all ages to people with special needs acting altruistically. More importantly, many programs foster interactions between youth volunteers and special ed volunteers. These situations often catalyze powerful and engaging experiences that allow for learning to leap across whatever societal barriers normally separate the two camps. Children who have positive experiences with special ed students are more likely to include special needs interests in their visions of the society the create.Personal GrowthOf course, one of the greatest reasons to engage in community work is because many volunteer positions require the same skills and attention that a professional position might require. In this sense, then, volunteer work is valuable practice for the real world, and it can help ease the transition from high school to the next step. By interacting with members of the community, working on projects, and learning new techniques and skills along the way, members of special education professional development programs are able to better adapt to the demands of careers, communication, and independence.
Are you the parent of a child with autism or another disability that receives special education services? Have you long wondered if special education personnel are using some type of tactic to pit parents against school personnel, to prevent children from getting needed services? This article will be discussing the Delphi technique that could be used by some school personnel, to control Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings, and come up with a predetermined outcome. Also discussed in this article is what the Delphi technique would look like in an IEP setting.The Delphi technique was initially developed to allow experts in a certain field to come to a consensus without having to come together. It is now used to polarize some members of a group against other members of the group and to make the people not agreeing with the facilitator seem crazy or unreasonable.The Delphi technique has several steps:1. The facilitator acts as an organizer of a group of people.2. The organizer then tries to get each member of the group to explain how they feel about the particular subject; those that agree with the organizer and those that do not agree with the organizer.Their looking for the leaders, loud mouths, and those that do not have an opinion. They also begin to predict what the response is of every person in the group, to the subject being discussed.3. Suddenly the leader becomes an agitator, and tries to stir up trouble. The person is trying to put one group’s opinion (their opinion) against another group’s opinion (those with a different opinion). The group that does not agree with the leader is considered ridiculous, crazy or wrong, and the leader makes sure that the people that agree with him or her turn on the group that does not agree with him or her.4. This method works mainly because people who do not agree with the facilitator do not know that they are being manipulated, and also do not know how to overcome this technique.The Delphi technique is unethical and should not be used in group situations to pit one group against another.Here is how it could look like in an IEP meeting:1. The special education coordinator or facilitator begins the IEP meeting by stating what the issue of the meeting is. For Example: We are here to discuss whether Mark needs a Multi sensory Reading Program in order to learn to read.2. The coordinator asks everyone’s opinion on the issue being discussed. This person has already decided what their opinion is, and they are trying to find out which member of the group share their opinion.For Example: The coordinator believes that Mark does not need a multisensory reading program, but will benefit from Reading Recovery. Marks teacher believes that Reading Recovery should be tried, before trying a multi sensory reading program. The parent who has investigated Reading Recovery and has found evidence that it does not work for children with learning disabilities, is pushing for a research based multi sensory reading program. A private reading instructor agrees with Marks mother, that he needs a research based multisensory reading program in order to learn to read.3. They then start to make the Reading Recovery group seem more knowledgeable and right, than the group that is pushing for the multi sensory reading program. One way to accomplish this is to get the parent and reading instructor angry so that the leader actually begins to look like the victim rather than the parent looking like the victim. The leader may also come up with some reasons why Reading Recovery is better, though the reasons may not make much sense.4. When the facilitator can not win with their opinion, they may start personally attacking the group that does not agree with them!To overcome this technique takes time and practice but you can do it for the good of your child!
Are you the parent of a child with autism that is having a dispute with school personnel, and would like some help? Are you the parent of a child with a learning disability, or another type of disability, that could use an advocate to help you in getting an appropriate education for your child? This article will give you 5 qualities that make a good special education advocateAn advocate is a person that has received special training, that helps parents navigate the special education system. In some cases the advocate is a parent of a child themselves, but this is not always the case. Before you hire an advocate check on their experience, and also make sure that the advocate is familiar with your child’s disability, so that they are able to advocate effectivelyQualities:1 A good advocate must be familiar with the federal and state education laws that apply to special education, and be willing to use them, when needed. This is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), State rules for special education (how they will comply with IDEA), and No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The advocate does not have to memorize the laws, but should have a basic knowledge of what is in them. The advocate must also be willing to bring up the laws, at IEP meetings, if this will benefit the child.2. A good advocate should not make false promises to parents. If an advocate tells you. that they will get the services that you want for your child, be leery! Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in special education, and advocates should not promise things that they may not be able to get. An experienced advocate who knows the law and your school district, should have a sense about what can be accomplished.3. A good advocate should be passionate about your child, and the educational services that they need. Advocacy sometimes takes a lot of time. If the person helping you is not passionate about your child, they may not be willing to help you for the length of time that it takes to get your child an appropriate education.4. A good advocate must be willing to stand up to special education personnel, when they disagree with them, or when the school personnel tell a lie. If the advocate you pick, has every quality, but is not willing to stand up to school personnel, he or she will not be an effective advocate for your child.5. A good advocate is detail oriented, and makes sure that any services promised by special education personnel, are put in writing. A good advocate will read the IEP before they leave the meeting, and bring up any changes that should be made. Sometimes the little details are what makes for success!By keeping in mind these 5 qualities, you will be better equipped to finding an advocate that will be able to help you, get an appropriate education for your child.