Blog | Littman Krooks, LLP
(914) 684-2100
Home  |  Our Firm  |  Attorneys  |  Staff  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  Employment  |  Directions

Obtaining Services for Children with Special Needs During the Pandemic

August 16th, 2020

Studies show that approximately 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs before the age of five. For children with learning disabilities or other special needs, these early years are crucial. Early intervention, sometimes even before a child has a diagnosis, can be extremely effective. As one special education expert explained, “If you miss that critical window of opportunity, when delays or issues can be addressed, then it becomes more difficult and more expensive to intervene later on.”

Historically, daycare, preschool and kindergarten have been one of the primary ways that children who may have special learning needs are identified. Often a teacher notices that a child is struggling while learning in a group of other children. The teacher informs the child’s parents, who then can seek out the appropriate services and support. Parents can easily miss these cues in their own children, as they may not have the knowledge and experience necessary to identify possible issues and often lack the ability to see their child learn side-by-side with other children.

Given the new norm of social distancing and distance learning, schools and many daycare facilities are closed, or operating with limited hours. Consequently, a significant avenue of detection and referral has dried up. In recent months, many special education experts raised concerns that the number of children referred for special education services will decrease, leaving many children without crucial support. Compounding these concerns is the fact that many parents hesitate to take their children to the doctor’s – the second major source of special education referrals – given concerns surrounding COVID-19.

For those children who were receiving special education support before the pandemic struck, many services have been eliminated or reduced. While some support centers provide some level of online services, not all services can be appropriately delivered online. Thus, many support centers are seeing business dry up. According to a recent news report, many disability service providers are on the brink of collapse, given the recent reduction in children obtaining services.

The importance of early intervention is undisputed. Typically, a child’s school is the primary source of referral. However, with schools closed, this puts additional pressure on parents. However, federal law requires schools to provide students with an appropriate education, even in times like these. Thus, schools have an obligation to identify and refer students who have special needs.

Parents who are concerned that their children are not receiving the education they need to thrive should consider reaching out to a special education attorney for immediate assistance.

The dedicated team of special needs advocates at Littman Krooks, LLP has a comprehensive understanding of the educational requirements as they pertain to students with special needs, and use this knowledge to ensure that every student gets the education they need and deserve. Littman Krooks has been helping New York families for over 30 years. The knowledgeable attorneys at Littman Krooks can be reached 914-684-2100. You can also contact them at https://www.littmankrooks.com/.

 

Share

Parents of Students with IEPs Raise Concerns Over Regression in Light of COVID-Related School Closures 

July 27th, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every New Yorker. Parents of children who have an individualized education program (IEP) are facing unique challenges, as school closures have resulted in an unavailability of services for many families. Indeed, services disappeared overnight for thousands of New York students, leaving parents to figure out how best to get their children the services they need to thrive.

Approximately 7 million children – or 14 percent of all students in the United States – receive special education services. These services are federally mandated, meaning that schools must provide them to students. However, under guidance from the Department of Education, “If a school district closes its schools to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19, and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, then the school district would not be required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period of time.”

Understandably, parents with students who have special learning needs are afraid that, absent these crucial services, their children could regress. In general, regression is a stage in which a child displays a behavior that they have outgrown or that is inappropriate for their age and level of development. In this context, regression refers to the decline in knowledge and skills that is due to an interruption in education. Psychology and education experts agree that children are most comfortable with consistency, and that a sudden change in circumstance can trigger regressive behavior. Changed circumstances, coupled with a removal of services, can be a double trigger, increasing the chances of regression. The signs of regression vary between children; however, they often include:

  • More frequent or more intense temper tantrums
  • Wetting the bed or more frequent accidents
  • A sudden inability to sleep through the night
  • Starting to use a pacifier again or suck on a thumb
  • A sudden withdrawn attitude

While some schools are implementing remote learning curriculums, these are not always catered toward students with special needs and may not be effective. In fact, studies have shown that when a student receives educational content that is not specially tailored to their unique needs, the student can begin to feel further isolated.

Consult with an experienced special education advocacy attorney

The challenges facing parents who have a student with special needs are greater than ever given the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions in place to curb the spread of the disease. At Littman Krooks, LLP, we have a deep understanding of the rights that special needs students have under the law, and are passionate about ensuring our clients’ children receive the education and benefits they are entitled. We will work with you, your child’s teachers and the school district representatives to ensure that your child is provided with the education services they need and deserve. To learn more, call 914-684-2100 to schedule a meeting with an attorney today. During these unprecedented times we are working remotely to fully meet our clients’ needs. We are offering our clients the opportunity to meet with us via telephone or video conference call.

 

Share

Why We Sponsor NAMIWalks Westchester

May 21st, 2020
We applaud the work of NAMI Westchester, as our work at Littman Krooks LLP is aligned to their mission in helping individuals with mental health concerns.
Here are some of the reasons we sponsor NAMI Westchester’s annual walk:
  • NAMI Westchester works to end the pervasive stigma that society perpetuates toward individuals with mental health disorders. Both NAMI Westchester and Littman Krooks believe that individuals who have mental health challenges can lead fulfilling lives. We work to help families ensure that their loved ones have the right legal protections, services and public benefits, educational and community services.
  • Through their outreach programs, NAMI Westchester educates the community mental health and suicide prevention. I volunteer in the Ending the Silence program as I feel this work is critical in Westchester due to the alarming suicide rate.
  • We applaud NAMI Westchester’s commitment to build a community of hope through their HelpLine, support groups and educational classes, which helps families create support systems. At Littman Krooks, we work to help families navigate services and to obtain appropriate public benefits, and we advocate for changes in legislation.
  • The people who volunteer with NAMI Westchester are hopeful, bright and sensitive and we love being a partner and supporting this work. So many of these volunteers share their dedication on walk day that the feeling is truly inspirational.
Littman Krooks is honored to sponsor NAMIWalks Westchester and we look forward to working together this year and beyond, toward improving the quality of life for all individuals and families whose lives are affected by mental illness. I will be under the sponsor tent on walk day, and hope you will sponsor as well.
Here is a link to our LK Team page: https://www.namiwalks.org/participant/Marion-Walsh

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Share

Ten Tips for New York Families in the Wake of the Coronavirus

March 13th, 2020

By Marion M. Walsh, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

We at Littman Krooks know how challenging this time is for families. New York, along with Washington State, leads the U.S. in cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The pandemic will strain public resources and services for all. We do not have all the answers, as current events are unfolding, but provide information and assurance for families.

We know that school closures are occurring everywhere, due to public health concerns. The New York State Department of Education (NYSED), together with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) on March 9, 2020, issued School Guidance to public school districts for planning. In addition, the CDC, on March 12 2020, issued interim CDC School Guidance to  school districts on closures. Some private schools or school districts will have to close for a certain period and many will consider providing distance learning.

Impact on Students with Disabilities

COVID-19 and the disruptions and school closure  will affect all families and cause stress and interruptions. Yet the pandemic and closures will inevitably have a disproportionate impact on students with fragile health conditions and students with disabilities. The US Department of Education has issued USDOE Guidance for help with IEP services.  Federal and state law  do require that students with disabilities continue to receive a free appropriate public education. You will need to work with your child’s providers and with your school district to ensure your child receives appropriate services and support. However, keep in mind that the USDOE Guidance states that if a school district  closes its schools to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19, and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, then the district would not be required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period of time, although in some circumstances, compensatory services may be needed.  As most New York School Districts will endeavor to provide some kind of student distance learning however, the school districts that do this must ensure appropriate and accessible services for students with disabilities.

We have compiled an action/information plan for all families with  special attention to families of children or teens with disabilities or students with fragile physical or mental health conditions:

Basic Tips

  • Ensure that you keep your child calm and reassured. You can review basic Health-Crisis Guidance  from the National Association of School Psychologists for how to speak to children and reassure them. Remember that your children will react to and follow both your verbal and nonverbal reactions.  Your statements about  COVID-19, current prevention efforts, and related events can either increase or decrease your children’s anxiety.  Remind your children that you and the adults at their school are there to keep them safe and healthy. This NPR comic video  may be helpful to explain the virus to students.
  • Review and Follow Basic Hygiene. Review and re-enforce the importance of hand washing and important hygiene protocol with your child.  Students with intellectual disabilities may need help and reinforcement. The CDC has provided information on how hand washing can be a family activity.
  • Keep as much structure at home if possible.  To the extent possible, maintain a sense of normalcy in your home while keeping expectations reasonable. Parents can ask teachers for additional homework that parents can use to ensure that the student is being academically challenged or receiving consistent academic material.  However, do not push children or teens if they seem overwhelmed.  While stressful and difficult, this can be a chance for family time and togetherness.   The closings and limited activities disrupt our routine but may give us a chance to enjoy some of the basics at home such as family game nights, conversation, good books.  Each family has its unique structure and idiosyncrasies and to the extent you can, try to figure out for your family a path to come out of this stronger and more united.

Parent Support

  • Seek Flexibility with Employer if Needed.  If you work outside the home and are the primary caregiver for your child, you should seek flexibility with your employer and ask about the ability to work remotely or to take a leave of absence.  The Family Medical Leave Act, in general, protects employees in workplaces with 50 employees or more and allows unpaid leave of absence to care for family members, for up to 12 weeks, without penalty.
  • Rely on Virtual Support Groups.  Parents can derive help and support from other parents in similar situations.  Reach out via social media to find support groups with similar issues to ones you are facing.  A virtual community of other parents, while not a substitute for person-to-person interaction, can help you locate resources and share experience on certain issues.

Student Services Options

  • Obtain Medical Documentation for Student’s Unique Needs. If schools remain open, do not assume that your school district will automatically grant requests home bound instruction or other services as you may  need current documentation.  If your child is medically fragile or immuno-suppressed, obtain a letter from your child’s doctor and submit it to your school district to ask that home instruction, provided by the school district, begin as soon as possible. For students who cannot attend school and have medical documentation, New York Education Law  requires that home bound instruction must be available for students who reside in the district if they require it. For children with disabilities who are absent for an extended period of time because of a COVID-19 infection when the school remains open, according to USDOE Guidance, then for each child, the IEP Team must determine whether the child is available for instruction and could benefit from home bound services such as online or virtual instruction, instructional telephone calls, and other curriculum-based instructional activities, to the extent available.
  • Review Options for Online or Virtual Services for Your Child. Public safety protocols may limit the ability of providers or health care workers to work directly with students. For services, such as physical therapy or occupational therapy, it is not possible to obtain these services virtually. However, other services, such as home instruction or, in some circumstances, counseling, may be appropriate remotely or virtually.
  • Document Missed Services. If needed and possible, you should see if providers will come to your home to provide services. If a child does not receive services during a closure, a child’s IEP team (or appropriate personnel under Section 504) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed, consistent with applicable requirements, including to make up for any skills that may have been lost. For any school closures or interruptions in services, document any  services your child has missed and keep records and documentation of any regression. Ask the school district to provide related make up services.
  • Understand Option of Home Schooling. Home schooling is different than home bound instruction and if you are worried about your child’s health, you may consider home-schooling. New York State Home Schooling Guidance  explains that parents must file for an Individualized Home Instruction Plan New York. Home-schooled students, like students parentally placed in private school, are eligible for certain District of Location services, including related services, through an IESP. Here are other resources: Families Unschooling In New York; New York Home Educators’ Network

If Quarantined.

  • Review Guidance if under Voluntary or Mandated Quarantine or Containment. Families must review Containment Guidance. Keep in mind that persons under mandatory isolation or mandatory quarantine can walk outside their house on their own property, but they must not come within six feet of neighbors or other members of the public. The Containment Guidance notes that families may need assistance with many basic necessities as well as mental health or social needs and supplies, but does not give tips on how to get this assistance.

The COVID-19 situation is evolving and new protocol may be available and required. The above tips do not constitute legal advice or any type of medical advice. Consult with your child’s doctors or providers for information on health protections for your child. If you believe that your school district is not appropriately serving your child, it is wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in education law. We at Littman Krooks are here to answer any questions, as well. Our office will be functioning through the outbreak—whether virtually or in-person– and please reach out to any of us.

Please remember that, In the past two decades, we have gone through 9/11, the tragedies and echoing repercussions of Sandy Hook and Parkland, hurricanes and other disasters as well as other defining moments. We will  persevere through this as well. We have learned that a positive, calm, rational and proactive  response to disasters and fears  can create resilience for all of us, including our children and help build a stronger society. For your children, try not to  succumb to  fear, anger, and confusion, but work to be a light to others to lead them through.

Learn more about elder lawestate planning and special needs planning at http://www.elderlawnewyork.com  & www.littmankrooks.com. Have questions about this article? Contact us.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here.

 

Share

Expressive Arts Program Introduced at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital

February 13th, 2020

Our guest bloggers this week is Eileen Andreassi, MA, CTRS & Megan Frisco, CTRS from Burke Rehabilitation Hospital

The Recreational Therapy Department at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital provides a comprehensive array of programs for patients and individuals living in the community. Beyond the extensive Adaptive Sports program, Burke is expanding options to other adaptive recreation areas including the expressive arts.  Recreational Therapists at Burke use art within treatment sessions to help patients achieve positive outcomes.  They are expanding this popular activity and offering it to the community via PeaceLove creative workshops.

The PeaceLove project was started in 2009 by two cousins, one of whom was diagnosed with a mental illness.  Although he never used any art supplies to create anything prior to his diagnosis, he found that painting helped to greatly ameliorate his symptoms.  And so a movement was born to bring expressive arts opportunities to people with any type of illness or injury.

Megan Frisco, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) recently completed her course work in this innovative expressive arts approach. Megan is now providing workshops based on the concept of helping people express themselves while finding peace of mind.  Through the use of a variety of art supplies, the workshops strive to allow people to tap into their inner strength and express themselves without words.  Participants are invited to share about their creation or how they felt during the process.  Sharing is voluntary and it is a judgment-free zone.

For the first PeaceLove workshop, Megan implemented a program called Creative Calisthenics.  Participants included in-patients, family, visitors, community members, and volunteers. The session was built on unexpected twists and turns to challenge individuals to get out of their comfort zone and feel okay with things out of their control.

After riotous laughing and passing the canvases multiple times, the person who started the canvas wound up with it.  Everyone agreed it looked a lot different than if they’d finished it.  There was group consensus the process was great as each person had contributed to its creation.  Some people stated it felt weird giving their painting away the first few times but they learned to let go of that feeling as they shared it.

Program evaluation comments included: “It was both calming and stimulating”; “This workshop helped me realize I should be less judgmental”; “To me my project means, out of darkness, there’s light and healing” and “My project means hope: things do get better”.

Based on very positive feedback, the first program was a huge success and the objectives of providing a safe space for creativity and expression in a non-verbal manner were achieved.  We look forward to continuing to offer this new and exciting approach to people in our community.

If you are interested in joining this or any other Burke Adaptive Sports and Recreation program, please contact Eileen Andreassi at 914-597-2248 or email adaptivesports@burke.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

How Unified Sports Foster Inclusion on the Field, and Beyond

November 13th, 2019

Playing sports on a school team is an experience many people will treasure for a lifetime. Students with certain disabilities do not get a chance to play on a sports team. These students stand to benefit greatly from an opportunity to play.

Unified sports are sports in which players with disabilities and partners, players without disabilities, can play on sports teams together. These teams practice together, play games against other teams, and give the schools and communities to which they belong something to come together and cheer for. The Special Olympics developed the Unified Sports model.

One of the biggest benefits of unified sports programs is the inclusion they promote, both on and off the field. Students can build relationships with others they may not regularly interact with. This is a two-way street for the Unified Sports teams. The athletes with disabilities can explore the fun of sports, and the partners who play with them can make new friends.

These programs encourage physical activity and exercise. They give the Unified Sports athletes the great pride that comes along with growth and sportsmanship.  The sense of belonging on a team or within a community is an underestimated reward for everyone involved.

The number of unified sports teams is growing steadily in the U.S. Advocates for Unified Sports programs have been working hard to spread the news that unified sports increase inclusion everywhere.

At our New York special needs planning law firm, we have over 30 years of experience helping families with children with disabilities. At Littman Krooks, LLP, we help our clients ensure that future generations are well taken care of. To learn more about how our dedicated team of attorneys can assist your family with its unique needs, call 914-684-1200 to schedule a no-obligation consultation today

 

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Share

Autism@Work Hiring Programs: Keys to Success

September 19th, 2019

By Marcia Scheiner, President, Integrate Autism Employment Advisors

The buzz about the benefits of hiring individuals with autism is moving through the employment world and more and more companies are jumping on the Autism@Work hiring program bandwagon.  We like to quote Dr. Stephen Shore’s saying, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Creating a program to hire people with autism takes careful thought and planning to ensure the success for each individual you hire. While every company will have their own approach, certain elements are critical to the success of any Autism@Work hiring program. Two of those elements are an assessment and education & training.

First, a company needs to conduct a thorough assessment of their corporate culture, work environment, job requirements/descriptions, HR practices (including interviewing, on-boarding and performance management) and disability support services to ensure they are autism friendly before embarking on any hiring initiative.

Second, education & training about how autism presents in the workplace, interviewing techniques and management strategies needs to be provided to all hiring managers, recruiters, HR business partners and colleagues who will be working with autistic employees, again, before any hiring initiative is undertaken.  The broader the audience for this training, the better.  Assessments and education & training should precede the hiring of the first autistic employees of an Autism@Work program but are also elements that should be continuous throughout the life of a program as it develops and grows within an organization.  Employers incorporating these elements into their Autism@Work programs have been the most successful in attracting and retaining neuro-diverse employees.

Marcia Scheiner is the President and Founder of Integrate Autism Employment Advisors (“Integrate”) and the author of “An Employer’s Guide to Managing Professionals on the Autism Spectrum” (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017). Prior to founding Integrate in 2010, Ms. Scheiner held senior management positions at Zurich Financial Services, Chase Manhattan Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  Ms. Scheiner is a graduate of Wellesley College and has an MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.  She is the parent of a young adult son with Asperger Syndrome.

Integrate Autism Employment Providers is a non-profit that works with organizations to help them identify, recruit and retain qualified professionals on the autism spectrum.  Integrate helps companies become autism friendly employers of college graduates with autism by providing assessment, education and training, recruiting and ongoing support services to those organizations.

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Share
Share

October Is National Special Needs Law Month

October 1st, 2018

NAELA has designated October as “National Special Needs Law Month.” Special needs planning attorneys throughout the country contribute a great deal to their communities by educating those with special needs, their families, and caregivers about their legal needs.

Special needs planning attorneys assist families in financing long-term care, and provide them with the legal tools for financial management, such as powers of attorneys and trusts, as well as understanding Medicare and Medicaid, special needs trusts, and a student’s right to an independent educational plan, housing options, and other issues.

Special needs planning attorneys throughout the country are observing National Special Needs Law Month this October by providing public seminars, law clinics, and other activities that will educate the public.

Click here to learn about our events this fall. Click here to learn more about special needs planning.

 

 

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Organizations That Help Individuals with Disabilities: The Special Needs Alliance

December 13th, 2017

By Amy C. O’Hara, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

Belle News recently published an article recognizing five “amazing organizations” which work hard to help individuals with disabilities. Among the organizations recognized, which includes the Special Olympics, is the Special Needs Alliance.  The Special Needs Alliance is a national organization comprised of attorneys dedicated to the practice of special needs, guardianship, disability and public benefits law. The Special Needs Alliance is an invitation-only organization whose membership is based on a combination of relevant legal experience in the disability and elder law fields, direct family experience with disabilities, active participation with national, state and local disability advocacy organizations, and professional reputation.  Littman Krooks is the only firm in the Westchester, Hudson Valley and New York City area with Special Needs Alliance members.  You can read the Belle News article here.

Littman Krooks LLP can assist you and your family members who have special needs in connection with special education advocacy, special needs trusts, benefits advocacy and special needs planning.

 

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

 

Share

How Technology Assists People with Disabilities Lead Better Lives

November 16th, 2017

Children with serious chronic illnesses face immense obstacles in education and socialization. Until recently, it was not possible for a homebound or hospitalized child to attend school. However, it is happening now, with the assistance of telepresence robots. These robots, which consist of a rolling screen with a camera, microphone and speakers, allow users to hear, see, interact and move around in real time in a faraway place. They are being used to allow students with chronic illnesses to participate in traditional school environments for the first time.Littman Krooks Special Education Advocacy A child who must be at home or in the hospital can use a telepresence robot to attend classes in different classrooms, participate in small group discussions and talk with friends. This level of participation can help chronically ill students overcome their isolation, and it provides educational and social benefits that cannot be obtained from individual tutoring. Telepresence robots hold great promise for students with serious illnesses, but there are obstacles to their use, including the cost of the technology and the fact that not all school districts permit them.

For other students with special needs, a wide variety of smartphone and computer applications have been developed to help with educational and adaptive needs. These include apps that help students with communication skills, or that help young adults with vocational training. The Arc provides an online tech toolbox that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities find applications to improve their lives. The Arc of Westchester has formed alliances with other local organizations to focus on how technology can support the functional needs of people with disabilities. The organization is opening a Technology Enhanced Simulated Studio (TESS) in Mount Kisco, New York to help young adults learn to use technology to meet challenges as they transition to adult life.

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Share
New York City Office
655 Third Avenue, 20th Floor
New York, New York 10017
(212) 490-2020 Phone
(212) 490-2990 Fax
Westchester Office
399 Knollwood Road
White Plains, New York 10603
(914) 684-2100 Phone
(914) 684-9865 Fax
Attorney Advertising | New York Estate Planning | New York Elder Law | Website by SEO | Law Firm™, an Adviatech Company
This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. If you need legal advice concerning this or any other topic please contact our offices to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at 914-684-2100 or 212-490-2020.