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

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

Special Needs Expos

March 12th, 2015

special needs expos

Earlier this year, we interviewed Heather Rogoff Angstreich, Founder/Partner, Special Needs Expos about the upcoming year and events they are holding in 2015. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. Why did you create special needs expos? 

All I wanted to do was help other parents and children who were in my shoes. My son, (who is now 10 years old), was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old.  I attended a small special needs resource fair when he was first diagnosed and found it incredibly helpful.  I love helping people so, when I got laid off, I started Special Needs for Special Kids, a printed special needs resource guide that I distributed across Long Island. I met my partners (Scott and Jamie) through this publication; they became clients. They knew I started the publication because I wanted to help other parents who needed guidance and resources to navigate the world of special needs here in Long Island.  Scott suggested that I should take the publication to another level and we thought we would do a small resource fair at a local JCC to bring some special needs resources together for a one-time event.  Scott and Jamie were no strangers to the special needs community either; they had a close family member who inspired them to get involved.

  1. How did you begin this endeavor?

We looked for a venue to hold this little resource fair and ended up booking a much larger space at a local hotel.  We went from one end of the spectrum to the other and kept our fingers crossed that we would be able to fill the space. Our first expo was geared more towards children with special needs, but we did have resources that catered to the adult population too.  Our goal was to have each person that entered the doors to walk out with at least one piece of useful information that day. We estimated that 2500 to 3000 people walked through the doors that day.

  1. What locations are you expanding to in 2015? IMG_20140914_110443493_HDR

Long Island is our “flagship” expo and will be held on April 26th at the Long Island Hilton. The Special Needs Expo – Westchester will be back on November 8, 2015 at the Westchester Marriott and the Special Needs Expo – New Jersey (northern) will also be back on September 27, 2015 at the Glenpointe Marriott in Teaneck. We hope to expand to Philadelphia in 2016.

  1. How does your expo help educate people to advocate for themselves and their family members?

Our expos have a variety of special needs resources, products, services, presentations and demonstrations.  We want people to take advantage of all the exhibitors that have come out.  They are there to answer questions, give support and ideas.  If a person meets the right connection, it can change things for them and/or their loved one.

  1. What makes your expo different from other special needs resource fairs in the area?

Our expos are always free to attend and child-friendly (games and/or inflatables and face painting are provided at no cost to the attendee). We offer a wide variety of resources, presentations and demonstrations. We have a quiet room for those that might need to take a break, if they are too overwhelmed. We want to connect these amazing resources with the individuals, families, caregivers and professionals to help make the journey a little less difficult.  Our Long Island events have connected over 300 exhibitors to 5000 attendees in the last two years.  Westchester and NJ events are also growing and we have heard from many of our FB and website followers that the need is there for this service.

  1. How do can people find more info about your expos? How do vendors register for an exhibit?

We have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SpecialNeedsExpos and our official website URL is www.specialneedsexpos.com.There is a tab for attendees to register and a separate one for exhibitors to register and receive more information.  To contact us directly, email us at info@specialneedsexpos.com or call us at 516-279-3727.

 

Learn more about Littman Krooks 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.

Share

Program Created for Families Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders at American Museum of Natural History

February 4th, 2015

The American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the Seaver Autism Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is beginning “The Discovery Squad,” a new tour program developed for families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The program will begin on February 7, 2015 and run on selected Saturday mornings through June 2015. It is open to 5-14 year-olds with autism spectrum disorders (each child must be accompanied by an adult).

Children can join a tour lead by trained Museum tour guides and spend time exploring the Discovery Room (an interactive exhibit that gives a behind-the-scenes look at all the major fields of science, ranging from anthropology to zoology) before the Museum is open to the public. Families are invited to stay after the tour and enjoy the rest of the museum.

To learn more about additional dates, information, or to buy tickets, click here or please call the American Museum of Natural History at 212-313-7565 or email accessibility@amnh.org


Learn more about our services at Littman Krooks by clicking here.
Was this article of interest to you? If so, please LIKE our Facebook Page by clicking here.

Share

Smart Pens, Tablets, and Word Prediction Software: Utilizing Technology for High School & College Students (part 1 of 2)

February 7th, 2014

Our latest guest bloggers are Casey Schmalacker, Academic Coach and Samantha Feinman, MS.Ed., TSSH., Program Director at New Frontiers in Learning. This is part one of a two-part series.


Utilizing Technology for High School and College Students: Part 1of 2

As we move through this digital age, students in high school and college are increasingly using technology as a mechanism to support learning. Technology can be used in a multitude of ways, ranging from electronic organizational systems and digital reminders, to supporting more complex academic tasks through the use of computer software. Assistive technology, specifically, has been infused into the daily schedules of students with disabilities to support the removal of learning barriers that some individuals may face. Among students utilizing assistive technology to improve academic learning, high school and college students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in particular have increasingly incorporated the use of technology into the learning environment.

Assistive technology consists of services and devices that provide equal education opportunities to students with disabilities by providing supports that focus on individual-specific needs. Assistive technology has been used to improve skills in areas such as note-taking, reading comprehension, and expository and narrative writing. Such tasks are integral to the academic experience, in that a student’s ability to excel in these areas most often is directly related to their level of success. This article will discuss why assistive technology is necessary for students with ASD transitioning from high school to college, as well as outline three forms of effective assistive technology, and how one would incorporate such technology into the learning environment.

Research has demonstrated that the use of computers has resulted in the improvement of the skills of students with ASD in a variety of different areas, such as attention, fine motor, and generalization (Habash, 2005). Improvement of skills is many times the desirable goal, and therefore technology can act as a means to accommodating specific deficits that prevent goal attainment.

In order to achieve success in the high school and college arenas, students need to be able to access supports to successfully comprehend large amounts of reading material and class lecture and discussion, as well as write at a much more independent and sophisticated level. When students demonstrate weaknesses in these areas, they are unable to demonstrate their maximum potential, and their work may become an inaccurate representation of their true capabilities. Assistive technology can begin to bridge the gap between student obstacles and the execution of their academic responsibilities.

Developing strategies and systems for use with assistive technology is important to master during high school so students can effectively deploy the technologies at the college level. The college work environment has a few fundamental differences from high school that can increase the difficulty level, especially for students with ASD. Class time at universities is devoted to many more lectures, requiring vigorous note-taking on course content that, many times, is important to know for exams, class projects, and discussion. Sometimes the material covered in class is not covered anywhere else (i.e., textbook, PowerPoint slides, handouts, etc.), requiring techniques to ensure all material is accessible by the student. Outside of the classroom, reading materials tend to also become more taxing, covering abstract topics that can be difficult to understand. As opposed to reading simply for content, there is an increased emphasis of being able to analyze readings. Further, while high school classes tend to provide guided questions to lead the student through the readings, college classes tend to rely on the student to identify key topics and themes.

The fundamental changes above can seem hard to manage; however, by establishing assistive technology supports while still in high school, such transitions can be managed in a much more efficient manner. Creating a course of action is important for students with ASD because environmental changes may lead to high levels of stress that can drastically affect a student’s ability to participate and succeed in the learning environment.

This two-part blog series will include examples of how technology can be used to support students with ASD in the learning environment with a focus specifically on supporting students at the high school and college levels. Look forward to spotlights on Tablets and Computers, Smart Pens, and Word Prediction Software.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Samantha Feinman, Program Director, New Frontiers in Learning at sfeinman@nfil.net.

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