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Obtaining Services for Children with Special Needs During the Pandemic

September 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/.

 

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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.

 

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Diabetes and 504 Plans

September 28th, 2017

If you are the parent of a child diagnosed with diabetes, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with your child’s rights. Having a developmental disability is not a prerequisite for protection under the law. Individuals with recognized disabilities, including diabetes, have the same rights to access programs and facilities as their non-disabled counterparts. This right to equal opportunity extends to the classroom. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”), The Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”) and Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) all ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate and succeed in school. These laws also provide a legal remedy for those experiencing discrimination and who are not receiving a Free and Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”).

Section 504 is a civil rights law that protects individuals from discrimination and entitles children diagnosed with disabilities that limit a major life activity, such as learning, to a FAPE designed to meet their individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of children without disabilities. However, “learning” is only one example of a major life activity which can be impacted by a disability. Even if your child has been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes but continues to excel academically, he or she may still be eligible for accommodations and qualify for protection under Section 504. School districts have responsibilities to address the needs of your child with diabetes and to make sure he or she can attend school safely.

Section 504, IDEA and the ADA all consider diabetes to be a disability; therefore, it is illegal for schools and day care centers to discriminate against children with diabetes. However, the IDEA is only applicable under certain circumstances, if there is an educational impact and the child needs special education services. First, a student may have a cognitive or emotional disability in addition to diabetes which qualifies him or her for special education services under the IDEA. Second, a student without a coLittman Krooks special needsmorbid disability may nevertheless qualify for special education services under IDEA as having an “other health impairment.” For example, a child with diabetes may experience frequent episodes of hypoglycemia and/or hyperglycemia which significantly inhibit the ability to concentrate, access instruction or attend school. Third, complications from diabetes may result in excessive loss of instruction time, rendering a child eligible for special education services under IDEA.

Failure to qualify for special education services and an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) under the IDEA does not mean a child with diabetes is not entitled to an individualized, written diabetes management plan which establishes the student’s medical needs and how the school will meet those needs. In addition, a student with diabetes should also seek to obtain a written plan developed pursuant to Section 504 (“504 Plan”) which establishes accommodations that a student with diabetes may need, such as permission to eat anywhere and anytime or carry a cell phone and use it in class, if needed. The 504 Plan can establish procedures and protocols to ensure that a student with diabetes can attend field trips and participate in athletics and extracurricular activities safely with appropriate assistance and supervision. Having a formalized 504 Plan will also ensure access to dispute resolution procedures should any issues arise. A school district remains responsible for providing a student with diabetes with a medically safe environment that offers the same educational opportunities enjoyed by peers even if the child is making meaningful progress academically. This includes providing the student with assistance with administering insulin and glucagon, checking blood glucose levels, and allowing the student to eat snacks during the school day. But a school district’s federal obligations to provide an equal opportunity to participate extend beyond the traditional school day and include non-academic and extracurricular activities as well. Thus, it is the responsibility of the school district to ensure that a child with diabetes has access to medical supplies and any necessary assistance not only at school but also on field trips, during extracurricular activities, and at after school clubs and sports.

If your child with diabetes attends a private or parochial school, these federal laws may not apply. Only schools that receive federal funding, or facilities considered open to the public, must reasonably accommodate the needs of children with diabetes. The standard applied to private non-religious schools, nurseries, day care centers, community based organizations, summer camps after school programs and special events is not the same as the standard to which public schools must adhere. Private schools that receive federal funds are only obligated to comply with minimal obligations such as the least restrictive environment mandate, comparable facilities requirement, and the requirement to provide an equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. They must provide minor adjustments to accommodate students with disabilities. Thus, it is important to understand your child’s rights and to advocate effectively for them.

 

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


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Tax Deductions & Credits for Special Needs Families

March 10th, 2017

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

Parents of children with special needs often have unique financial concerns, and one way to ease those concerns is to reduce their tax burden.

There are many tax deductions and credits available that parents may not be aware of. Parents of children with special needs should familiarize themselves with the deductions and credits and take care to document all expenses related to their children’s medical expenses, development and therapy.

Here are 5 useful tax deductions and credits for parents of children with special needs:

Littman Krooks Special Needs Planning

1. Medical & Therapy Expenses

The first type of deduction to consider is for medical and therapy expenses. For income tax purposes, learning disabilities are a type of medical condition. This may include autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, and other learning disabilities.

While these expenses are limited by 10 percent of adjusted gross income, the limitation may be exceeded by certain types of out-of-pocket expenses.

Such expenses can include the following:

  • Special schooling such as: tutoring that is specifically intended to address the special needs of the child.
  • Regular education when it is intended to treat the child’s special needs.
  • Aides that a child may require to benefit from education.
  • Exercise programs, if they are recommended by a medical professional.
  • Transportation to and from special schools or therapy sessions.
  • Equipment, devices and supplies necessary to treat or alleviate a medical condition, including technology items such as communication devices.

2. Specialized Foods

A gluten-free, casein-free diet can be used as a deduction provided it is medically recommended. Generally, only the additional cost of the specialized foods over and above what would be paid for similar items is deductible.

3. Legal Expenses

In some cases, legal expenses related to your child’s special needs may be deductible, for instance if you hire an attorney to help you prove that your child’s medical expenses are legitimate.

Tax Credits

Even more helpful than a tax deduction is a tax credit, which applies directly to the amount of tax you owe. The tax credits most helpful to parents of special needs children are the Child and Dependent Care Credit and the Earned Income Credit. In both cases, a credit that is normally only available for children may also be used for an older child with special needs.

4. Child and Dependent Care Credit

The Child and Dependent Care Credit may be applied when you pay someone to care for your dependent, and it provides a tax credit of up to $3,000 per dependent, to a maximum of $6,000 for two or more dependents.  Child-care, after-school programs and day camp qualify for the credit.

The credit is available for children under the age of 13, but the age limit does not apply to older children with special needs.

5. Earned Income Credit

The Earned Income Credit can also be useful for parents of children with special needs. The credit generally may be applied by families with a low to moderate income and children under the age of 19, or up to age 23 for full-time students. However, for adult children living with their parents, the age limit does not apply.

In Conclusion

Parents of children with special needs know that there are unique challenges involved, including financial hurdles. However, with careful planning and the assistance of an experienced attorney who is sensitive to special needs issues, you can make sure you do what is necessary to reduce your tax burden and protect your child’s interests.

 

Learn more about Littman Krooks services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


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Workshop on Childhood Trauma Provides Insightful Information for Parents and School Personnel

October 31st, 2016

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

littman-krooks-trauma-workshopOn October 27, 2016, a committed group of parents and educators, on a very stormy evening, attended a workshop on: Development  Mediated by Trauma: How to Recognize and Remediate Adverse Childhood Experiences,  with experts Dr. Boris Gindis, psychologist specializing in trauma and Jennifer Griesbach, a psychotherapist specializing in adoptive children. According to Dr. Gindis, “Trauma is an objectively stressful event that subjectively is experienced by a person as emotional distress, disturbance and suffering.” Traumatic stress, even only unresponsive care, can cause damage to the biochemistry of the brain, he noted. The workshop centered on the understanding of Developmental Trauma Disorder and the need for patience and awareness of the issues.   Ms. Griesbach and Dr. Gindis both recommended therapeutic parenting and specific types of psychotherapy and family counseling to assist children.

Marion Walsh, Esq. from Littman Krooks LLP noted that many schools and parents do not understand the effects of trauma on children and that school districts have an affirmative duty to locate students suspected of having disabilities, including emotional disabilities.  Trauma can lead to emotional and learning disabilities. She spoke about the need for education, training and school services and placements available.

More information will be forthcoming in the future as we learn more about this important topic. Visit our calendar to learn about our upcoming workshops.

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

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How Students With Disabilities in New York Are Succeeding

September 17th, 2016

Some special education experts say that New York’s assessment tests, aligned with Common Core standards and intended to improve student achievement, are not producing good outcomes for students with disabilities.

Last year, throughout the state, there were 190 school districts in which no third-grade special education students were proficient on the language arts test. In New York City, only 12 percent of students with disabilities scored “proficient” or higher in math; in English it was 7 percent. Critics say that special education students should not have to take the same exams that are taken by students without disabilities. Last year, 20 percent of all New York students opted out of taking the exams.

school-suppliesOn the other side of this debate are special education advocates who say that setting high standards for students with disabilities encourages them to achieve. These advocates say that with the right supports and services, special education students can score just as well on these exams as their peers without disabilities.

PS 172 in Brooklyn is one school that has improved the performance of its special education students on Common Core exams. At PS 172, 27.6 percent of the students have individualized education programs (IEPs), well above the 18 percent citywide average. The school prides itself on personalized instruction and integration of special education students with the general education classroom. The school uses “push-in” therapists and teachers who come to the general classroom to work with students who need their services, rather than removing the students from class. This helps reduce the stigma of special education and ensures that students do not miss out on the culture of the classroom.

The results at PS 172 speak for themselves. Of the 70 students from grades 3 to 5 tested last year, nearly all were proficient in math, and about 60 percent were proficient in language arts.

 

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


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