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Seeing the "Invisible" Challenges

I have been wondering for a while why it can be so difficult to help IEP teams see certain challenges that can be so obvious to parents.  For example, teams are often surprised to hear that a child has high anxiety, sensitivities to sensory inputs such as noise, trouble playing with friends, or difficulties using specific playground equipment.

I realized that the teams often notice what the child IS doing rather than what the child is NOT doing. For example, they can talk about the child using the sandbox, but will not notice that the child never uses the swing. Teachers will notice if a child pushes other children during play in order to get a toy or a turn, but teachers might not notice if child simply does not ask for a toy he or she wants, or walks away from play because the child does not know what to do in these situations.

How can you help your child's teacher and other team members  see where your child is struggling?

-- Ask for a classroom observation and data collection on specific skills that you know your child is struggling with.

-- Request for data collection to take place during specific situations that are difficult for your child -- large circle,  choice time, play time, small academic groups, recess, lunch.

-- Ask for data to be collected on your child AND one or two typically developing peers. This way, you will have a comparison of what can be expected of typical children in the same situation, and how your child struggles in them.

Once observations are completed, there should be a team meeting to discuss the results. This should help you show the team where your child struggles in ways that do not stand out. The next step is to add objectives into the IEP to help your child learn new skills and watch him or her grow!

I hope you find this tip helpful. This strategy has certainly helped me get so many children more supports and interventions.

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