School and Special Education. Too Many Services?

Updated on May 09, 2011
K.D. asks from Auburndale, MA
19 answers

I need advice from other professionals/teachers or moms who have been through something similar. I know typically people fight and advocate for more services for their child, but I am hoping the opposite. I would really like the services to back off but apparently the school isn't agreeing with me on that subject.

My 2nd grade daughter has been recieving speech therapy since she was 18 months old. Started with Early Intervention and I didn't see any progress being made so I started her in outpatient until she was about 4. She also started receiving school speech a little after she turned 3. She went to the integrated preschool so that she could get as much speech services as possible. She was given educational testing in kindergarten and found to not need more than speech and the IEP was signed for 3 years. Her issues as a toddler/preschooler were articulation, word finding, comprehension and memory of language. But the testing in kindergarten showed all her issues within normal range except for articulation. So for three years she has been taken out 2 times a week to work strictly on articulation with the speech therapy assistant. She goes with a group of kids and plays Go Fish or does flash cards every time.

Her speech is essentially the same as it's been. Her teacher and classmates can understand her fine. She has a high, narrow palate that will be corrected with orthodontics in the next year or so. She leaves out certain letter sounds and her MAIN issue I think is that she spells words like she says them so she often leaves out the R's and the L's. But even though the teacher and I mention this each and every year at the IEP meeting, the speech approach has not changed. Go Fish and straight articulation. No multi-sensory reading, writing or anything is ever incorporated (this was the pre-school speech therapist approach and it was great).

So this year at her IEP meeting I was all set to say no more unless the approach changes. But the SLP wasn't at the meeting (sick that day) so we had a phone conversation later about it. I expressed my concerns but when I got the IEP in the mail the goals really hadn't changed. Still straight articulation. I sent an email to the SLP, the SPED teacher and the classroom teacher expressing my concerns that she is still going to be pulled out for the same stuff.

Now some other background. I am an occupational therapist and used to work in the school systems. I left and now work in home care, mainly because of frustration with the system. I only liked to take kids out with severe issues. Borderline issues meant either they would be on consultation or I would try to work with them in the classroom. I don't like how kids are only assessed every three years (shoot, Medicare makes us assess every other week!). My philosophy as an OT in the schools was that each and every therapy session had to give them more of a benefit than what they were learning in class.

Now, this year also my daughter started getting taken for Math Support. This started completely without my knowledge and without checking with me first. It is a new program at our school because of the amount of kids on the MCAS testing who fell in the lower test scores. Obviously, my daughter hasn't had MCAS yet, but she was identified as a future potential risk because of the fact that she's on an IEP. She has never in my opinion struggled with math. In fact her older sister had much more difficulty with 2nd grade math than she does. When we have friends over to play and they do homework together, my daughter has an easier time getting through without help. What she does need help with is sometimes getting started with the comprehension of the directions (Everyday Math program takes the lesson from class one step further for the homework so they absolutely must have help getting started which is frustrating for her because she likes to be independent). And everytime she needs extra help on her homework it turns out that she had been pulled out that day and feels like she missed something.

So as we get closer to 3rd grade I am finding that I am frustrated with how often she is pulled from class and I am not feeling that it is a huge benefit to her. The SLP took it personally when I expressed my concerns and the teacher sided with the SLP and math support team that the reason she has been so successful this year is because of the intervention. They all think she should stay on the IEP another year until it's time for re-assessment next spring. My instincts tell me that it's time to set her free on her own and see how she does without any intervention for the first time. I think having her treated like all the other kids and to not get pulled for special services will greatly increase her confidence. I think she will benefit from not missing class time and that her speech articulation issues are not going to go away until she has her orthodontic problems fixed.

So what do I do? Stick to my guns or cave and let the school keep pulling her out until the end of next year? Obviously I am not in the classroom to see how she is doing, but my instinct tells me that she has more attentional and comprehension issues than anything else and interrupting her day (for services that don't address those things) just makes it worse.

What can I do next?

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I would tell the school that I am seeking outside speech therapy and that their services would not be needed. She is going to have help while getting her mouth worked on, it will feel differently and she may develop more issues. I would tell them that I do not require any services at this time. If they fail to stop I would enroll her in a private school for a semester to get them out of her life.

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answers from Chicago on

I have similar concerns about my son. When he entered school I wrote in the application that we are bilingual at home. Ever since they test himfor language and they say they want him in the program even though he speaks appropriately for his age. He still has difficulty with his r's but so do half of the kindergarteners. His kindergarten teacher even says that he is in the advanced group for reading and writing. He reads and sounds out words without a problem and also does a great job writing by sounding out words. I really don't know what the problem is. I vounteer in the classroom every week and see that he is doing very well when I compare to the other children in his class. I really wonder if they pull kids into the program so that it doesn't get cancelled.
I will talk to them next week. My main concern is that he will miss some of the in-class things. I'll have to figure out which approach will benefit him the most and decide based on that.

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answers from Jacksonville on

By FEDERAL law, you have the right to deny services.

I work as a Special Needs teacher and it is very frustrating when the system fails the students. I appreciate parents who want to do what is best for their child. If her goals are unchanging and it seems as though she isn't making much progress, why waste her class time? I would definitely call a meeting and express that there needs to be an amendment to the IEP to change the goals or methods used or to end services completely. If your child can express her needs and she can communicate effectively in a school setting, there is no dire need for speech services, JMO.

There are children who reach a max level of acheivement in certain areas and they may make small bursts of progress here or there in those areas, but to beat them to death with it or to waste time doing the same thing over and over again with little to no results is silly. I agree, she needs to be in class if speech is no longer helping her advance. Kudos to you for being an advocate for your child!

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answers from Eugene on

Stick to your guns. Most teachers have a minimum of training in all areas of children's problems. They order up Ritalin for a child who needs more physical activity or who knows who he is and speaks up. They get excited over OCD and ADAD and everything else under the sun.
Your kid has a physical problem. It will be corrected. How many ways are there to say NO!
You are the expert among a bunch of quacks masquerading as knowledgable professionals.

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answers from Phoenix on

You have a right to remove her from SPED services. Whenever I attend those meetings (I'm a teacher) that's always part of the parental rights agreement that you sign. I believe that you also have the right to put her back in (with testing that supports it) if you feel that she needs it. Also, can you just have them put her on Monitor status? That way, she's not totally exited out of the program yet doesn't receive all the interventions.

If it were me, I would pull her. I think it's always best to have the student try without the interventions but be there to offer support if and when she's not successful. If it turns out that she falters without the services, then request that she be retested (schools will try to talk you out of it but you have the right to have her tested) to be put back in.

Good luck!

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answers from Las Vegas on

You are the final shot caller on this. If you do not believe your daughter would benefit from being pulled out for more speech therapy then you can refuse that service. If her IEP goals are only speech related, you don't even have to have an IEP.

If you do need the IEP to address her comprehension and attentional issues, and the school district is really pushing the ST services, maybe you should consider a compromise. Decrease the number of minutes per week that she is to receive ST and indicate that ST should be given in the classroom, not pull out. But, again, you do have the right to refuse services if you feel that they are not in your daughter's best interest.

Hope this helps. Have a good Mother's Day.

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answers from San Diego on

I think you should follow your instincts. My only concern would be that if you pull her from services that it will be hard to reinstate them if later on you feel that she could benefit from them. It's the "use it or lose it" mentality. For that reason, I would say that you should keep her IEP open even if you do decide to decline services. At least in CA, it is very difficult to reopen an IEP once it is closed. Would it be possible for you to go into the classroom and observe her one day so that you can see what actually is being done?

With that being said, you are her mother. You have to do what you think is best for your child. Good luck.


answers from Spokane on

Wow, your state assesses them much differently than mine does. We do ours every year at the end of the school year. In fact, my son has his coming up next week. I don't know how it works there, but here, if I don't like it, I don't sign it and we work on it until I'm satisfied. And even if I do sign it, I have a 6 month evaluation done just to make sure everything is going good. If it's not, we make the changes needed. I'm of the mind, that if they need the services, and it actually helps them, great as long as it doesn't interfere too much with the more important class work. But if there's no progress? Bah. Then there's no need for it.

My oldest son J has been getting an IEP for 5 or 6 years now. He has speech delays (diagnosed at 2), occupational therapy, special ed for reading, etc. He's also ODD. His first IEP's, I really didn't know much so I just accepted whatever they told me he needed. However, for his third one, lots of stuff changed. When he was in K, he was in a regular public school. They set his goals super high (so of course he showed no progress although a lot had actually been made), they were very rigid on how they dealt with things (he was pulled out every day for about half the session to work on all of that stuff and they wouldn't compromise on any of it), etc. But for 1st, he moved to a brand new charter school that had just opened. He started with the IEP made at the end of K, but at the eval the end of the first semester, we felt the goals didn't accurately project where he should be so did some amendments, checked the progress when it was time for his next IEP so we wrote those in. The goals were dropped drastically but they were we could realistically expect him to be, not where we hoped him to be. The school he's in is awesome. It's super accommodating to his needs, and they're willing to work with his needs instead of around them to get him the help required. They also work really hard to make sure he misses the least time possible from his main class. So for instance, for his reading, they take him out during reading time so while he's missing that with the class, he's getting the 1 on 1 that he really needs to help him in the area. It's one of his major struggles. He's almost 9, is in 2nd grade (I had him do K twice, once at home and once in public school because we felt it benefited him more both emotionally and developmentally) but is only reading at an early K level. They also did evaluations on him to see what kinds of teaching benefited him the most, which programs work better for him, even where his desk should be in the classroom.

Your system sounds really screwy. Nothing is done with him that I'm not told about in writing and I agree to first. My youngest son was just given an IEP too, but his is just for reading and isn't anywhere near as involved as J's. We went through that whole process with him too, even the evals telling us what kind of thinker he was and where his desk should be. Before we went with an IEP, they took him for Title 1 classes for remedial help, but again, not without my knowledge and consent.

I don't like your school at all. It sounds like they're not actually listening to your concerns nor are they doing what your daughter needs at the level she needs. They should never have removed her from the class for a program without your consent. Did they test your daughter in this area or just assume that since she has an IEP, obviously she needed the help? What were her scores? Did they actually show a need for that class? Rebecca T. is right on for all of it. I don't care for pulling the kids out anymore than absolutely needed either and the school has worked really hard to only take J during times he won't miss something "important" whereas his first school took him whenever it worked for their scheduling and then got upset when he refused to cooperate. I wouldn't either if I was really bad with transitions and you just took me with no warning from the cool game I was playing on the computer or the fun art project I was making.

YOU know your child best. You are her advocate. You have the right to require changes be made if you are seeing no progress. And do I understand you correctly that she's had the same goals for the last several years? Has there been no change? If my sons IEP was like that, I would be in there having evaluation meetings done and making sure that all of the data added up proving that that was the best IEP for him.

I love my eval meetings. EVERYONE that is involved with my son professionally is there. His teacher, his special ed teacher, his occupational therapist, his service coordinator, his speech therapists (one is provided by the school but the other one we see privately; however they work at the same office so I gave them the permissions needed to could coordinate their work with him), his PSR worker, the school director, and once even a councilor was able to make it for him. So there are a lot of people there for him and since each one gives a quick presentation about him, where he's at with his goals, what he's working with them, etc. everyone knows exactly where he's at. It also provides important information about him as a person, not just the data on the paper. They all know he doesn't handle transitions well, but sometimes they might need to be reminded or one of them might be new and they might not know some of his little quirks or ways to work him out of his funk.

He changes so much every year, I just couldn't imagine going that long between IEP's and not changing them as needed. If you're seeing no progress with her, I'd stick to your guns and yank her from the program or insist that a change be made to accommodate her at the level actually needed. Or, depending on how hard it is to open a new IEP if you decide she actually does need one in the future, I'd write this one specifically based on her needs. Of course take everyone's recommendations into account, but in the end it's your decision. Have you had outside evaluation done for her at all? What do those results tell you? I would have outside evaluations done, have those professionals as well as the teachers etc. at the school have a meeting and then fashion an IEP around that.

If there has been no progress, not only is it a waste of your daughters time, but it's also a waste of the school resources so changes need to be made. I think the biggest problem I'm going to have to face next fall with J is that he's going to have a new teacher. He's had the same one for two years now. Remember I said he doesn't do well with transitions? I'm really hoping he'll get one of the current 3rd grade teachers that already knows him and has worked with him (classes are often combined in his school so right now he's in a 1/2 class and does his math with the teacher of the other 1/2 class and she's moving to a 3/4 class next year) but it shouldn't actually be a problem because I can write into his IEP that he receive that teacher (for which I'm very thankful). I even did that in K too, wrote in that he be in an afternoon class instead of the morning so the school was obligated to follow it. Of course that put me on the bad side of the secretary before school even started because she tried to tell me that the p.m. class was full and that J wouldn't be put in it. But I stuck to my guns and insisted they follow the IEP which she hadn't even bothered to look at. She wasn't happy when she was informed by the special ed teacher that's what his IEP said and that's what she needed to do. She was really tart when she informed me that it wasn't fair for the families of the two children (special needs children require 2 slots here, I don't know if it's like that in your state) she would have to inform wouldn't be in the p.m. class after all but if she'd done her work properly in the first place, it wouldn't have happened. I almost backed down because I didn't really know what my rights were but I have learned so much since then. Like I said, you're your daughters best advocate and if you don't do it, who will? Big hugs and best of luck getting it straightened out!



answers from Norfolk on

I think this is a great question!

I say go with your gut. If you feel she is all caught up then they should not be pulling her out of class anymore.

They are still working with her out of habit and for there own job requirements.

The more I hang out and help at the school, the more I wonder now that majority of these students have received the services and are right where they need to be (I think everyone can agree now that the year is almost over progress has been made and these kids really can move forward with just main teacher and parents help) what happens to the jobs of those therapist? They are employed by the schools but school isn't over.

Why won't they do a wide spread evaluation?... and let those that have improved alone and find different students that might need the extra help. At this time of year it should not be about the potential to fail but those that are failing.



answers from Washington DC on

I would hope that in your system parents have the right to refuse services. Do they? Can you refuse to sign a recommended IEP? I would think you could, though they likely will require you to sign something else to protect the school system so you can't go back later and say "You should have given my child these services then" ---not that you would say that, I'm just sure they will have some form of legal protection for themselves so parents can't refuse services then say their children should have had the same services that were refused.

Especially with your professional background it sounds like you should do what you believe is best. How else will you and the school know whether your daughter will do all right on her own? If the school has you wait another year to do what you're suggesting, she will be another year down the road in school and it'll grow harder and harder, as she gets older, to deal with these issues and find out if she needs to be in the classroom rather than being pulled out.

As for the speech issue: You mentioned that your daughter had had private speech therapy in the past but did not say that she was getting it currently. You later said her speech was about the same as it had been, with the school-based therapy -- so no improvement. If she isn't getting private speech therapy outside school now -- the kind that will include the multi-sensory reading, writing, etc. that you mention -- why not put her back into therapy outside school? The in-school therapy sounds like it clearly is too basic for her and doesn't help, but I'd get her some good professional therapy outside school instead so that she deals with her speech issues (and by extension, her spelling issues, one hopes) earlier rather than later. Maybe you're already doing that but I didn't see it mentioned.



answers from Chicago on

Stick to your guns. You are her mother. State that you require a leave of absence for her from her IEP and be firm. And I have a question. How does playing Go Fish translate into speech therapy?


answers from Houston on

I would tell them to leave your daughter alone, unless they plan on making changes to their approach that will actually benefit her.



answers from Seattle on

I would say to stick to your guns... although you could suggest a compromise and have it be for the first semester with an evaluation after winter break.

A note on letter L. I'm caucasian but spent my first 4 years in Japan (bilingual).My L's were non-existent (quirk). It took my godmother (speech pathologist) 1 month to teach me my L's when I was 5 and it was apparent I wasn't 'getting it'. <grin> And I STILL say them the way she taught me.

- Open your mouth
- Stick your tongue out (pointed), like you're sticking your tongue out at someone.
- Bite your tongue
- Make a noise.
... it's the letter L...
- Pull your tongue back in so you're still sticking it out, but the tip just hits your lips and is still being gently bit by your teeth.
- Make a noise
... it's the letter L... but people don't realize you're sticking your tongue out

Every single L I make my tongue is touching my lips, and being 'bitten' by my teeth. I *cannot* make an L sound inside my mouth. It comes out like a Japanese R. But my teeth bitten L's sound *perfect*.

Anyhow... just thought that might be useful to you, since it's an L sound without any palette involvement.



answers from Los Angeles on

Stick to your guns! You are your child's advocate, and I think that your instincts are probably correct. It sounds like maybe they are assuming that she needs the math intervention solely because she needs the speech services? You need to fight for what you believe is the best for your child, and what you are saying makes sense to me, so it should also make sense to them. Good luck, I hope it all works out!

Happy Mother's Day!



answers from Cumberland on

I'd keep pushing for a different approach on the articulation so she is making a better connection back to her spelling and reading. As for the math intervention, ask them for documentation in the form of assessments that led them to pull her for math as well. They should have a better reason than, since she's in for special ed services, we better cover our bases since she is a potential "risk".



answers from Chicago on

I'd ask for another meeting, this time with the SLP present so that all team members are on board to make the best decision for your child. Voice your concerns with all members present to get their feedback, and then make your decision.



answers from Albuquerque on

Stick to your guns... you have a background in this, and she's your child. You might be wrong, but then again, you might be right. I'd say that you need to schedule a meeting with the school and inform them of the last few paragraphs that you wrote here. Tell them you want to try keeping her fully in the classroom and give your reasons. Then don't accept less. Good luck!

Oh - one more thing - I'd be really annoyed about the Math stuff. The reason your daughter is being pulled out is because the school wants to do well on the test. If your daughter had a problem with Math that would be one thing, but she's missing classtime because the principal is (understandably) scared about the school test scores. Tell the school that until they can prove that your daughter isn't performing at grade level for Math, they have no right to remove her from class for "extra help".



answers from Boston on

Get yourself a good Special Education Advocate and fight for what you know in your gut is best. Also an outside evaluation may benefit your goals. We have a 3rd IEP meeting next month and the neuropsych and the advocate will come with us. Hopefully we can get our daughter on an IEP, if not, it is arbitration time. Good luck.



answers from Lincoln on

You are an equal part of that IEP team and I have found after 6 years of being a special needs parent, that we have to sometimes push for that parity. I have gotten IEPs that had the same exact goal from the previous year. I asserted that goal needs to be changed. I am also a Senior at the University studying Special Ed and a goal should never be done more than one time.

As a parent and equal part of the team, you have every right to call a meeting at any time to look at the goals and ensure the goals are still relevant. Ask to see what they are doing to progress monitor your daughters steps toward her goals? What steps are they taking to reach the end goal? Does their data support the intervention is successful? Unfortunately I have had a teacher who's data was less than desirable and I had to have a meeting expressing how she was not taking steps to better my child's education. They are legally required to progress monitor and collect data on the student's progress.

I am also a big advocate of doing as little pull out as possible during the school day. The classroom is where the learning takes place. I think you should advocate to try to lessen her time in SLT services and they can progress monitor her to determine if that is or is not working.

Follow your gut and be strong! Nobody knows your child like you do! Great to see you advocate for her!

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