Written by Sylvia Farber, Education Advocate and parent of Austin, 17, with SMS
As we embark on a new school year in continued uncharted territory, I realize that fears are real and that uncertainty can be paralyzing. Many districts are starting virtually which will make Continuity Plans a hot topic and likely result in an upcoming IEP meeting. If your child is returning to campus, an IEP meeting may be necessary to determine if compensatory services from this past spring are needed. Below are a few points you should know about each of these circumstances.
If virtual learning is your current circumstance:
- Districts must ensure students served by special education have equitable access to the same platform or provide equitable learning options. In the online environment, just as in the physical classroom, the district is responsible for all students, including students with disabilities.
- When assessing platforms for accessibility, keep in mind that a platform can be accessible, but still have issues with usability. Some products and content are not created with accessibility in mind, so screen readers won’t be able to read buttons, labels, headings, etc. The district must plan instruction in order to meet the diverse needs of all learners, including students with disabilities.
- There is an expectation that direct, explicit instruction for students with disabilities be provided. There should be regular and ongoing direct (although virtual) instruction provided.
- Related services (Speech, Counseling, OT/PT, Behavior Supports) can still be provided virtually.
A few points you should know about compensatory services (services “made up” for lost services/skills):
- If your child did not receive some services during the spring, an IEP meeting will be necessary to determine whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed.
- If your child lost skills since spring, an IEP meeting will be necessary to determine whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed.
For more information about educating an individual with SMS, you may find the following PRISMS resources helpful:
- For the Educator
- Addressing Speech, Language and Communication Needs in Individuals with SMS During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Supporting Your Child with SMS at Special Times
- Ideas for Speech Therapy
- On the Road to Success with SMS: A Smith-Magenis Guidebook for Schools
Make sure you join the PRISMS community to get email updates on our resources and events!