FAS Training for Your Child's Teachers

You finally have an IEP for your child, and the FAS or ARND is either diagnosed or recognized. Now how do you get the teachers to understand that your child needs intervention and teaching strategies that are specific to his or her disability? The teachers need to be trained in FAS issues. How do they get the training? You ask them to get it! Here is advice on how to go about this in a legal and effective manner. This advice comes from Jamie Erickson, an advocate trained in special education law (Level III) and a parent of a child with FAS/E.

It's my understanding that the school is required to provide this training only if the IEP team agrees that it's necessary. This would be a case by case decision and the parents would have to plead their case to the IEP team and hope that they agree. If the IEP team doesn't agree, ask them to provide you with written notice as to their decision and the reason for their decision. The benefit of asking for written notice is two fold.

1) The school will be very careful about refusing a service on paper unless they really believe they are right. So if they are just trying to double talk the parent, and the parent asks for written notice and the school knows they are wrong to deny this, they will continue trying to change the parents' mind, or they will change theirs.

2) If they do give you written notice, this is proof you have that they refused this service and why. You can call the state department of education and ask them if what the school said on paper is legal (many times the school is clueless as to the law and puts things on paper in ignorance). If what they put on written notice is debatable, then you can go to mediation to discuss it further. Mediation is free and is usually done without lawyers. --Jaimie Erickson

A legal reference for this is IDEA Requirements with Respect to Regular Education Teachers: Sections 300.346(d) and 300.347(a)(3). The "IDEA Users Guide" (see link below) explains that "while certain supports for school staff may be provided (such as specific training in the effective integration of children with disabilities in regular classes), the ultimate focus of those supports to school personnel is to ensure the provision of FAPE to children with disabilities under Part B, their integration with nondisabled peers and their participation and involvement in the general curriculum, as appropriate."

Another good IDEA reference to cite is this: P.L. 105-17 (IDEA 1997) Section 682(b): "REQUIRED ACTIVITIES Each parent training and information center that receives assistance under this section shall (1) provide training and information that meets the training and information needs of parents of children with disabilities living in the area served by the center, particularly underserved parents and parents of children who may be inappropriately identified;... "

When asking for services, programs, or IEP goals for your child, here's a hint: Use language like this: "My child needs this in order to learn" or "This intervention is appropriate and necessary." Avoid saying "It is in the best interest of my child to receive this." Do not ever say "I want..." as they don't have to consider what you "want." Put it in terms of what is necessary and appropriate in order for your child to learn. In a recent court case of Hudson vs. Rowley, the court ruled against the parents (of a deaf child) for the "best" saying that IDEA only needs to provide what is "necessary and appropriate." These are the words that parents should ALWAYS use - "necessary" and "appropriate."

Also, when asking for close supervision (on the playground, in the cafeteria, the locker room, waiting for the bus, etc.), you might work these two words into your request: "safety" and "liability" - this will get the attention of the school administrator for sure. If it's a matter of safety of your child or other students, and they are informed of your child's disability and behavior issues that are related to the disability, they could be liable if anything happens as a result of their NOT providing supervision and monitoring.

Below are some other links that might help you get the services your child needs in school.

Guide to IEP from the U.S. Dept. of Education
IDEA Laws and Regulations - good links for parent advocates
IDEA Users Guide to the 1007 IDEA Regulations
IDEA Users Guide same thing as 61-page Word document (zipped file)
Wright's Law Newsletter Archive Lots of helpful information from a lawyer!
Your Child's IEP: Practical and Legal Guidance for Parents
Understanding Tests and Assessment Scores
Reed Martin Special Education Law
PACER Center: Legal Information for Parents
IEP links from Awesome Library
IEP Conflict Resolution This is so simple but it really works! Try it!
Addressing Student Problem Behavior
Discipline for Children with Disabilities explains OSEP regulations

Printing some of these out and taking them with you to the IEP could be empowering (as well as a little intimidating). Instead of "just a parent" you will be recognized as "the expert" - not only of your child's disability, but of IDEA law as well! You will, of course, have read these first and marked pages for reference.

Watch this page for more good information on special education topics like Least Restrictive Environment, discipline, 504 plans, homework, and more!

Visit the FAS Community Resource Center
Fasstar Enterprises: FAS Training