Guiding Document- Including AT in the IEP (How are YOU documenting AT?)

QIATWhat’s happening out there?  I’ve recently received a lot of questions from all over about how to document AT in the IEP. I wondered about why I was getting this question so frequently this year but hadn’t in previous years?  Well, after a little digging, it looks like some of the ARD/IEP software programs districts are using have updated their pages regarding AT consideration and need.  What’s nice is that they’re using IDEA language related to AT thereby increasing our chances for compliance and clarity.  What’s confusing is that this is different than we’ve been used to. Fortunately, the gurus at QIAT have developed a guidance document on this issue of documenting AT in the IEP to meet IDEA mandates.

Do I think we need to document exactly as the QIAT examples indicate?  No.  But, I do think that this does a nice job of differentiating the types and purposes of AT available.  How is your district documenting AT?  As we move towards the discontinuation of STAAR M in 2014-15 the appropriate selection and implementation of accommodations/AT will be ever the more important as more students will need supports.  Having good documentation about what, when and how supports will be provided will be critical.

IT – AT Shared Knowledge on Legal Issues

Here are four resources for consideration as you try to provide technology to meet the needs of ALL students!

  1. Legal Issues Impacting Student Device Programs
  2. Providing Assistive Technology: A Legal Perspective
  3. Top 10 Technology-Related Issues in Special Education
  4. Purchasing Accessible Instructional Materials- Quick Reference Guide

Take aways- Curriculum coordinators, instructional materials purchasers, IT, and assistive technology teams MUST collaborate.  It’s a matter of preventing legal/compliance issues;  being fiscally responsible; addressing civil rights (accessible materials) and working smarter!

2013-14 Welcome Back – AT Training Resources (Mostly FREE!)

Hi Friends,
As a back to school welcome, we are offering a number of free (face-to-face/ on-site) workshop opportunities to Region 13 participants. You’ll see that many sessions are appropriate for teachers and other colleagues; please share the attached flyer with others as you feel appropriate.

Face-to-Face Workshops at ESC 13
If you have questions about relevance of content for you, feel free to give me a call! Classes I would recommend for us as AT staff  include:

  1. Guided Reading for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities- September 7 – FA1327170
  2. Emergent Writing for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities-September 21 –FA1327890
  3. iCan Do iT: iPad Apps iN Support of iEPs & STAAR- September 27 – FA1327896
  4. Dyslexia and Assistive Technology per Senate Bill 866- October 17- FA1326660


Additionally, here is an extensive listing of free webinars provided by a multi-state collaborative with a focus on assistive technology, accessible instructional materials and universal design for learning.  TATN is sponsoring three:

  1. Tablet Computers = Success for Struggling Students, September 17th, 2013
  2. Funding of Assistive Technology for Public K-12 Settings and Charters, December 3, 2013
  3. Acquiring Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) for all Students, February 12, 2014

Still Great

Dont’ Forget, Subscribe to You Tube

Some of my faves:

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – Curated Handouts from Beat the Heat from our Local Experts!

Some of my faves:

Hope to see y’all soon at our AT Leadership Network Meeting(s).  Let us know if we can be of help this year in your AT endeavors!


Intensive Service Delivery Model: Jarrell Elementary School

It is time to garner our excitement and SLP-passion for the 2013-2014 school year. As we prepare our brains to aspire towards the most effective year of speech-language pathology services, I challenge you to think of your current service delivery models. A survey conducted by Brandel and Loeb (2011) reported a majority of school-based speech-language pathologists use traditional service methods. What is this traditional service method we speak of? Therapy sessions are conducted one or twice a week for 30 minutes. Is this what is best for our students? In other words, do they make the most progress this way? Did we use the least amount of time in a specialized classroom? Is this the best use of our time as service providers?

The following video is a story about an intensive service delivery model piloted at Jarrell Elementary School in Jarrell ISD during the 2012-2013 school year. Following an intensive, daily intervention schedule, students, on average, scored 18 standard score points higher on their post-tests after nine weeks. Story retells, following intervention, contained introduction of characters, a setting, initiating event, attempts at resolving the problem and a conclusion. Writing samples started as a few lines of text to two-full pages of written text containing all story grammar components. Take a look at the data we obtained.

Then, start thinking about how you can make the most impact as a speech-language pathologist.

Group Instruction #6: Relax

This is the last part of our six-part Inclusion Series with Katie Adams, speech-language pathologist at McNeil High School in Round Rock ISD. We have learned about how to address social skills, language comprehension and expression, choice-making and emotional regulation. Check out the lessons:

How are You?
Question Time
Choice Time
Listen Up

Let’s take a look at Relax, the sixth, and final, component of this hour-long, inclusive class lesson:

What’s the Goal? The purpose of Relax is to allow opportunity for students to reflect on the previous five lessons. This is also an opportunity to gather data obtained by the educational assistants. Brief dialogue for planning purposes can also take place during this time. Remember, using a few seconds here-and-there to communicate with educational team members is useful. In a school setting, on occasion, it is more effective and efficient to have short conversations to plan than to set aside a lengthier meeting.

Do students relax in the same manner? Students have a chance relax and absorb the information in a manner that is most conducive to their learning style. Some students may put their head down. Other students may sit and close their eyes. This is also an opportunity for students to have autonomy over how they want to take a break.

Is this functional? Research states that we need to have rest periods when learning. This mental break results in better retention of information.

Our mental load increases when at school. It is important to understand that for students (and teachers) to continually be effective, we need to give opportunity for rest. Katie is giving this purposeful opportunity to her students. She is also teaching students to self-advocate when they need a break. In other words, students can self-determine when a break is needed based on personal fatigue and overload, make the request and carry out the necessary energy recoupment strategies.

Thank you for participating in our Inclusion Series. And, thank you to Katie Adams, McNeil High School and Round Rock ISD for their resources. Katie will also be presenting this series at Beat the Heat, Region 13’s three-day professional development opportunity for educators who work with children ages 3-5 and children with significant disabilities ages 6-21. Click on the following link for details: Beat the Heat

Group Instruction #5: Listen Up

This is the fifth part of our six-part Inclusion Series with Katie Adams, speech-language pathologist at McNeil High School in Round Rock ISD. We have learned about how to address social skills, language comprehension, choice-making and emotional regulation. Check out the lessons:

How are You?
Question Time
Choice Time

Let’s take a look at Listen Up, the fifth component of this hour-long, inclusive class lesson:

What’s the Goal? The purpose of Listen Up is to increase independence when following one, two and three step simple directions.

Are visuals used?
Visuals are used to cue students about the directives being given.

Do they get a chance to practice? Students have a chance to come up to the board to practice their skills. Students at the tables are given the opportunity to check peer’s work.

Is technology involved? Katie uses the Smart Board.  This provides a large, clear visual for students.

Is this functional? We are continually bombarded with directives throughout the day.  Having the capability to follow directions gives a student independence.  With this lesson, you are teaching your students how to be functional, interactive, responsive members of society.

How long is the prep time, really?! Katie creates a one page PowerPoint to use with lesson.  This takes 10 minutes.

Katie is incorporating various language concepts (e.g., prepositions, directional words). She is also giving multiple-step directions. How would you differentiate this lesson to students? Here are ways to scaffold the lesson:

1. Individualize the number of directives. Some students may only do one step. Work at the student’s level. Once mastery is determined, increase the level of demand.
2. Use objects/nouns familiar to the student. Remember, this task involves a) identification of the object and b) comprehension of the directive. Determine which skill you would like to address.
3. Once students are able to follow the 3-step directives, have him/her give the directives.
4. Change wait time between the verbalization of the directive and the execution. For some students, have them wait until all 3 directives are given before execution.

The possibilities are endless. This task can also be generalized to various parts of the school day. Have students practice by listening to directions for cleaning up the room, completing a task/activity or playing a game. Peer interaction is also key for maintenance of a skill. Model and practice this skill with peers. So, it is definitely time to Listen Up!

Group Instruction #4: Feelings

This is the fourth part of our six-part Inclusion Series with Katie Adams, speech-language pathologist at McNeil High School in Round Rock ISD. We have already learned about three great methods for addressing social skills, language comprehension and choice-making. Check out the previous three FUNctional lessons:

How are You?
Question Time
Choice Time

Let’s take a look at Feelings, the fourth component of this hour-long, inclusive class lesson:

Here, Katie outlines the details of this lesson:

What’s the Goal? The purpose of Feelings is to recognize, interpret, and model facial expressions to increase social skills.

Are visuals used?
Real pictures of students, teachers and staff members are used. This is not only motivating, but it also makes this activity more functional, engaging and applicable. Pictures of high-public figures is also extremely motivating for students.

Do they get a chance to practice? Students practice facial expressions with their paraprofessionals and peers. Peer interaction is essential for learning communication and social skills’ generalization. Katie creates a built-in opportunity to have peer interaction in this lesson.

Why Does Katie Use Sign Language? Sign Language is shown to students as a visual cue to express emotions.

Is this functional? Absolutely! Understanding personal feelings, how feelings are conveyed and personal accountability for social scenarios is vital for navigating social interchanges.

How long is the prep time, really?! The PowerPoint is saved, and 1 to 2 new pictures are added each month. This takes a total of 10 minutes.

Katie is addressing an important and relevant skill. More importantly, she is giving the students an opportunity to practice with one another. The students are learning, and they are keeping one another accountable. Through this simple lesson, the SLP is creating a community for the students. What can Katie do for students who have already mastered Emotion Identification? Teaching students how to manage and self-regulate emotions is a functional skill, as well. Kari Dunn Buron’s Incredible 5 Point Scale is a great tool to teach students emotional regulation.  The following chart, created by Dunn & Curtis, is an example of how to implement a point scale:

Remember, our goal is to have our students become self-advocating, communicative, productive and happy members of society. And, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to make such an impact in our students’ lives. Bravo McNeil High School and Miss Katie Adams!

Group Instruction #3 Choice Time

This is the third part of our six-part Inclusion Series with Katie Adams, speech-language pathologist at McNeil High School in the Round Rock Independent School District. We have already learned about two great methods for tackling social skills and language comprehension in a functional, comprehensive and fun way:

How are You?
Question Time

Let’s take a look at Choice Time:

Now, you may have some questions. Here are some of the details:

What’s the Goal? The purpose of Choice Time is to request items in an appropriate and effective way.

Are visuals used?
Picture Visuals are used to facilitate choice-making. Students choose from different item sets depending on their language ability.

Do they get a chance to practice? Students practice with their paraprofessionals and peers. What a great way to build capacity as a speech-language pathologist. Also, research states that peer interaction facilitates more language and social skills.

How do you keep students engaged? Highly motivating items are used.

Is this functional? Yes! We make choices everyday. Where do you want to eat? Do you like the Aggies or the Longhorns? Gryffindor or Hufflepuff? Giving someone the opportunity to make a personal choice is empowering.

Are they sitting the entire time? They MOVE! Students volunteer and come to the front of the class to make their choices and receive their reinforcement. The smile on Willy’s face when he played with Mr. Smith was priceless.

Do you use reinforcement? Yes! Positive reinforcement is used! Students who volunteer get videoed and are “featured” in the next lesson. Clapping and praise is also used.

Do you differentiate communication systems? Absolutely! Voice Output Devices and Picture Exchange Systems are used for individuals with increased communication needs.

How do you help to facilitate communication? Sign language is used to give students a visual cue. Keep in mind that we fade cues quickly to give students the opportunity to independently initiate communication.

Did you think of getting peers involved? Absolutely! We use peer modeling. Students will higher language skills model correct behavior and language used in the task.

Are they going to generalize the skill? We thought of that. We use Model, Practice and Independence. The student receives a model of the task, practices it in a small group and then tries the task independently.

How long is the prep time, really?! The same items are used each week (visual supports printed and laminated); therefore, preparation time is not needed!

Using highly motivating reinforcers, Katie has been able to address an important skill in an engaging format. For Katie’s students, she provided an opportunity to engage in some physical fun. In the past, I have also used experiences to engage students. Do you want to mix the ingredients for the cookie dough or grease the pan? This is an opportunity to get functional and get creative! What motivates your students?

Group Instruction #2: Question Time

This is the second part of our six-part Inclusion Series with Katie Adams, speech-language pathologist at McNeil High School in the Round Rock Independent School District. The purpose of Question Time is to increase independence by answering who, what and where questions. A big thanks to Katie for sharing her work!

1. Use of Power Point – Pictures of students in class engaged in various activities to promote use of questioning

2. Use of Visuals – Real pictures of students used in Power Point, Power Point pictures given to students in the speech packet

3. Use of Sign Language – Visual cues of sign language shown to students to emphasize the difference between who, what and where questions

4. Use of Positive Reinforcement – Students who volunteer receive clapping/praise with participation in lesson

5. Use of Peer Modeling: Students with higher language skills model correct behavior and language used in the task

Prep Time: Power Point is saved, and 1 to 2 new pictures are added each month (10 minutes)

Let’s take a look:

Being able to answer questions is an important life skill. Functionally, students would be able to give personal preferences and choice, give detail to experiences and contribute to conversational interchanges. Let’s think about how we can make some minor changes to Question Time to address different levels of communication. For an oral speaker, he can answer the questions spontaneously, with visual cues or with a verbal model. For a student using Core Vocabulary, item preferences for the question words can be placed accordingly on the student’s communication board or device. Once the student answers a question by pointing to the communication board, a single-message device could be used to orally respond, “That one. That is what he is holding!” Remember, there are various ways for students to respond, and it is our job to develop an individualized communication system for our students to access their world.