LSLS – Wear Orange TOMORROW, Oct 24th, to Support Bullying Prevention!


Together Against Bullying. UNITED for Kindness, Acceptance, and Inclusion.

Make it ORANGE and make it end! What are your true colors when it comes to showing that you believe that all youth should be safe from bullying? Come together in one giant ORANGE message of hope and support, WEAR AND SHARE ORANGE on Wednesday, October 24th, to color our nation, and even the world, visibly showing that our society believes that no child should ever experience bullying.

ORANGE provides a powerful, visually compelling expression of solidarity,” said Paula Goldberg, Executive Director of PACER Center. “Whether it’s hundreds of individuals at a school wearing ORANGE, store owners offering ORANGE products, or a community changing a landmark to ORANGE, the vibrant statement becomes a conversation starter, sending the supportive, universal message that bullying is never acceptable behavior.”

Read the history on Wikipedia, Unity Day sponsored by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center since 2011

Visit the Facebook album for highlights from Unity Day 2017

From PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center

Life Skills Educator? Join our Region 13 Google Community to connect with other Life Skills Educators across our Region and receive tips and resources from your Region 13 Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities Specialists!

Contact:  Darcy Schiller at or 512-919-5224.


LSLS – Bullying Prevention Part 3: Tips for Victims of Bullying

Excerpted and adapted from Dr. Lori Ernsperger’s book Recognize, Respond, Report: Preventing and Addressing Bullying of Students with Special Needs, the suggestions shared here will help teachers provide effective support for all kids, no matter which side of the bullying equation they’re on. This is a three-part blog. Part 1 included tips for students who are bystanders. Part 2 included tips for students exhibiting bullying behavior. Part 3 includes tips for students who are victims of bullying.

Part 3 is particularly useful for supporting students with disabilities, who are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their peers.)

Implement modifications and accommodations. These might include preferential seating on the bus, counseling services, increased supervision, speech and language therapy, and regular meetings with team members to ensure that protections from harassment and bullying are being used consistently and effectively.

Amend the IEP or 504 plan. Since so many students with disabilities are bullied, education teams should add the following to a student’s IEP or 504 plan: “If a student is vulnerable to bullying, the team will determine accommodations, services, and interventions that are needed to prevent bullying and obtain a FAPE.” Then, as a team, write measurable goals for teaching the student verbal and nonverbal social skills, self-management, emotion regulation, and self-advocacy skills.

Teach identifying/reporting skills. Ensure that students understand and master the skills for reporting bullying to an adult. Supervise and give feedback when you first teach new skills, and then fade your support over time. Try these structured, multimedia teaching methods:

  • Video modeling. Show students videos of appropriate verbal and nonverbal interactions and imitate the social-communication behavior of the model.
  • Role playing. Have students practice and dramatize social-communication skills in a controlled small group. (Videotape sessions to give students a chance to analyze the interactions and identify key skills.)
  • Scripting. Provide students with short, one- or two-sentence scripts that teach them what to say and do in social situations.
  • Social narratives. Give students clear descriptions of social situations, highlighted with visual icons and symbols to help guide appropriate behavior.
  • Self-monitoringTeach students to record their own behaviors and use a self-assessment to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors during a conflict

Build self-confidence. To empower students and reduce the long-term effects of bullying and harassment, focus on self-advocacy and self-determination. Help students recognize and build on their strengths, and work with them to set goals and pursue interests, hobbies, and activities. You might encourage students to participate in community-based activities (volunteering at a charity, tutoring younger children) to build their self-esteem while giving back to the community.

Check out this Stop Cyber Bullying Guide for tips on how to spot, report, and prevent cyberbullying.


Life Skills Educator? Join our Region 13 Google Community to connect with other Life Skills Educators across our Region and receive tips and resources from your Region 13 Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities Specialists!

Contact:  Darcy Schiller at or 512-919-5224.

LSLS – Bullying Prevention Part 2: Tips for Students Exhibiting Bullying Behavior

Excerpted and adapted from Dr. Lori Ernsperger’s book Recognize, Respond, Report: Preventing and Addressing Bullying of Students with Special Needs, the suggestions shared here will help teachers provide effective support for all kids, no matter which side of the bullying equation they’re on. This is a three-part blog. Part 1 included tips for students who are bystanders. Part 2 includes tips for students exhibiting bullying behavior. Part 3 will include tips for students who are victims of bullying.

Model caring and respectful language. Don’t label students as “bullies.” When you model respect for all students, you discourage rejection of students who may exhibit aggressive behaviors.

Investigate the causes. There are many factors that can contribute to students exhibiting bullying behaviors. They may lack understanding of acceptable, age-appropriate social behaviors because of an intellectual disability or impairment of social-communication skills. They may have learned negative attention-seeking behaviors from their peers, or violent and aggressive behaviors from poor role models in their home life. A negative and unsupportive school climate may also be a contributing factor to bullying behaviors. Investigating and understanding the root causes of the bullying will help you choose appropriate solutions, from adjustments to the student’s IEP to a concerted effort to improve the school climate.

Use graduated consequences. In this model, students who exhibit bullying and harassment behaviors are held accountable for their actions, but harsh, zero-tolerance punishments aren’t doled out at the first offense (research shows they increase dropout rates and negatively impact the overall school climate). Rather, the consequences grow increasingly serious with repeated and egregious offenses. Dr. Ernsperger provides this example of what graduated consequences might look like:

  • Verbal reprimand or warning
  • Contract with the student to “cease and desist” and have no contact with the victim
  • Parent phone call to alert them of the incident
  • Conference with parent and teacher
  • Additional counseling or meetings with the administrator or school counselor
  • Alternative lunch detention or in-school lunch suspension
  • Student restitution/compensation for damaged items
  • Community service
  • Loss of extracurricular privileges
  • Before-or after-school detention
  • Referral to the school resource officer

Consider a referral for specialized services. Students who persist with bullying behaviors and don’t respond to traditional measures may have more severe psychological problems that require the expertise of a mental health professional. Cognitive behavior therapy, stress management interventions, and counseling to manage anger and aggression and can increase students’ coping skills and help them amend their thoughts and behavior.


Life Skills Educator? Join our Region 13 Google Community to connect with other Life Skills Educators across our Region and receive tips and resources from your Region 13 Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities Specialists!

Contact:  Darcy Schiller at or 512-919-5224.

LSLS – October is National Bullying Prevention Month: Part 1 – Tips for Students Who are Bystanders

Excerpted and adapted from Dr. Lori Ernsperger’s book Recognize, Respond, Report: Preventing and Addressing Bullying of Students with Special Needs, the suggestions shared here will help teachers provide effective support for all kids, no matter which side of the bullying equation they’re on. This will be a three-part blog. Part 1 will include tips for students who are bystanders. Part 2 will include tips for students exhibiting bullying behavior. Part 3 will include tips for students who are victims of bullying.

For Bystanders:
Invest in or develop a bystander education program. Formal training will teach students how to intervene safely and appropriately when a peer is being bullied. Whether you buy a prepackaged program or develop a unique bystander education program, your most important goal is to ensure student safety and deter students from aggressive confrontation. A bystander protocol with simple, concrete steps (similar to the “stop, drop, and roll” fire safety) will help encourage safe student interventions on behalf of peers who are bullied.

Raise awareness of bullying. How does bullying start? How can you tell when a bullying incident is beginning? What are the verbal and nonverbal signs of aggression, power, and domination? Teach students to look out for and recognize words and actions that indicate a peer is being bullied. Identify helpful actions bystanders can take. Your bystander education program should teach students to recognize whether they can safely intervene or should immediately contact an adult or the authorities. If a student determines it’s safe to intervene, then identify age-appropriate skills through guided group discussion. Some helpful peer actions—suggested in a survey of students who were bullying victims—include spending time with students experiencing bullying, encouraging them at school, helping them get away from the bullying situation, and helping them tell an adult.

Foster empathy for bullying victims. Some students may find it difficult to empathize with victims of bullying who exhibit challenging behaviors or diverse characteristics that are outside the other students’ realm of experience. Teaching your students about diversity and acceptance can help dismantle this mindset. For example, you might discuss the general characteristics of various disabilities and try simulation activities that foster a better understanding of differences.

Teach the difference between “tattling” and “upstanding.” Many bystanders are reluctant to intervene in a bullying situation because they fear they’ll be labeled a “tattletale.” That’s why it’s important to explicitly teach them the difference:

Tattletale—Someone who wants to get someone else in trouble. (Example: “Kayla cut in line in the cafeteria!”)

Upstander—Someone who wants to get a peer out of trouble or be a friend. (Example: “Someone threw Jason’s backpack in the toilet.”)

It’s tough to erase the stigma associated with tattling, but it’s important work. Start by teaching and reinforcing the language regarding tattletales vs. upstanders, provide plenty of examples your students can relate to, and hang visual reminders in the classroom (a poster, maybe) to keep the message fresh in your students’ minds.

Create a peer mentoring program. Studies have shown that peer mentoring can significantly reduce bullying victimization and students’ feelings of anxiety, depression, and social isolation. You can implement a more structured program like the We Will Generation of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, which provides activities, resources, and videos that educate and inspire peer mentors. Or try organizing informal peer social groups around the central goal of be a buddy, not a bully. Designate cafeteria tables, courtyard benches, or “friendship zones” on the playground where students who may struggle with social and communication skills can have a safe place to eat and play with others. Whether your efforts are structured or unstructured, the goal of peer mentoring can be a great way to foster friendships, support differences, and advance opportunities for inclusion.

I’d like to highlight Hutto ISD’s middle school peer buddy program where they model be a buddy, not a bully. The teachers who developed and implement that program presented at Region 13’s Beat the Heat conference in 2017.


Life Skills Educator? Join our Region 13 Google Community to connect with other Life Skills Educators across our Region and receive tips and resources from your Region 13 Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities Specialists!

Contact:  Darcy Schiller at or 512-919-5224.

Attention Teachers of Students with Significant Disabilities! Register Today for These Great Workshops in October!

Are you a teacher of students with significant disabilities? Then you’ll want to check out these October workshops at Region 13!

October 10th

Teaching Students Who Can’t Talk: Supporting Significant Communication Impairments in the Classroom (FA1839892)

This workshop is designed to help teachers support the communication and instructional needs of students with severe communication impairments. Participants will learn about communication development and best practices for teaching students with complex communication needs.

October 16th and 17th

 Life Skills Fundamentals (FA1839396)

In this 2 day training, participants will learn the fundamental skills and strategies necessary to successfully instruct and engage students with significant cognitive disabilities. The training will cover classroom organization, routines, evidence-based practices, challenging behavior, data collection and planning, and much more.  Teachers will create materials that will be ready to use in their classrooms immediately!

October 23rd

Creating Successful Teams for Teachers and Paraeducators (FA1839992Participants will examine strategies and skills for promoting effective communication, collaboration, and team building. Workshop topics will include ways to improve teamwork, working relationships, communication, leadership, and role clarification. Participants will also learn strategies to support effective problem solving and decision making. Teachers and paraeducators are encouraged, but not required, to attend as a team.

Register today in ecampus! For questions, please contact:


Maker Faire @ Beat the Heat 2018

beat the heat, every child matters logo

When we say “maker,” you say “faire!” Why do our teachers and paraeducators love the maker faire at Beat the Heat? So many reasons; here’s a few:

  • Items are tied to content from sessions participants have just attended
  • Activities address functional and academic areas/skills
  • Items are designed to be engaging and span grade bands
  • Instruction templates include why the activity is beneficial to students, how to make it, instructions for use, application to adulthood, making it meaningful extensions, and additional resources
  • Serves as a networking, problem solving, and interactive brain break station

Here are ideas of what’s to come…

  • make a repetitive line nursery rhyme book with an unexpected twist adding environmental print
  • self-determination folder “games”
  • ten frame math puzzle activity
  • “active learning” interactive wrist bands
  • portable behavioral supports as pictured below
  • and MORE

We hope to see you there! For details and registration information please visit the BTH 2018 WEBSITE


Active Learning Expert Patricia Obrzut @ Beat the Heat 2018!

On June 21st, the first day of Beat the Heat 2018Patricia Obrzut, MS, OTR/L will present a full day session: Active Learning: Given the Opportunity, Any Child Can Learn! Active learning, an innovative approach developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen, emphasizes that all individuals learn best by active participation.  For students with multiple disabilities, active participation is achieved by creating an enriched environment that fosters independent and appropriate developmental learning.

Join Patty as she discusses the principles of the Active Learning approach, and how to increase students’ functional independence and developmental skills while reducing stereotypical, self-injurious or aggressive behaviors.

On Day 2 (June 22nd), she will provide 2 breakout sessions. The first, Promoting Comprehending Hands through Active Learning will focus on detailed Active Learning strategies emphasizing those fine motor skills typically achieved from birth to two years.  The second, Early Learning & Movement: An Active Learning Perspective will focus on how individuals with multiple special needs progress from reflexive and unintentional movements to intentional movements.

Patty is the Assistant Director at the Perickton Center for Blind Children, a private non-profit organization serving blind, special needs children ages 1-12 years.  Mr. Obrzut has a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. She has been implementing programming for special need children since 1992.  In 2002 she received the permission of Dr. Lilli Nielsen to provide Active Learning educational trainings.  She is considered an expert in the use of Active Learning strategies, equipment, techniques, assessment tools, and curriculum.  We are excited to have her at this conference!

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to learn from an expert in Active Learning for students with multiple special needs!  Register for Workshop #SU1836780.  Patty’s full day session is not included in the BTH virtual conference

""Beat the Heat 2018
June 21-22, 2018
ESC Region 13
5701 Springdale Rd.
Austin, TX 78723

For more information and to see the complete conference schedule, visit our Beat the Heat Conference website.

Alright, Alright, ALL Write! Janet Sturm @ BEAT the HEAT!

Region 13 is thrilled to announce that First Author Writing Curriculum creator, Janet Sturm, Ph.D, CCC-SLP, will be presenting at this year’s Beat the Heat conference in June!

Dr. Sturm is a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Central Michigan University, and she has been working in general and special education classrooms for over 30 years. Her research and development work focuses on writing instruction for students with disabilities, computer-supported literacy, formative and summative assessments of beginning writers, classroom communication and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

On June 21st, Dr. Sturm will be doing a full day presentation (also being livestreamed) on teaching writing to students with significant intellectual and multiple disabilities.  She will also present a 90 minute breakout session on June 22nd.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to learn from one of the best writing instructors of students with disabilities in the nation!  Register for the 2018 Beat the Heat conference now!


Two Ways to Beat the Heat: In Person & Online! Register Now…

Beat the Heat 2018 is almost here!  This summer conference is dedicated to providing professional development to educators, parents, and others who work with children ages 3-21 with significant intellectual and low incidence disabilities.  Can’t attend in person? Want to attend in your pajamas? Wish you could see more than one session in the same time slot? Yes, you can…

Beat the Heat Every child matters.


  • June 21, 2018 9-4
  • June 22, 2018 9-4


Education Service Center Region 13 + Online
5701 Springdale Road
Austin, TX  78723




Attend any session in person for credit. Also, view any/all of the recorded sessions for a limited time after the event (no credit, for content only).


Choose and watch 5 livestreamed sessions for credit. After the event, view the other recorded sessions for a limited time  (no credit, for content only).

The following sessions will be available online via Livestream.  Every participant will be able to choose and view 5 livestreamed sessions for credit during the live event.  The other sessions may be viewed after the event for a limited time* for content only (no credit given).



  • Topic: Linking Behavior Interventions for Young Children to Their Function– Susan Catlett, Ph.D., BCBA-D
  • *60 days


  • Topic: Alright, Alright, ALL Write: Differentiated Writing Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities- Janet Sturm, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
  • *60 days


  • Topic: Taming the Data Monster– Christine Reeve, Ph.D., BCBA-D
  • *5 days

FRIDAY LIVESTREAM OPTIONS 6/22/18  (pick 1 for each time slot)


  • Keynote: “Changing the Narrative through Opportunity and Raised Expectations”– Liz Plachta and Mark Hublar
  • * 60 days

10:15 – 11: 45 AM Sessions

  • Topic: Instructional Routine for Achieving Early Counting  Claire Greer, Ph.D.  (*60 days)
  • Topic: Promoting Comprehending Hands Through Active Learning– Patty Obrzut, OT and Assistant Director of Penrickton Center for Blind Children  (*60 days)

12:45 – 2:15 PM Sessions

  • Topic: Building Independence Through Structured Work Systems – Christine Reeve, Ph.D., BCBA-D  (*5 days)
  • Topic: Early Learning & Movement: An Active Learning Perspective – Patty Obrzut, OT and Assistant Director of Penrickton Center for Blind Children (*60 days)
 2:30 – 4:00 PM Sessions
  • Topic: Building Cohesive Classroom Teams– Christine Reeve, Ph.D., BCBA-D  (*5 days)
  • Topic: Let’s Open a Can of Worms: Sexuality and Disabilities– Barbara Hobbs, ESC 16  (*60 days)
Note: You will NOT select the sessions you want to watch when registering.  You WILL be able to choose sessions on June 21 after logging in to Region 13’s ecampus/workshop registration system, finding the course SU1839863 and selecting the Launch button.  Once launched, you’ll be able to navigate to the sessions you want to attend. This will also be the pathway to recorded sessions afterwards.

Please let me know if you have any questions-


New STAAR Alternate 2 Participation Requirements Take Effect May 1, 2018!

In a TETN presentation on April 25, 2018, new STAAR Alternate 2 participation requirements for the 2019 administration were announced.  The newly revised Participation Requirements take effect May 1, 2018.  They include changes to the number of requirements (there are now five instead of four), and clarifying language that defines a significant cognitive disability. The participation requirements state that a determination of significant cognitive disability is made by the ARD committee and based on an evaluation performed by a qualified evaluation team.  The disability must significantly impact the student’s intellectual potential AND adaptive behavior and be documented in the student’s individualized education program (IEP).

Clarifying language and examples have been added to paint a more complete picture of what “specialized, extensive supports” and “intensive, individualized instruction” may look like for a student with a significant cognitive disability when accessing the grade-level curriculum and setting.  Additionally, the language of the previous participation requirement which states that students taking the STAAR Alternate 2 must access and participate in the grade-level TEKS through prerequisite skills has been expanded to include descriptions of how a student with a significant cognitive disability is most likely to access those prerequisite skills during instruction.  The participation requirement now states that a student with a significant cognitive disability accessing the TEKS through prerequisite skills that are “significantly below grade level instruction” requires “a highly specialized educational program with intensive supports and modifications to the curriculum.”

The newly added, fifth participation requirement has been pulled from the previous assurances section to emphasize that the STAAR Alternate 2 assessment determination must be based on the student’s significant cognitive disability and not on any other factors such as racial or economic background, excessive absences, location of service delivery, English learner status or anticipated difficulties with student behavior.

Beginning on May 1, 2018, admission, review and dismissal (ARD) committees will use the new STAAR Alternate 2 participation requirements for determining assessment decisions for the 2018-19 school year.  ARD committees that used the previous participation requirements for the 2018-19 assessment decisions prior to May 1st, 2018 may move forward with assessment decisions they have already made.  However, TEA recommends that campus personnel review the new participation requirements and determine if revisions should be made to previous assessment decisions.

The review and revision of the participation requirements is part of TEA’s response to state assessment requirement in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Any state assessing more than 1% of students with an alternate assessment aligned with alternate academic achievement standards is required to submit an annual waiver application.  The Texas plan and waiver for this year was approved.  While the 1 percent rate is a statewide requirement, LEAs above the rate may expect additional oversight and support from TEA’s Student Assessment Division.

Visit TEA’s website or click on the following link to view the new 2018-19 STAAR Alternate 2 Participation Requirements.

For more information, please contact TEA’s Student Assessment Division at  or ESC Region 13 Education Specialist, Jennifer Russell, at