Ages & Stages Education Special Needs

Words Matter When it Comes to Learning Issues

Attending an IEP or 504 plan meeting can be intimidating for parents. Walking into a crowded office with an intervention specialist, a classroom teacher, the school  principal, the director of special education and a speech therapist compounds the overwhelming concern for the immediate situation. Does your child have a learning disability? What special actions must be taken? How will this positively or negatively affect your child’s attitude toward school or the future?

It’s important to understand that the goal of your child’s school is to provide your child a free and appropriate education (FAPE) that may include an IEP or 504 plan that offers accommodations and/or services.  These services allow your child to learn in the most effective way and access the curriculum.

The problem, however, is that some state and local education agencies are reluctant to use the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, when those terms are applicable. If your student has trouble recognizing the letters of the alphabet, struggles to match letters to sounds, has difficulty learning new words and has trouble rhyming, these are signs that he/she may have dyslexia. When your learner is in the middle school and he/she struggles with reading and spelling, grasping a pencil or using proper grammar, this could be a sign of dysgraphia. Likewise, a young child who struggles with processing mathematical equations may be coping with dyscalculia.

Nevertheless, some schools will not place these terms on important documents.  Perhaps, it’s over concern for labeling a child. Whatever the reason, it does a disservice to parents and children to avoid these terms.  Identifying the problem is the start at finding a proper solution.

There is good news: Michael K. Yudin, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the United States Department of Education, released a letter in October 2015 that should bring encouragement to parents and educators.

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Ages & Stages Education Special Needs

Understanding the Differences Between an IEP and a 504 Plan

If your child has a learning disability or requires accommodations to learn in the classroom, there are a host of specialized services available to your child under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Understanding what your child qualifies for and how to access those services can be a challenge. However, below is a snapshot to help understand those services.

What is a 504 Plan?
A 504 Plan is based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a civil rights law that prevents discrimination based on physical disabilities. This federal law requires schools to eliminate any barriers that prevent students with disabilities from participating fully in their education. It also ensures that accommodations and support services are provided to students so they have equal access to education.

Who is eligible for a 504 Plan?
504 Plans are available for public school students who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity such as reading or concentrating. This impairment must be documented after the school performs an evaluation to validate whether the disability limits the ability to learn and participate in the general education classroom. The evaluation can include a variety of questions reviewing the student’s tests and quizzes or classwork within a class day, or it may be a more formal evaluation with multiple education professionals – but it varies by school district.

What types of accommodations can I expect for my student with a 504 plan?
While a 504 Plan is appropriate when a student has a physical disability, it focuses primarily on how a child will have access to learning at school. For example, a 504 Plan might require a student’s classroom be wheelchair accessible, braille workbooks be provided for a blind student or a sign language translator be involved in the classroom for a student who is deaf.

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Ages & Stages Education

College Scholarship Workshop for High School Seniors

The Cuyahoga Valley Career Center will host a workshop for college bound seniors and their parents on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The free event will feature representatives from College Now and the Foundation Center, who will discuss how to research scholarship opportunities available to students, how to write effective essays and more. ...
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Education Uncategorized

School of the Week: St. Michael School

St. Michael School educates children from preschool level, age 3, through eighth grade at its campuses in Independence and Brecksville. The school empowers children by promoting academic excellence and life-long service inspired by their faith. ...
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2017 Editions Ages & Stages Education Featured January 2017 Magazine Things to do

Homeschool Learning Events in Northeast Ohio

Throughout this month, many Northeast Ohio venues will offer great activities and educational experiences specifically for homeschool students and their families. From topics such as writing and science to art and nature, check out the many options available. ...
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2017 Editions Education January 2017 Magazine

Gilmour Academy to Earn Steinway Select Distinction

Asya Akkus, eighth-grader at Gilmour Academy, moved her fingers gracefully across the keys of the new Steinway grand piano during a welcoming ceremony.

The school was celebrating the three new pianos at its Lower School, including the one Asya played, that were delivered last month.
The three are the first of 10 Steinway and Sons grand pianos that will make their way to the school over the next four years in the effort to become a Steinway Select K-12 School.

The program was introduced 15 months ago when Gilmour alumni and current parent Matthew P. Figgie saw a need to replace the school’s aging pianos.

Figgie, founder and CEO of Figgie Capital and chairman of The Figgie Foundation, donated funds to install all new Steinway and Sons grand pianos at Gilmour, including a Steinway Spirio piano for the Tudor House and a Steinway Model D Concert Grand for the school’s future Lorraine and Bill Dodero Center for Performing Arts. Steinways also will be placed in the school’s Our Lady Chapel, Murphy Residence Hall and Kelley Middle School.

“This will be great for the school for years to come,” Figgie says about the Steinway initiative. “I am very proud to do this with the help of others.”

Gilmour will be the first private K-12 school in the Midwest to earn a Steinway Select K-12 distinction, an honor held by only eight schools in the country to date. To have the Steinway Select distinction, schools must have an all-Steinway campus.

“Gilmour’s mission has always been to educate the whole child — mind and heart,” says Kathy Kenny, head of school. “The Steinway pianos provide us with the ability to educate students who are passionate and interested in the performing arts.” She adds that all students will have the opportunity to become acquainted with the grand pianos.

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2017 Editions Ages & Stages Education Featured January 2017 Magazine Parenting Special Needs

Early Intervention and the Transition to Preschool for Children with Special Needs

If your toddler has been diagnosed with special needs, early intervention is available to ensure their educational needs are met prior to starting preschool.

Lisa Curtis, an elementary special educator with the Cleveland Municipal School District, has navigated the process both as a professional and as a parent of triplets who received early intervention during infancy.

“In the best-case scenario, if your child has special needs, getting started with (programs such as) Help Me Grow before age 3 will help address issues during this critical learning period and aid in a more seamless transition into the school system,” Curtis explained.

Help Me Grow is a program funded by the state that’s available free of charge to families with children from birth to age 3. Parents can request an evaluation personally without the need for a physician’s referral.

According to Lori Maygo, general manager of assistive technology and children’s services at the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, joint visits with Help Me Grow and other community partners enable the board of developmental disabilities to build a comprehensive list of services for kids in early intervention, addressing three separate categories: social, emotional and relationships; children acquiring knowledge and skills; and taking action to meet their needs.

“We work with the families wherever their natural environments are,” Maygo says. “So if their issues are with their child not being able to participate in community activities, going to the library or going out to eat, that’s where we go. If their issues are transitioning to and from car rides or to the grocery store, that’s where we go.”

The objective of early intervention is to help transition families to whatever destination they feel is most appropriate for them after they age out of the program, whether it be a public or private preschool, Head Start, child care or home schooling.

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Education Featured

Cuyahoga County Public Library Releases Great Books for Kids Holiday Gift Guide

Cuyahoga County Public Library’s 2016 Great Books for Kids features 100 librarian-recommended, recently published books for kids ages birth through 18. A portion of the proceeds from purchased books helps to support the library system; in addition, every book featured also is available to borrow from CCPL. ...
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