Children with autism in my school district are often placed in ASD units within a self contained classroom or on the other end they have their services taken from them sometimes their entire IEP and parents have to fight for a 504 plan. There seems to be very little in between in the public school.
When dealing with children on the spectrum there are students that do need to have a self contained unit but a label or a “challenging behavior” does not warrant such placement. With the right behavior analysis and plan every student with autism can learn. On the other end of the spectrum, students are making good grades and do not have any “problems” at school. Most of these kids do not socialize but also do not cause a problem for the teacher. Therefore, these students with autism can and will lose services because the teacher or school does not see that there is a great need. However, at meetings parents are explaining and questioning the staff about behaviors and activities because of what they see at home. Many children on the spectrum are gifted and highly intelligent, when at school the learn how to get by and cope with the stresses of the environment. Once they get home and into their safe place then they have to decompress, release and get the sensory input that they need. This can be very challenging to handle and most parents really don’t know what to do. The school thinks everything is fine but really the child needs services at school to better manage.
This is when thinking about having your private ABA therapist observe or even work with your child at school can be the best solution. I do believe that as families we cannot depend on the school to do everything for our children. In my district, Pinellas, ABA therapy is not provided. It is nearly impossible to even get an ABA to consult on a Functional Behavior Plan (FBA). However, according to Florida Senate Bill 1108 parents can have a privately paid therapist work with a student on a public school campus. This is part of the Exceptional Student Education laws and includes several other important regulations.
“The bill provides mechanisms for increased parental involvement and specifies school and program accountability requirements…
The bill authorizes private instructional personnel who are employed by the parent or under contract to observe a student in a public school setting or provide services in the educational setting at a time agreed upon by the private instructional personnel and the school.”
So, if your school district does not provide ABA therapy (the number one recommended therapy for children with autism) then you have the right according to Senate Bill 1108 to request collaboration with your school for your private instructional personnel to observe or provide services. I have not yet gone through this process, however I understand that you need to meet with your administrator or school principal to go over the protocol for a private therapist to be on campus. Most districts have a level screening that they require outside contractor or visitors to have that includes fingerprinting and background checks. Once the therapist is screened, most already are screened then a schedule can be made with an appropriate location to provide services.
Once that is done then the therapist would sign in at the front office, go to the student, provide services, bill you and sign out when they leave school. When I was reading the bill I thought that putting under collaboration was so key. As parents we understand our exceptional children well and many people don’t see the world through our children’s eyes. Having a bill that allows for collaboration within the pubic school for a private therapist to help your child is that in between step that is missing. We have to understand that we all want to help the child reach his goals and that no one will tell someone else how to do that job but instead provide systems and suggestions to support the child and ultimately creating a system of accountability.
If you are struggling with public education, are looking for help with ABA therapy but don’t have insurance to cover the cost of ABA, please read some of our other blogs about grants, Medicaid and CMS! The money is there and no child should go without access to the best therapy for their medical needs.
Have questions, contact us!