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IEP Individualized Education


School-Based Personnel Training and Support An Often-Overlooked rEP Requirement

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is the cornerstone of each child's educational program and the course of action a team agrees upon from development through implementation. In order to plan effectively, families, educators, administrators, and policymakers need to be aware of federal laws regarding training supports for school personnel, as well as the importance of documenting them in the rEP when they are needed. Training supports are particularly important for those team members 'with limited experience or knowledge regarding the education of children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

School-based Personnel:

What the Federal law Requires

Federal law requires that the IEP include a description of the supports that school personnel may need to carry out the student's education plan. These consist of the types of things that would help them to meet the unique needs of students by ensuring advancement toward the annual goals; access to and progress in the general curriculum; and participation in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities. Examples of supports for school-based personnel involved in the education of students with ASD include but are not limited to:

• Information regarding ASD

• Training in the use of positive behavioral interventions

• Training in the design and delivery of curricular accommodations and modifications

Federal Law requires that the !b_P include a description of the supports that school personneL may need to carry out the student's education plan.

16 Autism Spectrum Quarterly. Spring 2011

Ruth Eren, Ed.D. and Jacqueline Kelleher, Ph.D.

While IEP forms and procedural guidelines regarding the ways in which to document the training of school-based personnel vary from state to state, federal law requires that the lEP include a description of any personnel supports recommended by the lEP team {20 USc. 1414(d)(1)(A)}. When the IEP requires the provision of related services, staffing support, and program modifications, it must also include the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of those services, supports, and modifications [34 CFR 300.320(a) (7); COMAR 13A.05.0l.09A(1){c)(d)(h)]. Many states include this information under the Supplementary Aids and Services section of the IEP. For example, in Connecticut, the training needs of personnel are recorded under the heading, Frequency and Duration of Supports/Required Supports for Personnel (Connecticut State Department of Education, 2006). Families and providers need to familiarize themselves regarding the appropriate way to include training support information on the IEP forms used in their school districts.

Guidelines: Who} WhatJ and Why

According to Wright and Wright (2010), IDEA 2004 "requires states to take measurable steps 'to recruit, hire, train, [emphasis added] and retain highly qualified personnel to provide special education and related services'" (p. 79). However, because school-based personnel come to districts with varying pre-service professional preparation and experiences, it is critical that IEP teams carefully consider the training needs of school staff. For example, according to the Connecticut Guidelines for Educating Children and Youth with Autism:

Any professional working with a child with any disability must have enough training. knowledge and experience to effectively develop and carry out the child's lEP. This level of expertise may not typically be provided in a standard certification program. As

In order to be effective, a team needs to work. coLLaborativ'eLy to share ideas, troubleshoot problems. and make coLLective decisions that wiLL Lead to improved outcomes for students.

doesn't just happen at a meeting. Thoughtful planning and a clear understanding of everyone's role

and responsibilities are only the first essential elements of teaming that must be clarified and understood by all members. If specific training is required to facilitate the teaming process, we feel that it is well worth the time and effort it would take to provide it.

each team member comes with different certifications, experiences, and training, it is important to assess the ability of the collective team to provide appropriate services to the child with autism rather than individual team members Cpg. 58).

Staff training documented in the IEP should be on-going (rather than limited to one or two workshops), and it should be team-focused, as noted in the above-referenced guidelines. Training should be individualized to the needs of staff, and should include those competencies that are essential to working with children and youth with ASD. We believe that follow-up demonstrations, modeling, guided practice, and supervision are critical components of teacher training, and further that they require the active involvement of administrators who are also knowledgeable and competent in the instructional needs of individuals with ASD. We feel that one-day workshops are oflittle value without supervised follow-up and objective assessment of teacher performance.

In addition to teachers, related service personnel, and paraprofessionals may also require ASD-specific training in order to understand the needs of, and effectively work with students with ASD. These personnel include: speech-language pathologists, social workers, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. Needless to say, the content of training for all personnel will vary depending upon the ages and functioning levels of the students they serve, and the knowledge and skills that related service providers bring with them.

We believe that IEP team training is also a critical component in the educational process that results in improved student outcomes. In order to be effective, a team needs to work collaboratively to share ideas, troubleshoot problems, and make collective decisions that will lead to improved outcomes for students. Teaming is not a simple process and depends upon the development of strong relationships among team members. Strong team relationships are based on trust, cooperation, and open communication. When teams function well they exert a positive impact on educational outcomes (Connecticut State Department of Education, 2005). Effective teaming

18 Autism Spectrum Quarterly. Spring 2011

Evidence-Based Practices: Training in ASD that Reflects Science

IDEA 2004 includes new language regarding the importance of research-based instruction, and states that "a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services [bel based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable" (Wright and Wright, 2010, p. 100). While this requirement specifically applies to instructional practices that are used with students, it does have important implications for staff trai ning, particularly if staff is to be trained in researchbased methods to be used with students with ASD. Hence, it is incumbent upon those involved in training program decisions to a) keep abreast of current relevant research, and b) provide school-based personnel with training in methods and techniques that are research-based. Furthermore, outcomes for both the professionals undergoing training and the students being served should be carefully monitored. (Reichow, Doehring, Cicchetti, and Volkmar, 2011, p. 325)

Concluding Remarks

No one in education is expected to know everything about all of the educational disabilities that he or she could encounter in the school setting. The acquisition of knowledge involves a constant learning curve in the rapidly-evolving field of special education. In order to maximize teacher performance and improve student outcomes, it is important to acknowledge that specific strategies and evidenced-based practices delineated in the IEP may require the training of staff and IEP teams if implementation and treatment fidelity is to be achieved. It is important to note that under IDEA 2004, if training supports for school personnel are deemed necessary they must be provided. In addition, it is incumbent upon team members to ensure that the frequency and duration of training supports of all team members are clearly stated in the IEP and delivered in a timely and effective manner. ""

Continued on page 20

IEP Individualized Education Plan

Connecticut IEP Forms http://www.sde.cl.govlsdelcwplview. asp?a=2678&Q=32073D#IEP

Connecticut Parent Guide to Special Education http://www.sde.ct.govlsdelliblsdeIPDFIDEPSISpecia!i Parents_Guide_SE.pdf

Connecticut State Department of Education: lEP Manual and Forms (2006)

Connecticut State Department of Education: Guidelines for Identification and Education of Children and Youth with Autism (2005).

Maryland State Department of Education (August 2010). "Documentation of delivery of Related Servicets), in Accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Code of Maryland Regulations(COMAR).

Reichow, S., Doehring, P., Ciccnetti.D., Volkmar, F. (Eds.) (20ll). Evidenced Based Practices and Treatments for Chrldren with Autism. New York, NY: Springer.

liS. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, lull' 2002. "A Guide to the Individualized Education Program."

Wright, P.\V.D. & Wright, P.D. 12006). WrightsJaw: Special education law (2nd Ed.). Hartfield, VA: Harbor House Law

I 12 -~~ -. ,JUJ

I, Ruth Eren, Ed.D., Co-Founder of the Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Associate Professor of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) serves as the Center Di rector. She is currently the area head for the MS program in teacher preparation for teaching children with ASD at SCSu. Dr. Eren is a member ofthe CT State Task Force that wrote the Connecticut Guidelines for Educating Children and Youth with Autism and was an active participant in the Special Act No. 08-5 legislative initiative involving a comprehensive needs assessment of state methodologies concerning ASD. She has consulted with public school districts in CT for over fifteen years focusing on individual and system program development and curriculum design for children with ASDs.

Jacqueline Kelleher, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Sacred Heart University and Coordinator of Direct Services & Outreach at the Center

. of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders at Southern Connecticut State University, has extensive experience in public schools and university settings in the areas of special education policy, assessment, measurement, program evaluation, instructional design, and autism program development. Most recently Dr. Kelleher served as an education consultant in the areas of autism and procedural compliance monitoring of IDEA 2004 at the Bureau of Special Education with the Connecticut State Department of Education. Dr. Kelleher is the parent of ide mica I twins with ASDs.

7 From the Editor's Desk

21 11 f~edbackfrom our facebo~k friends 24 life Construction Ahead

2 Txt or Not 2 Txt? Guiding Young People with ASDs Through the Maze of Social Media

By Teresa Bolick, Ph.D.

28 Straight Talk About Autism

Behavior is Not the Issue: An Emotional Regulation Perspective on Problem Behavior (two-part series) By Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., CCC-SLP and Amy Laurent, OTR-L, Ed.M.

32 The World According to Teddy Bears Teddy Bears' Picnic

By Brendan Keeley

34 Great Resources for Families and Professionals 36 Review

Autism Tomorrow: The Complete Guide To Help Your Child Thrive In The Real World

By Diane Twachtman-Cullen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

37 You too?!

Common Stories from an Uncommon Parent "Pyramid" Theories and Perspectives on Intervention By Alyson Beytien

39 Tips for Promoting Sibling Harmony and Family Unity

By Jennifer Twachtrnan-Bassett, M.S., CCC-SLP

40 Celebrations of Excellence and Originality

An Interview with David Delorenzo

By Liane Holliday Willey

44 The Cutting Edge

The Basics of Neuroscience Research and Autism What You Need to Know (three-part series)

By Sharon C. Furtak, Ph.D. and

Paul G. LaCava, Ph.D.

48 Research Newsdesk

52 Call for Research Subjects

Meet Dassan Tallybarrios, the winner of ASQ's 6th Annual "Kids on the Cover" Contest. Dassan is four and one-half years old and currently enrolled in a preschool program. He will be starting kindergarten in the fall. Dassan has been using the computer since he was two years old and loves to play Nick Jr. games online. He LOVES to be in the water, and his favorite person in the world is Gramma! Congratulations, Dassan, you look great on the cover! !!

4 Autism SpectTum Quarterly. Spring 2011

Starfish Specialty Press, LLC

~Sta/lrriSR ~~~a:~



Diane Twacbtman-Cullen, Ph.D., eCC-SLP


Liane Holliday Willey, Ed.D.


Jennifer Twachtman-Bassett, M.S., eeC-SLP



Patricia Rasch


PRINTING & DISTRIBUTION FinePrint of New England


Project Evolution

Autism Spectrum Quarterly: (ISSN: 1551-448X) is a publication of Starfish Specialty Press, LLC, Post Office Box 799, Higganum, CT 06441-0799. Copyright © 2011 by Starfish Specialty Press, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. The information, views, and any recommendations or endorsements expressed by authors, advertisers, and/or other contributors appearing in Autism Spectrum Quarterly do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or recommendations of Starfish Specialty Press, LLC. The publication of such information and the advertisements included within Autism Spectrum Quarterly do not constitute an endorsement of such information or of any treatment, product, methodology, and/or service advertised.

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