Thursday, 19 May 2011

The ABC's of IPRC - Wonderful advice for Ontario students I learned from Janis Jaffe White

I was lucky enough to go and listen to Janis Jaffe White from Toronto Family Network a few weeks back when she visited my daughters local treatment centre.  CTN (Children's Treatment Centre has been doing an amazing job of keeping us parents informed and educated on everything from the best bike or how to access camp or recreation programs and best of all how to work co-oportiviely with your school to ensure your child's needs are met and they are set up to succeed.

I want to share here some tips I learned form Janis. If you live in Ontario and your child has an IEP you will likely find some great information here.

A) Aware - be involved and aware with what going on at school for your child. Be informed on the current education law.  Highlights of  Regulation 181/ Section 98  also read this document here in all it's detail Education Act 181/98

B) Be there!  - never pass up on an IEP or IPRC  meeting at school.   It's your chance to ask your questions, advocate for your child and sing your child's strengths, affinities and needs. Some schools may tell you that the these meetings are not needed after the initial meeting but there is usually value in sitting down even if placement for your child isn't changing at least once a year.

C) Communicate.  Share your ideas, ask questions and listen.

If your child has additional needs she  requires good teaching, differentiated instructions but they also need able bodied mentors. All these things can be provided at your home school with your child's siblings and neighbourhood friends by their side.

You should never waive your annual IPRC meeting, you should use this time to discuss your child's strengths and needs.   With your written permission the IEP can also be discussed at the IPRC meeting.
According to regulations 181 section 98 an educational assessment can be done annually prior to the IPRC meeting and the results can also be discussed at the meeting.  Your school my say this is impossible as there is a big wait list for that type of assessment but it does not always have to be  formal physiological assessment. It could be a simple math or writing assessment completed by the home room teacher or SERT.   This meeting should be more then 15 minutes if it's set up that way and you didn't finish you have a right to ask to have the meeting reconvene. You may want to tell them that you looking to have a longer discussion if they initially set up a 15 minute meeting.

Also according to 181/98 you are required to get a copy of all documents 10 days prior to the meeting.
At the meeting you will also meet and decide if your child should be an exceptional student.

Your allowed to bring a support person with you, if your child has complex needs there is likely someone on your child's team that supports you that could come with you. This support person could be a neighbour or friend even.   You can even print out the education act and bring that with you.

You also have a right to ask for an alternate time if they date and time the meeting is set up for doesn't work with your schedule. I won't want this meeting to happen without myself present for my daughter and I'm sure you won't want to miss it either.

If your told your child should be in a community classroom and you have a choice or classroom A classroom B. PLEASE know there is always another option your home school is also your child's right and is always an option to your child!

Probably the most important thing I learned is don't be shy to tell the school you know your rights sometimes that is necessary to share.  Goes a long way although most educators want to do right by our kids there is a lot of pressure in my daughters school board for these kids to attend  community classes whether or not it's part of the child or family vision.  This pressure was their even though she was making great strides right here at her home school in kindergarten.

Hopefully your still reading this long post as this part is great.

Undue Hardship Standard
Under the Code, every student with a disability is entitled to accommodation up to the point of undue hardship. The Code sets out three factors that may be considered in assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship: cost; outside sources of funding, if any; and, health and safety requirements, if any.

Consultees told the Commission that school boards frequently cite limited resources as a reason for not being able to provide appropriate accommodations to students with disabilities. The Commission’s Disability Policy makes it clear that “whether an accommodation is ‘appropriate’ is a determination completely distinct and separate from whether the accommodation would result in ‘undue hardship’.”94         The legal duty of a school board to accommodate students with disabilities is not discharged unless the school board can make out an undue hardship defence based on costs. In order to claim the undue hardship defence, the school board has the onus of proof. As stated in the Commission’s Disability Policy, “The nature of the evidence required to prove undue hardship must be objective, real, direct, and, in the case of cost, quantifiable. The person responsible for accommodation must provide facts, figures, and scientific data or opinion to support a claim that the proposed accommodation in fact causes undue hardship.”95
The Supreme Court of Canada has said that, “one must be wary of putting too low a value on accommodating the disabled. It is all too easy to cite increased cost as a reason for refusing to accord the disabled equal treatment”.96 The cost standard is therefore a high one.
Regulation 181 / 98

 The undue hardship law applies to all accommodations so even if your child has an intellectual disability and needs an EA they can not tell you the reason is due to limited resources or funding.

Here's another good link too "The Blame Game"  Are school problems my kids fault?

Isn't this great stuff.   I found this information to be so valuable to me.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Should I

Trim this beautiful hair?

-- Post From My iPhone

Farm Trip

On the one nice sunny days this month Ashley, Taylor  and I went to the farm with her Kindergarten class.  It was fun to pet all the baby animals and feed the chickens.  

Love this girl!!!

Checking out the big 6 month old pigs.

Baby goats

Feeding the chicks

 Learning about eggs...

Monday, 16 May 2011


By Charlene Comstock-Galagan
Revised February 2008


Parents and professionals must practice having great expectations for all children. Expectations for learning are sometimes lowered due to a desire to protect kids if they learn or look different than other students. As a result, parents and teachers may unconsciously limit chances for kids and the kids may be “living down” instead of “living up” to our expectations. Maintaining low expectations for kids does not preserve their dignity: having great expectations for children affords them dignity, challenges our perceptions and gives us new problems to solve.
We must constantly guard against protecting our own perceptions of what kids can do, be, or learn. We must take care that we do not invest more in protecting our comfortable perceptions than in giving children many chances and choices.


We need to begin including kids with labels in kindergarten because by placing them in a given setting, we are setting expectations for their futures. By choosing one road, we necessarily reject the other. Robert Frost reminds us of the long-term effects of our choices when he says “Two roads diverged in a wood. I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
We must educate kids in learning environments which look like the ones we hope they will live in as adults, because as adults they are likely to live in environments which look like the ones in which they were educated. The adult-life match for segregated elementary education is the institution and the sheltered workshop. By beginning from kindergarten to include kids with labels, we ensure that our children who “get to go” to inclusive schools will, after graduation, “get to go” to real life.
Kids who are included from the start are welcome in their community and aren’t forced to depend largely on human service systems for their lifelines. Including all kids with labels in kindergarten builds natural supports for their futures, a process that takes time and shared experience. Being included builds natural supports that will prove critical to their success in community living in the future. Being included with 22 kids in their class means your child is a known and recognized member of a group of kindergartners in the school community. It means that 22 families in that community can interact with her.
In one week, the kid who is included gets many opportunities to make connections in public with families who know and accept her as a kindergartner. These families are excellent community educators, and more effective than any public service announcement. Each time they interact in public with their labeled friend who happens to have disabilities,they are delivering a clear message to other people that interaction with this person is okay.


Kids learn from each other. Models for kids in segregated settings are often other students with learning language or behaviour difficulties. Constant learning opportunities for kids with labels in regular activities are created by peers in regular classes, at lunch, at recess, in the halls, at assemblies, in P.E., at music, and in the bathroom line.
Kids with labels included in regular activities have access to different peers in many contexts throughout each day. In typical educational settings, students with labels have as many as 22 learning peers, and many potential opportunities to see and hear those peers engaging, with various degrees of success, in social or academic learning. Peers provide models as they react to and interact with each other, teachers, materials, and information. Even the most talented, dedicated special education teacher with the most innovative materials and equipment is unable to provide these models in a setting exclusively for students with disabilities.

All children benefit from sharing educational experiences with each other, no matter what their needs or labels. It seems sensible to allow children those benefits from the beginning, especially kids with labels who may need more time to take advantage of those benefits.
Kids without labels also benefit when kids with labels are included in regular settings from the beginning of their educational careers. They benefit directly when they are allowed to be peer tutors. When we use students as peer tutors, or learning sharers, we provide the tutor an opportunity to process learned information in a new way, a sense of mastery and accomplishment and reinforcement for the value in helping others.
If kids are classmates from kindergarten throughout their schooling, with good modeling from teachers, regular kids will come to expect and will have many opportunities to practice re-explaining, adapting, and trying various ways to get kids with labels to participate or partially participate in learning activities. They come to expect modifications and accept it as routine. All children must be prepared to cope with different learning styles and abilities of coworkers in the adult work world.
Kids without disability labels, although we do not think of this often, will grow to be the neighbors, community members (doctors, grocers, dentists, mechanics, shop owners, church members, hobby and club members), legislators, and most of all PARENTS of kids with disabilities.
Kids with labels, who are segregated for learning purposes, are often not seen by their peers as learners. They are seen only as recess goers or lunch eaters, largely as passive, rather than active participants in school life. When kids with labels are included in regular
education settings, other kids see them actively engaged in the process of learning. The kids with labels get validated with the status of “learner”, and the kids without labels get a new perception of labeled kids as contributors. This perception can carry through to adulthood, giving a long-term, two-way benefit.
Special education teachers can benefit from delivering instruction in regular environments. In inclusive settings, teaching is no longer a matter of making something happen, but more a matter of turning each ongoing activity into a learning opportunity by finding ways to involve kids with labels. Teachers learn to orchestrate, facilitate, and arrange for learning to happen; they teach kids with labels to be learners, rather than to do learning activities. In this scenario, everybody wins.


True friendship is immeasurably important in each of our lives. All of us need opportunities to develop friendships and relationships in schools and community environments. Friendship is a commodity that transcends labels. The best reason to begin fostering those relationships in kindergarten is that it is easy. It makes including kids throughout their school experience easier, and it increases the likelihood that children will form lasting friendships. Kindergarten kids don’t know the meaning of labels. Children accept each other until they are taught to discriminate and reject. Beginning to include kids with labels in kindergarten allows real, sustainable friendships to develop and to be built on the basis of mutual interest and shared experiences.
Each child has abilities, capacities, and gifts; with guidance and support, each child can contribute to her/his school community. Our responsibility is to nurture each child in developing these capacities. A school is a dynamic community of diverse learners with various gifts, each valuable in its own right. Our job is to model for all students many ways to value each member of the school community.
John McKnight of Northwestern University says, “All communities depend on the capacity of people, on their fullness, on their possibilities, on what they can do—not on what they cannot do—the heart of the community is capacity. If we want to create community, we build on capacity, not needs and deficits.”
Schools can embrace the value that all children belong from the beginning. All schools can develop the commitment and expertise necessary to meet the unique needs of all children in regular education classes and provide the supports and services needed for each child to become a valued, contributing member of the school community.
Each year that we don’t close the door on segregated placements as an option for kindergartners, another set of kindergarten students miss critical, lifelong benefits, such as great expectations, peer modeling, functional learning, and friends. What are we waiting for?

My girl included with her kindergarten class at the farm! Lots of fun was had.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Ashley won an iPad and more!

A few months back I entered a giveaway for special needs kids to win an ipad based on merit.  I never thought she would win but we learned on Sunday Ashley is really blessed and is amoungst 40 kids that won a ipad and apps.  This amazing family blog at Marissa’s Bunny  about their beautiful daughter who happens to  have infantile spasms. They are raising awareness about this condition and have been raising funds.  Not only are they doing everything possible for their daughter they are reaching out to make the lives of other families with special needs kids improved. 

40 very lucky and deserving kids won ipads how cool is that.  Be sure to visit Marissa's bunny they are raffling off an ipad2

Mike and your bosses Ashley and I are so thankful.