Motor skills are equal to academic skills


A parent contacted me a few years ago because a local school district was recommending that her son exit special education and be given a 504 plan instead. There were a few problems: there was no evaluation on which to base the recommendation and her child with Cerebral Palsy, is in a wheelchair for part of the day because of his motor deficits. This little guy clearly needed more than a ramp into the school and accommodations. He was a Kindergartner at the time with substantial support and services outside school. Here are some tips to ensure that your child with an orthopedic impairment is not exited from an #IEP.


Educate the IEP Team


The outrage from this child's neurological team was uniform. His private occupational therapists were also shocked. We asked for the #evaluation that should have been done. Once the school conducted it, they still found he had no educational need. His parents requested an independent evaluation at public expense and additionally provided the school with recommendations for special education from his doctors and therapists. We made sure to ask the private professionals to describe the impact of his disability on the Kindergarten curriculum. Yes, states have standards for curriculum mastery by the end of Kindergarten. (This information can be found on your state agency's website).


Describe the need for Special Education


The state objectives in Texas include: "walk forward the length of a balance beam without falling" and "toss a ball and catch it before it bounces twice." This student couldn't demonstrate most of them because he was barely ambulatory. The independent evaluations recommended a number of instructional supports, goals and accommodations. Teaching the student how to hold a pencil and propel his wheelchair in PE class were among them. Special Education includes specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of the child, #modification to the curriculum and/or instruction. He clearly needed goals to improve fine and gross motor skills for everyday participation. My question to the team was "do you need to modify?" and their response was yes. They realized that he should have an IEP and he was then qualified under Orthopedic Impairment and Other Health Impairment.


Adapted Physical Education


Children who have motor skill deficits should also receive an adapted PE assessment. The assessment determines what skills within the PE setting should improve. In the case of this child, we developed goals for the use of his wheelchair and his upper body strength for group activities in the gym. There are a number of assessments that can differentiate the needs of wheelchair users. #APE services can be hands-on or consultative depending on how the child's participation is impacted by their disability. Don't forget that school is not just about academics and the purpose of an IEP is to prepare a child for life.


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Virginia Spencer,  M.Ed.,

info@lumenadvocacy.com

(630) 251-5658

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