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Old 04-14-2007, 09:01 AM
 
Location: Austin
45 posts, read 258,851 times
Reputation: 17

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For those of you considering school districts for a child with special needs, I thought you might find our experience useful.

We have just come to Austin from the UK, where our son was having speech therapy free of charge through the UK National Health Service.

We are in the process of getting him speech therapy here in Austin. For those who are not aware speech therapy in Austin is arranged throught the school system - the Independent School Districts (ISD).

We live in RR ISD. We knew that any speech therapy through the ISD may not start till the Fall and that we would have to wait for a screening appt. So we went ahead and got some a private assessment. (We are lucky to have the costs covered in our ex-pat package)

Our private speech therapist works for the Leander ISD. She has assessed our son & is taking him on for speech therapy over the summer. But she said in her opinion he should qualify for 1:1 and group therapy through the school district.

We have just had our son's screening appt at RR ISD. The screening was thorough and we were impressed by the 3 staff members conducting the assessment. But the end result was that he does not qualify for any speech therapy provided by RR ISD.

We are lucky to have private speech therapy funded by my husband's company. But for those who don't, you may want to consider Leander ISD fro your child with special needs. This view is supported by other forum members in previous threads.

Fee lfree to PM me if you want any further info.
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Old 04-14-2007, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Austin 'burbs
3,226 posts, read 12,866,749 times
Reputation: 757
I guess I have to disagree with the tone that RRISD is not as good as LeanderISD. I am sure that both are fabulous school districts. RRISD has been highly regarded as one of the best districts in the state of Texas for some time.

I have a child with global delays and is in the RRISD - he receives PT, OT, Vision, preschool and of course, speech through the district.

I have been extremely impressed with thier program, and the specific attention to detail in regards to my son and his needs. They have also been an amazing resource for our family to help my son with services and therapy outside of what the school provides. They are absolutely concerned with what will help him achieve his highest potential... and don't just consider him another "number".

There is such a vast range within the label of "special needs" and simply because one therapist said your child would qualify, and the school district didn't - doesn't mean that either are right or wrong. One therapist may have seen some things in your child, that others couldn't duplicate, and vice versa...it often depends on the day, how the child might want to "perform" or not. I am also not sure if you are aware - but you have parental rights, and can appeal their decision.

I am glad that you have found a program that works for you - but I do have to defend RRISD as being an exemplary program, as well.

Quote:
For those who are not aware speech therapy in Austin is arranged throught the school system - the Independent School Districts (ISD).
This isn't just for Austin. Country-wide, after the age of 3, children with delays receive services through the school district. Prior to that, it varies by state... but all have an "Early Intervention" program ... some states have 0-3 "centers" for therapy, others come to your home.
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Old 04-14-2007, 09:51 AM
 
Location: Austin
45 posts, read 258,851 times
Reputation: 17
Jenbar

I value your comments and appreciate your experiencs are different from ours. I was aiming some of my comments at people relocating from the UK. Our son was getting speech therapy in the UK - free of charge via the National Health Service. And they were anxiuos for him to continue whilst we are here in Austin. Also in the UK, speech therapy is assessed and provided via Health Care, not the Education Service.

For us Brits there are quite a lot of differences to get used to! Great life experience but a little confusing at times!
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Old 04-14-2007, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Austin 'burbs
3,226 posts, read 12,866,749 times
Reputation: 757
I totally understand what you are saying, I am sure there are huge differences that you all deal with on a daily basis! Some good, probably many, not so good... good luck to you guys as you transition!

I was just clearing up for you that the school district providing the services is a country-wide approach, not specific to Austin only - and hopefully giving you some helpful tips on the in's and out's of this system.

My child is only 4, but has been in services since he was 4 mths old... and I am STILL learning, as it changes (and there are different concerns) as the kids get older.

You didn't specifically say you were only addressing those relocating from the UK - rather I took it to mean you were generally advising people to check out Leander over RR, based on your experience and lack of qualification.

Sorry if I read it wrong, but none the less I feel like the information in both of our posts has validity and will still help parents in school/move related decisions.
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Old 04-14-2007, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Austin TX
1,209 posts, read 5,754,455 times
Reputation: 414
Obviously, Jenbar is super happy with RRISD and I am super happy with Leander. I don't think one is better than the other; but what I do wonder is if RRISD's qualification levels, or assessments that they are conducting, are more quickly ruling out pure speech delayed children than Leander ISD. It isn't a comment that RRISD is bad, just that their standards for qualification may be higher. The reason I say this is because categ is the second person I know of who RRISD refused services to at age 3-4ish. The other person I know (I met standing in line at Target) related a similar story; only by the time her child got to kindergarten, RRISD backtracked and said, wait, your kid is actually PDD-NOS and finally started giving him services ( I don't recall what specific school this was, but I believe it was near Avery Ranch somewhere). He missed out on two years of therapy. It's just interesting!

That being said, there is a kid in my son's class whose mom is battling LISD bigtime to get her son services in the special ed preschool. He has been in an assessment period since October. She has a diagnosis from a child psychologist that her child is PDD-NOS and several other independent assessments as well. The staff at LISD is saying the kid isn't demonstrating any educational needs at this time and he is not getting services. It has been going on for 7 months now with no resolution and she is really frustrated.

My point in telling you this, cate, is that you may want to find out if you have any processes in RRISD for going up the food chain, so to speak, and disputing that assessment. There's obviously a process here in LISD so I am guessing there is in RR as well.
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Old 04-14-2007, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Austin 'burbs
3,226 posts, read 12,866,749 times
Reputation: 757
This is TOTALLY a guess - but I would assume the qualifications are state-wide? I can't see a district making up different qualifications on their own - I would assume there are some sort of standards, because given the type of community we live in today... people often move from place to place, and you would hope the process within the districts were in place to make the transition as streamlined as possible...

Of course, perhaps I am assuming too much and giving school districts too much credit.

I do have to say though, I hear of these "battles" with the school districts ALL THE TIME - I think it's just part of the system, and not specific to any district here, and really - not even specific to Texas.

In WA, at our various parent support groups etc, people were always sharing stories of how they had to go up against the district to ensure their child had what he or she needed. I think it's just telling, given that programs for special needs children are grossly under-funded, and they want to give the child the bare minimum they can get away with.

It's a no-brainer that my child qualifies for every bit of therapy out there, though I can already see I may have to battle for extended school year, for PT. Currently, he doesn't qualify - and to that, I would say - if he doesn't... WHO WOULD? (Long story short, he's 4 and not yet standing or walking supported, has mild CP, does sit unassisted and pulls to stand, cruises, walks with a walker)

When I have spoken to resources outside of the school district - they have told me about advocates to go with you to the ARD meetings to help you get the things needed for your child.
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Old 04-14-2007, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Austin TX
1,209 posts, read 5,754,455 times
Reputation: 414
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenbar View Post
This is TOTALLY a guess - but I would assume the qualifications are state-wide? I can't see a district making up different qualifications on their own - I would assume there are some sort of standards, because given the type of community we live in today
That's what I'd assume too! But I think maybe where the gaps come in is in the assessment process. If they are basing an assessment on a combo of some standardized testing and some subjective evaluation, some kids may fall through the cracks.

Some portion has got to be subjective, because I can't imagine how my child, who has no official diagnosis but has delays, got qualified, and this other kid in his class, with diagnoses from several sources, did not! And that's got to be how these battles arise, and how people like categ maybe got refused services. That's why I'd look into appealing it if I were her.

I think having an advocate is a great idea.
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Old 04-15-2007, 06:47 AM
 
Location: Austin
45 posts, read 258,851 times
Reputation: 17
Thanks for the time & thought you too have put into these threads.

From my experience in the UK as a parent & a nurse practitioner it does depend where you live as to what special ed services you get. And it is a public funding matter! ie limited budgets & different public orgs decide how they will spend their money.

My concern is that my child was getting speech services in the UK. And we want him to continue these whilst in Austin. We've got the private programme arranged over the summer (funded as part of our ex-par package). But I will investigate the appeals process within the RR ISD.

Thank you again for your valuable info & advice!
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