Special Education Scoop

PfISD's Special Education Parent Newsletter - September 2020

In This Edition

  • Welcome Back to the 20/21 School Year - A Note from our Director
  • ECSE Corner
  • How to Build Strong Relationships With Students if You're Starting The Year Online: Principles and Practices
  • Self-Advocacy Terms and Descriptions
  • Speech Spot
  • Special Education Support in a Synchronous (Shared Time) Model
  • Low Incidence Disability Team
  • Important Dates
  • Resources for Parents

Welcome Pflugerville ISD Families to a new school year!

It is with great pleasure that I write to welcome you back to another great school year. I’m thrilled to be part of a team comprised of teachers, staff, parents and students who want to achieve great things! Our department staff and I are looking forward to a new school year and though we are beginning the year differently than we would like, we are working hard to see that your child’s learning experience is a successful and happy one.

Your partnership and support are key elements to ensuring that we are able to maximize each student’s educational and personal development. To that end, we encourage a positive home-school relationship based on the mutual goal of providing the best learning experience possible for all of our students. We hope you enjoy reading the wonderful information and resources provided in the newsletters throughout the school year.

If you have any questions please call me at 512-594-0147 or contact me by email at: Deborah.reeder@pfisd.net

We wish you the best for a successful and rewarding school year!


Deborah Reeder, Director of Special Education

ECSE Corner

Early Childhood Special Education is in full swing this school year. All of the teachers and associates are happy to be back working with your child. I know this year is starting out differently, but know that we are working diligently to ensure your child has a great learning experience. I wanted to share a couple of free resources you can use at home.

STAR (Strategies for Teaching based on Autism Research) has created free home resources to use during COVID 19. The site has webinars you can watch as well as printable visuals and social narratives. The resources are appropriate for students with autism and others with developmental delays. Printables are available in English and Spanish.

STAR At Home Covid 19 Free Resources

CLI Engage has a Family Engagement page. Here you will find engaging, hands on learning activities you can do in your home. The activities are in English and Spanish and can supplement what your child's teacher is assigning. CLI Family Engage

In between the asynchronous and synchronous learning activities, allow your child to play. This experience is just as valuable as any learning experience in the classroom. Why? Because play is how they learn. While playing they will take new concepts learned from school and incorporate it, process it, and learn it. Join in the fun! Need ideas on how to prompt language, teach them to take turns, or play appropriately with toys? Ask your child's teacher. Also, check out this article about the importance of play. NAEYC Play Articles for Families

Julie Schwarz, M.Ed.

ECSE Coordinator


How to Build Strong Relationships With Students if You're Starting The Year Online: Principles and Practices

One of the most effective ways to experience positive interactions within the school setting is to build a positive relationship with students. This includes getting to know your students and allowing them to get to know you and discovering your common interests. But how do you do that in a virtual learning environment? Below are some resources that parents and teachers can incorporate at home and in their virtual classrooms.

How do you keep kids engaged during virtual learning?

  • Play interactive games together
  • Provide your child with reward time for hard work
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Visual aides
  • Music and movement
  • Provide assistance

How do you reinforce students in a virtual learning environment?

  • Play games on the iPad
  • Play the game Mirror on Zoom
  • Lego's and other toys
  • Drawing on a whiteboard app
  • Read a story to the teacher
  • ABCYa - build your own ice cream game and more
  • Visual token board with a reward after earning a set amount
  • First/Then board "First work, Then reward"

Shahla Mobley

Behavior Coordinator


Big picture

Self-Advocacy Terms and Descriptions

As a parent with a young adult with a disability, you will hear words or phrases during the transition to post-secondary education and employment that may be new or confusing. Read the scenario below and how the words and phrases were used and then look at their definitions below.


Your child’s birthday is coming up. Along with all the fun and independence of turning 17 your child also gets a letter from her school about the transfer of rights. Both you and your child receive a letter explaining transfer of rights when your child turns 18. 18 is the age of majority in Texas and your student will be expected to make all of her decisions on her Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Both you and your student are nervous and excited at the same time. She’s been wanting to be more independent and responsible for her own life, especially as she transitions into adulthood. You have considered becoming your child’s legal guardian, but you and your child have decided that she is able to make her own decisions with the support of the people around her that love her and know her best.

Your student has a disability and has had an IEP since she was in second grade. Your student has a learning disability which has impacted her ability to read and write. Your student does well in school with help from supportive teachers and the accommodations on her IEP.

When your student began high school, she struggled to keep up with the increase in class reading requirements and fell behind during her freshman year. At the beginning of sophomore year, your student’s teacher and case manager shared some ideas for ways to use assistive technology and instructional strategies to help keep up with her reading, including text-to-speech software. Your student was able to get back on track with graduation requirements.

Last summer, your student got her first job, working part time at a local grocery store. Your student had some difficulty with the orientation materials and knew that she would need some accommodations at work to be successful, so your student decided to talk to her manager. Your student disclosed that she had a disability and described what she needed to be successful on the job: text to speech and training materials in an electronic format. Your student is now successful on the job site and looks forward to developing more work skills.

After high school, your student will attend her post-secondary education (state university, college, vocational training, apprenticeship program, or ongoing training opportunities). Your student will visit or set up an appointment with the disability services office of the post-secondary institution she plans to attend. Your student will meet with the office to make sure she could continue to receive the accommodations she needs. Once again, your student chose to disclose her disability. This time, the college asked to see documentation of her disability. Your student and the disability services staff had a great conversation figuring out the specific accommodations she will need in order to access the program she hopes to enroll in, and to meet the program requirements.

With self-determination and knowledge of her strengths and needs, your student has a plan for her future that looks promising. Your student advocates for herself and knows what commitments she will make to achieve her goals.


Transfer of rights-The legal rights of parents to make educational decisions, including refusing or agreeing to special education services, are given to the student when they become a legal adult.

Age of majority-Each state sets an age at which a person is considered to be an adult with all the legal rights and responsibilities of an adult. In most states the age of majority is 18.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)-An education program developed by an IEP team to meet the specific needs of a student with a disability to have access and make progress.

Transitions-The ongoing development and growth from being a child to becoming an adult. “Secondary transition” in the IEP refers to the way public schools and other agencies are required to provide planning as well as services and support needed to prepare the student to live, learn and work in the community as an adult, and the program is documented in a written IEP plan.

Legal guardian-A court-appointed person who is legally responsible for making decisions for a person who is not able to make decisions on his or her own.

Disability-A person has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that significantly affects an area of one’s life such as learning, communicating, caring for oneself, walking, thinking, or working.

Accommodations- Changes to the setting, the timing, or the way in which information is arranged or presented in order to allow a person to complete a specific task without changing the task itself.

Assistive technology -A device or service that helps people with disabilities participate more independently at school, work, or within their community.

Disclose-When an individual with a disability informs an appropriate person that they have a disability in order to request a needed accommodation or support.

Disability Services Office- Colleges and other post-secondary education programs receiving federal funds will have an identified individual or an office where students with disabilities may request accommodations to provide equal access.

Documentation- Written proof of a disability from a qualified professional, such as a physician or psychologist. Documentation requirements vary, and will often specify how current the information must be.

Access- The opportunity for people with disabilities to use a service or product or participate in a program.

Self-determination- Making choices and decisions about the goals for one’s own life. Taking action steps needed to reach the goals.

Advocates- To speak up for one’s self or to “self-advocate.” Includes asking directly and specifically for what is needed.

Adapted by Christopher.Visness@pfisd.net at PfISD from PACER Center, Inc. | NPC-47a, Skills for Independent Living

Christopher Visness

Transition Coordinator


Speech Spot

PfISD is pleased to introduce speech services virtually for the 2020-21 school year. The district has partnered with Presence Learning in order to provide a teletherapy platform, and therapists also may be utilizing Zoom when providing speech therapy in an inclusive setting (i.e. co-teaching with a teacher). Here are some considerations for your family during a session:

  • Designate a space for therapy
  • Consider using a headset (with mic) if in a shared space
  • Plan for optimal seating—child should be at eye level with the camera and whole face should be visible
  • Limit other’s use of free screen time during a session in order to conserve bandwidth
  • If WiFi is slow, consider hard wiring (Ethernet cord)
  • Refrain from snack time
  • Stay with your child
  • Listen to the session, if possible, but refrain from answering questions for your child unless prompted from therapist
  • Practice the skills outside of therapy

Please stay in touch with your child’s speech therapist should you have any questions regarding speech therapy.

Jennifer A. Phillips, MS, CCC-SLP

Coordinator of Speech Services


Special Education Support in a Synchronous (Shared Time) Model

You’ve likely heard the virtual learning buzzwords of synchronous and asynchronous instruction by now! What you may not know is that your student will likely be receiving additional synchronous time, outside of the time their General Education peers will receive, to coincide with the minutes outlined on the student’s Schedule of Services in their IEP. This time will be provided by special education staff and may include pre-teaching or reteaching of concepts, check-in, support with asynchronous learning activities, relationship building, etc. We want you to know that this time is a resource to help provide additional supports for your child. Please contact your student’s case manager for additional information and specifics on how to access these supports.

Asynchronous - Alone

Synchronous - Shared time

What can I expect during the additional synchronous time from special educators?

  • Academic instruction on IEP goals

  • Instruction on modified assignments

  • Progress monitoring on goals

  • Support on general education assignments

  • Behavior support - support implementing behavior strategies for virtual learning. Implementing reinforcement systems to encourage students to complete assignments

Click here for information about virtual learning in Pflugerville ISD for students with disabilities.

Setting Up Learning Environment/Successful Virtual Learning Links:

USA Today - Covid - 19 Tips for Parents for Virtual Classrooms

Parents - How to Set Up a Virtual Learning Environment

Virginia Avalos, M.Ed.

High Incidence Disability Coordinator


Alison Barr, M.Ed.

High Incidence Disability Specialist


Low Incidence Disability (LID) Team

The LID Team is so excited about starting a new school year! We are so happy to see our students so engaged in our carefully designed synchronous and asynchronous virtual learning lessons!

We know that whether students are in brick and mortar school or learning virtually, some students may need support to learn how school might look a little different this year. No worry - Your LID team is here to support! We create social narratives that use visual supports in a story-telling format to help students understand and prepare for changes. Social narratives are simple stories that visually represent social situations and appropriate social behaviors.

Please reach out to our LID team to talk about how we can help your student be engaged with learning this year! Below is just one example of how a social narrative can support your child!

Below you will find an example of a social narrative created by Conscious Discipline. You can find other free COVID 19 Resources by visiting https://consciousdiscipline.com/. Resources are available in English and Spanish.

Maria Luberti

Low Incidence Disability Coordinator


Important Dates

September 7, 2020 - Staff and Student Holiday

September 11, 2020 - Staff Development/Student Holiday

October 8, 2020 - Last day of the first nine weeks

October 9, 2020 - Parent Teacher Conferences

October 12, 2020 - Staff and Student Holiday

October 23, 2020 - Staff Development/Student Holiday

Medicaid Waivers Information for Pflugerville ISD

Medicaid waivers allow older adults, people with disabilities or medical/emotional needs to live at home, rather than in nursing homes or other institutions. Waivers provide services such as behavior support, adaptive aids, medical supplies, respite care, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, minor home modifications, nursing, specialized therapies, pre-vocational training, supported employment, transition assistance, and others. The services provided vary by waiver.

Texas has 7 waivers, each with an interest list. Your child can be on multiple interest lists at one time, but can only receive services from one waiver at a time. Most waivers have a 10+ year wait for services, so it is important to get on interest lists as soon as possible.

Call 1-877-438-5658 to place your child on the CLASS, DBMD, MDCP AND HCBS interest lists.

Community Living Assistance and Support Services (CLASS): Services/supports for people with related conditions other than intellectual disability/mental health that began before age 22 and are not expected to improve. Examples include autism, cerebral palsy, seizures, spina bifida and others. The disability must affect 3 or more of the following areas: self-care, understanding and use of language, learning, mobility, self-direction or capacity for independent living. There is no age limit for this waiver.

Deaf Blind with Multiple Disabilities (DBMD): Services/supports for people who are legally deaf-blind or have a condition that will lead to becoming legally deaf-blind in the future; plus at least one other disability that affects independent functioning. There is no age limit for this waiver.

Medically Dependent Children’s Program (MDCP): Services/supports for families caring for a young adult at home who would otherwise require care in a nursing home. Recipient must be under 21 years old. If under 18, they must be living with an adult family member or legal foster family.

STAR+PLUS Home and Community Based Services (HCBS): Managed care program for people who meet medical necessity criteria for nursing home care and are at risk for being placed in a nursing home. Allows recipients to get both acute and long term services at home. Recipients must be age 21 or older.

Call Integral Care at 512-483-5809 to place your child on the HCS and TxHmL interest lists.

Home & Community Based Services (HCS): Services/supports for people with intellectual disability (ID) or related conditions who live with family members, in their own homes or group homes with 4 beds or less. There is no age limit for this waiver.

Texas Home Living (TxHmL): Services to people with an intellectual disability (ID) or a related condition who live in their own home or their family’s home. Services include: adaptive aids, behavioral support, community support, day habilitation (help with development of basic life skills), employment assistance, minor home modifications, nursing, respite, professional therapies, supported employment, and others. There is no age limit for this waiver.

Call the YES Waiver Inquiry Line at (512) 804-3191 to place your child on the YES interest list.

You may have to leave a message saying, “I’d like to put my child on the inquiry list.” Once you leave your contact information, someone should call you back within a couple of days.

Youth Empowerment Services (YES): Services/supports for people who experience mental/emotional/behavioral issues to reduce time in psychiatric hospitals, allowing recipients to stay at home and in their community. Recipients must be 3-18 years old for this waiver.

IMPORTANT! Once your child is on the interest list(s) you MUST call and update any changes to your phone number and address immediately. Many parents call each waiver interest list around their child’s birthday to ensure they still have the correct contact information and please know you want your child’s name to remain on the interest lists.

Programas de exención de Medicaid

Las exenciones de Medicaid permiten que los adultos mayores, las personas con discapacidades o las necesidades médicas / emocionales vivan en casa, en lugar de en hogares de ancianos u otras instituciones. Las exenciones brindan servicios tales como apoyo conductual, ayudas adaptativas, suministros médicos, cuidado de relevo, terapia ocupacional, terapia física, terapia del habla, modificaciones menores en el hogar, enfermería, terapias especializadas, capacitación prevocacional, empleo con apoyo, asistencia de transición y otros. Los servicios brindados varían según la exención.

Texas tiene 7 exenciones, cada una con una lista de intereses. Su hijo puede estar en varias listas de intereses a la vez, pero solo puede recibir servicios de una exención a la vez. La mayoría de las exenciones tienen más de 10 años de espera por los servicios, por lo que es importante obtener listas de interés lo antes posible.

Llame al 1-877-438-5658 para ubicar a su hijo en las listas de interés de CLASS, DBMD, MDCP Y HCBS.

Servicios de apoyo y asistencia para vivir en la comunidad (CLASS por sus siglas in inglés): servicios/apoyos para personas con afecciones distintas a la discapacidad intelectual/salud mental que comenzaron antes de los 22 años y que probablemente no terminen. Los ejemplos incluyen autismo, parálisis cerebral, convulsiones, espina bífida y otros. La discapacidad debe afectar 3 o más de las siguientes áreas: autocuidado, comprensión y uso del lenguaje, aprendizaje, movilidad, autodirección o capacidad de vida independiente. No hay límite de edad para esta exención.

Personas sordo ciegas con discapacidades múltiples (DBMD por sus siglas in inglés): servicios/apoyos para personas que son legalmente auditiva y visual o que tienen una condición que las llevará a ser legalmente auditiva y visual en el futuro; más al menos otra discapacidad que afecta el funcionamiento independiente. No hay límite de edad para esta exención.

Programa de niños médicamente dependientes (MDCP por sus siglas en inglés): servicios/apoyos para familias que cuidan a un adulto joven en el hogar que de otra manera necesitaría atención en un hogar de ancianos. El destinatario debe ser menor de 21 años. Si es menor de 18 años, debe vivir con un miembro adulto de la familia o una familia adoptiva legal.

Programa de servicios ​​en el hogar y en la comunidad STAR + PLUS (HCBS por sus siglas en inglés): programa de atención administrada para personas que cumplen con los criterios de necesidad médica para el cuidado en un hogar de ancianos y están en riesgo de ser colocados en un hogar de ancianos. Permite a los destinatarios recibir servicios tanto agudos como a largo plazo en el hogar. Los destinatarios deben tener 21 años o más.

Llame a Integral Care al 512-483-5841 para ubicar a su hijo en las listas de interés de HCS y TxHmL.

Programa de servicios ​​en el hogar y en la comunidad (HCS por sus siglas en inglés): servicios/apoyos para personas con discapacidad intelectual (ID) o afecciones relacionadas que viven con miembros de la familia, en sus propios hogares o hogares grupales con 4 camas o menos. No hay límite de edad para esta exención.

Programa de Texas para Vivir en Casa (TxHmL por sus siglas en inglés): Servicios a personas con una discapacidad intelectual (ID) o una condición relacionada que viven en su propio hogar o en el de sus familias. Los servicios incluyen: ayudas adaptativas, apoyo conductual, apoyo comunitario, habilitación diurna (ayuda con el desarrollo de habilidades básicas para la vida), asistencia laboral, modificaciones menores en el hogar, enfermería, relevo, terapias profesionales, empleo con apoyo, y otros. No hay límite de edad para esta exención.

Llame a la línea de consulta de exención de YES al(512) 804-3191 para colocar a su hijo en la lista de intereses de YES. Es posible que deba dejar un mensaje que diga: "Me gustaría incluir a mi hijo en la lista de consultas". Una vez que deje su información de contacto, alguien deberá devolverle la llamada dentro de un par de días.

Programa de la Exención en Empoderamiento de los Jóvenes (YES por sus siglas en inglés): servicios/apoyos para personas que experimentan problemas mentales/emocionales/de comportamiento para reducir el tiempo en hospitales psiquiátricos, permitiendo que los beneficiarios se queden en casa y en su comunidad. Los destinatarios deben tener entre 3 y 18 años para esta exención.

IMPORTANTE! Una vez que su hijo esté en la (s) lista (s) de interés, DEBE llamar y actualizar cualquier cambio en su número de teléfono y dirección de inmediato. Muchos padres llaman a cada lista de interés de exención alrededor del cumpleaños de su hijo para asegurarse de que todavía tengan la información de contacto correcta y sepan que desea que el nombre de su hijo permanezca en la lista de interesados.