Special Services Parent Newsletter

January 2021

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Big picture

Robotics Students Build Wheelchair Attachment

Faith loves soccer. Her Adapted PE Coach wrote an IEP goal stating 'Faith will stop then kick a rolled ball toward a partner or target'. But moving the ball from her wheelchair was rather challenging. After researching wheelchair attachments, Adapted PE Coach Talisha Reliford reached out to robotics teacher Cyrus Richie at Summercreek Middle School. STEM students in Mr. Richie's robotics class embraced the challenge and soon designed and built a wheelchair attachment to help Faith reach her goal.


Reunión para Padres de Educación Especial

Lunes, 11 de enero, 1:30-2:30 pm

Aquí tiene la oportunidad de conversar en español con otros padres: ¿Qué ha funcionado mejor para su familia? ¿Le gustaría escuchar y compartir algunos consejos sobre cómo enfrentar un desafío que esté ocurriendo? Esta reunión es un foro informal para apoyarse y animarse unos a otros. Venga a compartir su sabiduría, obtenga consejos útiles y simplemente disfrute un poco de tiempo con otros adultos en estos tiempos desafiantes. Regístrese aquí para asegurarse de recibir la invitación de zoom.

Texas ABLE® Program - Parent Engagement Meeting - SAVE THE DATE

Thursday, February 11, 6:00-7:30 pm virtual

The Texas ABLE® Program is designed (1) to encourage and assist families in saving funds for the purpose of supporting individuals with disabilities to maintain health, independence, and quality of life; and (2) to provide secure funding for qualified disability expenses.

Mark your calendars to attend and learn how a Texas ABLE Account can help you plan for your child's future. Watch for the link to attend in our February Newsletter or Facebook page.

Parent Engagement Presentation - in case you missed the December meeting

Understanding the ARD Process

FAST FACTS - Supported Decision Making

Have you got 3 minutes to learn ways to optimize your child's transition to adulthood? The CISD Transition Team has created a series of "bite sized" videos on a variety of topics. Click here to view the January video explaining Supported Decision Making.

Technology Support

Having technology difficulties with your child's virtual learning? Use the Quick Start Guide below, or click here to get help.

What Do You Like the Most?

Enter our Door Prize Drawing by emailing what you found most useful or interesting in this month's Special Education Parent Newsletter.


Laura Spalding, PTA, Cortney Toler, Staci Strickland, Cindy Thompson, Kirsten Smith, Michelle Ivey, and Karen Turner


submitted by Staci Strickland, CISD Occupational Therapist

School occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are key contributors within the education team. They support a student’s ability to participate in desired daily school activities or “occupations.” They help children to fulfill their role as students by supporting their academic achievement and promoting positive behaviors necessary for learning. School occupational therapists (and occupational therapy assistants, under the supervision of the occupational therapist) support academic and nonacademic outcomes, including social skills, math, reading and writing (i.e., literacy), behavior management, recess, participation in sports, self-help skills, prevocational/vocational participation, transportation, and more. Because of their expertise in activity and environmental analysis, practitioners are particularly skilled in facilitating student

access to curricular and extracurricular activities. They focus on the students’ strengths, and can design and implement programming to improve inclusion and accessibility. Additionally, they play a critical role in educating parents, educators, administrators and other staff members. They offer services along a continuum of prevention, promotion, and interventions and serve individual students, groups of students, whole classrooms, and whole school initiatives. They collaborate within the education team to support student success. In this way, occupational therapy practitioners can contribute within both general and special education.

Occupational therapy practitioners have specific knowledge and expertise to increase participation in school routines throughout the day. Interventions include:

  • Conducting activity and environmental analysis and making recommendations to improve the fit for greater access, progress, and participation
  • Reducing barriers that limit student participation within the school environment • Providing assistive technology to support student success
  • Supporting the needs of students with significant challenges, such as by helping to determine methods for alternate educational assessment and learning
  • Helping to identify long-term goals for appropriate post-school outcomes
  • Helping to plan relevant instructional activities for ongoing implementation in the classroom

Occupational therapy practitioners are key contributors within the educational team. They help to address both mental and physical health. They collaborate with a variety of partners, such as:

  • Students
  • Parents
  • Educators and other school support staff
  • Administrators

Occupational therapy services for students with special needs are determined through the IEP process. School-based occupational therapy is available for

students who are eligible for special education. Occupational therapists complete evaluations and assessments, and work with other members of the school-based team to help determine what is needed for a student to receive a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. They collaborate with the team to identify a student’s annual goals and determine the services, supports, modifications, and accommodations that are required for the student to achieve them. When the IEP team determines that occupational therapy is needed in order for a student to meet his or her annual goals, then occupational therapy should be included in the student’s IEP.

Updated and copyright by the American Occupational Therapy Association


What Does a Speech Language Pathologist Do?

submitted by Lindsey Mackey, CISD Speech Language Pathologist

This article outlines the primary roles and responsibilities of a speech language pathologist (SLP) working in a school.

In a school setting, SLPs help students who have delays or deficits with communication that are impacting their academic performance. They help students to meet academic standards by providing strategies, suggestions, and/or direct interventions when they display difficulties in the following areas: articulation and phonology, semantics (vocabulary), grammar/syntax, pragmatic language, voice, and fluency.

Definitions of the different areas SLP’s can provide therapy for:

Articulation—how we say sounds and put sounds together into words. Other words for these problems are articulation or phonological disorders, apraxia or dysarthria.

Language—how well we understand what we hear or read and how we use words to tell others what we are thinking.

Social Communication—how to follow rules such as taking turns, how to talk to different people, or how close to stand to someone when talking. This is also called pragmatics.

Voice—how our voices sound. We may sound hoarse, lose our voices easily, talk too loudly or through our noses, or be unable to make sounds.

Fluency—also called stuttering, is how well speech flows. Someone who stutters may repeat sounds, like t-t-t-table, use "um" or "uh," or pause a lot when talking. Many young children will go through a time when they stutter, but most outgrow it.

Additionally, school based SLPS:

  • Conduct screenings and assessments to help identify students with communication disorders, as well as provide functional suggestions to help students in the classroom setting
  • Monitor student progress in order to form appropriate treatment and lesson plans that effectively address their students’ needs
  • Monitor levels of support provided during therapy sessions
  • Participate in Individualized Education Program (IEP) development, Medicaid billing, and report writing
  • Collaborate with administrators, parents, teachers, and other service providers to promote carry- over of skills from the speech therapy room into other settings
  • Participate in professional development and continuing education classes to ensure the use of best practices and current research based methods during therapy
CISD Special Education Website

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Look at what's happening in classrooms, see smiling faces of students, and find out about upcoming events in and around CISD.

10 Tips to Help Your Child Follow Instructions

Does your child have trouble following instructions? Kids with learning and thinking differences often do. Check out these 10 ideas for helping your child improve from the folks at understand.org.


Down Syndrome Partnership's January Events

The Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas is offering lots of activities and events during the month of January. "ZOOMba" virtual adaptive fitness dance classes, Teen Scene social club outing on Jan. 15th to Sundance Square, Parent's Night Out, to name a few.

Supported Decision-Making Clinic

Monday, January 18

Session 1 3:00-4:30 pm or Session 2 4:30-6:00

A Supported Decision-Making Agreement is an alternative to guardianship that helps a person retain autonomy while enjoying the support of loved ones. SDMA's are free and totally customizable. the UNT ELEVAR Program in partnership with University of Texas Law School is presenting this clinic for young adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families. Click here to learn more and/or register for this free clinic.

Parent-Led Cognitive Behavioral Teletherapy

If you have a child with autism, age 7-13, who struggles with anxiety, you may be interested in this opportunity. Baylor College of Medicine is offering free parent-led cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) over Zoom that addresses anxiety in kids on the autism spectrum as part of a research study. There is no cost to participate. It is approved by the Baylor College of Medicine Institutional Review Board. Click here for more information.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing 2021 Events & Resources below.


Blended Pre-K 4 year olds working on colors, following instructions, and fine motor skills.

Mr. Trichell's students connect with their virtual classmates.

Mrs. Patterson's students honing their cooking skills and then having a fitness workout.