Special Education Scoop

PfISD Special Education Parent Newsletter - January 2021

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In This Issue

Early Childhood Special Education Corner

Assistive Technology Update

Iris Center Module for Covid 19 Support in the Home

Behavior Support in the Home

Low Incidence Disability News

Speech Spot

Developing Self Determination through Self Advocacy

Medicaid Waivers

Travis County Summer Youth Employment

Destination Life Regional Transition Fair and Conference is Coming Soon

The Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M Training Opportunity for Caregivers

Save the Date


Early Childhood Special Education Corner

Small Moves is resources for families to use at home with four year olds to help prepare them for entering kindergarten. On the website you will find a way to download digital resources of lesson ideas. You can also register to have a paper packet sent to your home. All lessons for each month relate to the big concepts being taught in Prekindergarten and ECSE classrooms. Materials should be readily assessable at home.

Assistive Technology Support

Parents/Families Did you know...

-Our district has made specific Frequently Asked Questions, Resource Guide, and specific link site? Here is the link-https://sites.google.com/pfisd.net/iguide/

-You can have your own GoNoodle Account? If your kid needs a brain break, an indoor workout, an interactive movement activity you can sign up and they can pick from a huge list of engaging fun in English and Spanish! https://family.gonoodle.com/

-We are here to help you navigate your child's learning! If you have questions or need support check here https://sites.google.com/pfisd.net/iguide/deviceapplication-support?authuser=0

OR you can contact us on your student's chromebook on the Technology Help !

Iris Center Module for Covid 19 Support in the Home

The IRIS Center is supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. The center provides free online resources of evidence-based instructional and behavioral practices. To address what many families may be facing, the IRIS Center has created a training on how to continue to support learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This free module can be accessed by clicking here. Topics in this module include the parent/guardian role in supporting the child’s learning, getting students ready for learning, setting routines, learning expectations and tips to support reading and math. Finally, the module addressed challenges families may be facing such as difficulty with students staying focus, difficulty reading, and difficulty following directions.

Behavior Support in the Home

Students who have ADHD can find virtual learning to be difficult and frustrating. Parents and teachers alike also have found difficulty in supporting the learning of those who have ADHD while in the virtual setting. The article below outlines the difficulties students with ADHD encounter and some tips for educators and parents to help avoid such struggles both in the virtual and in person setting. If your family is experiencing difficulties with virtual learning, reach out to your child’s teacher for help.


Low Incidence Disability News

Please see the attached link for many resources on how to best support children with Autism during COVID-19. There are stories from families who have children with autism about their time during COVID-19, ideas of how to support literacy at home, free visuals and social stories, instructional modules and so much more. We are here to support your student and family during this difficult time.


Speech Spot

Happy New Year! Have you resolved to get in the kitchen and cook more for 2021? If so, conquer the kitchen with your kids! Cooking brings families together, and it can also be an opportunity to work on speech and language skills. You can work on the following skills while cooking: following directions, labeling, descriptive terms, sequencing, speech sounds, WH questions, initiating speech and requests (early childhood), reading, turn taking, and time management (bonus—math). Here’s a simple recipe to get your started:

Phillips Phamily Smoothie

1 single serving yogurt (vanilla or any flavor)

4 strawberries, sliced (fresh or frozen)

1 banana (fresh or frozen)

¼ cup or so milk or water

7-8 ice cubes (if using frozen fruit no need for ice)

Optional—strawberry topping for ice cream—this gives it a little more sweetness

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Think about those skills listed above!

Jennifer A. Phillips, MS, CCC-SLP

Coordinator of Speech Services

Developing Self Determination through Self Advocacy

Advocacy—Providing support for students who are being victimized, are vulnerable to being hurt or harmed, or are isolated from other students.

Self-Advocacy—Speaking up for yourself, communicating what you need, and taking action.

Advocacy and self determination can be better managed and minimized when there is good communication between children and adults, especially their parents. Communication with parents leads to better communication with others. Communication is the cornerstone of Self-Advocacy.

The responsibility lies with parents and their community who need to talk to their children, particularly their children with special needs, about speaking up about victimization and advocacy. When children better understand what advocacy is and know that they are expected to talk about things that are bothering them or don’t feel right, they are more likely to ask for help.

Parents played an important role in protecting their children by making sure they feel empowerment and able to do things for themselves. This helps increase self-esteem and allows students to stand up for themselves when needed. All vulnerable children can be protected in this way, but it is up to parents to have student be aware and to take action.

Self advocacy can lead to:

  • Higher rates of attendance

  • Higher grades

  • More engagement in the learning

  • Higher motivation for academic achievement

  • Higher rates of graduation

Parents, educators, community members, and fellow students all have an important role in developing self advocacy.

When preparing to talk to children about self advocacy, adults should consider how they will handle the child’s questions and emotions and what their own responses will be. Adults should be prepared to listen without judgment, providing the child with a safe place to work out their feelings and determine next steps in developing self advocacy skills.

Peer advocacy—students speaking out on behalf of each other—is a unique approach that empowers students to support their peers with disabilities.

Peer advocacy works because students are more likely than adults to see what is happening with their peers and this influence is powerful.

Self-advocacy – The importance of involving youth in decision making and planning.

Self-advocacy means that the student is able to communicate what they want and need in a straightforward way.

Self-advocacy is knowing how to:

  • Speak up for yourself

  • Describe your strengths, challenges, needs, and wishes

  • Take responsibility for yourself

  • Learn about your rights

  • Obtain help or know who to ask if you have a question

The student should be involved in decision making. Their participation can provide a sense of control over their situation, and help them identify someone who is willing to listen, take action on their behalf, and reassure them that their opinions and ideas are important.

Over time, student’s come to recognize opportunities where speaking up is helpful and important and ask themselves their own questions.

“Is it worth it?”

Sometimes when brainstorming ways to fix a problem, students decide that the fix isn’t worth it. Or it’s better to change their own attitude. Or keep their distance from a certain person. Or opt out of a class or activity.

Students can pick the battles that either can be easily remedied or we find most crucial. The smaller, petty stuff drops to the bottom.

Advocating for yourself doesn’t mean whining over minor unpleasantness or inconvenience. It also doesn’t mean you expect advantages that aren’t warranted or treatment that isn’t earned.

“How can I say that in the best possible way?”

Not all adults like being corrected or challenged. Especially by a teen and even more especially not in front of a crowd.

Spend time thinking and talking about the best way to respectfully bring up issues.

Usually, it’s preferable to address concerns as privately as possible. Sometimes a polite nudge or reminder is all that’s required. A note dropped on the teacher’s desk, a quick email or a brief chat after class is usually the most successful.

“Do you need someone to help?

With every situation, we talk and talk it through. Identify trusted adults and peers who can provide back-up and support.

“Can you see how brave you are?”

Learning how to identify your needs, pick your battles and respectfully talk to people that may have upset you creates brave self-advocates. Students learn the benefits of self advocacy and know when and where to find back-up, if they need it.

Students with disabilities will run into challenges throughout high school and into college, but teaching them self advocacy strategies will help them face these challenges. In fact, acting as their own best advocates will continue to benefit them in the workplace and in life.


Grown and Flown- Better Conversation Diaz-Granas, Alex March 2, 2018

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Medicaid Waivers

What is a Medicaid Waiver? A Medicaid waiver allows the state to assist individuals and provide some long-term services to those with disabilities. Most of these waivers assist after adulthood, however please look at slide deck to see what waiver can provide and what are the age ranges. If an individual meets eligibility requirements, they can receive services they need in their own homes or other community settings, instead of having to go into a nursing facility or institution. You may apply and/or qualify for both Medicaid benefits, as well as Medicaid Waiver programs.

In Texas, there are several different waiver programs that offer a broad range of home and community-based services to people with disabilities and elderly citizens. There are different rules and funding amounts for each of the different waivers.

You do not need to be on Medicaid to be placed on the interest list. Most of the interest lists take years until a person is able to be considered for services. It is important to get on the interest list as early as possible.

Medicaid Waiver Presentation for Caregivers

Medicaid Waiver for Caregivers Video

Travis County Summer Youth Employment

The Summer Youth Employment Program hires youth ages 14-17 and youth with disabilities ages 14-22. Check out their flyers for more information.

Destination Life Regional Transition Fair and Conference is Coming Soon

Save the date - March 6, 2021 for a virtual event you do not want to miss. More details coming soon. See the flyers below for more information.

The Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M Training Opportunity for Caregivers

The Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University would like to offer training at no cost to Texas parents and caregivers of children up to age 22 with core features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Parents and caregivers will learn how to improve their child's communication skills. This service is provided by a grant project entitled Coach to Communicate (C2C), sponsored by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The training includes a 1-hour self-paced webinar that teaches behavioral strategies to increase communication use in children with ASD. Once complete, parents can choose to be paired with a coach for a more intensive 12-week training specific to their child’s communication needs (again, at no cost to parents). Coaching is offered in English and Spanish.

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January 18th - Student/Staff Holiday (MLK Day)

February 12th - Planning/Prep - Student Holiday

March 6th - Destination Life Regional Transition Fair and Conference

March 12th - Planning/Prep - Student Holiday

March 15th-19th - Spring Break

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