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Self-Awareness


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Hello-

My daughter is 13yo and this is a transition IEP period. Her team is realizing on community outings that her level of self awareness requires a lot of attention and support. Communication is also for her high on the list of needs and she is a Gestalt processor. On the plus side, her speech team is now sharing what communication needs  to looks like when working with her. 
 

what I’m feeling is missing is the urgency and danger of her lack of self awareness.  She is very unaware of danger in a parking lot with moving car or while walking in the community.  Her response when asked to scan and look do not demonstrate understanding. She also has limited awareness of others.  The amount of time spent in her IEP on these areas specifically in the community practicing is once a week  She is in a resource room not a self contained room with like peers. At points of the day, there are 3 other children  with IEP’s but only one that is constantly in there with her. She is only in a reg  Ed setting for art and gym.  Where do I find kids for her to learn these self awareness things and once a week will never accomplish what it needs to accomplish for her present and future safety.  She also can’t reliably understand her own feelings part of the interoception need that isn’t present.  I tried to fight to have an outside placement done but I was told that was a more restrictive environment for her and the entire team decided against it. I may have to fight to have her moving forward with mediation to push for some time perhaps Community outings with this outside placement school at least one more day in the week to get her exposure in the community with her like peers.

 I’m open to this forums thoughts  I continue to fight a very long battle with this school team.  What am I missing?  What do need to be pushing for bc it’s her future that needs to be focused on insurance and appropriate support to help facilitate what everyone should be working toward with her .

 

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It sounds like you have several concerns:

  • the need to build self-awareness 
  • the need to improve communication and self advocacy skills (Has the school done an AAC evaluation and does she have an AAC device, if needed?)
  • concerns with her placement setting not having enough exposure to typically developing peers (concerns regarding placement/ least restrictive environment)

I would recommend writing a letter of parent concerns and requesting another meeting with your IEP team if you haven't recently discussed these concerns. If you have recently discussed the concerns, see what the district wrote in the PWN regarding your concerns, and then consider your procedural safeguard options. 

You listed that your daughter is with peers for art and gym. Could the school include her with peers for music, library time, recess, lunch, etc? If they say no, you can ask for an explanation in PWN. 

Are you able to help her be involved in community activities outside school (Scouts, religious organizations, 4-H, sports, etc.)? Does she like to do community outings with you (grocery shopping, going to the library, museums, etc.)? All those things give children community involvement outside of school.

Out of district placements are a more "restrictive" setting on the continuum of placement options. It's really an IEP team decision as to what's the most appropriate educational setting for a child. If you disagree with the placement the district chooses, then you consider your procedural safeguards

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It sounds like the biggest priority at the moment for a 13 year old is addressing your safety concerns.  The good news is that it sounds like the team recognizes that self awareness is an issue on these outings, and that she is already receiving these outings.  Maybe everyone is too backed into their corners about the out of district placement disagreement to get to a place where you can have a meaningful discussion about addressing your concerns?

You're probably right that a once a week outing is not enough for learning this skill.  The community is typically where previously learned skills are generalized, so it could help if she has at least a cognitive understanding first.  Has your daughter had explicit instruction in the resource room to teach her to identify and describe things like safe vs unsafe (ex, how do I know its safe to walk in the parking lot, why is it dangerous to move in front of a moving car, etc)?  Maybe there's a way to get creative about gym class where you can use the games and other students in gym to help her work on being aware of her surroundings (or what about in crowded hallways, or lunch rooms, or school parking lot, etc)?  If you want her around more peers, are there other areas in the current school where she could participate more and be more involved in the life of the school?  Clubs, etc?

What about asking the team to meet to have a brainstorming session specifically for this concern, and ask if they can come to the table with a few ideas on how to meet your daughter's safety needs?  

If what you decide upon as a team does not show any sign of improvement, you would at least have more data to demonstrate the need for an out of district placement, or proceed with mediation if necessary.  

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Interoception is a sensory thing.  OTs work on sensory.  Has she had an OT eval?

What about asking for parent training on teaching safety so you can do a bit of this when she's not in school?  You want to be using the same system that the school uses so she's taught with consistency.

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