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IEP and speech device access?



Two things....

1.) My child is being provided a speech device through the school, but he is arriving with a device he received through private insurance and is extremely proficient with for the past few years. The school is providing mixed messages. The ST is saying the device will have the exact same language/system/vocabulary. She is also saying there may be different login pages. (I am assuming this to mean maybe a login screen or such with the school system's logo or disclaimers or whatever?). The teacher, however, is claiming that the school device use the same program, but the language/vocab will be slightly different, and that she would prefer we change everything over to this layout because it is easier for the teachers (!!!) because they are already used to this system (!!!).  Can you reject a school-provided speech device on grounds it would require my child to learn an entirely new system? Would you need to call an IEP meeting to require use of child's personal device? Any other thoughts/ideas, please let me know. 

2.) My child frequently scripts on his device. Understandably this can be disruptive to listening to instruction, and we need to work on listening skills. However, the teacher is asking the device be put face down, or set on a separate area of the room. This is a pretty slippery slope. Any thoughts/ideas on how this is addressed? The IEP states that my child will have consistent access to the device at all times.

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If the IEP does not designate a specific device and the speech device the school is offering satisfies the requirements in the IEP, you may not be able to get the school to use the privately-issued devise.  You can ask that it be specified in the IEP, but you may not be entitled to this until it can be shown that the school device is not working for your child.  I'm a little confused as to your comment that he has been he has been proficient with it for the past few years.  Where was he using the device and showing proficiency with it?  Was he in a different school or school district before?  As for the argument that it would require your child to learn an entirely new system, that might depend on how burdensome this would be.  I would definitely ask for an for an IEP meeting to discuss all of these issues and voice your preference, but you may be unsuccessful if the school device satisfies the IEP and the learning curve for the new device is not too steep.

As far as access to the device, if that is written in the IEP, you may need to discuss with the team what "access" means and firm up that language.  Is across the room sufficient to meet the "access" requirement?  If there are reasons to answer this question as "no," then specific in the IEP that it needs to be on his desk.  I'm a little confused on the facts of this issue, as well.  When you say he "frequently scripts" on this device, is he scripting what the teacher is saying/instructing in class and is this written into his IEP that he can do this?  How exactly is it disruptive to "listening to instruction"?  Is he scripting random things that have nothing to do with the class instruction and so he is not listening?  If so, maybe he does need to have the device away from him (across the room) when verbal instruction is being given.  You can add language to the IEE that makes sure this doesn't become a slippery slope, and that he has access to the device when needed as an accommodation for accessing his education and as called for in the IEP. 

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It is 'best practice' for home and school to be on the same page.  This would include an AAC device.  IMO, the home & school AAC should be identical except for the login.  Forcing a student to switch between different vocabulary layouts is creating problems for the student.  If he were to say something nonsensical, is it because his muscle memory was using his other device or does he need instruction to correct a mistake?  (I've seen where another student damaged an AAC device.  What happens when this is something the family owns?  Who pays to fix this?)

Let's for a minute imagine that your child didn't need AAC and was scripting in the classroom.  What would the school do as an intervention so he wasn't disrupting instruction?  This is what your child should get too.  (I think the answer is that the school would do an FBA to see if there was an antecedent to when he scripted.  They would also be providing Specially Designed Instruction in proper classroom behavior.  They can't tape a child's mouth shut at school & removing his access to his device has this same effect.)  I could see a teacher asking him to place the device face down if he was disrupting class - much the same as telling another student to be quiet until the teacher finished instructing the class.  If face down isn't helping, he doesn't have the capacity at that moment to take in information because he's focused on scripting.  The lack of focus needs to be addressed.  Does he need a sensory break?  Is he hungry?  Again, what's the antecedent?  Make sure the school/IEP is looking at the root cause and not just a symptom.  Address the root - not the symptom.

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