Saturday, January 19, 2008

Need Advice Before Meeting On Wednesday..

We have been having some issues with K.C.'s current Autism Program at school. I've kept quiet about K.C.'s school days these days. His teacher phoned me on Friday so that we can set up a meeting at the district office. I requested a "mediator" be at the meeting as well.

K.C.'s teacher feels that his current program "isn't a good fit" and "would benefit greatly being placed in a new program." She says she has K.C.'s best interest at heart.

The new program is called a SMD Program. I have not a clue as to what those letters stand for, I tried googling them but STILL haven't been able to figure out what SMD means. I see SMD but that's about it. I need help before going to this meeting, the phone call I received on Friday was a late call so I haven't been able to ask more questions because it's the weekend.

Anyone heard of this program? I did ask his teacher if children with Autism were in the program (just to be certain) and she said, "absolutely."

I need advice.



Ange said...

Assuming you are in public school, first, red flags always go off when they say "program". A program can be the starting point, but just putting a kid in a "program" because there are a few components that work for them isn't great either, unless they are willing to customize "the program" to meet the individual needs of your child.

In writing, request information on the SMD program (I don't know what it is) and a written explanation as to why it is being proposed for your child. Also request in writing why they think the current program isn't working. Explain that you need this X days before the meeting in order for you to prepare for the IEP team meeting.

Also request in school district staff that you want to make sure is there. The meeting should be planned with you in control. I always put phone cll bits in the written letter (e.g., "Ms. M stated in her phonecall on 1/18/08 that she wished to discuss changing KC's program...) And I always ask that my letter and their response be part of my child's permanent record.

When I don't do things in writing, I kick myself later. Most importantly, you will have the information you need to feel prepared. Even if it isn't public school, put it back on them. They owe you the courtesy of information. ANd you need to make sure KC isn't being put in program just because 3 out of 5 children in his class are using it, or there will be a new teacher that is only trained in that program, or whatever.

Ange said...

And, you can reschedule the meeting. If this is a public school, they should've given you a formal written notice as it should be an IEP team meeting, as change in program should be an IEP team decision. I do not know a lot about private schools, so I apologize if that is your case!

Eileen (aka Mamaroo) said...

If I was to guess, the MD may stand for multiple disabilities.

Just go to the meeting with an open mind and listen, ask to observe the program that they are recommending to see if it may be a better fit and make sure they give you their reasoning as to why the current program is not a good fit. Don't sign or consent to anything without first looking at the program or making sure the professionals give you their plan as to why this other program would be more appropriate and help him to reach his goals.

Good luck!

kristina said...

Definitely don't sign anything at the meeting!

Some thoughts about questions to ask:

One way you might phrase questions is in terms of the IEP: How are KC's IEP goals being met, or not met, by the current IEP? What specific rationale and evidence does the district have, that the "SMD" program will be a "better fit"? How will the "SMD" program better help KC to attain his IEP goals?

Note to them that any transition to a different program, with different staff and children and in a different location (?) will be a major change for KC. A transition plan will need to be created and it is essential that staff at both classrooms communicate, and that staff from the SMD program see KC in his current placement. How will KC's needs for speech, OT, and other services be met at the new program?

Are you able to get an independent evaluator to observe KC in his current placement, observe the new placement, and offer another opinion?

Also, I tape all meetings. You can write to your school district (to the case manager) a week in advance and tell them that you are bringing one. They then have the right to tape too. I think it's important to show the district that you are very serious and that you are watching them.

Hope KC is holding up with all of this----

Penny L. Richards said...

SMD is probably Severely/Multiply Disabled--a catch-all category when there are too many boxes to tick on the forms. My son is in an SMD class--sometimes it's been fine (like right now), sometimes it's been pretty bad--as with any school setting, I guess. It's a very mixed bag of kids, moreso than in very specific programs.

As everyone has already said, proceed with an open but wary stance--get a lot of information in writing before agreeing to a change of placement. But all the paper promises in the world won't make up for bad personnel--so if you don't feel confident in the teacher and staff for the program, count that as a warning.

Anonymous said...

you've gotten some great suggestions here. i wish i could help but i don't have a clue what SMD means. i, too, stress not signing anything at this first meeting, just gather information and make a date to observe the new program, take your time, don't let them pressure you, and yes, get their request for this change and the reasons in writing, preferably before the meeting so you have a chance to read through it in private and not with all eyes on you. even if the feeling in the room is genuinely supportive, it's emotional and stressful enough, especially if you're hearing brand new information.

good luck! please keep us posted!

Niksmom said...

In addition to asking for written explanatins and proposals, etc...*definitely* get clarification on what SMD stands for. When we still had Nik inschool and the team agreed the best classification was "severely multiply disabled," and wrote SMD on the change sheet. Thank goodness we also wrote the actual phrase b/c the case manager called me a few days later to tell me that SMD stands for "Severely Mentally Disabled" which is the politically correct term they ise these days to classify severe mental retardation.

This SMD may be different but I suspect not; there is a great deal of uniformity in SpEd terminology used for IDEA-related things.

**IF** that is what it means then you need to get as much informatin as possible about how they are making this determination. An SMD classification *usually* (at least as I understand it) requires documentation of IQ below a certain level. If this is what they are suggesting then you can ask for an independent education evaluation (at the district's expense).

Ask for as much information as you need before you agree to anything.

In fact, have the meeting on Wed if you want but go in and make it clear that "this is not an IEP meeting; it is an informal discussion."

It can be a very slippery slope once a child is classified as SMD (meaning retarded) as certain assumptions get made about a child's abilities and capacity for learning.

Please let us know if there's anything we can help with in terms of coaching or information or just moral support.

Sending love and positive thoughts. xo

Judith said...

If possible, get a copy of From Emtions to Advocacy by Pete Wright. It has a lot of practical advice. Don't allow them to rush you into a decision you are not comfortable with. This book is an easy read and will give you some helpful tools/info regarding how to effectively deal with your school district.

Your sweet boy is beautiful!

JUST A MOM said...

Tina looks like some great stuff up there.... The only thing I can say is... you got my number if ya need an ear I am here if you dont have it email me... Hang in there nd good luck and remember they have to do what is best for KC and not just PUT him someplace....

Casdok said...

Yes good luck! I think you have been given some good advice above.

Lora said...

When I did a search I found a list of what SMD was an acronym for and it showed that it can mean: Severely Mentally Disabled, here is the link to the source of info:
If that is the case and that is what they are thinking is appropriate for K.C. I would most definitely NOT sign anything and check out this classroom "program" and always use your motherly instincts and do not let anyone try to make decisions for you or pressure you into something. I would also check out thoroughly the teacher's credentials and if you can call an advocate from your local Autism Society and have her go with you. I have had an advocate at all of the meetings concerning Griffin and boy was I grateful that I had her help. They ask all the questions that maybe you didn't even think of or consider and they fight for what you want and for what he needs the most. Good luck sweetie and hang in there......never forget that you are an awesome mommy and ultimately know what is best for your child. We love you dearly and send huge hugs to you guys!!!!

~Miss Nelson said...

I have tried to look all over and I also asked some people that I know, no one knows what this SMD program is. I wonder if it is somethin specific to your school district?

Anyway, you need her to put in writing why his new program isnt a good fit, also ask her to tell you what SMD stands for first of all and if there is any research on if this program is affective. Placement should be a team decision, you should never go to a meeting and they tell you there that they found a program for him. THAT IS AGAINST THE LAW! You are a part of the team and you have a say. In order for them to get him into this new program they need your consent, please do not sign anything until you feel like you are well informed and you are making a decision that you feel comfortable with.

The fact that other children are in the program makes me think that this is not an inclusive environment. Please do not let them do this to your son. Feel free to email me when you find out what it is and I will see how I can help.

~Miss Nelson said...

I totally agree with Ange when she said: In writing, request information on the SMD program (I don't know what it is) and a written explanation as to why it is being proposed for your child. Also request in writing why they think the current program isn't working. Explain that you need this X days before the meeting in order for you to prepare for the IEP team meeting.