Special Needs

There were a lot of words uttered at candidate forums, posts made on Facebook that weren’t entirely true, and even situations of students twisted for political use during the months leading up to the election.

While we believe that Jeffco, and Colorado, and every other state, has a long way to go in providing the services we would like to see for special education students in particular, we also believe that is also true of all students as diverse learners. We need resources in Jeffco and in Colorado and we, as parents, community members, and staff members, need to be talking about it regularly. To everyone. A low voter turnout will not help our children, only we can make the change by working together.


However, post election, this Jeffco mom wants you to hear her story as a mother of a student in an ASD program:

When we learned we had a child with “special needs” we went in to overdrive. What can we do to give her a good quality of life? What can we do to give her the best chance of being an independent adult? We researched, we studied and I left the corporate world to be the mom she needed. She has the best in-home therapists and she is blessed with a loving big sister who adores her.

When a “special needs” parent is starting in the education system, they don’t know what they don’t know. What is IEP, LRE, IDEA, 504, FAPE, ESY, RTI, SMART, Accommodations, Modifications, etc.? It’s a steep learning curve and there is a whole new set of rules.

Fortunately, our daughter has had the most amazing teachers, principals, therapists and support staff in her elementary years in Jeffco. Knowing you are leaving your child with the knowledgeable and caring staff we have had is the greatest gift a school district can give a parent. The teacher she currently has is as good as a behavioral therapist (best scenario for ASD). What a gift to be able to leave my daughter with skilled people who are developing her into a more independent, resourceful person.

It is important to note the recent positive growth in the area of special needs in Jeffco. As an ASD mom (Autism Spectrum Disorder) I am thrilled to see the ASD Strategic Plan Committee working to have all center programs serving students with Autism be recognized as model CDE Autism Quality Programs by 2020. Created March 2016, it consists of a group of parents, educators and administrators who are working to implement best practices through OCALI and the CDE (Colorado Department of Education). Because of this program (created about two years ago) I’ve seen my daughter’s classroom institute best practices in several areas I am now familiar with that are known to be the top tier for working with ASD students. These programs include installing picture schedules, communication devices, task-analysis programs, etc. All of these practices are proven strategies by the ASD experts.

Staff training opportunities have included:

Behavior Intervention, Verbal De-escalation, Essentials of the Para Role, Center Non-negotiables, Tools for Small Groups and Recording Behavior.  RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) course/training for higher para qualifications.  (RBT is also recognized by insurance companies as a mandate for working with ASD kiddos.  Soon after starting this training the paras were excited to share how they used their learnings productively.

The ASD Quality Committee is doing great work.  The goals and identified targets and methods are moving us toward the 2020 Vision.  They are creating consistency in programs and increasing standards to meet the district’s needs.  The components have already made a significant difference in our elementary school center programs.  (visual schedules, social skills instruction, functional communication and a minimum of one requirement of a task analysis).

Autism effects one out of 68 children today and it seems to only be increasing. It is nice to know we live in a county that values the needs of these kids and is striving to be a model district.

And if you don’t know any of the terms above-Google is magical!