Thursday, July 31, 2008

FYI: Competence and Confidence: Partners in Policymaking for Families of Children in Early Intervention (C2P2EI)

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University is pleased to announce that this year’s session of Competence and Confidence: Partners in Policymaking for Families of Children in Early Intervention (C2P2EI) will start in October of 2008 and end in May 2009. It will be held in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.

What is C2P2EI? C2P2EI is an innovative training program providing family member participants with up-to-date information, leadership development training, resources and skills. Participants learn about the local, state and national issues that affect children with disabilities. Funding for this program is made possible by Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention Technical Assistance.

Who should apply to C2P2EI? Interested family members throughout Pennsylvania who have an infant, toddler or pre-school age child who has special needs are eligible to apply for this program. Family members must have the desire to learn to advocate for themselves and others and be willing to make a time commitment to attend the sessions.

How much does it cost to attend C2P2EI? A limited number of family members are accepted into the program at no cost to the individual. Participants are reimbursed for travel costs and childcare expenses. Meals are included and overnight lodging is provided for those individuals traveling over 30 miles to the training location.

What are some the benefits of attending? Graduates learn to become strong advocates and leaders. They gain the ability to teach policymakers a new way of thinking about people with disabilities. Graduates learn about current policies, laws, and regulations. They get an opportunity to meet many of the key players in the Early Intervention System. Certificates are awarded to participants who successfully complete all the program requirements.

Where can I get an application for this program? Applications can be requested by writing to The Institute on Disabilities, Temple University, 1601 N. Broad Street, Suite 610, University Services Building, Philadelphia,PA or contact either: Sue Tuckerman, Family Advocacy Coordinator 215.204.1772/ or
Diane Perry, Inclusion Coordinator at 215.204.3031/

TTY calls can be made to 215.204.1356.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

FYI: North Hills Autism Support Group Meeting

The North Hills Autism Support Group meeting will take place on Tuesday, August 5th at the Panera on McKnight Road across from Ross Park Mall from 7 to 9 pm.

Their meetings are for Parents, Caregivers, Relatives/Friends of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's and PDD-NOS. Parents of children newly diagnosed are welcome as well as families who follow a biomedical intervention and those who do not.


Any questions or suggestions please feel free to email or Jane at

FYI: Autism Support Network Workshop: November 15, 2008 with Donna Williams

The Autism Support Network will be presenting a workshop on November 15, 2008, with guest speaker Donna Williams.

Donna Williams is an Australian born adult with autism who acquired functional speech in late childhood and went on to become a qualified teacher. She is the author of two international bestselling autobiographies and has 9 published books relating to autism, including 4 text books widely used in autism education.

As a screenwriter, she wrote the screenplay to "Nobody Nowhere", the first book in her 4 book autobiographical series. That screenplay is currently under option to become a Hollywood film.

She is an professional artist, singer-song writer and published poet as well as a world renowned public speaker on autism now living with her husband in Australia. In her presentations she draws not only on her own experiences but on over 10 years experience as a professional autism consultant having worked with hundreds of people on the autism spectrum.

Donna's workshop will provide a valuable perspective of living life withASD across the family, school and community environments. She is a speakerin demand around the world due to her unique perspective and ability toshare her feelings and experiences on a very personal level.

More information about her and her life's work can be found on her website at

For more info and a registration form, click the following link:


"Save the Date"

The Bucks County Autism Support Coalition will be hosting their 2ND Annual Dinner Fundraising Gala at Sprint Mill Manor - Ivyland on November 8, 2008.

They are seeking donations of goods or services for raffle items. Tickets will be available soon.

For more information, click the following link:

FYI: Free Sign Language Trainings from PEAL Center

The PEAL Center serves families of children with disabilities and special health care needs. They provide information and training on education in Central and Western Pennsylvania, and on health care needs and support services statewide.

The PEAL Center is an organization of parents of children with special health care needs and
disabilities reaching out to assist other parents and professionals.

The PEAL Center will be offering Tiny Fingers to Tiny Voices, a free sign language program for parents and small children. The program instructor is Kimberly S. Simon, M. Ed. and will be offered on the following dates at these locations:

Cranberry Public Library
2525 Rochester Road
Cranberry Twp., PA 16066
April 29 May 6, 13, 20, 27
June 3
9:30-10:30 AM

William E. Anderson Library
1037 Stotler Rd.
(Stotler & Saltzburg)
Pittsburgh, PA 15235
July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
August 5
9:30-10:30 AM

Squirrel Hill Library
5801 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Metered lot under the library
June 30 July 7, 14, 21, 28
August 4
6:00-7:00 PM

Co-sponsored by Rainbows End
Recreation Station
289 North Ave.
Washington, PA 15301
August 26
September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
10:00-11:00 AM

Thursday, July 17, 2008

FYI: Training - Special Education Law Update - July 24


After much work from parents and Advocates many of our PA regulations for Special Education changed for the better as of July 1st, 2008. Your school district has been advised on how they affect your child's IEP. You are invited to come & find out how the new changes affect your child's IEP and your rights.

Please join Special Education Advocate Melissa Bilash and Special Education Attorneys Catherine Reisman, Amy Corolla and Jerry Tanenbaum on Thursday July 24th from 9-12:30 at McCall Golf and Country Club, 201 N. Lynne Blvd-Highland Park Ave- Upper Darby- 19083.

This conference is FREE but you need to RSVP due to limited space. Send Reply by July 20th to

Questions please call 610 529 9350.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Colonial Intermediate Unit Staff Hand Book 2007-2008

We found a copy of the 2007-2008 Staff handbook online at

Would you mind giving us your thoughts on their "policies" on Corporal Punishment? It starts on page 100, but we've copied and pasted some parts that have us more than a little concerned; namely, that staff are permitted to use ANY means necessary to stop self-injurious behaviors.

This policy also permits restraints, but does not instruct staff on how to properly restrain a child, and does not mention seclusion at all. We have bolded the parts we're particularly concerned with and placed comments in ( ).

We'd love to hear from you! Thanks!


Corporal punishment, the practice of physically punishing a student as a disciplinary measure or in retaliation for an offense, is strictly prohibited in accordance with the established policy of the Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 Board of School Directors.

*Only reasonable force may be used in the form of physical restraint by an Intermediate Unit 20 teacher, administrator or staff member in the following circumstances:
1. To protect the lives and property of students and school personnel.
2. To protect themselves in matters of self-defense.
3. To remove from a student’s possession weapons or other dangerous objects.
4. To quell disturbances which infringe upon the educational rights of other students (What does this mean? Does this mean if a child starts screaming that he/she can be restrained?)

Students with disabilities who engage in inappropriate behavior, disruptive or prohibited activities and/or actions injurious to themselves or others shall be disciplined in accordance with their individualized education programs (IEP), behavior support plan and IU20 policy. (This language bothers me for some reason. It's so vague. If a child doesn't have "punishment" spelled out in his IEP, does this mean that he is subject only to IU20 policy?)

The Board directs that IU20 shall comply with the provisions of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and federal and state regulations when disciplining students with disabilities for violations of IU20 policy or school rules and regulations. (IDEA is a federal statute. How can a board "direct" otherwise?)

All disciplinary action will be reviewed by the Multi Disciplinary Team in order to ensure that all laws and regulations regarding special education are complied with and to ensure that each student is considered individually with respect to his/her handicapped condition.

During any period of disciplinary action, the student shall continue to receive free and appropriate education in accordance with federal law. (How can the student do so if they are permitted to be removed from school DUE TO A MANIFESTATION OF THEIR DISABILITY for 10 consecutive days and 15 cumulative days? See below).

A student with a disability may be suspended for ten (10) consecutive and fifteen (15) cumulative days of school per year regardless of whether the student’s behavior is a manifestation of his/her disability. (So they're saying they CAN punish children for behaviors DIRECTLY RELATED to their disability?)*

Any removal from school is a change of placement for student identified with mental retardation.

A student with a disability whose behavior is not a manifestation of his or her disability may be expelled pursuant to IU20 policies and procedures.

Students who have not been identified as disabled may be subject to the same disciplinary measures applied to students without disabilities if IU20 did not have knowledge of the disability. A request for evaluation is made during the period the student is subject to disciplinary measures, the evaluation shall be expedited.

B. Defacing, Injuring or Destroying Intermediate Unit Property

Breaking into, entering, defacing, writing upon, marking or placing any obscene or improper matter upon any IU20 building or defacing, injuring, damaging or destroying any IU20 property shall not be tolerated.

C. Electronic Devices, Beepers and Pagers

The possession by students of beepers, telephones, pagers, cellular phones, and all other electronic communication devices is prohibited on IU20 grounds, at IU20 sponsored activities and on school buses and other vehicles provided by the IU20 policy. Students violating this policy may be suspended up to ten (10) days and referred to proper authorities. Individual exceptions, with an Administrators permission, might be allowed for a student who is a member of volunteer fire company, ambulance, or rescue squad or for a student who has a need for a beeper due to the medical condition of an immediate family member. (All OTHER communication devices? Does this mean a child who uses a Dynavox communication system is prohibited from using it?)

D. False Fire Alarms

Students who turn in false fire alarms any time that school is in session, or when IU20 is open for a school activity, may be suspended for period of up to ten (10) days and referred to proper authorities. The second offense will mean automatic suspension up to ten (10) days and possible referral to Director for expulsion proceedings.

E. Loud, Abrasive and/or Profane Language or Behavior

It is the policy of IU20 to prevent disruptions to its operations and the educational process. All persons, including but not limited to, students, parents, employees, visitors and members of the general public are prohibited from the use of foul, profane and abusive language, whether spoken or written, or a tirade in any manner in IU20 buildings or upon IU20 grounds. This policy will be particularly enforced if language or actions are profoundly loud and/or offensive manner or in a manner observable by other persons. (Again, so they are saying that they WILL discriminate against a child with a disability, should that child yell something loudly? Even if it could be BECAUSE of their disability?)

All persons are therefore warned that violation of this policy may result in removal from IU20 property by appropriate IU20 authorities or other authorities. Students and employees may be subject to disciplinary procedures in accordance with IU20 policies and the laws of Pennsylvania . Members of the public may be subject to removal from IU20 property and may be charged with trespassing for failure to promptly vacate the property.

In all cases, violators may be subject to appropriate laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania .

F. Terroristic Threats/Acts

IU20 recognizes the danger that terroristic threats and acts by students presents the safety and welfare of students, staff and community. IU20 acknowledges the needs for an immediate and effective response to a situation involving such a threat or act.

A terroristic threat shall mean a threat to commit violence communicated with the intent to terrorize another; to cause evacuation of the building; or to cause serious public inconvenience in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.

Terroristic act shall mean an offense against property or involving danger to another person. (Does this same hold true for the student when being physically restrained?)

IU20 prohibits any student from communicating terroristic threats or committing terroristic acts directed at any other student, IU20 employee, Board Member, community member or IU20 property.

The Board directs the Executive Director to react promptly and appropriately to information and knowledge concerning a possible or actual terroristic threat or act.

The Executive Director or Designee shall be responsible for developing administrative procedures to implement this policy.

Where School Districts have their own terroristic threats/acts policy, IU20 staff shall follow the guidelines of the District/building where the class is located. IU20 personnel in other locations will be expected to follow the guidelines listed below.

Staff members and student shall be responsible for informing the building administrator/program supervisor regarding any information or knowledge relevant to a possible or actual terroristic threat or act.

The building administrator/program supervisor shall immediately inform the Executive Director
after receiving a report of such a threat or act.

When an administrator has evidence that a student has made a terroristic threat or committed a terroristic act, the following guidelines shall be applied:

1. The building administrator/program supervisor may recommend suspension of the student, according to state and federal regulations and/or IU20 program guidelines.
2. The building administrator/program supervisor shall promptly report the incident to the Executive Director or Designee.
3. Based on further investigation, the Executive Director or Designee may report the student to law enforcement officials.
4. The Executive Director or Designee may recommend expulsion of the student or placement in an alternative educational program to the IU Board or the student’s district of residence.

If a student is expelled for making terroristic threats or committing terroristic acts, the Board may require, prior to readmission, that the student provide competent and credible evidence that the student does not pose a risk of harm to others.

*In the case of students with disabilities, IU20 will take all steps necessary to comply with the IDEA and follow Board policy. (*Notice this is the ONLY place where this exception is noted under these infractions).*

G. Smoking, Drug and Alcohol Abuse

The use of tobacco and controlled substances is governed by IU20 policy.

A student with a disability who knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs or solicits the sale of a controlled substance while at school or IU20 function or program may be removed from his or her current placement. This student shall be place in an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for no more than forty-five (45) days.

H. Weapons

A student with a disability who carries a weapon to school or IU20 function or program may be removed from his or her current placement. This student shall be [place in an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for no more than forty-five (45) days.

According to the IDEA, weapons shall be defined as a device, instrument, material or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a pocket knife with a blade of less than 2 ½ inches in length.

I. Miscellaneous

The following items are of no less importance to the educational and individual development of the exceptional child:

***1. The staff shall take all steps necessary to guard against student self-inflicted injuries. *** (ALL STEPS NECESSARY? What SPECIFICALLY does this permit them to do?)
2. Students leaving the school without proper written permission from the head/contact teacher is prohibited.
3. Illegal absences are prohibited.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Join a coalition or a listserve!

From the PA Education Law Center:

Join VALUE, a coalition of disability advocates currently working on revisions to the Pennsylvania special education regulations. Contact Sallie Lynagh at

If you live in the western part of the State, join monthly meetings of the Western Coalition of Educational Advocates from Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties (e-mail Shari Mamas at the Disability Rights Network at ).

Join the Pennsylvania Early Intervention Coalition, which advocates on behalf of young children with disabilities. For more information, contact Nancy Hubley at If you want to be added to the Coalition listserve, email Irene McClendon at

To subscribe to ELC's special education listserve, and/or to receive the ELC e-Newsletter, send an e-mail to Irene McClendon at

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Is Your School on Our "List"?

The following schools have been identified or reported as schools that have allegedly over-used or unnecessarily used restraint or seclusion, and/or engaged in other abusive practices. Is your school on the list? Should it be? If so, please email with the school name, school district, city, and state. Your contact information will be kept confidential.

Disclaimer: This list is accurate to the best of our knowledge. Please be advised that we have not personally investigated the schools on this list, but have compiled this list from published newspaper articles and/or received reports from parents, advocates, and/or others concerned about the welfare of children. We are not accusing any school or individual of wrongdoing, only reporting "allegations" for informational purposes only.

1. Artman Elementary School (K-3), Hermitage School District, Hermitage, PA
2. Hutchinson Elementary School, Laurel Highlands School District, Uniontown, PA (Restraint and Seclusion)
3. Longstreth Elementary School, Philiadelphia School District, Philadelphia PA (Restraints)
4. Martha Washington Elementary, Philadelphia, PA (Abuse)
5. Northern Potter Children's School, Potter County, PA
6. SummitQuest Academy Ephrata, PA (Residential Facility)

FYI: 2008-2009 Autism Lectures at the Arc of Chester County (from ASCEND)

The Arc of Chester County will be sponsoring a series of lectures at their Chester County office. Lectures are FREE for parents, and cost $50 for professionals. For more information contact Janice at (610) 696-8090. Lectures are as follows:

Autism from the Outside In
October 7, 2008 and March 3, 2009

10:00-12:00 or 7:00-9:00
Review of the characteristics of autism and defines what the world sees in terms of behaviors as a result of this complex disorder. Discussions will explore the realities of families living with autism, and increases the understanding of autism to help families cope with daily challenges.

Successful Daily Living-Strategies and Routines for the Home and Community
November 4, 2008 and April 7, 2009

10:00-12:00 or 7:00-9:00
Review of autism and daily life for families of children with autism with a focus on structured routines and strategies which detail and demonstrate ways for more positive and successful daily living in both the home and community.

Behaviors and Assessment Strategies for Children with Autism December 2, 2008 and May 5, 2009
10:00-12:00 or 7:00-9:00
Explores how we can interpret and understand the causes of behaviors, the effects of reinforcement, and how to plan a response in order to change a child's challenging behaviors into successful outcomes.

FYI: PaTTAN Announces Training Announcement

The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education and PaTTAN are proud to announce an exciting opportunity to participate in the 2008 National Autism Conference via live web casting. The Autism 101 strand will be available to view live from your computer. During the conference, simply visit the website and click on the Live Web Cast page and follow the instructions on the days that you wish to participate. There is no fee to participate. Please continue to check the website for updated information. To prepare for viewing, visit the website up to two weeks prior to the National Autism Conference and view a test stream on the Live Web Cast page.

Sessions available for viewing through live webcasting

For complete session descriptions visit

Progress Through PartnershipWhen: August 4 - 8, 2008
Location: Live Webinar

Monday, August 4th
1. Opening Keynote: Eustacia Cutler
2. Autism Research Update 2008, Duane Alexander
3. Updates on PA's Efforts to Provide Supports to Learners with ASD, John Tommasini
4. An Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders

Tuesday, August 5th
13. Comprehensive Autism Assessment for Intervention Planning
24. The Instructional Environment and Visual Strategies

Wednesday, August 6th
39. Elements of Effective Instruction for Learners with ASD
50. Curriculum Considerations

Thursday, August 7th
63. Strategies for Successful Inclusion
74. Preparing for Smooth Transitions

Friday, August 8th
89. Creating Partnerships with Families
101. I am a Student with Autism