I want a para for my son going into kindergarden?

Question:I live in NYC and I am trying to get a para for my nephew who will be in a 12-1-1 kindergarden program. I was denied, but had them open up the case again..I have a meeting next week. What are the pros and cons with a para? My son does not focus and needs lots of redirection

Answers:
As mentioned above the first question is does your nephew qualify for special education. I think it would be highly unlikely for a child to get a para outside of an IEP. Secondly within an IEP the need for a para is dictated by the needs and goals outlined in his IEP. What are the identified need areas in his IEP and what goals and services are put together to meet these needs? Often times school districts will want to try less intrusive methods first. Accomodations and modifications that are provided by the general education teacher, only when all other methods of support have failed will they consider using a very restrictive and very expensive support such as a para. Remember this child has a right to be treated as normally as possible and to be part of the group as much as possible, the more visible and instrusive supports you put on this child the more "different" they will be seen by both the adults and teachers in his life. IF he truly needs these things to be successful than he should get them, but if less intrusive supports can be used for his success he should be given these types of supports only. Typically developically 5 year olds have a huge range of attention in general. There will likely be several students in the classroom with attentional issues and an experienced K teacher has lots of strategies for working with these students. Keep open and positive communication with the teacher and it is likely the teacher will advocate for your child's best interest.. even if at some point that does mean requesting a para or other more intrusive supports on his behalf.
What in the world is a para? The only definition I can find for it don't make sense.
Not being able to focus and needing lots of redirection is not enough to warrant a full-time aide. I realize there may be more to your situation, but that's all you wrote for us. It would be a disservice to your son to teach him that the only way he can be successful is to have an adult hovering over him at all times.

Although I'm not familiar with the term "12:1:1," from what I see on the web, it indicates a low class size, with a general education teacher and an aide in the room. This is an excellent setup that should offer your son plenty of support.

Please consider working with these teachers and aides (including his IEP case manager) on a behavior modification plan that rewards your son for the good work he does on his own, offers consistent consequences for both good and not-so-good behavior, and connects his good behavior at school to rewards at home as well. This will be a much better solution in the long run.
Based upon the information you provided, it would seem as though a paraprofessional may not be warranted in this situation. Being in a class with a small class size may be enough to increase his attention and focus. If you look into your states special education laws, you may gain more insight into what constitutes the need for a para. There are many other accommodations that can be made to help with your child's needs. I would suggest sitting down with the special education team and discussing your concerns and how those can be alleviated without a para. Then if you do not see any improvements based upon this meeting, call another one. You are a very important part of the special education team and can give insight that will help just as much as the staff. By being an integral part of your childs education you can ensure that he is getting what he needs based upon his disability.
I'm from the Midwest and my son had one when he started kindergarten (regular size class of 25 kids) due to a very significant delay in receptive language skills. I didn't know that he would get one until 2 weeks before school started when I received a letter in the mail about it. The decision was up to the "Director of Special Education-Elementary Schools" in our city. All other decisions regarding my son's education was made by the IEP team except that one.

The pros was that he got one-on-one attention when he needed it. When he didn't then she would assist other kids who may need it. She started out as a full-time aide but then she was a part-time aide and I never knew that her hours were reduced with him. He was with her until 4th grade when he was suddenly dropped from that service because he made too much progress (again not a decision made by an IEP team). He did improve dramatically by the 4th grade so I didn't object to their decision. I can't think of any cons but I think it it helps if you can get it.
Qualifying for a para is usually not as simple as a child just needing help with focus. If your nephew is not on an IEP, but rather a 504, his disability does not qualify for a para. Most kids with paras have either severe attention or behavioral issues, a combination of issues or need help with the physical aspects of being in school. Asking them to reveiw the case again is a good idea. See is you can get an idea on how many paras the school has used and what the determining factors they use may be. Also, what you described for your son is not at all unusual in a kindergardener. If your son isn't having any other issues or carryin any other disability/diagnosis, it could be they want to see how he does, if he will adjust as many kids do, before using a para. Again, for your son to have an aide, he has to qualify for an IEP first...if that has not happened then you will have to handle that issue first.
One on one para's have their drawbacks. Many times the para does not understand the nature of the disability and will inadvertently reinforce any attention seeking behavior by responding every time the child loses focus. In one case, I saw an assistant accidentally reinforce a child for playing with objects. Every time he played with an object, she gently took it from him and rubbed his back. Guess what, he kept playing with objects to get a back rub! I can't tell you how many times I have seen this.

You may want to change the focus of your advocacy to make sure material is presented in a way that your child can enjoy. The teacher also needs to keep a strong routine and make sure that children get a movement break at least once every half hour. Volunteering in the classroom will give you an idea of what needs to change.

Before you go to your meeting next week, go on line and read about modifications and accommodations for ADHD children. Make a list of that you think will benefit your child and get them on the Accommodations or Modifications page of the IEP.

If this doesn't work, after a few weeks, ask the school team to work with you on developing a Positive Behavior Intervention Plan. Make sure it is implemented and that replacement behaviors are taught.

Finally, if things aren't working, ask the school district to perform a Functional Behavior Assessment to determine the conditions antecedent to the problem behavior and what reinforces it. Using this information the team can better develop a plan that works. Just understand that you will have to make sure the plan is implemented and that the replacement behavior is taught!
Unfortunately, a paraeducator will not be provided on the basis of need to "focus" alone...otherwise classrooms across the nation would be full of paraeducators.

With such a small class size, he should be fine as the teacher will have had plenty of experience with this sort of behavior.

Is his lack of focus due to immaturity or a diagnosed disability? Have you thought of holding him back a year until he is a little more mature? Have you tried medication? Many people are quick to dismiss medication, however for my own daughter, it was a life saver. She went from being the annoying trouble maker (and hating school), to a role-model student who can't wait to go to school every day. ~ Just some thoughts.
Hi, I am sorry you are experiencing this problem with schools etc. I have a web-site that will answer many of your questions. When surfing go to parents and, this will guide you with what assistance you may need. Also when attending the meeting make sure that the person you are requesting has enough background knowledge for your child's specific needs and, the staff needs to pay attention to especially with frustration levels over-eating etc. When asking for assistance you may want to let the educators know how you will assist in any way that you are able to an order for your child to have an education. I wish you good luck

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