”’Dear Advocate:”’

An audiologist has diagnosed my daughter as having Central Auditory Processing Deficits (CAPD). The school says that she has to receive instruction in a self-contained classroom for cognitively delayed kids. My daughter is bright, but can’t concentrate in a regular classroom with 30-40 students due to her disability. Are there any other alternatives?

— Between a Rock & a Hard Place

”’Dear Between:”’

First of all, we commend you for taking the initiative to seek out an audiologist for your daughter. Too often, parents do not know to ask for this assessment when determining needed special education services. Although CAPD is common among children, the Hawaii Department of Education does not employ audiologists, so an evaluation by an audiologist at public expense can be requested from the Department of Education.

“Communications disorders” classrooms with small class sizes that are team-taught by a teacher and a speech and language pathologist (SLP), who makes sure that the presentation is within the tolerances of the students’ speech and language abilities, are routinely offered in mainland schools. However, we know of no such offering in Hawaii’s public schools.

Auditory processing deficits in children are often accommodated using a three-way approach: 1) teaching compensatory skills, such as lip-reading 2) modifications of the classroom environment, including acoustic improvements and 3) remediation by qualified personnel. Asking the DOE for these accommodations would be preferable to placing your child in a room for cognitively delayed children. Document your request and the DOE’s response in writing and in the conference notes at an IEP meeting.

The bottom line is that Special Education is a “service” not a “place.” The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA ’97) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) based on their individual needs. Program and services must be spelled out in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each child as developed by an IEP team that includes parents as equal partners.

To view IDEA ’97 regulations, visit: http://www.ideapractices.org/law/index.php
For more information on CAPD: http://www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/process_deficit/capd_perc.html

”’The Special Education Advocate is a collaboration of parents, advocates, doctors and attorneys who answer the daily questions parents and providers have about the ever-changing rules and regulations of state agencies and suggestions on how to advocate for any special needs child. The goal of the Advocate is not to be adversarial, rather for better outcomes for children through parent education and assistance. We welcome all of your concerns as you join our online support group. Send questions to:”’ mailto:LauraBrown@hawaii.rr.com

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