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February 2021 PACT Project Newsletter

Divided into 7 sections, there is something for EVERYONE!


  -  Upcoming Events: PACT Project and Partners Resource Network Statewide Events
  -  Special Education: clarifying ARD/IEP information and resources 
  -  Family Fun: activities that create memorable moments
  -  Cut, Copy, Paste, Share: community offerings
  -  Self-Advocate Corner: resources for youth and young adults with disabilities
  -  News You Can Use: government funded programs and community resources
  -  Tools, Tips and Tricks: information, personal experiences and resources to thrive

WELCOME TO THE PACT PROJECT


The PACT Project  is one of three federally funded Parent Training and Information Centers (PTI). We serve Texas parents of children and youth with disabilities ages 0-26 living in Education Service Center (ESC) Regions 7, 8, 10, and 11.

PACT Regional Coordinators are here for you! We can help you understand your child’s disability, understand your rights and responsibilities under IDEA, obtain and evaluate resources and services for your child, and fully participate as a team member with professionals in planning services for your child.

What kind of assistance does PACT offer?

-  Individual assistance over the phone and in-person
-  Workshops and webinars on a variety of special education topics
-  Access to resources such as printed publications and online courses
 
Contact us at 469.712.8409 or 1.855.974.1368 and we will put you in touch with the PACT Regional Coordinator (RC) helping parents and families in your area.

All of our services are provided at no cost to parents of infants,
toddlers, children and youth with all types of disabilities.

WE'RE HIRING! 

The PACT Project is now hiring 2 part-time Regional Coordinators (RC) to assist families in the following counties: Cooke, Erath, Wise, Tarrant, Denton, Palo Pinto, Johnson, Somervell, Hood and Parker. RCs serve as the area representative of the Project and as Liaison between communities and the Project. For more information, click here. To apply: send your resume and optional cover letter to: srossonpath@gmail.com.

PACT PROJECT
IEP CLINICS & WEBINARS

 

 

FEBRUARY WEBINARS

Grab your calendar and make plans to attend one or more sessions below. You won't want to miss the opportunity to hear from these engaging and knowledgeable speakers. The more you know the better advocate you will be for your child. 
 
* Learn more or register for each webinar by clicking on the time for each session. 
 
   REGION 7 – DEE LOWER, RC   

 

BEST PRACTICES IN SCHOOL BASED EDUCATION

February 4, 2021 from 6 pm – 7 pm
This workshop is designed to give parents an understanding of what "data based" decision making is and how it impacts their child's education program. 
 

AN OVERVIEW OF THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT

February 11, 2021 from 2 pm – 3 pm
With the adoption of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, which is replacing No Child Left Behind, there are many changes coming to our schools. Adapted from a staff training, this workshop introduces some of the basic components of the ESSA, and how they compare to several of the major pieces of NCLB.

 

ADHD

February 18, 2021 from 2 pm – 3 pm
This workshop will provide an overview of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and how parents can obtain additional assistance for their child in the public school setting.

 

SECTION 504

February 25, 2021 from 2 pm – 3 pm
This workshop will provide an overview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
 
     REGION 8 – PATRICIA REEDY, RC      

 

RESEARCHING YOUR CHILD'S NEEDS

February 4, 2021 from 2 pm – 3 pm
This workshop will help parents learn techniques on searching for and finding information they need pertaining to their child’s disability and educational needs. Learn more or register here. 

 

SECTION 504

February 9, 2021 from 11 am – 12 pm
This workshop will provide an overview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Learn more or register here. 

 

TOP 10 BASICS OF SPECIAL EDUCATION 

February 16, 2021 from 11 am – 12 pm
This workshop will provide participants with an easy to follow roadmap of the Special Education process.

   REGION 10 – JIM WRIGHT, RC    
 

SIBLINGS OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 

February 3, 2021 from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm OR 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
It is important for parents to understand the unique challenges and benefits for children with special needs siblings.
 

SPECIALLY DESIGNED INSTRUCTION

February 10, 2021 from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm OR 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
The intent of this training is to teach parents what Specially Designed Instruction is, how it applies to a child’s educational planning, and the benefits it provides to their children’s education.
 

IS YOUR CHILD A TARGET OF BULLYING?

February 17, 2021 from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm OR 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
This workshop will provide participants with a practical understanding of what bullying is and the impact it can have on children with disabilities.
 

CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES OVERVIEW 

February 24, 2021 from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm OR 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
This workshop provides an introduction to mental health services for children, both in the school and community settings.

ONE-ON-ONE IEP CLINICS

An IEP Clinic is a designated appointment time to meet with your Regional Coordinator. There are different ways your Regional Coordinator may assist you at an IEP Clinic. Some ways are:
 
-  to learn what the ARD process is like  
-  help you determine what you want for your child and how to achieve it
-  help you understand what your rights are under IDEA

* Please contact your RC directly to pre-schedule your appointment. 

REGION 7 RC - Dee Lower: P) 903-541-1134 or E) dlowerpath@gmail.com 
February 4, 2021 from 4pm - 6pm 

REGION 8 RC - Patricia Reddy: P) 903-747-0010 or E) preedypath@gmail.com 
February 8th & 22nd, 2021 from 5pm - 7pm
February 18th from 12pm - 3pm

REGION 10 RC - Jim Wright: P) 469-388-8662 or E) jwrightpath@gmail.com
February 3rd, 10th, 17th, & 24th, 2021 from 1pm - 4pm 
 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives a parent the right to equal participation in the development of their child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). But many find the process confusing: There are new terms and acronyms to grasp. There is an agenda to follow. There are rights and responsibilities to learn. And you need to know the role a parent plays before, during, and after ARD/IEP meetings and more.

But know this – whether you are new to the process or a veteran, having answers to your questions is powerful. It can give you the confidence you need to advocate for your child. Do you have questions? Do you know where to turn to find answers? This section will provide information and resources that help provide clarity.

 

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF IDEA? 

There are a few purposes of IDEA. One purpose of IDEA is to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. But what does the future hold? This question often leads individuals with disabilities and their families paralyzed by fear of the unknown. So how do we move forward?

Person Centered Planning (PCP) is a tool many families have used to help them move from the paralysis of fear to a vision with an action plan to achieve it. The PCP, a living breathing document, helps determine the path we can take to create the future we dream of. It takes the guess work out of decision making.
The short video: Thinking About the Future When We are Concerned about the Present provides information about the benefits of looking ahead. 

THE ARD/IEP MEETING: A STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS  

Making decisions regarding the special education services for your child is done through a strategic, step-by-step planning process. A process that crumbles if the foundation is cracked, a critical step in planning is missed or out of order, or planning takes place without thoughtful discussions based on the individual needs of your child. Ask the school to provide you with a printed copy of the agenda to review before the meeting. This will give you time to become familiar with the agenda. 
 

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

It has been said that the most effective parent is one armed with knowledge and options. Do you know your rights and the rights of your child? The Timeline Decision Making Tree is an interactive online tool that helps users understand the requirements of the ARD/IEP process and timelines. The Notice of Procedural Safeguards contain important information about how the special education process is to work and the parents’ rights during the process. Texas Project First is on an online resource that provides information, tips, tools and strategies for ARD/IEP team members. The site was created by parents, for parents.
 

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY (AT): A PART OF THE IEP 

If your child has a disability, you will want to know about assistive technology!  AT enables a person to do something they otherwise couldn’t do and facilitates access and the opportunity to achieve a task previously determined unreachable. AT provides new ways to, learn, receive instruction, communicate understanding, play, move about and much, much more! The Considering Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities Checklist was designed to help ARD/IEP teams as they consider the needs of students with disabilities for assistive technology. 
 

SUPPLEMENTARY AIDS AND SERVICES: THE KEY TO SUCCESS!  

Did you know that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires the admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee to determine needed supplementary aids and services to be provided to the student, or on behalf of the student. For many children with disabilities, these services (broad in range) are vital to their success in school-related activities, settings and learning opportunities.
 

PLACEMENT: WHERE WILL MY CHILD SPEND THEIR DAY?

How many times have you heard someone refer to special education as a service, not a place? Well, it's true! Special education services are used to meet the learning needs of students with disabilities. Placement refers to where a student will learn and where services will be delivered. Placement decisions are based on IEP goals and where those goals can best be met, with the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) always the priority. Knowing the continuum of instructional arrangements will help you determine the best placement for your child.
 

SUPPORTING TRANSITION IN A VIRTUAL WORLD: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND SOCIAL DISTANCING 

Community experiences during high school are an important predictor of postsecondary success in the area of employment (Test et al., 2009; White & Weiner, 2004). With online instruction and social distancing guidelines keeping many youths and their families at home, we must look for alternative strategies. Resources found here can support the development of academic, work-related, and social skills that support community engagement while practicing responsible social distancing.
 

SPECIAL EDUCATION POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE 87th LEGISLATIVE SESSION REPORT

This report was created by the Texas Education Agency Continuing Education Committee (CAC) for special education. The purpose of the report is to provide recommendations for policy change that will further serve Texans with disabilities during their education and beyond. 

PARTNERS RESOURCE NETWORK MULTI-COLLABORATION WEBINAR SERIES: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

What You Need to Know About Special Education 
 
Partners Resource Network's Multi-Agency Collaboration Webinar Series with Disability Rights Texas, West Texas A&M University Center for Learning Disabilities, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services, Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, and Region 10 ESC. There will be 5 webinars in this series.
See the flyer below or click here for additional information or to register. 

MAKING MEMORIES TOGETHER

 

IN THE KITCHEN:  A FAMILY AFFAIR

Do you like to cook? Do you have an inspiring chef? Cooking with your child can be both fun and educational. As the parent of a child with disabilities, you may wonder if creating a meal or whipping up a favorite treat is possible. The answer is YES, but it may take some creative planning.

Adaptive kitchen tools can help a child who needs fine motor supports to complete a task. There are so many options. Google search “adaptive” _______ (cheese grater, cutting board, measuring equipment, pot stabilizers, slicing, etc.) to learn what’s available. 
 
A visual timer may be helpful for a child who struggles with time concepts.
 
Consider recipes that require pushing, pulling, rolling or stirring for a child who is sensory seeking.

Picture recipes can help a child with print disabilities read the recipe.

If your child needs motivation, pick a favorite food. If he/she likes pizza, make pizza. If your child likes cookies, make cookies.

Cooking with your child can be a rewarding experience, especially when you add fun and creativity. And, yes, there will be a mess! There will be mistakes! Embrace them. Laugh at them. Be patient. Let your child know that it is okay to make a mistake. It will help build his/her self-esteem and self-confidence. And, together, you will make marvelous memories.

 

DIY: A LONG DISTANCE HUG

Are you looking for the perfect gift for to send out this Valentine’s Day? A Long Distance Hug may be just what you're looking for. It is a beautiful gift for someone special. And the bonus is you can create it with your child in 5 easy steps. 

Materials:
You need white cardstock or construction paper, paint (let your child pick the color), a pretty ribbon, scissors, tape, glue and the special note found below.

Instructions: 
Step 1: Paint both hand prints on cardstock or construction paper
Step 2: Cut out the hand prints 
Step 3: Measure the arm span of your child and cut the ribbon in the same lengths
Step 4: Tape or glue the hands onto the ends of the ribbon.
Step 5: Print out, have your child create, or you can handwrite the following note on a piece of paper and sign their name. Here's a hug with a handmade touch just to remind you I love you this much. Happy Valentine's Day! 

If you have a favorite activity you do with your child, please share it with us. We will put the activity in an upcoming newsletter and give you credit. Email your suggestion to Cindi at: prnpactac@gmail.com
 

 

CUT, COPY, PASTE, SHARE...

Conferences, Workshops and Other Community Offerings 

 

TEXAS TRANSITION CONFERENCE

February 16 – February 18, 2021

The Texas Transition Conference provides participants with information that fosters a smooth transition from school to adult life.

 

ADAPTIVE MUSICAL THEATER

Enjoy singing, acting and learning dances to musical on Zoom. Classes are held on Saturday's at 10am or Sunday's at 1pm. Attend as many or as few classes whenever you choose. 

 

A LOOK AHEAD MINI CONFERENCE SERIES 

February 13, 2021

The ALA Mini Conference is packed with important and encouraging information, resources and solutions to help you look ahead and plan a meaningful life for a person with a disability.

 

DEEPER THAN WORDS, 2021 DALLAS INTERNATIONAL DYSLEXIA ASSOCIATION VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

February 5, 2021

The IDA Conference schedule includes knowledgeable and engaging presenters who will speak on a variety of topics related to dyslexia. Sessions can be viewed over the period of 7 days. 

 

DEVELOPMENTAL MOTOR COGNITION LAB - THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON

This program includes 8 pre-recorded videos filled with fun activities designed to help your child improve their motor abilities. Classes are FREE and open to anyone in the United States. 
 

LEARNING DISABILITY ASSOCIATION 58th ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

February 18 – 21, 2021

The LDA Conference provides information on the latest learning disability topics. 

 

TEXAS PARTNERS IN POLICYMAKING: APPLY NOW!

Texas Partners in Policymaking is an advanced leadership development training program for self-advocates and parents of children with developmental disabilities. The application period opened on January 20, 2021, and will close on March 15, 2021. Apply here
 

RESOURCES FOR YOUTH AND YOUNG
ADULT SELF-ADVOCATES

 

 

SELF-DETERMINATION AND SELF-ADVOCACY: IS THERE A DIFFERENCE? 

People often use self-determination and self-advocacy as identical terms. Although they go hand-in-hand, they have different meanings.
 
Self-determination is about making choices and taking action in your life to get the things you want and need. Principles of self-determination include…
 
SUPPORT: paid and natural – to build your life in community
CONFIRMATION: the important role you play in making decisions
AUTHORITY: control your own resources
RESPONSIBILITY: be smart with your money and how it is spent.
FREEDOM: decide how you want to live your life
 
Self-advocacy is speaking up for yourself and the things that are important to you. The 4 Steps to Stronger Self-Advocacy one-page information sheet provides a list of 4 steps to help you become a strong self-advocate. This is a great resource for every self-advocate: new and seasoned, alike! 
 
Principles of self-determination and speaking up for yourself are some of your most basic human rights. Don’t be afraid to speak up. And, if you need support, ask for it. No one does everything by themselves.  
This video provides a self-advocate perspective on what
self-determination is and why it is important.  

 

WHOSE LIFE IS IT? 

Do you attend your IEP meetings? If you aren't, it may be a good time to start. These meetings are about you. They are about your life now. And, they are about your life in the future. If you are not taking part in your meeting you are (for the most part) allowing others to make decisions for you. Is that what you want? If not, here are 5 things you can do to boost your participation. 1) Tell your family you want to go to and take part in your IEP meeting. 2) Ask someone to look at your current IEP paperwork and explain it to you. 3) Create a 1-page profile. Help others get to know what you want and how they can help you. 4) Ask a friend to go to your IEP meeting with you. 5) Review the PRN Self-Advocacy and My ARD/IEP Meeting Fact Sheet. It will help you prepare for the meeting.  

No matter how you start, get started. Planning for your future is your job. If you have questions, ask them. If you need help, ask for it. After all, you are the most important part of the team!  
 

COLLEGE: YES, IT'S IN MY FUTURE! 

More and more students with disabilities are making plans to keep learning after  graduation. Some are making plans to attend vocational and career schools, 2-4 year colleges, or universities. It will be important for you to know your rights and responsibilities if this is your plan.

Do you have an intellectual disability? Not sure if college is for you? Watch the Think College film, Rethinking College. The film looks at the growing movement to include students who have an intellectual disability.
 
 

PAYING FOR COLLEGE: THERE IS HELP

Scholarships and grants can help you pay for college. They are gifts. You don't need to pay them back. If you don't know where to find help, check out the list below. It includes FREE sources of information about scholarships. 

Affordable Colleges scholarships list 
-  FASFA - Federal Student Aid 
-  financial aid office at a college or career school 
-  your high school counselor
-  family and friends 
-  foundations, religious or community organizations, local business or civic groups
-  organizations related to your field of interest 
-  your library's reference section
-  your employer or your parent's employer
-  OnlineSchools.org Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities
-  Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program    

 

SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS: APPLY NOW 
The groups below have opened their application window. 

-  National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD): For people with a LD or ADHD 
-  Ruby's Rainbow: for people with Down syndrome 
 
The office of Federal Student Aid can assist you with getting the money you need. Watch this video to learn about grants, loans, and work-study jobs and
 how they can help fund your education.

 

DISABILITY RIGHTS TEXAS (DRTx) FREE ONLINE CLINIC 

College students with disabilities can speak directly with a disability rights attorney, in a private setting. Dates: February 6th: Spanish, March 5th: ASL and June 12th: English. SPACE IS LIMITED! Registration required. Text "College Clinic" to 512-229-9109 or call 1-800-252-9108.
 


FREE SELF-DETERMINATION LIVE VIRTUAL WEBINAR SERIES: DEVELOPING SELF-DETERMINATION SKILLS

Dr. John McNaught and "I'm Determined" Youth Leaders will take a deeper dive and discuss how they each developed key elements of self-determination in their quest to become autonomous, competent and connected. Self-determination is a journey. Each interactive session will include personal stories of overcoming barriers and celebrating triumphs. Youth Leaders will highlight important I'm Determined tools as well as specific strategies that they found helpful during their journey, and assist participants with completing individualized action plans. 
 
Autonomy:  February 2, 2021 from 2 pm – 3 pm                                 
Competence: March 2, 2021 from 2 pm – 3 pm                                
Relatedness: April 6, 2021 from 2 pm – 3 pm                                     
Problem-Solving: May 4, 2021 from 2 pm – 3 pm       
Showcase and Discussion: June 1, 2021 from 2 pm – 3 pm    

Each individual live session will take a deeper dive into autonomy, competence, relatedness, and problem solving. Participants are encouraged to view recorded sessions prior to the live sessions. Recorded sessions are available here.  


GOVERNMENT FUNDED PROGRAMS
AND COMMUNITY RESOURCES

When you have a child with a disability, finding help can be confusing and time consuming.
To make your search a little easier we've included some helpful resources below.
 

 

NON-EDUCATIONAL COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES 

Non-educational community-based support services are designed to help families care for their children and to help them better cope with having an individual with a disability at home.

 

FUNDING AND GRANTS FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 

Having a child with a disability or special health care needs can mean extra costs. And there are times when we may need a little help paying for it. If you need help, check out the Navigate Life Texas Funding and Grants for Children with Disabilities page. Some places help only families who aren’t able to pay for certain things. Other places just want to help, no matter what your income is. 
 

SPECIALIZED TELE-COMMUNICATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM 

The STAP is a voucher program that provides financial assistance for assistive technology to Texas residents with communication barriers that interfere with access to the telephone. STAP covers the full cost of most assistive phones and devices. This program is available to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as those who have loss of vision, mobility, speech, and cognitive function.
 

TEXAS LONG-TERM SUPPORTS AND SERVICES (LTSS) MEDICAID WAIVER PROGRAMS

Some people who have a disability rely on LTSS programs. LTSS programs can help a person with a disability access services needed to live in the community. A partial list of LTSS programs in Texas can be found below. There are other programs. Comparison charts have been created and serve to provide detailed information about each program and to help explain their similarities and differences.

-  CAS: Community Attendant Services
-  CFC: Community First Choice
-  CLASS: Community Living Assistance and Support Services 
-  DBMD: Deaf Blind Multiple Disabilities 
-  HCS: Home and Community-based Services 
-  MDCP: Medically Dependent Children's Program 
-  STAR+PLUS: State of Texas Access Reform (STAR) + Home and Community Based       
   Services (HCBS) 
-  TxHML: Texas Home Living 
-  YES: Youth Empowerment Services 
 
NOTE: Many of the LTSS programs have a lengthy (up to 15 years) “interest list”, known as a waiting list. If you have not already done so, we strongly encourage you to consider placing your child on the list(s) sooner than later. Eligibility is not determined until your child's name comes to the top of the waiting list. 
Some of the best tools, tips and tricks are found and shared with parents, by parents. As such, this section will serve as a place for sharing what we've learned. If you have a hot tip, trick or tool you like, please pass it along. We are better together! 
 
 

AH-HA MOMENTS: IF I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW...

The collection of “lessons learned” below is from parents who have children with disabilities. Parents were asked, “If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?” Responses focus on the special education planning process. 
 
"I would read the Procedural Safeguards and ask for "Prior Written Notice" (PWN) when it was needed. Parents have a right to see in writing why the school suggests a change or refuses to make a change. PWN can address areas like identification, evaluation, placement, or how the child receives a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE). PWN should provide an explanation of the school’s decision." 

"I would create a vision for my son's adult life at an earlier age and use it to guide decisions during each IEP meeting. I would avoid the things that moved him away from our vision. And, I would fight harder for the things that moved him closer to it."
 
"I would ask for a written copy of the policies and laws referenced when the school denied a service for my child, saying it goes against policy or the law. Sometimes even though someone thinks there is a written policy, the truth is the policy does not exist. There is always opportunity for human error." 

"I wouldn't ask if my daughter could participate in an after-school or extracurricular activity. Instead, I would ask and problem solve the supports needed for her participation. When the discussion changed, so did the outcome." 

"I would take a friend to all of my child's ARD meetings. There are many benefits to bringing a friend with you." 

"I would help my child find her voice. I would foster skills of self-determination. Parents can encourage and support their child’s efforts to express their wants, needs, desires, and dreams throughout life. The right to self-determination is not dependent on age or disability. It may require listening with all your senses, but it will be worth it." 
 

TOOLS FOR SUCCESS

 
Accommodation Central: Accommodation Central is an online search tool designed to help you find accommodations based on the student's academic or functional needs.

Care Notebook: A Care Notebook is an organizing tool that is particularly useful for parents who have children with special health care needs or disabilities. A Care Notebook can help you keep track of important information about your child’s health care. 

Planning Matrix: The Planning Matrix can help IEP teams determine what percentage of the school day a student will spend in the general education classroom. It facilitates a thoughtful discussion, leaving little room for opinion. 

 

VIDEO HIGHLIGHT

Images created through film, video or personal experiences can have a dynamic influence on people which ultimately affects the society as a whole. Diversity is the key to our survival: The Shoeness of a Shoe  is one of those experiences. (See below.) 
Ella taught her mom to #flipthenarrative around how we 'see' people with disabilities. That every human is diverse, and that although we are all different,
we are the same. We are one.
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