Betcha Didn't Know
Betcha Didn’t Know are a series of light-hearted posts to teach basic advocacy tips.
Betcha Didn't KnowBETCHA DIDN'T KNOW that your child may have a right to a trained behavioral aide. Under the law, schools must provide children with "supplementary aides," as their needs require. Many children in special education have behavioral needs. Schools will have you believe that the normal approach to behavior is a one-size-fits-all program. Often the school will use a teacher's aide to provide the behavioral training for your child. You as the parent think: "great my child has a one-to-one aide!" Unfortunately that is not the case, these paraprofessionals have no training in behavior therapy and the position simply requires a high school diploma. Then, as the program used to shape your child's behavior, the school usually produces a document called a behavioral support plan, where the school checks a set of arbitrary boxes about your child's behavior and how the school will address it.
In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to behavior. We are complex beings and do not fit neatly into a set of boxes. In order to fully understand and address a child's behavior, there must be a thorough evaluation done by a trained professional. Based on the results of that evaluation, a program is carefully crafted, supervised, and implemented by trained professionals and staff.
Do's & Dont'sDon't: Do not allow the school to use a paraprofessional and a behavior support plan to address your child's behavioral needs. Behavior therapy is a science. You need a trained professional to diagnose and treat your child.
Do: In order to properly evaluate your child's behavioral needs, the school must have a board certified behavioral analyst ("BCBA") complete a functional behavioral analysis ("FBA"). A BCBA has a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis and the FBA is a systematic evaluation that is completed over the course of several days, observing your child in their classroom environment and in the clinical setting. Once the FBA is completed, you will have in IEP meeting to review the evaluation and develop a Positive Behavioral Intervention Plan ("BIP"). Unlike the behavioral support plan mentioned above, the BIP is developed, implemented, and supervised by the BCBA. No arbitrary boxes being checked, no one-size-fits-all approach to your child's behavioral needs. The BCBA becomes the aide in the classroom shaping your child's behavior.
The 9th Circuit court recently held in A.G. v. Paradise Valley Unified School District that the school has an affirmative obligation to complete an FBA and develop a BIP for your child. This means you should not have to ask for an FBA and a BIP; once your child demonstrates behavioral needs, the school should automatically complete them. However, most of the time the school will not take this affirmative action and you will need to make the request in writing.
Now I KnowNOW I KNOW that not all special education programs and services are the same. A proper behavioral program is created after the completion of an FBA and implemented by a trained BCBA. The only thing that is the same for all of us, is that we are all different. Letting the school think otherwise may lead to serious behavioral problems over the course of your child's education.