For the purpose of this paper, I will be studying Brayden, a six-year-old boy diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. This is a form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is sometimes referred to as high-functioning autism. This would be considered a low-incidence disability; those that have physical, sensory, and multiple and significant cognitive disabilities (Salend, 2008, p. 79). While his academic performance is on grade level, his behavior is inappropriate at times. He wants to have friends, but he does not adhere to personal space boundaries, which other students find intrusive. He tends to speak out and call out comments and has trouble staying focused and on task. He refuses to perform certain tasks, stating that they are too complicated. If presented the same task differently, he can complete it just fine.
My school district followed a special education process very similar to that outlined by Salend (2008, p. 47) and attempted to determine why Brayden was having difficulty in the general education classroom by referring him initially to RTI. It was determined that Brayden's issues could not be adequately addressed by these services alone and that there was a clear need for further evaluation. It was also determined by the Student Support Team (SST) that Brayden was eligible for IDEA services due to his Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis. Asperger's Syndrome is a form of autism spectrum disorder, which affects Brayden's educational performance. Therefore, it was decided that Brayden would benefit from an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Brayden's IEP is an individualized plan listing the special education and related services that he will receive to address his unique academic, social, behavioral, communication and physical challenges (Salend, 2008, p. 51).
In accordance with our district's privacy issues, I am not at liberty to disclose any of the specifics of Brayden's personal IEP. I will however describe the components of the IEP as our district defines such. The district employs a computer software program to link the IEP team to statewide learning standards and to ensure compliance with legal guidelines. The program utilized allows for complete individualization of all elements of the IEP (Salend, 2008, p 53). The IEP team consists of the classroom teacher, Brayden's parents, the schools special education teacher, the district psychologist and the district special education coordinator. The components of Brayden's IEP are as follows:
After reviewing these components, it is evident that the school district follows elements as described by Salend (2008). It contains some of the basic IEP elements (Salend, p. 52) as well as some of the elements shown in a sample IEP (Salend, p. 54-55). Brayden's IEP also includes considerations that help him focus on succeeding in the least restrictive environment. These considerations address:
Due to district privacy policies, I was unable to attend the IEP meeting. However, after consulting with my sponsor, she was able to advise me of the accommodations written. Brayden is to have a part-time aide in the general classroom. My sponsor is able to plan her lessons around aid time so that Brayden has assistance staying on task while working independently or during centers time. In addition, a positive behavioral plan is in place. Brayden is given a gentle reminder if he engages in appropriate behavior. If he persists, he is given a check mark on his personal behavior chart, which he can view. This check mark indicates his consequence for misbehavior, which in Brayden's case represents 5 minutes of recess time. When this plan was first implemented, the consequence was specifically for Brayden getting into the personal space of other students. At first, a 5-minute recess loss was an adequate consequence. Over time, the consequence was proven ineffectual. When the consequence was increased to the loss of the full recess time, Brayden's behavior regarding the personal space of the other students improved significantly. He is now gently reminded if he oversteps the space boundary and that is sufficient. His most current behavior chart refers to his inappropriate calling out. As with his prior behavior support, the consequence needs to be more significant, i.e. loss of entire recess period, to positively effect his calling out issue.
I believe that in Brayden's case, his IEP is working as intended. He is making progress with his behavioral issues. A month or two ago, it was a consideration to have Brayden possible repeat kindergarten. However, based on his current evaluation, he is making remarkable strides. Academically, he is on task and at grade level. His behavior is improving. This consideration will be re-evaluated at the next IEP meeting.