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Related Services and More

Notes from the April 30, 2020 Distance Learning Innovations for Special Education Webinar: Related Services, Students with More Significant Disabilities, and Low Incidence Supports.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Main Web Page

Date: April 30, 2020
Opening/Welcome: Kristin Wright, Director of Special Education, California
Facilitators: Kristin Brooks, Executive Director and Kevin Schaefer, Director/Supporting Inclusive Practices

Diagnostic Center, Central California

  • Austin, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech Language Pathologist, Assistive Technology, Augmentative Alternative Communication
  • Laura Lavery, M.A., Educational Specialist, Assistive Technology, Augmentative Alternative Communication

What is a Diagnostic Center?

  1. Three centers are operated by State Special Schools and Services Division of the California Department of Education
    • Diagnostic Center Central
    • Diagnostic Center North
    • Diagnostic Center South
  2. Centers Provide:
    • Assessments
    • Training
    • Projects
      • Technical Assistance
        • Training
        • On site consultation
      • Demonstration Teaching
      • Observations
      • Recommendations
      • Problem Solving
  3. Maintains a website

The centers provide resources to families with students with significant disabilities at no charge.

Students with complex needs have low-incidence significant disabilities, which impact a variety of areas, such as:

  1. Cognition and memory
  2. Receptive and expressive communication
  3. Senses (particularly the acuity of vision and hearing, as well as how the brain processes information received from the senses)
  4. Physical abilities and mobility
  5. Attention, particularly the ability to filter distractions and focus attention
  6. Affect, including self-regulation, impulse control, mood and motivation

Our current distance learning situation means that adaption and innovation are important in order to continue to provide for these needs.

It is also important to realize that parents are in a state of stress right now and adding more to their plate isn’t helpful. Coming up with solutions that allow families to get support, weather it is from outside support agencies, or other families who have similar situations.

The Student Environment Task and Tools (SETT) approach to distance learning:

  1. Assessing the student, their environment, what tools they have available to them, and what is to be accomplished.
  2. Develop a plan
    1. Should be a problem-solving approach
    2. Not just a black and white focus on goals and objectives
    3. Should be “Fun”ctional
      1. If its not fun and joyful, it isn’t motivating
      2. Build activities that are enriching to families and students

Building words and teaching language:

  • 80% of our communication messages utilize only 200 words (core words) used with high frequency and make up about 75-80% of the words we use every day. There are usually not many nouns on this list. These words can be taught to be combined to make up phrases that can be used by the student throughout the day.
    • Example:
      • All done
      • Away
      • Go
      • Help
      • Mine
      • Stop
      • More
  • 20% Fringe words (used in a continuum of low-frequency to lower frequency situations

Determining the student’s language level is important. The PRC AAC Language Lab link listed below has a language screener and a determine levels and set goals and objectives.

Presenters from the Adapted Physical Education Consortium:

  • Heidi Ambrosius, M.A. CAPE, Moreno Valley Unified School District
  • Leslie Kirui, M.Ed., Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
  • Nicole Lombardi-Risen, M.S., Temecula Valley Unified School District

The role of Adapted physical education (APE):

  • To provide direct services and to support students in their least restrictive environment
  • Collaborative consultation to students and teachers within general and specially designed physical education programs
  • To provide a service measured by individual goals

APE and distance learning:

Communication with students receiving APE can happen in the same way as other subjects, by using ZOOM, Google classroom, phone calls, and email. The challenge comes when figuring out how to support families who might not have specialized equipment for actual physical activities.

The four main distance learning challenges, unique to APE are:

  1. Technology – APE teachers often teach outdoors and their equipment is very low tech. Teachers need to get creative with the tools available.
    1. Adapting to the current conditions
      1. Taking advantage of professional development opportunities
      2. Viewing tutorials on YouTube to learn online tools and platforms
    2. Transition from low tech to high tech teaching
      1. Providing live and pre-recorded lessons
        1. Group lessons need to be considerate of privacy needs
      2. Providing live consultation to families
      3. Phone calls, text and mailed documents for those with limited access
  2. Equipment – typically utilize balls, ramps, switch activated gadgets
    1. Homemade equipment used for distance learning APE
      1. Ball Skills
        1. Throwing and catching
          1. Stuffed animals
          2. Socks
        2. Ziploc bags filled with rice or bells
        3. Cardboard bowling ramps
        4. Kicking
          1. Shoe box targets
      2. Balance and locomotor
        1. Walking lines
          1. Painters tape
          2. Chalk lines
        2. Balance
          1. 2x4 wood boards
          2. Step stools
      3. Physical fitness
        1. Weights
          1. Canned goods
          2. Water bottles
          3. Backpack filled with heavy items
  3. Caseload- typical caseload for an APE teacher in California can be between 40–100+ students, with an average of 50–70, in an age span of 3—22 years old.
    1. Managing caseloads in a distance learning model
      1. Centralizing resources that are quick and easy for families to access at any time
        1. Websites
        2. YouTube channels
        3. Google Classrooms
      2. Organization is imperative
        1. Daily to-do lists
        2. Logs
        3. Consistent office hours
          1. Availability
  4. Communicating with families
    1. Teachers are using a variety of methods to communicate and receive feedback with families according to their different needs and requirements
      1. Questionnaires on Google form surveys
      2. Video documentation of activities
      3. Direct emails
      4. Phone calls to the home
      5. Virtual face to face
        1. Google hangouts
        2. Google Meet
        3. Zoom
      6. Applications
        1. Remind

Types of Physical Education (PE)

  1. General Physical Education
    1. Least restrictive placement for physical education is the general education environment.
    2. In distance learning APE teachers continue to collaborate with their General Education PE teachers
    3. Collaboration on lessons through shared platforms such as Google Classroom or SeeSaw
  2. Adapted Physical Education
    1. The APE teacher can work with teachers and parents to come up with ways for the student to accomplish activities at home
      1. Hitting balls with brooms
      2. Kicking cardboard boxes
    2. Provide videos to demonstrate skill teaching, levels of prompting, and physical assistance
  3. Specially Designed Physical Education (SDPE)
    1. SDPE distance learning looks very similar to APE distance learning

Robyn Chu, MOT, OTR/L, Growing Healthy Children Therapy Services

Occupational Therapy through Distance Learning

How to maintain best practices, support goals, and prevent regression through collaborative support:

  1. On-line direct sessions at the student’s service level
    1. Teleconferences
      1. Zoom
    2. Use a platform that the family is already using with other teachers so that true collaboration can take place in a seamless manner
    3. Finding activities that blend with the family’s activities and culture
    4. Send surveys to determine what equipment families have at home that can be used for APE activities
      1. Therapy ball
      2. Yoga mat
      3. Big blanket that can be placed on the floor
      4. Sofa cushions that can be placed on the floor
    5. Determine who is available in the home to help
    6. Encourage parents to be honest about their limitations
  2. On-line direct sessions at a lower service level
  3. On-line or phone consultative sessions regularly
  4. Phone or on-line check-in one time
  5. Therapeutic activities sent home by email or snail mail
  6. Collaboration with teachers and other Individualized Education Program team members by phone, email, teleconference, on their on-line platform (Google classroom, Class Dojo, etc.)

Above all, selfcare is imperative.

  1. Check in with how you, as a provider, are feeling
    1. Breathing exercise
    2. Meditation
    3. Relaxation techniques
  2. Ask families to check in to monitor how they are feeling emotionally before instruction begins
    1. A self -check in chart or scale can be developed for the student to indicate how they are feeling

Documentation– this is very import for transition back to classroom learning and for determining what support might be needed.

  1. What level is the student on in the goal chart?
    1. Measurable
    2. Thorough
  2. What activities are offered?
  3. When were they offered?
  4. What was provided?

Sarah Ott, Executive Director, Special Education, San Diego Unified School District

The process that San Diego Unified School District took to create their distance learning plan:

  1. Creating a Vision
    1. Grounded in the vision of who we are
    2. Research distance learning ideas
  2. Started with a soft launch
    1. Develop resources for parents to support their students
    2. Deliver Trainings for staff to expand knowledge of digital platforms
      1. Zoom
      2. Seesaw
      3. Google classroom
      4. Canvas
    3. Ensure 100% contact with families before the launch of Distance Learning
    4. Distribute meals and devices to all families in need at multiple locations across our district
  3. Preparing for Distance Learning Launch
    1. Work as an integrated team to develop the guidelines and resources for Distance Learning
      1. Model 1- District Provided Instructional Materials with Educators Supports
      2. Model 2- Educator Led Through SeeSaw, Google Classroom, Canvas
      3. Model 3- Collaboration Between Educators and Students Using a Mix of Technology
  4. Engage Committees led by job related leadership staff
    1. Understanding the Distance Learning Structure and Guidelines
    2. Partner with General Education Peers and had a General Education Lens
    3. Brainstorm Resources and Strategies to Expand the Structure and Guidelines for Each Program
    4. Gather Stakeholder Feedback
    5. Job Alike Training and Support
  5. Distance Learning
    1. Adapted PE—Co-creation of PE curriculum with modifications
    2. Bilingual Support Network/Interpreting—Volunteer database and resource guides for interpreting and online meetings
    3. Deaf and Hard of Hearing—Accessibility, instruction, parent training, troubleshooting
      1. American Sign Language Instructional videos
      2. How To videos for parents and staff
      3. Interpreters on Zoom calls
      4. Closed captioning for training and meetings
      5. Screen casting
    4. Medically/Physically challenged—Thematic units, choice boards, active learning
    5. Music therapy—Music based social and emotional learning, activity plans, multi-sensory learning
    6. Occupational and Physical Therapy—Technology access, movement activities, large equipment
      1. Worked with parents to determine which platforms work best for each student
      2. Coteaching
    7. Physical/Health Impairment—adaptive equipment and technology access (website)
    8. Speech/Language and assistive technology—teleservices guidance, modeling/training, decision tree, technology
    9. Visual Impairment/Orientation and Mobility—Access (key commands), expanded core curriculum, Orientation/mobility
      1. Text to speech
      2. Online braille training
      3. Homebased lessons
        1. Following directions

Transition and support from distance learning back to brick and mortar school:

  1. Following Similar Process with Executive Leadership Team and Committees
  2. Plan Professional Learning Based on Best Practice
  3. Creating Plans for Incorporating Distance Learning and Traditional Practices

Contacts and Resources (in the order they were presented)

Kristin Brooks:

Kevin Schaefer:

Michelle Austin:

Laura Lavery:

Speech and Hearing Association External link opens in new window or tab.

Sharing the SETT Framework External link opens in new window or tab.
Format- packets, online, live, materials, hybrid (equipment needs)

Core Vocabulary External link opens in new window or tab.

Where to Find Visual Support:

Where to Find Text to Speech:

Heidi Ambrosius:

Nicole Lombardi-Risen:

Leslie Kirui:

Robyn Cho:

Sarah Ott:

Questions:   California Department of Education |
Last Reviewed: Monday, February 5, 2024