• Helping your Child Stay Up-to-Date Over the Summer

    Summer is a great time to relax and enjoy good weather and family time. There’s a concern though that kids may suffer from the lack of learning opportunities. Essential academic and social skills can be lost during the summer if parents don’t actively try to support their children’s continued learning. Here, we offer some tips for helping your children stay up to date over the summer while still keeping summer fun.

    • Stick to a routine. You don’t have to get up as early as you would for school, but having some structure makes it easier to transition back into the normal routine once school starts back up. Make sure you’re working some physical play or exercise into your everyday activities.
    • Play games as a family. Setting aside one night each week as “Family Game Night” helps you to connect with your kids and make memories, but it does more than that. Playing games helps kids learn critical thinking and how to strategize, as well as strengthening their reading, math, and fine motor skills.
    • Encourage their creativity. Give your kids plenty of opportunities not just to do artwork, but also to build things. Provide sidewalk chalk, finger paints, colored pencils and markers, and craft kits to help them learn new creative skills. For building fun, offer not only building toys like Legos but also help them think creatively by showing them how to build with boxes and anything else interesting you might have on hand. Challenge them to building contests.
    • Plan and grow a garden. You don’t even really need a yard to grow vegetables and flowers, because even apartment dwellers can create a container garden. Plan your garden together, researching seeds, drawing a blueprint, and sprouting seeds or transplanting young plants. Growing things is both educational and satisfying, and eating vegetables you’ve grown is a great way to teach kids about healthy eating and where our food originates.
    • Make a game of math. Invent math activities, perhaps using sidewalk chalk to create targets with numbers and challenging kids to hit the highest numbers. You could also try a sandbox game, burying objects in the sand and challenging kids to compete and see who finds the most treasure.
    • Read together. Reading to little children is fun, and reading together as your children grow is even more rewarding. Going on a long car trip? Listen to audiobooks in the car!
    • Choose educational activities. Go geocaching, explore a historical site, or cool off inside a museum. Summer adventures can promote learning and still be fun.
    • Enroll in summer programs. Public libraries, community centers, and summer camps focused on topics or activities that your child enjoys are great places to find educational summer fun and provide great opportunities to practice social skills with peers.

    If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, STAR of CA is here to help by providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in an environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.

  • Preparing your Child with ASD for School Environments

    Getting ready to start school is exciting, but it can also be stressful, especially if your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)For children with ASD, school can pose challenges, whether related to cognitive processing delays, sensory perception issues, or social skills deficits. Here, we offer some helpful tips to prepare both you and your child for school success  

  • Establish routines ahead of time. Because children with ASD often have difficulty adjusting to changes in their schedules, it’s best not to spring these changes on your child. Instead, well before the school year, institute routines and schedules he or she is likely to encounter when school begins. Establish the right sleeping and eating schedule well before the first day of school, and endeavor to introduce your child to activities that are likely in a school setting.  
  • Become familiar with the school and staff. With and without your child, visit the school and speak to the teachers, administrators, and support staff. When you go alone, you can outline your child’s needs and goals while familiarizing yourself with the educators who will be playing a major role in your child’s learning experience. Taking your child to school ahead of time can help make the first day less intimidating, as can finding ways to expose him or her to different social settings before school starts, particularly opportunities for interaction with peers. 
  • Gather information, and share it. Have your child thoroughly assessed, and use this detailed information to help develop his or her IEP. Speak to the teachers about your child’s needs, and how to most effectively interact with your child. If your child will be in an integrated classroom, as the teacher to speak to the class about ASD so that the other children will have a better understanding.  
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Talk about school, tell stories from your school days, look at photos of your child’s school, and read social stories that will help your child understand what to expect. Buy new clothes and school supplies in advance of that first day, so that your child can practice using them before school starts. Go to the school just to walk around or play on the playground, to help make your child more comfortable with all that school entails. 
  • Prepare yourself as well. Try not to be stressed about it, and talk to other parents so that you can feel less alone. Stay involved at the school, volunteering at school events and paying attention to what’s going on at school.  

If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896. 

  • Understanding Your Child’s Rights in the Classroom

    Individuals who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and similar conditions have certain educational rights and responsibilities, and it’s important for them—and their parents—to understand what those are. If you are the parent of a child with ASD, it’s time to learn what special education services are available and how to determine eligibility.  

    What kind of education could my child be eligible to receive?  

    By federal law, a child has the right to a free education that is suitable for his or her unique learning needs. For children who have ASD, this means that they may be eligible for special education services that make it easier for them to navigate the classroom environment and get the most out of their education. For instance, your child may be eligible for: 

    • ABA therapy 
    • Speech therapy 
    • Physical therapy 
    • Extended school year services to ensure that his or her development continues on schedule during summer and holiday breaks.  

    Is my child eligible for special education services? 

    If your child has ASD or a related learning or attention disorder, school officials must first determine if your child’s disability is covered. Then, they must decide if the learning impairment is severe enough to warrant special education services. Here’s what these steps entail: 

    • The educational evaluation: You, your child’s teacher, or another concerned party can request an educational evaluation from the school. With parental permission, a team of professionals—often including the school psychologist—will conduct assessments and review his or her school records.  The results of the assessment will determine whether your child has any of the 13 disabilities covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
    • Determining eligibility: If the educational evaluation reveals that your child has a qualifying disability, the school must then decide whether he or she needs special education services. If so, the next step is to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Be aware that the school may decide that your child’s disability doesn’t inhibit classroom learning to a significant enough extent to warrant special education. 

    If you are looking for the up-to-date ASD resources your child needs, it’s time to get in touch with STAR of CA. We offer education and treatment for families who are confronting the challenges of ASD in the Ventura area. If you have any questions about the mental health services we offer, call (805) 644-7827 today.  

  • Is It Possible to Get Your Child’s IEP Changed?

    If your child requires any kind of special education in a public school, he or she must receive an Individualized Education Program or IEP. An IEP is a unique plan that includes both your child’s goals and the methods that will be used to achieve those goals. It’s important to keep in mind that an IEP is not a static plan; as your child progresses, the goals and methods may need to change. So, is it possible to change your child’s IEP? Here’s what you need to know.  

    You can request a change to an IEP at any time.  

    As a parent, you have the right to ask for an alteration in your child’s special education plan whenever you feel that it’s necessary. There is any number of reasons why this might be the case. For example, your child may have achieved all of the goals set in the original plan. If there are new resources available to help your child, then the IEP may be changed in order to incorporate them. Additionally, if your child’s behavior has increased or a new behavior has emerged a changed in the IEP may be warranted to meet his/her current needs.   

    You will need to work with your child’s IEP team.  

    If you have a change that you want to make, you’ll need to submit a request to meet with the IEP team to discuss your concerns and any proposed changesIt’s wise to submit a written request for documentation purposes. Make sure to be as thorough as possible when explaining why you are requesting a meeting and feel a change in the IEP is necessaryIn the IEP meeting, your current concerns can be shared with the rest of the team and together you can determine what changes are needed to support your child’s current needs.   

    Since 2006, STAR of CA has been connecting families in and near Ventura with the resources they require due to developmental, emotional, or behavioral challengesWe are committed to providing everybody with the best possible treatments, based on the latest research into autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Would you like to learn more? Call (805) 644-7827 with your questions. 

  • What Parents Need to Know about IEPs

    If you have a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a similar developmental disability, the prospect of sending your child to school may concern you. Fortunately, help is available. Children with ASD may be given an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which covers all of the special services that a child needs to thrive in the public school system. Here is what all parents need to know about IEPs. 

    Who can get an IEP?  

    Within public education, if a student is evaluated and it is found that the child has one of the disabilities listed in the special education law IDEA and needs special education service to succeed in school, they will have an IEP.  IEPs are available to any children in the public school system who require them, including at both public schools and charter schools. Preschoolers starting at the age of 3 to 5 years can also have an IEP if found eligible.  IEPs are available to children through the high school graduation or a maximum of age 22. 

    What happens during an IEP evaluation meeting?  

    After a request or referral for evaluation, the school may have a meeting to discuss the evaluation.  There will be a team of professionals—which may include special education teachers, speech pathologists, and other specialists—who will be evaluating your child.  The school may decide to go ahead with the evaluation without a meeting and will obtain your consent prior to conducting the evaluation. It’s a good idea to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the laws in your state regarding special education services and come prepared to articulate your concern(s) and to bring a notebook with you so that you can document the meeting. It also may be good to bring along a friend or family member for support; informing the school ahead of time is recommended.  

    What happens after the evaluation?  

    After your child is evaluated, a meeting will be held to review the results and determine if your child is eligible for an IEP.  Like the evaluation meeting, there will be a team of professionals and anyone you may have invited to attend for support. The team will determine if your child has one of the 13 categories disabilities listed in IDEA and if the disability has adverse effects on his or her education.   If found eligible, the team will create an educational plan that is individualized for your child’s needs.  Sometimes this occurs in the same meeting or a separate meeting will be scheduled.   

    How is an IEP developed?  

    If your child is found to be eligible for an IEP, you will be able to participate in the process of developing your child’s education plan. It is critical that the plan includes clear objectives and measurable goals for your child and state the individualized educational services and supports that will be provided. The plan should also include detailed information about your child’s current educational status, your child’s educational strengths and weaknesses, and how your child’s condition affects his or her education.  

    STAR of CA uses evidence-based treatments to provide education and resources for families and individuals who are dealing with ASD and other mental health issues. We have been serving Ventura since we opened in 2006, and we are continually working to provide the best possible services for the community. If you have any questions, call (805) 644-7827.  

  • Who Is on the IEP Team?

    In order to ensure that a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can get the comprehensive, effective public education experience he or she deserves, it is important to craft a customized plan. This plan is known as the Individualized Education Plan or IEP. The team that is responsible for drafting an IEP for a child will include the parents, one or more of the child’s special education teachers, one or more of the child’s regular teachers, a person representing the school, and a person who is qualified to interpret the results of the child’s evaluation. In some cases, the child may be directly involved in creating the plan.  

    STAR of CA is dedicated to ensuring that every family we work with gets the individual plan they need in order to confront the challenges of living with ASD. To learn more about how we can develop an individualized program for your child’s treatment, call (805) 644-7827.

  • What Are Your Child’s Educational Rights?

    Parents of children on the autism spectrum frequently worry about their kids’ futures in school. Depending on the nature of their children’s ASD symptoms, parents may worry about everything from special classrooms to relationships with teachers and peers. Parents and children on the autism spectrum greatly benefit from having an individualized education program, or IEP, in place that defines educational goals and processes to support learning, to ensure that the child is accessing the curriculum, and to promote appropriate behavior. Building an open and honest dialogue with teachers and school administrators is a must. You absolutely must remember that your child with an autism spectrum disorder has certain rights to an education that cannot be denied. Educating yourself about these rights will help you be the best advocate you can be for your child’s needs.

    Free and Appropriate Education

    The Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA, guarantees a public education for all children with special needs. The law establishes the requirement for a Free and Appropriate Education, or FAPE , for all children. The “appropriate” part of FAPE is the most significant portion for children with autism, because it guarantees them access to an individualized educational program that meets their specific needs.

    Least Restrictive Environment

    Your child has the right to an education in the least restrictive environment possible in which he or she can still receive the necessary support. Least restrictive environments, or LREs, give children with special needs the maximum opportunity to interact with neurotypical students and the ability to participate in the general education curriculum in a way that adapts to their needs but is as inclusionary as possible.

    Your child may have other rights, including early intervention services, special education, and extended school year services. At STAR of CA, we can be part of your child’s school success plan, and provide IEP assistance and behavioral therapy in Ventura, CA . To find out more, please call (805) 644-7827.