Generalization

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FatherOf2
Posts: 1616
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:37 am

Generalization

Postby FatherOf2 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:13 pm

Our school uses the term generalization every time we ask for 1:1 speech therapy that I feel my son needs. They argue that my son knows lnguage but cant generalize it actoss different settings. His biggest problems are mixing pronouns like I and you, he and she, incorrect usage of prepositions, not knowing many wh questions. We see these deficits at home whereas the school writes a glorified assesment that he knows all that. How could he generalize something if he doesnt know it? Any thoughts and suggestions on how to make my case sronger?

Santosg
Posts: 196
Joined: Sun Aug 17, 2014 5:33 am

Re: Generalization

Postby Santosg » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:07 pm

Hey FatherOf2,

I was actually about to start a post entitled 'Is Speech Therapy a Complete Waste for Time for Autism?' It has been my experience that speech therapy is the least effective intervention I've come across for autism. I have not been impressed with any of the speech therapists I've encountered. We've had a total of 3 speech therapists. They are surprisingly ridged, unwilling to actually try new ways to reaching children, and stuck in methodologists that have only a limited utility when it comes to autism. Beyond that, speech therapy is never intensive. You typically get one to two hours a week, max. Sure, they can provide exercises that help pronunciation, but I don't think they do much to actually help develop speech. ABA, on the other hand, is far more intensive and personalized to actually elicit the participation of the child. I'd take an hour of ABA over an hour of speech therapy any day of the week. Honestly, for children, I'd eliminate speech therapy and replace it with more ABA without a second doubt.

How much additional speech therapy would the school be providing your son? If its an additional hour a week, go for it, but I would not expect it to produce significant results.

I think you might want to seek out an outside assessment of his language skills. For instance, VB maps. Depending on the school, they should probably routinely be administering traditional reading comprehension tests. So, even if he can't read at this point (I don't know, he might), have an oral exam done where he has to listen and explain a story.

I know that your son is now able to engage in imaginary play. I honestly feel that it is probably the best way to get him to start speaking correctly. I've recently hired a college student who is in her final year of special education. She works with my son for 5 hours a week. He's not yet engaging in imaginary play, but if he were, my first goal would be to use the play time to work on functional language skills. The play has to definitely be structured, goal oriented, and data driven to actually produce the desired results.

So, if he likes super heroes, introduce him to both boy and girl super heroes. Have the therapist say things like, 'she's' going to fight the bad guy. Then have him guess that the 'she' must refer to Wonder Woman and the 'he' to Super Man. The same games can be used to teach propositions. 'He jumps on the top of the building', the bad guy 'hides behind the building.' Give him rewards for correct answers and test him repeatedly. Add more super heroes to the games, increasing their complexity each time that he's started to regularly get the right answers.

So, for the most part, I don't think this is a problem that will be effectively addressed in school.

Winnie
Posts: 4227
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

Re: Generalization

Postby Winnie » Thu Mar 31, 2016 11:44 pm

Ugh! This seems to be a common dodge on part of school districts. Little wonder that parents complain about these services being ineffective. Often the services are very diluted and inconsistent in delivery – group sessions and the “consultative” model are used to spread the services of the SLP very thinly. If the district does not have sufficient staff to meet the needs of your child’s IEP, that is their problem, not yours. The district cannot limit services due to administrative convenience – and the SLP would probably love you if you nudged them to hire some backup (the caseloads are usually too large to even provide effective services).

What type and frequency of services is he currently receiving? And what did you have in mind for a change (go for more than you will accept)?

I think your best strategy at the moment involves shifting the responsibility of justifying the current level and delivery of services to them, asking a lot of questions, and tightening the accountability noose considerably.

You might want to take a look at his current speech/language goals, progress reports and data, and most recent speech/language test results (and assessments!) – ask for them -- and keep these in mind as you think about what questions and issues to raise.

First, you may want to preface your questions by communicating that you want to help and support the staff by helping analyze where the obstacles are in your son’s progress in language areas – and generalizing these skills. Obviously, if their current delivery of services was effective, then the ongoing struggle with “generalization” wouldn’t be such an ongoing struggle.

Now, just some suggestions for general statements – probably best directed to the SLP in a “wouldn’t you agree?” manner.

What we are really talking about here is a struggle with language (not speech -- in your examples – there is a difference). And since language is a core deficit of autism, this is a significant obstacle to his progress in all areas, because a language disorder/delay affects every educational/academic area and can serve as a barrier to his access to the curriculum, right Ms. SLP? And since SLPs are the professionals who have expertise with language disorders, I hope you don’t mind my directing my questions to you. Can you show and explain to me his most recent language tests (including receptive language!) and assessments? I want to get some idea of what kind of developmental gap we are talking about, how this is improving over time, and how this affects his access to the educational curriculum.

So, considering his developmental gap in the area of language (whatever this may be), and the pervasive effect this has on his education and access to the curriculum, how do you determine what frequency of services (specify his) and type of session (specify his -- group?) will be effective considering his individual needs?

One thing we can probably agree on is that children with ASD with significant language disorders may need specialized instruction to master new skills before they are able to generalize these across contexts, right? So can you describe a typical session for him? How many children are in the group? How many response opportunities does he have in this situation?

(you get the idea)

Now some other specific questions:

1. Under what circumstances, and with what level of prompts, does he demonstrate mastery of these concepts? Ask for the data and examples. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect these to be “generalized” without additional (and specific) instruction.

2. Can I see his actual attendance records for speech/language sessions? (seriously, you will probably be shocked. Absences of the child and slp, school assemblies, testing weeks, absences of the slp while she attends meetings and tests other children, etc, affect frequency of services dramatically).

3. (Ask some specific questions about what they claim he has mastered) Ex: Can you be specific about what “wh” questions he has mastered and in what situations? “wh” questions can vary quite a bit (“What is this?” is a lot different from “Where did your brother go,? for instance). Don’t let them claim something has been mastered that hasn’t. Ask for the data.

4. For what reasons are you denying increased/different (what you are requesting) services? Request these in writing.

Arguments districts sometimes use:

1. “Research shows” Call it! Ask for citations. We need to take a look at it.

2. “But children need group opportunities to generalize skills.” Yes, they do. Agree with them, but state that your individual child’s needs beg for both individual and group sessions to learn, master, and generalize skills. There should be ample group and classroom opportunities to “generalize” skills during the remaining 95% of his school week, right?

3. “But under the regs/law . . .” Please show me in the law where that is stated.

4. “Perhaps we should consider a different placement . . .” Nope. This is a dirty trick to make the parent think more services means slotting a child into a more restrictive placement. It doesn’t – the point of an IEP is to address a child’s individual needs, not route them to a placement based on what they have available.

5. “But the SLP is only at this school 3 days per week.” Administrative convenience – you can whack them on this one.

Things to be thinking about before your IEP meeting:

1. Asking for a detailed language assessment – you really need this to identify teaching targets, write specific goals and figure out if and where there may be gaps in prerequisite skills for current goals.

2. Writing some specific goals with relevant mastery (and prompt) levels (also in the area of receptive language!). You can take goals to the table for inclusion in his IEP. This is important because the goals drive the services, so you want the IEP to reflect and dictate the need for increased and/or different services. The district likes general goals with sloppy mastery levels and lots of prompts – this makes it easy for them to check goals off as accomplished.

3. Think of ways more specific goals serve to remove barriers to the curriculum. Sometimes they use general goals as a way to tie services to the curriculum instead of addressing more specific speech/language/communication skills.

3. Asking for an advance “draft” copy of his IEP in advance of your meeting.

***Disclaimer – I am not familiar with the regs in your state – it would be a good idea to look these over.

Better post this for now -- weather here at the moment may mean power outage!
Winnie
"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember."

Winnie
Posts: 4227
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

Re: Generalization

Postby Winnie » Thu Mar 31, 2016 11:57 pm

Santosg wrote:I was actually about to start a post entitled 'Is Speech Therapy a Complete Waste for Time for Autism?' It has been my experience that speech therapy is the least effective intervention I've come across for autism. I have not been impressed with any of the speech therapists I've encountered. We've had a total of 3 speech therapists. They are surprisingly ridged, unwilling to actually try new ways to reaching children, and stuck in methodologists that have only a limited utility when it comes to autism. Beyond that, speech therapy is never intensive. You typically get one to two hours a week, max.
[. . .]
So, for the most part, I don't think this is a problem that will be effectively addressed in school.

You do have some good points there. If the school SLP has too many children to serve in a caseload, is less-than-competent or inexperienced (especially with ASD), or is just not very motivated, a child is stuck with this person year after year in a school setting.

And if the SLP's services are just poo, negotiating and winning more poo isn't very helpful. :/
Winnie
"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember."

FatherOf2
Posts: 1616
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:37 am

Re: Generalization

Postby FatherOf2 » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:33 am

This is very good, Winnie. Thank you, Santosg.
My school mastered denying parents in FAPE. SLP wrote the speech and language assessment part of IEP in which my son mastered pronouns, wh-questions, irregular past verbs, etc. But, as a parent, I don't see that at home, on the playground, or anywhere outside the school. They told me that he has issues with generalization: "he mastered it in ST, but not anywhere else". They said that their collected data supports their opinion. I argued by bringing examples of my son's incorrect usage of language. SLP agreed that she observed that too, but officially they denied my request for 1:1 speech therapy because their data shows that my son is making a progress. They offered to work on generalization by letting his aide to correct my son every time he uses incorrect pronouns or prepositions or verbs across different school settings. Aha, now ST will be conducted by his aide who has no formal training in ST. In his present group ST my son is paired with two students who are in the 2nd grade (mine is 1st grade). We observed his ST and noticed that 40-50% of the time, SLP corrects behaviors of other students, leaving little time for teaching. Since each student has its own goals, SLP switches the topics when she goes around the table. This is not a group therapy in which all students learn the same topic and practice it in a group setting. It is 1:1 therapy with each student getting may be 20% of the SLP time, which for a 30-minute ST is only 6 minutes. And my son has only two of such 30-minutes sessions a week (call them 6-minute sessions). Even if my son was in a ST with students of his age, IEP goals are still individualized and teaching all students pronouns is a waste of time for those who already know them.

I am going to request IEE and we'll go from there. My son tends to regress in his language skills if they are not refreshed periodically. Some of the prior mastered IEP goals are now not met, but SLP is adding new goals. What is amazing about schools handling complaints like mine is that they would rather pay their lawyers 10 times more than what they would have paid by hiring another SLP.

"And since language is a core deficit of autism, this is a significant obstacle to his progress in all areas, because a language disorder/delay affects every educational/academic area and can serve as a barrier to his access to the curriculum, right Ms. SLP?.. considering his developmental gap in the area of language and the pervasive effect this has on his education and access to the curriculum, how do you determine what frequency of services and type of session will be effective considering his individual needs?... He needs master ... skills in specialized instructions before he is able to generalize them across contexts, right?" - I am going use that and other tips.

Winnie
Posts: 4227
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

Re: Generalization

Postby Winnie » Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:41 am

FatherOf2 wrote: SLP wrote the speech and language assessment part of IEP in which my son mastered pronouns, wh-questions, irregular past verbs, etc.

Was this any kind of formal assessment? Or just her narrative included in the ‘Present Levels’ part of the IEP?


FatherOf2 wrote:But, as a parent, I don't see that at home, on the playground, or anywhere outside the school. They told me that he has issues with generalization: "he mastered it in ST, but not anywhere else". They said that their collected data supports their opinion.

Ask for the data. Look at the conditions concerning “mastered” here. First, look at the mastery criteria – if it is something weak like “in 3 of 5 opportunities,” that is not mastery – it is a guess and a feather. Second, look at the prompts (verbal, visual, physical, etc) – often so many prompt types and levels are written into the goal that a dead body would be able to achieve mastery. This does not constitute mastery, but makes it easy to check off a goal as accomplished.


FatherOf2 wrote:I argued by bringing examples of my son's incorrect usage of language. SLP agreed that she observed that too, but officially they denied my request for 1:1 speech therapy because their data shows that my son is making a progress.

This is where more specificity regarding the goal is handy. Often goals are written so that showing adequate progress is easy for the district.


FatherOf2 wrote: They offered to work on generalization by letting his aide to correct my son every time he uses incorrect pronouns or prepositions or verbs across different school settings.

Whaaat??? “Please point me to the literature supporting this as an effective, or even marginally advisable, practice.” What an utterly demoralizing and agitating therapy plan. Sheesh, even parents are advised not to constantly correct their children’s errors. Where is their training on strategies to elicit correct, independent responses? Shouldn’t they be planning/contriving some situations so that he can practice these targets with success outside the therapy situation?


FatherOf2 wrote: Aha, now ST will be conducted by his aide who has no formal training in ST.

Exactly – and you would probably be surprised how often this goes on. The district pretties it up by depicting the SLP as serving in a consultative role, and the staff as carrying out speech therapy all day long.


FatherOf2 wrote: In his present group ST my son is paired with two students who are in the 2nd grade (mine is 1st grade). We observed his ST and noticed that 40-50% of the time, SLP corrects behaviors of other students, leaving little time for teaching. Since each student has its own goals, SLP switches the topics when she goes around the table. This is not a group therapy in which all students learn the same topic and practice it in a group setting. It is 1:1 therapy with each student getting may be 20% of the SLP time, which for a 30-minute ST is only 6 minutes. And my son has only two of such 30-minutes sessions a week (call them 6-minute sessions). Even if my son was in a ST with students of his age, IEP goals are still individualized and teaching all students pronouns is a waste of time for those who already know them.

^This!!! Yes! These are excellent observations and your conclusions are absolutely on point. I’m glad you nailed this before they squashed your observation request using the other students’ privacy as an excuse. This is compelling info.

So basically, they are claiming that 12 minutes of actual s/l therapy per week is sufficient to address the degree that your son’s speech/language deficits affect his education, and that 12 minutes are responsible for the progress they claim. It would be difficult for them to make a case that this has had any effect whatsoever.

And if you requested the session attendance records, you would find that he receives even less than that.

Also – you might consider requesting regular observations couched in “parent training.” The SLP can show you how these skills are taught and mastered in the session, and share ways to “generalize” at home. Because everyone knows that therapy is most effective when the parents are involved, able to reinforce teaching targets at home, and know what to do to help generalize skills in the natural environment, wouldn’t you agree Ms. SLP?


FatherOf2 wrote:I am going to request IEE and we'll go from there.

Good idea – you are playing this well. I probably typed a bunch of stuff you already know and have already done.


FatherOf2 wrote:My son tends to regress in his language skills if they are not refreshed periodically. Some of the prior mastered IEP goals are now not met, but SLP is adding new goals.

Perhaps raise the possibility of ESY – regression of skills?


FatherOf2 wrote:What is amazing about schools handling complaints like mine is that they would rather pay their lawyers 10 times more than what they would have paid by hiring another SLP.

Sadly, this is true.

Good luck – hope this all works out for your little guy.
Winnie
"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember."


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