Facts for Parents about IEPs and 504 Plans

Facts for Parents about IEPs and 504 Plans

Many parents do not know what an IEP is or what a 504 Plan is in regards to a child’s education. Also many parents are not aware of their rights or their child’s educational rights. I receive numerous emails from parents anytime I write about IEPs. Therefore, here is an article describing IEPs and 504 plans for parents.

Parents here is important information about Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and 504 agreements. Besides ensuring that your child receives a good education, you do not need to pay for items such as special computer programs that the school district should be paying for not you. If your child has an IEP the school district is responsible for most educational expenses even a private school if necessary. Please read this article so you understand your rights and your child’s rights.

The beginning of the school year is fast approaching. Besides the mad dash to get ready for school and schools are going to start assessing students to determine if they qualify for an Individualized Educational Program (IEP). I am already hearing from parents how school districts are misleading them and pressuring them to sign an agreement for a 504 before the parents clearly understand the difference between an IEP and 504 plan. The definition for both is further down in this article. An IEP and 504 are not the same. An IEP is legally enforceable and has legal guidelines and time frames. An IEP follows a student from school to school or state to state. A 504 is not legally enforceable and doesn’t follow a child nor are there legal guidelines.

An IEP will not stop your child from getting a job or from getting into college. In fact and college because they still would be entitled to assistance and the State of California may pay for their books. Also educational records are confidential therefore, no one would know your child had an IEP in school.

Many schools say your child must be two grades below in order to qualify for an IEP. If you said your child had a math or reading disability this is true. However, if they have ADHD, Bipolar, school anxiety etc. they can qualify under OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENTS. All your child needs is a diagnosis such as ADHD which would interfere with their ability to fully benefit from their learning experience in the classroom. The 2 grade below level qualification doesn’t apply to this category.

Also if you have a child in private school and they would benefit from additional assistance, contact your child’s public school district. Even though they attend private school the public school district is legally obligated to provide your child with services.

One more issue, never pay for outside testing before the school district tests your child. They have the right not to accept any outside testing until they test the child. If you disagree with the district’s testing then you can request an objective testing from an outside professional and you can request that the school district pays for the testing and you can select the evaluator.

An IEP or an Individualized Education Plan is a document that outlines the specialized education services that a student will receive due to their disability. It ensures the student will receive the assistance necessary so they will receive an education.

When most parents hear disability, they usually think of a person in a wheelchair or a student wIth a learning disability. There are various condItions that can qualify as a disability. Depression, Bipolar Disorder or even diabetes. The disability is any condition that will interfere in the student receiving the same education as other students. The students who qualify for an IEP need accommodations which meet the criteria of needing specialized education. As I stated above their are numerous conditions which may qualify a student for an IEP.

if a student does qualify for an IEP, they also qualify for Special Education. Many parents hear this and are afraid or embassies. There is nothing to be afraid of or embossed about. If a student qualifies for Special Education, if the student needs speech therapy or special computer programs, the school district is obligated to provide the services to the student at no expense to the student’s family.

There is also an option called a 504 Plan. This was established in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The 504 plan ensures that a student with a disability will receive accommodations so they will receive the same education as other students. However, the 504 plan does not qualify a student for Special Education services and It is not overseen as closely as an IEP plan.

Currently, many districts are telling parents that their child does not need or qualify for an IEP and a 504 plan is just a good. This is not true. Many school districts are telling parents that their child does not qualify for an IEP because the IEP is more expensive for the district and most districts are trying to save money.The districts take advantage of the fact that as parents, you do not know all the differences between an IEP and a 504 so they can talk a family into a 504 plan easily.

If you find that your child is having difficulties at school due to a learning disability, health issue or emotional issue, consult an outside professional before you automatically assume that the school is giving you the appropriate recommendation.

I see many parents who have been told that their child is better with a 504 plan and that is not the truth. You can consult an educational consultant or a therapist who works with children. You can contact me at via my website http://www.rcs-ca.com. I help many families at their child’s IEP meeting. The main thing is, do not be afraid to ask if your child should have a 504 or an IEP. Also don’t let the district make you feel guilty because you want time to think and investigate the options. This is your child and you should never sign anything until you are sure it is in your child’s best interest.

I have added a link to a chart that will help you compare the two and understand the differences.

504 Plan vs. IEP – Education Centerwww.ed-center.com/504This pages lists the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan.

I have also added a link to a video which helps to explain the differences between an IEP and 504 plan.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with children and teens. He also has over 19 years experience working with children in Special Education and was an Intern for the AB3632 program which works with children in Special Ed and IEPs. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s practice visit his website at http://www.rubinocounseling.com or his new website that deals specifically with IEPs, lucascenter.org.

Information for Parents about Teenage Violence

Information for Parents about Teenage Violence

Parents it’s sad to say but in today’s world toys can kill. We would like to assume we still live in a world that is safe for our kids, where they can go outside to play and we know they will be safe. However, this is no longer the truth. The world has changed and kids are no longer just safe to go out and play.
One major change is the increase in violence in our society. Since the year 2000 there have been 160 mass shootings and there have been 56 in this year alone (ABC News). Because of this law enforcement and people in general are more sensitive to guns and violence.

The problem for our children is a number of toy manufactures are making toy guns that look real. There was one man selling toy assault weapons on the Internet and he had a waiting list for people wanting to buy these “toys” for their kids. We need to think about the toys kids are playing with. If they are outside or at school playing with a “toy gun” that looks real they may end up getting killed. Kids video games have become violent and many involve shooting and killing. If a police officer tells a little child to drop their gun, they may think it is a game and pretend to shot back. What happens, the child gets killed because they thought they were playing a game. One child gets killed by a gun every 30 minutes in the US (CDC). This rate is higher than the Middle East.

Video games and movies have become very violent. In the 1990’s a movie received an R rating for swearing. Now those movies are PG. Movies that receive R ratings are very graphic violently and sexually. Our kids feel this is normal life. The children I work with are now only interested in watching movies and playing video games that are graphically violent with people getting killed. Remember children don’t reason like adults. They can hit the reset button on a game and start over and everyone is a live.

In addition to movies and games becoming violent children today are being exposed to mass shootings all most daily. As a result, children are accepting violence as an everyday fact of life. I do an anger management group for teens. When the topic of caring knifes or guns come up most teens favor the idea. When I asked about being killed accidentally, they don’t care. Most of them feel there is such a big chance already that they could get stabbed or shot that they might as well protect themselves.

Teens are also using guns as an answer to their problems. We have seen news stories where teens have planned and murdered another kid because they did not like the other child. For teens 10 to 24 suicide is the third leading cause of death and using a gun to commit suicide is one of the top three choices (CDC).

What does this mean to parents? It means when you are buying games, Holiday gifts or birthday gifts that parents need to think. It is important to pay attention to the rating and the age of your child. If you buy the video games rated mature which can deal with killing or raping, do you want your child exposed to these issues? Do not allow them to play with realistic toy guns without appropriate education especially teaching them never to point it at someone. A police officer may not have the time to determine if your teen has a toy gun or real gun. Furthermore, monitor the movies they watch. Do not allow them to watch movies or television shows that glorify violence. Remember their brains are not totally mature yet, so they need their parents to think for them when it comes to violence.

When the US in ranked number one in kids being killed by guns and are children assume they have a good chance of being killed by a gun, and kids think a video game or movie is good only if there is killing, parents must act. Parents must try to re-educate our children. It’s not too late. 

Dr Michael Rubino specializes in treating children and adolescents. He has 20 years experience working with teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rubinocounseling.com or his Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

The Risks Associated with High School Football

The Risks Associated with High School Football

Many parents of high school athletes are aware of the dangers of concussions. Even one concussion can cause permanent damage according to recent research studies. However, there is another condition that parents need to be aware of when their child plays sports. This disorder is CTE. CTE is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) it is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.
Our brain sits in our skull surrounded by fluid. Therefore, any time anyone hits their head or their head is jarred around, the brain moves in this fluid hitting the front and back of your skull or the sides of the skull depending on what direction the force came from. When the brain hits the skull it can cause bruising and microscopic tears of very fine nerve fibers. Nerve fibers that are too small to be seen on an MRI or a CT scan.

Physicians have known that CTE effects boxers for many years, however, it was just recently that evidence showed that football players are at risk too. This was the main focus of the movie, Concussion, starring Will Smith. The NFL did everything they could to stop the filming of this movie. The movie shows how CTE results in the patient becoming severely depressed and psychotic. Many of the patients with CTE commit suicide. Also many CTE patients were football players.

Why is this important for parents to know? It is important because CTE is caused by chronic head injuries. Head injuries that date back to when a teenager was playing high school sports. Therefore, it is important for parents to ensure that their teenager’s school is using the latest safety gear, especially for the head, and to take any head injuries seriously. There is no way to tell what will happen when these teenagers become adults.

For many years, football and schools have reported that they are developing helmets that protect the head better. However, these safer helmets are not being used in high schools or professional football. Schools and professional football are monitoring players closer after a head injury, but still little to nothing is being done to protect the brain prior to an injury.

As an adolescent psychotherapist who has been practicing for 20 years, I am seeing more evidence of this every year. Every year I am seeing more teens with Post Concussion Syndrome. This may occur after a concussion and can be associated with headaches, mood swings and memory difficulties. The teenagers who experiences this Syndrome become very frustrated because they are aware of the changes and because no one can say how long the symptoms will continue. In fact, no one can guarantee that the symptoms will disappear.

This becomes very frustrating to the teenager and their parents. Some teenagers are so overwhelmed that they start self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Anything that they think might help. Others become so depressed because they fear that the symptoms are permanent that they become suicidal and may attempt suicide. 

For many years these head injuries in teenagers were down played because there was not enough evidence to indicate that teenagers could be impacted by head injuries. Well the research clearly indicates that teenagers can suffer long term results from a single concussion. Additionally, this can create symptoms that are overwhelming for the teenager and their family. Imagine being a parent and you see your child suffering with Post Concussion Syndrome and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Parents also become depressed and nervous that their child may never recover.

Another issue to consider, in CTE, patients have mood swings and feel like they are going crazy. They do not understand what is happening inside their head. Many teenagers who act out often report the same feelings and the fear that they are going crazy. Many of these teenagers have had head injuries. It is possible that teenagers may also suffer from CTE?

Everyone’s brain is different and so is the recovery process. This means we have no way of knowing how many Concussions or head traumas it takes before CTE is started in someone. It also means we have no way to determine how long it will take for someone to recover from a concussion or if they will have permanent impairments. We only can tell after it occurs not before.

We do know that patients recovering from Post Concussion Syndrome or dealing with CTE can benefit from psychotherapy. Often this option is not given to teenagers because again many people believe teenagers are very unlikely to suffer with these issues. However, if you look at the research it indicates that teenagers can and do suffer from Post Concussion Syndrome and teenage head injuries can cause CTE.

 As a psychotherapist who treats teenagers with head injuries, I strongly encourage every parent to watch the movie, Concussion. Also before your child starts playing any competitive sports, such as football or soccer, go online and research head injuries and signs and symptoms of concussions. Also if you teenager does sustain a head injury while playing sports or just playing have them evaluated. You never know how severe a head injury is by just looking at someone. A few years ago an actress fell in the snow and her friends said to go to the doctor she said she was fine. Two hours later she was dead. When she fell she caused her brain to bleed and she died.

Above all, use your best judgement as a parent. Do not be afraid to ask for a CT scan or an MRI if your child suffers any type of head injury. If your teenager does sustain a concussion and you notice a personality change or memory issues do not hesitate to seek psychotherapy for your child and for yourselves. Also don’t hesitate to talk to your teenagers high school. If the teenager is having problems concentrating after a head injury, the school may need to provide them with accommodations until the child recovers.

This can be an overwhelming and frightening topic to consider but the more you educate yourself, the easier it will be to manage. If you have additional questions regarding the personality changes or neuropsychological changes with head injuries, please feel free to contact me.

Dr. Michael Rubino has been treating children and teenagers for over 20 years. He also has training in neuropsychology. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rubinocounseling.com or his website that deals with accommodations at school http://www.lucascenter.org

Teenagers Need Love 

Teenagers Need Love 

Many of the teenagers that I see for psychotherapy come to therapy believing that no one loves them. They tell me their parents don’t love them, their siblings don’t care about them and no one at school cares about them. They feel they are unloveable and no one cares if they live or die. Because they have this belief, they don’t care about themselves. They don’t care how they are doing in school and they see no future for themselves.
There are many reasons why children have this feeling about themselves. For some their parents were drug addicts, for some they were sexually or physically abused, some have gone from foster home to foster home their entire lives. They why or how teenagers developed this attitude is not always the most important issue. What matters is they have this belief and what this belief can do to their lives.

Many teenagers who feel unlovable turn to drugs or alcohol to numb these feelings. Some turn to self-mutilating behaviors such as cutting again as a way to numb these feelings or punishing themselves. Many usually become sexually active at an very early age. They equate sex with love. Also many of these teens become involved with gangs and bullying. The gangs serve as a psedufamily for the teenagers. The bullying is another way these teens numb out their pain. They believe by making someone else look weak that it makes them look strong and people will respect them.

The above are a few ways that teenagers deal with feeling unlovable. However, the number of teenagers who feel this way are creating numerous problems for everyone. As a result of teens feeling unlovable, we have a severe drug problem in the teenage population. Teenagers are dying from accidental drug over dosages at an epidemic rate. The number of teens using drugs is at an epidemic rate. Cutting, suicide and being murdered are all at epidemic rates for teenagers. All because they don’t feel loved.

We are receiving this message in many ways. In Disney’s movie, Frozen, they mention that people make poor choices and do hurtful things because they feel unloved. The movie goes further to say that if people feel loved you would be amazed at how they can change. Oprah in her last show commented on one thing she had learned from her show was that everyone wants to know that they are important to someone and that someone sees them and cares about what they say and do. Challenge Day, a program designed to work with teenagers, believes all teens deserved to feel loved and cared for by people. I have worked with Challenge Day and I am amazed every time that once this big, tough teenager ends up crying on the floor when he realizes that he is lovable.

Valentine’s Day is this week and is about love. We know love makes a difference to many people so why not teenagers? The teenagers I work with don’t really want to be the tough guy. They want to know that they are lovable. When I tell a teen in therapy that they deserve to be loved, they think I’m crazy. They test me in numerous ways to throw them out of my office. They are testing to the point I made that they are lovable. They try everything they can think of to prove me wrong. I hold strong and tell them I won’t change my mind and I will not give up. I will not throw them out of therapy. If they decide to walk out that is their choice and I can’t stop it. I also let them know if they do walk out my door will always be open.

After testing me, many of these teens decide they are worth it and decide to make a future for themselves. It is amazing to see and it is very nice to see. However, there are those teenagers who walk out and that is very disappointing. It’s not disappointing because I lost it is disappointing because this teenager will continue to live in pain.

The main point is that Challenge Day, Alive and Free (another program for teens) and other therapist like myself cannot be the only ones trying to help teenagers. We need everyone to help. Parents, teachers, physicians, psychotherapists, the juvenile justice system and our communities. We need to let children know from the day that they are born that they deserve to be loved and that they are important members of our society. We cannot continue to wait until these children are teenagers to tell them they are lovable. As a teenager it is too easy not to listen. If we start when they are babies, they will grow up with a sense that they are important and deserved to be loved. This could help reduce how many teens turn to drugs or violence.

So this Valentine’s Day, think about how you can show a teenager that they deserve to be loved and that they are important. If everyone starts with one teenager, you would be surprised the changes you can make in someone’s life.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating children and teenagers. He has over 20 years experience treating teenagers. If you want more information about Dr. Rubino visit his website at http://www.rubinocounseling.com or like his Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/drrubino3. 

You Are Important too

You Are Important too

I am noticed that many of the teenagers that I work with do not consider themselves to be important. Instead they value what other people think about them more than what they think about themselves.  This leads to a very dangerous situation where teenagers are willing to do whatever their friends tell them to in order to be excepted.

Besides putting a teenager at risk for experimenting with drugs or alcohol.  It also sets up a situation for when teenagers get older and are in relationships they don’t value themselves and they are in danger of being in abusive relationships. Furthermore, besides the risk of being in a an abusive relationship they may not know how to get out of the relationship because they do not value themselves.

I read an article about How to value yourself and the article states the facts very simply and clearly. I have attached a link to this article so you can read it and hopefully discuss this issue with your teenagers and let them know how important they are and how important it is that they value themselves too.

A very important concept that many of us need to learn 4 Steps To Putting Yourself First http://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2017/02/4-steps-to-putting-yourself-first/#.WJzibMepSWs.twitter

Dr Michael Rubino has been working with children and teenagers for over 20 years. For more information about his work or his private practice visit website at http://www.rubinocounseling.com

Pink is Here! Parents Here are The Facts You Need

Pink is Here! Parents Here are The Facts You Need

Parents this is a follow up on an article I wrote about the drug Pink. This drug is in the San Francisco Bay Area. I hear teenagers mention it to me. Also if I try to warn teenagers about this drug, I hear them tell me that they already know about it. So parents please pay attention to the following information. 
Therefore, the name you need to know right now is Pink. This is the street name of a new synthetic drug being used by teenagers and college students. The legal name for this drug is U4. The DEA of the United States has banned the sale of this drug in all 50 states. However, the drug is still for sale on the internet. It is being sold by companies in China and it is being sold at a very cheap price. Therefore, teenagers can get it very easily.

This drug is twice as strong and heroin and seven times as strong as morphine. People often die the first time they use it. So far 100 deaths in the U.S. have been linked to Pink. It is currently mainly on the east coast but it is spreading across the country very quickly.

The drug comes in a white powder. Many teens assume they can use the same amount as if they were using morphine or heroin. However, this assumption is wrong. The drug is so deadly that the amount equivalent to a few grains of sand can kill someone. They call it Pink because teenagers typically snort it off their pinky. Teenagers who are buying this drug online often ignore the warning on the website that this drug is not for human consumption.

The DEA became aware of the drug two years ago and put a temporary ban on it. Now after further studies they have banned the sale of U4 or the street name for the drug, Pink, in all 50 states. Remember this drug is twice as strong as heroin and seven times as strong as morphine. We already have an epidemic of accidental overdosages from heroin in the U.S. The CDC estimated that in 2014 there were 50,000 deaths due to accidental heroin overdosages and a majority of these deaths were teenagers. Furthermore, the CDC statistics show a 62% increase over the past ten years in the number of accidental heroin deaths. Again most of the deaths are teenagers and children as young as 12 years old. Pink has the possibility to be far more devastating than any other drug.

As parents you need to go online and educate yourself about this drug. You also need to educate your teenagers and children in college about how dangerous this drug is in reality. Maybe they have already used it and nothing happened so they think people are exaggerating how dangerous this drug can be. However, this is the point you really need to understand this drug comes as a powder and using the amount of one grain of sand too much can kill. There is no way to tell if you have too much on your pinky. Also since it is very new, we do not know the long term effects of this drug.

So again as parents educate your children about this drug and point out it states not for human use on many of the websites. Also if you notice any packages or bank charges by your teenager for buying items in China, check it out. This drug is not for sale in this country and the main way that people are obtaining it is via the internet from companies in China who still sell this drug.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating high risk teenagers. Those are teens who are suicidal, engage in cutting and drug use. These are a few examples but he is also an expert in providing psychotherapy to children and teenagers in general. For more information regarding his work or private visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.
 

Teen Domestic Violence & the Super Bowl

Teen Domestic Violence & the Super Bowl

This weekend is the Super Bowl. Many people look forward to Super Bowl parties and having a fun weekend. However, it is not a fun weekend for everyone. For many it is a weekend of terror.
Because people tend to drink more alcohol at the parties this can raise tension between people. The result can be violence. In fact some statistics rate Super Bowl Sunday as the day of the year that the most domestic violence occurs. It is serious enough that the NFL has started running PSAs regarding domestic violence.

To get a better idea click this link http://jezebel.com/the-super-bowl-domestic-violence-ad-was-a-real-woman-ca-1683220170 and read the statistics and watch the PSA.

The other issue is that children are exposed to the domestic violence which occurs on Super Bowl Sunday and the rest of the year. This can have a serious impact on children. They can grow up thinking it is acceptable to hit their partner or to be verbally abusive to their partner. They may also grow up thinking that if they are hit by a boyfriend or girlfriend that they deserve it. So they do not end the relationship or seek help because they believe the deserve to be abused.

Domestic Violence is a very complex problem that can go back many generations. It can also be the source of bullying that we see at schools. Therefore, domestic violence effects the entire family. It effects adults and children in very dramatic ways. 

As I stated above, children who witnessed domestic violence are impacted by it too. Domestic violence occurs with teenagers too and is just as serious. Click this link and learn the shocking facts https://youtu.be/DdkTefhy6JM.

I encourage you to learn more about this issue and to talk to your teenagers about it. No one has a right to hit them or to verbally tear them apart.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating children and adolescents and he is certified in the assessment and treatment of Domestic Violence. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rubinocounseling.com or follow him on Twitter @Rubinotherapy.