Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Talking About ESY

ESY- extended school year defined and explained.

ESY at About .com

We are now in the IEP season. It is very important that you remember to discuss ESY with the IEP team. ESY is important if your child would not recoup everything that is lost over the summer in the requisite 6 weeks of the new school year. This includes all services and educational supports as well. If your child receives speech, OT, PT and even resource room help, they can receive these services over the summer.

Furthermore, if your child is in a self-contained classroom or an out of district program, many of these situations come with ESY services. But you need to make sure that they are in the IEP. Do not assume that they have been taken care of. ESY services are separate from the school year and must be categorized separately even if they are part and parcel of the designated program . The IEP should read from the beginning of the summer to the following end of next school year. EX: It goes from July1-June 30. The IEP doe snot read from Sept 1 -August 31. (or whatever your school district calendar year happens to be.)

When CM1 was in kindergarten, his out of district program was year round. They held classes through the summer and allowed the children to participate in the camp that was held at the school. He still received speech and social skills and educational skills along with running, playing and swimming.

When CM1 was brought back in district he was still entitled to ESY, however, there was no program that was applicable so we, the parents of in-district-autistic children, came up with a plan. The town has a summer camp and the camp is required under state and federal law that our children have a right to attend public, community based programs. Meanwhile the school had to provide ESY. We thought, what if they joined forces? The school district supported the children at the camp, thus saving the district tens of thousands of dollars (because they did not have to pay for an overrated inappropriate out of district placement)  and our children then went to camp with the other children  in town. It worked out well for everyone. The children went to town camp. Had a para. Had speech. had OT, PT and educational support too.

The issue becomes for ESY when there is no in district camp to send the child to. Many districts are still required to provide speech, OT, PT and educational supports, but it doesn't' mean they do it at your convenience. Be sure to discuss with your district how to work this out while your child attends a particular camp or school.

Example: what if you did not like the district summer program? What if you wanted to send your child to a special needs camp and then needed to work out the additional services issue? Now some districts may be very compliant because they use itinerant service providers and it doesn't matter when they actually see your child. However, if there is a structured program and you reject the program but want the services, you may be forced to bring your child back and forth and take them out of camp during the day to receive services. Also busing may not be available under these circumstances too. So think your request through and try to come up with an idea that works for everyone. Don't demand. Talk. Don't  threaten. Talk. Don't scream. Talk.

Many times its not even up to the committee but a district created across the board directive that binds them. You may have to go to the district director to see if you can work something out that is mutually agreeable. Just stay calm.

The truth of the matter is that as the boys aged, we actually did reject the summer program one year but with a caveat that this did not mean we did not chose to change our minds about ESY in the future. Make sure if you go this route, there is proof that you are not rejecting any future ESY accommodations for your child. We had it put in the meeting minutes and had it put in the IEP under ESY services.

As the boys aged, when they were no longer eligible for ESY, there was a summer high school educational program. They were entitled to support for that program, not becasue of the IDEA but becasue of the ADA. Don't forget to use "ACCESS" as a reason if there is a district summer program and you want your child to attend. If it is a school driven program and your child receives a para for the year, they should receive a para for any school program even a  summer program.

What was nice with the highschool program,  was that a speech therapist and educational support was available. CM2 received the support all summer. Unfortunately after CM2's first year of high school the district shut down the summer high school program because of lack of funding. Personally I was sad to see this program go. It was a good way for the boys to have an easier school year since they took several classes over the summer. C'est la vie. we had to go a different route.

Luckily CM1 was done with high school when they closed down the summer school, so he took summer courses at his college. CM2 went to computer camp and learned how to make video games. (I am sure you are shocked about that one...NOT.) They also participated in volunteer work. Oddly its amazing how when summer comes around volunteer opportunities disappear. Didn't know there were less needy people in the warmer months...Just like during the holidays. you would think that with more time there would be more opportunity, but nope, nada, nothing. Society really can give you pause...(shakes head)

Unfortunately what to do with them during the summer now is again an issue. CM2 will go to school and we spoke to the para that he can support him. For CM1 we are trying to get him an internship, but there are no jobs, and as far as the news reports there are 5 people for every job. For good internships its worse. Right now the only thing he is going to do is take an LSAT course. But that is simply not productive enough. We are working on the issue.

ESY is always important. Its just that it definitely takes on a different configuration as they get older. Remember however, that  ESY is just as important at 21 as it is at 5.

Related posts:
Summer Fun
Educating Your Autistic Child
Hot Time Summer in the City
Transition Sucks..Just Saying
Back to School: Transition and Perspective
List of Posts on Advocacy

Until next time,