Friday, November 6, 2009

Fast Fact Friday: Automaticity

Automaticity is one of those words that exists in the special education world, but outside that community most people have never heard of it. Generally, automaticity refers to the ability of the brain to perform a skills or complex task or behavior easily and with little attention, effort or conscious awareness.
Skills and tasks become automatic with training, repetition and practice. Once automaticity is achieved, the brain can accomplish these tasks quickly and easily, without utilizing a lot of working memory.
The clearest example of achieving automaticity is in the area of reading. When a child is first learning to read, he/she must actively engage the brain to decode the words, deciphering the sounds, blending them together, etc. The process of actually decoding the word and "sounding it out" is laborious. As the child has extended periods of practice, and good instruction in reading, decoding and word recognition become automatic, meaning that the child is able to read more quickly, and to engage the brain to think about the meaning of the word rather than using all of the brain power to sound out or decode the word. Automaticity is necessary to improve fluency.

Networking Event

The Women's Organization of Special Education Professionals (WOSEP) is holding their semi-annual tea this Sunday. Details can be found on

WOSEP is an organization of professionals in the special education community in Southern California. Members include psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and other providers, as well as advocates and attorneys. WOSEP provides networking opportunities, including the semi-annual tea, for members to get to know each other in person, share information about their various specialties and practices, and socialize. WOSEP also provides a directory of resources available to the public on its website.

November's tea will be hosted by WOSEP member Pam Clark of the Help Group. Come out and join us for a great afternoon of socializing and networking!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tip of the Day: IEE Assessors

This is actually more than one tip and again this tip of the day came to me as I was reviewing a file and after speaking with an assessor last week. In this case, the Parent had requested an IEE and the District provided a list of names and the Parent picked one and the assessment was completed.

The problems started, however, when the District sent the assessor the "file" which was only a few pages of an IEP. Which brings us to the first tip:

Even if the District is paying for the assessment and has told you they will provide the assessor the file - bring all relevant paperwork with you and leave them with copies.

The next problem occurred because the assessor was not invited to the IEP. Now under the law so long as there is someone there qualified to review the assessment findings the assessor does not need to be there but tip #2:

Always at least REQUEST (in writing, of course) that the independent assessor be invited to the meeting to review their assessment.

They may say "no" but then you're in the same position as before but now if you have a question at the meeting that the district personnel can't answer you have a reason to ask for another IEP.