About Me

The views expressed on this blog and its content are mine, and no one else’s. They are not to be considered the views of anyone else, especially those who I work with or work for. This blog is meant for educational and entertainment purposes and one should consult with local sources for laws and policies of your own local school district.

A couple of notes:

I blogged anonymously under the name of “Dick Dalton” and I’ve kept blognames for my family members intact for the time being. I teach special education at a high school here in Georgia. I taught students with severe disabilities for 10 years at a local high school and then substituted at the high schools the past year.

Jane: my wife of 15 years (Get it; Dick and Jane?) She isn’t formally diagnosed with anything…yet.

Thomas: My oldest son diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 18 months who is in 6th grade — yeah…middle school.

Percy, my youngest who is in 4th grade. He had an IEP for having developmental disabilities until he was in 1st grade and was no longer eligible for services.  Now he is in QUEST classes, which is the gifted program.

I also have a Linux Blog, which probably explains this:


I am nerdier than 97% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

You can try contacting me at dage770 at gmail if you want. I’ll warn you that I can be a bit lazy about email sometimes, but it’s always worth a shot.

30 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Julie May 4, 2006 at 9:06 pm #

    Hi Dick-

    I came upon your blog while doing research for a SPED course I’m taking. I’m glad to see someone as passionate about the field as yourself. I’m currently working on getting certified to teach secondary language arts. And thus, the SPED course. Anyway, your blog here is fantastic.

  2. Dick May 5, 2006 at 6:29 am #

    Thank you, thank you! This blog is, indeed, a labor of love. Good luck in your studies!

  3. belinda mewbourne May 5, 2006 at 5:36 pm #

    Dick – May 5, 2005

    I am pursuing a teaching position in spec. ed. for the 2006-2007 school year and am also the parent of a child with Down syndrome. I was very concerned by a recent IEP meeting in which during the reading of our daughter’s PLOP the spec. ed. teacher noted numerous behaviors that had no previously been shared with us in progress notes, or report cards. She also had the guidance counselor type a summary note challenges our daughter was having with counseling concepts and their application. She noted some “silly” behaviors as well. Neither of these people had shared these comments with us prior to the IEP meeting and when asked they both indicated they didn’t feel it was significant enough to contact us about.
    We felt like some of this was noted due to a particular desire to move our daughter from a collab. setting to a self-contained setting.
    Now this is part of our daughter’s permanent record and we can really only ask for amendments. I think it’s unfortunate and am wondering if this is routine spec. ed. conduct, I’m not sure I could treat families this way.
    Any comments would be helpful.
    I was referred to the sight by a friend who read your comments on PLOP and am going to read them now myself.

  4. Dick Dalton May 8, 2006 at 6:59 am #

    If you read my PLOP post, you probably already have some idea of what you can do, i.e., write your own version, plus register your disatisfaction with the way you were treated. Yes, this does become part of your daughter’s permanent record which is why THEY don’t want bad press, either!

    Yes, unfortunately this happens a lot. I’ve had run-ins with parents when suddenly I am tracking and graphing behaviors that the parents had NEVER heard about before from prior teachers. They were happening but no one wanted to trouble the parent about them.

    And you are correct about the motive, as they were setting up for a move to a more restrictive setting. You never said what the final outcome was, but your comment is noteworthy enough to use as an example in a future post of mine. Thanks!

    dick

  5. Dana Litt May 22, 2006 at 9:50 am #

    hi–my name is Dana Litt and I work for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators out of Washington D.C. I am trying to learn more about IDEA and other programs schools may have in place to ease the transition between high school and post-secondary education. Are there specific programs that some schools may have in place other than the ITP and IEP? Training classes? Support groups…I am meeting with Senator Kennedy’s aide in a few weeks and would love to be able to bring more information to the table. You seemed like a good person to speak with. If you could please let me know of any specific practices that you know of in the k-12 system or of someone else who could help me, that would be fantastic. Thanks so much.
    Dana

  6. Bill Micklitz June 22, 2006 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi,

    I’m writing to you because we share something in common: teaching and disabilities. What you have of interest to me is your insight. My website, Disabilities Unlimited, is my way to help educate, motivate, and inspire others. Through humor and positive stories and information, I want people to truly understand that having a disability is nothing more than looking at a challenge slightly differently.

    On my website, among other areas, is the Dialog Forum area. I’m looking for someone like you who would be interested in not only reading my website, but interacting and sharing your stories, challenges, and inspirations.

    You can contribute as much or as little as you want. The website is constantly growing and I’m adding new things all the time. Help me build a site that will give people the correct perspective about people with disabilities. Thank you for your time.

    Bill Micklitz
    Freelance Writer/Speaker/Advocate/Consultant
    http://www.disabilitiesunlimited.org

  7. Dick Dalton June 23, 2006 at 9:13 am #

    Thanks for stopping by, Bill!

    Thanks for the invite, and I did stop by your place and looked around. I quess what I’m doing here sort of fits in with what you’re looking for. Feel free to quote what you want and throw a link or two my way. I’m not sure what the “correct perspective” is on people with disabilities. Really and truly, I’m still figuring that out as I go along! I just do and say what I can based on my understanding at the moment. Several bloggers have helped to shape some of my views as well as my experiences. I’m not sure there is a “proper” perspective at all. We’re all just blindly feeling parts of the proverbial elephant.

    And sorry I haven’t gotten back to you, Dana. I’m still trying to figure out what we have here and help knit something together worthy enough to talk about as far as post-school transitions. For my kids, it is a very bleak place.

    dick

  8. Kay September 23, 2006 at 4:05 pm #

    I teach PPCD and have a four year old with Down Syndrome who likes to dump buckets, scatter the toys, throw them, etc. I need help writing an objective which is measurable and meaningful that will help me teach appropriate play with toys. I am trying to learn data collecting and graphing and most of it is still muddy to me. I want to provide better data to my parents and am starting with this student. What can you suggest?

    Thanks.

  9. Dick Dalton September 23, 2006 at 8:25 pm #

    Kay, it might be helpful if you found someone in your area who is already doing ABA, because they would certainly be able to help with writing measurable goals and keeping data. It would also be helpful if you were able to watch them do a session or two and you could learn of the techniques of prompting and correcting they use. Nothing beats actually seeing someone in action who has knowledge and experience.

    dick

  10. Kris Marks September 26, 2006 at 1:58 pm #

    Hi Dick-I like your helpful info. I am entering my 20th year as a school psych and yet always welcome new ideas and input. What are the FAST and MAST checklists? Thanks, Kris

  11. Robin October 2, 2006 at 9:08 pm #

    “Necessity never made a good bargain.” Ben Franklin Hi Dick – My name is Robin Mitchell and I’m a single mom raising my 10 year old adoptive son while working fulltime at a job that allows me some flexibility, but is stressful and doesn’t pay so well. Casey’s diagnoses are autism (pdd), fetal alcohol syndrome, and speech/language impairment. We’ve come a long way, yet have a long way to go. (I, too, spent a LOT of money on hope while living the GF/CF diet.)

    Anyway, I’m writing to thank you for this website and for allowing those affected and those trying to help to have a voice. I look forward to learning a lot here.

  12. DougK October 17, 2006 at 11:56 am #

    Dick–

    thanks here as well for a great blog. Have you seen a new study connecting autism with tv viewing? I’m very skeptical of claims about autism, or for that matter about most research claims, but this is really an interesting study with compelling results. Here’s a link to a site where you can read their study.

    http://www.johnson.cornell.edu/faculty/profiles/waldman/autpaper.html

    This study was done by economists/marketers! I guess it takes all kinds.

    Thank you again!

  13. Richard November 20, 2006 at 11:15 pm #

    I came across your blog as I am getting ready to teach my second class In Law and Ethics for a graduate school whose students are first and second year school psychologists. I am a retired attorney and have a ed specialisit credential from CA. Been teaching at the HS level for 6 years and graduate level for 2. Also sp ed dept chair at HS

    Appreciate your views will bookmark your site and have no problem borrowing some of your language and POV for graduate classroom discussion

  14. Drew November 29, 2006 at 2:08 pm #

    Dick, Hello. thank you for this blog. I read some things you wrote regarding FBAs, finding target behaviors and how to work with behavioral issues. Saw it on schwablearning. I have a kind of different but the same problem. I am not sure how to categorize these because the behaviors are caused by a learning disability. For example, my daughter is off task because she does not understand her work, is too scared to ask, has learned helplessness because when she has asked she either gets sarastic remarks (what is it you do not get about this type thing said in an exasperated way), she often does not know what has her mixed up, and she has difficulty verbalizing things. She does fine when she is working one on one AND the teacher is good at noticing where she gets stuck or is having difficulty in.

    No matter what it seems difficult to get the help she needs. Last year she said she could not understand her math teacher and was told by her SPED teacher she would “Have to get used to it.” and was told to attend tutoring with the very person she did not understand. My dd told me that the Math teacher would have to tell her four times how to do something. That she explained in such a convoluted way. It just seems taht all of this confusion in instruction and inconsistency in the teacher’s response to her is really throwing her off, discouraging her, causing depression because she has to work so hard to learn the way others learn. She can learn but learns differently.

    Any insight. I have a feeling I should suck it up and get her out of there and into an LD private school. This is really taking a toll on her. We have tried it for 5 years since she was diagnosed with LD and each year maybe one or two teachers reached her and it seemed we were getting somewhere but then we would run into the other instructional problems with other teachers. It is such a roller coaster for her when her learning needs are not met nor understood.

    So any ideas including some idea about which schools you may have heard are for a kid with an IQ of 122 (she is flunking every high school class). has dyslexia (decoding skills seem okay but slows down so much to read and the school’s technology is so haphazard and inconsistent, for example they give her a laptop but nothing is in electronic form) everything is so disconnected , or they give her reading program but it turns out it is for elementary kids and it does not transfer reading skills to fluent reading, the teacher could not show me it was evidenced based and she put false fluency scores on the report, it goes on and on.

    If anyone wants to chime in about private schools that is fine too. I know that not all of them are cut out to be that great. Even the Landmard School has complaints from the students themselves that attended. I heard some good things about the GOW school on the East coast.

  15. Kayleigh November 30, 2006 at 1:55 pm #

    Dick,
    I think this is the best website I have found so far. I am a student at the University of Georgia majoring in Special Ed. I entered this field after working with several levels of autistic classes, and have been working with students with various disabilities since. In my studies we often discuss the controversies and problems with the federal regulations being passed down to our kids, mainly because they are made by people who do not have a clue what they are doing!!! I just wanted to say that it is so helpful to hear real life experiences and see that there are still so many people out there who truly care. I respect the dedication you have given your children and your work, and wish you all the best of luck!

  16. Barbara Crystal December 5, 2006 at 11:37 am #

    Dick,

    I have been a special education teacher for 19 years. I have written to anyone who would listen to tell them about what NCLB is doing to our students, schools and to us. Our school failed to make AYP because of the the math scores of our special education students. Since September, our special education staff has been subjected to over 25 hours of staff development in order to “get us and our students up to speed.” We have sat through session after session of mainstream strategies, often presented by newbies. It has been a sickening process. Now, we have to follow their curricular guides and sequences which are totally inappropriate for our students and clearly do not match anything in their IEP’s. Why we still fill out IEP’s and IEP progress reports is beyond me.

    We look for every opportunity to sign petitions against NCLB and to speak up against NCLB. This is a nightmare and we are all suffering. At least the midterm elections have given us a glimmer of hope regarding Congress and possible revisions to this awful legislation.

    Thank you for letting me vent. We have to survive this garbage.

    Take care and keep on fighting the good fight.
    Barbara Crystal

  17. paraeducator January 3, 2007 at 11:46 am #

    Hi, I’ve started a blog dedicated to paraeducators in training and practice. From your posts I see that this is a subject important to you.

  18. kim January 28, 2007 at 2:27 pm #

    Dick:
    I love this website. I was just told about it last week. I especially love the fact that you are so honest about the GAA that we are having to do. I have been teaching twenty-eight years, most have been in the MOID setting and I have never been so frustrated in all of my teaching days!! I have nine students (3-5th gr.) so I’m required to do all components of this most ABSURD, assessment !!! I have written the state department and have attended the state in-put sessions. Needless to say, I will probably not complete all of the documentation. I must go now, because I have an IEP to write. It’s Sunday!!! Homework Day!! Thanks again for the website and a chance to vent . It’s nice to know there are others feeling the same way.

  19. Tania February 8, 2007 at 9:37 am #

    Hello. I have a boy with high functioning Autism in 1st grade. I was very happy to find someone I can see eye to eye and would understand. Not that I have not found TONS of people and info, but everyone is sooo diferent is hard to find someone to be reliable in the same way. I have had many battles with school and IEP’s, actually I am getting ready for one next week and I’m afarid we have some recent behavioral issues at hand.

    I read your post on BIP, it is a great solution, but I’m not sure how much the school would get on board. Last time I had a bad fight I came out with a reputatin, unfortunally follows me all the time and closes doors. I did learn my lesson on getting more done with sugar than agresivness.

    Very glad to meet you

    Tania

  20. Angie February 22, 2007 at 12:26 pm #

    Dear Dick, I recently discovered your blog and am now hooked. I have been working in the special education field for 20 years and have recently gone back to school for my masters. I am looking for information on what a parent goes through when they have a child diagnosed with a developmental disability. Are you aware of anything in print that I could find? I hope to be able to help educate some of the inexperienced teachers in my school what a parent goes through..I thought there would be a wealth of information out there but have not been able to unearth any. Thanks for your time.
    Angie

  21. b. ohle March 19, 2007 at 8:13 pm #

    My daughter is 15 1/2years with ADHD and CAPD. She also has a mood disorder. She has been through 2 high schools in the last year. She was asked to leave the 1st high school, which was private. Then attended public high school for the remaing 9th grade and is now in 10th. She was Opportunity Transfer to another local public high school due to excessive truancies and being caught off campus with other students. She also received 1 citation for smoking cigarettes on campus. SHe is in outpatient rehab. for behavior modification and was smoking marijuana regularly, she is not smoking much right now. She has been in the outpatient program since 9/07, obviously the progress is slow. I am hiring a Parent Advocacy Org. to help me get an IEP through the public school for my daughter. In the hopes of the IEP can place in the atmosphere best suited to accomodate her needs. I dont have a diagnosis of bi-polar, but am suspicious that she might be. I hope she can get an IEP. ANy thoughts , please let me know. Thank you
    +

  22. Anonymous March 25, 2007 at 7:13 pm #

    Dear Dick,

    I too teach children with Severe/Profound Intellectual Disabilties. I have done so for 11 years; this year has been the most difficult year I have ever taught. I have been so disguished with the requirements of the GAA that I was comtimplating quiting my job. I love my students and I love working with this population but I truly do not know how much longer I can stay in this position. My husband told me to finish my portfolios this year and tell them (those in charge) that I would not return next year. He and my children have suffered this year because I have spent so much time working on my ELEVEN, yes I said ELEVEN, portfolios! I only wish I would have logged the number of hours I worked on those stupid things. This includes hours in school and out of school, ESPECIALLY out of school. I spent days and days working on them. Toward the deadline, (which was March 5th for my county), I was literally staying up all night. The last weekend before the deadline, I stayed up the ENTIRE weekend! I was even working by candle light one night because we had tornados that came through this area and knocked out our power. Anyway, I am just so glad to hear that someone from another county is as outraged as I am about this new GAA. I am hoping to get my wits about me over spring break and do a little research in order to gather enough ammunition to send some letters to the “powers that be”. With your permission, I would like to add information from your site or any new information you would like for me to include. I will not add anything unless you give me the O.K.

    Again, thanks for being open and honest about your concerns regarding the GAA. It helps to know that I’m not the only one who is about to go off the deep end. I can only pray that next year will be better…much better.

    Hope you have time to relax now that GAA is done for the year.
    L.

  23. Lisa March 31, 2007 at 11:40 am #

    There is a petition to dismantle the NCLB at
    http://www.educatorroundtable.org Other information, letters, and a “Bill of Rights for Test Takers,” at the site.

    Please sign it and leave a comment about what you think of so many children left behind.
    Thanks,
    Lisa

  24. sheri April 6, 2007 at 12:51 am #

    Hi Dick-
    I get depressed reading your blogs because our IEP meetings are constantly dominated by district sped coordinators who 1) don’t teach 2) somehow missed IEP 101 and 3) can’t shut up. We have an IEP that has one goal, which is all we have ever had. We get to that part of the form and the coordinator says “now we need a goal” and usually she picks it out of the air and throws something together. We have NEVER reviewed progress towards the goal on the last IEP, in fact no goal has EVER been attained (so far as one can tell, since they are written so poorly. I do, however, get a charge out of goals that will be “monitored by the teacher’s gradebook,” I like that anthropomorphic touch don’t, you? Since 2004 we have had an organizational goal (never implemented, which they eventually did admit), an assistive tech goal that lasted 5 weeks because the behavioral issues were not addressed, then a behavioral goal that had nothing to do with the behaviors we had actually had an FBA done for, then that behavioral goal recycled, and now an attendance goal in 2007, while attendance has been the bugbear since, in fact, 1998 (can you spell school phobia/avoidance/refusal?). Now we have a goal, and for the most recent quarter it called for “70% attendance of full class periods.” It would be achievable if, say, my son attended every period for the first 6.5 weeks of the quarter and then said, “ok, I’m done.” It would be achievable if he skipped out on one course completely–since he has 4 courses, this would still allow a couple of days for the flu. In fact, what happened was a strong first month but he was bothered by peers in one particular class, then he also wasn’t getting the teacher notes like he’s supposed to since he has no note-taking skills (partly because of Tourette’s which does affect writing), and when he did get the flu he started fading quickly. As the teacher grew more frustrated my son caught the vibes and went less and less. From starting well over the 70% he passed through 70% and ended the quarter in the mid-60% range. I had sounded the alarm a month ago. Two weeks ago I requested daily reports on attendance and work turned in–I actually know what classes he has been to but work never gets turned in and I wanted people to start paying attention. I was told I can get all that info on the parent log-in for the district. We had a meeting this week but the PWN didn’t even say it was to review the goal, only that it was called because I had requested the daily report. I didn’t think this needed a team meeting or a full team meeting, so I was prepared to discuss the other issues not mentioned in the PWN. I should have realized that they had the meeting because they didn’t think they needed to do a daily report. I reiterated information I have brought up before regarding school refusal intervention and repeated a request I have made for the past year to provide school psychology services. I was reminded that she is at the school every Wed and if my son wants to talk with her he can. I pushed harder, because I had already sent the coordinator a copy of one of the zillions of articles I have found (good sources like the NASP) about dealing with school refusal. Finally she said they could schedule a weekly visit with the school psych if she’s available. I had also sent ahead a copy of a revised PLEP identifying several areas of need–writing skills, organizational skills, some others. These needs have been recognized in a piecemeal, fragmentary way for years, formally assessed and found wanting numerous times, but does anybody read this stuff besides me? For each need I had written something like “goal area: writing” for example. I confirmed during the meeting that it had been received. Well, it’s like having a 3 year old answer the phone and you ask if Mama is there and the child says yes and nothing else happens.

    We had a MD once. They decided “it’s a subjective opinion” and proceeded to vote. Not only that, it held up in due process (well, I didn’t have a lawyer).

    I’m not sure what the sped teacher’s skills are because the district coordinator’s pudding-like brain spills over everything. Complicating things is the fact that the disability is OHI and my state doesn’t even have licensure in that area.

    It turned out the teacher agreed whole heartedly that the class my son has not been attending is a behaviorally difficult class to manage. He’s got 25 years in and is a coach so he has the clout to speak up–but there was not one word about whether the class needs additional staffing. It’s a 2-period block class “at risk” kids are encouraged to take, and they are all younger than my son, who was retained a few years ago after a very bad IEP and is still angry about that.

  25. Change Agent for Social Justice May 10, 2007 at 9:58 pm #

    Awesome blog- very well organized and interesting.
    Your passion for and love of students is evident.

  26. Leila May 15, 2007 at 8:44 am #

    Hi, I happened upon your site. It looks great. I will return when I have more time.

  27. Jackie May 22, 2007 at 9:40 pm #

    Dick,
    I just happened to come across your website when Google did a hit on “potty training autism”. Spaz looks like my eight year old son’s future and that’s scary. He is not potty trained and chews on everything and is very destructive. They sound like twins. If you could go back in time for Spaz, what do you think should have been done to better his outcome (in any and all areas you care to comment on). Thanks!

  28. Heather May 29, 2007 at 1:38 pm #

    You have GAA results?!?!!? How did it go? I had been very positive about how we would score for a while but now I’m not so sure.

  29. Maureen June 18, 2007 at 5:12 pm #

    Dear Dick,
    Thank you for your time giving parents so much valuable information. If you have the time to respond to this could you tell me whether the parent has a right to postpone a manifest determination I would greatly appreciate it. I found out on Friday they were doing this and was given the choice to meet monday or wednesday. THey say they will have the meeting without me on wednesday.
    You can email me or my husband
    Thanks Maureen mfischer@san.rr.com
    Steve sfischer@san.rr.com

  30. Michelle July 17, 2007 at 3:32 pm #

    Hi Dick,
    I am also teaching students with severe and profound disabilities, but I feel lost! This last year was my first year teaching ever..and I am going back again for a 2nd.. I am constantly looking for resources or anything that will help me to do a better job with my students. I currenly live in IL but might be relocating to Georgia next school year..
    Any advice from anybody would be great appreciated!!
    Michelleisenberg@hotmail.com

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