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The IEP Notebook – Guidelines & Glossary


Advocates agree that the best way to prepare for an IEP meeting for your child is to bring along an IEP Notebook.

I alway advise my clients to create two IEP Notebooks.

IEP Notebook – #1

Start with the notebook: Large with plastic pocket on front cover (to put your child’s picture and name on the front side and a calendar of the school year in the pocket on the back side)

  • 504 Plan and list of parents’ rights (Understand the laws before the meeting)
  • All IEPs and Notes from all IEP meetings
  • All of his/her school records, report cards, progress notes, and discipline records
  • District and Independent assessments
  • Examples of her/his school work
  • Formal and informal correspondence with all schools
  • Informal correspondence
  • List of involved professionals, student study team members, other resources
  • Logs of contacts with school, and a separate one to show contacts with other professionals outside school environment
  • Medical records/ medication logs
  • Parent/family observations outside of school
  • List of questions/ideas
  • List of your expectations for IEP – Prioritize the long-term goals (which will have the greatest impact for your child?) and short-term objectives

The IEP Notebook #2

Divide the notebook into 11 sections:

  1. Current IEP
  2. Past IEP’s
  3. IEP meeting information
  4. Assessments and testing information
  5. Important Contacts and Telephone numbers
  6. Medical and other vital records
  7. School information
  8. Your legal rights and relevant education laws in effect
  9. Information on Due Process
  10. Important relevant articles
  11. Glossary of Terms

The Glossary is filled with 78 pages of Special Education terms that you may be unfamiliar with, or unfamiliar with as they apply to material regarding IEP’s.  

This is a PDF file that is available for download and print out and may be immediately be inserted into your IEP Notebook. 

Dore E. Frances, Ph.D. continues her wonderful profession as an advocate and educational / therapeutic consultant.

www.familysolutionsteenhelp.com – Click here to order

She is covering many subjects for parents on blogs and is preparing other downloadable information that can be readily used for IEP meetings.

Dr. Frances was able to receive an 80% payment of residential treatment services for 2 years for her daughter as well as retroactive monies that had been denied. Her IEP Notebook, used at Mediation, was 500 pages.

The State Mediator was so impressed with the thoroughness of the 500 page IEP Notebook and documentation, she asked permission to use it as a training tool.

Attention Staff – Who work at Addiction Treatment Centers, LD Schools, Residential Treatment Centers and Therapeutic Boarding Schools – Care giving vs. Care taking


Accept this gift, so I can see myself as giving. ~ Mark Nepo

Caregiving is, by nature, emotional.  I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about the pain and wonder of .

If there is one emotion that nearly all dedicated caregivers have in common, its guilt.

We feel guilty for not giving enough when we’ve given all we can; we feel guilty for not being able to make someone “well”, when no one can do that; we feel guilty if the adolescents we are assisting are not happy all the time; we feel guilty when we do something fun for ourselves.

However, if we are there – right there all the time – we have a better chance of feeling that we are doing “”okay.”” When we take a vacation, we suffer more guilt, because we know our being gone will affect the teens we have left behind, and also bring on a type of separation anxiety in ourselves, and perhaps them.

Planning a vacation, and actually enjoying it, will mean coping with your own guilty feelings and coming to peace with the fact that there are others who can fill in while you are gone. If this is not the case – there is something terribly out of balance with the program or school.

The most refreshing piece of advice I have heard lately on raising children comes, curiously enough, from D.H. Lawrence, who wrote in 1918: ”How to begin to educate a child.

First rule: leave him alone. Second rule: leave him alone. Third rule: leave him alone. That is the whole beginning.” Could we be any more different today? Today’s moms and dads are twice as stressed as they were in the 1950s.

Part of this is our own fault: the intense parenting style chosen by the middle class has added to the burden, and misery – since 1965 the amount of time mothers spend on all child-care activities has risen even as more women have entered the workforce.

Caregivers make tremendous personal sacrifice. They have to fight for time alone, down time, peace, and sense of self.

In some way it seems as if the caregiver and the caregivee become one. And the emotional and psychological roller coaster that comes along with that is quite difficult. When you give care you give the person the ability to care for him or herself as much as possible. Caregivers are persons who “care for” themselves and others. Because they take care of themselves, they can choose to give care to another. Caregivers do not get caught up in results.

They do not need to “fix” another.

They can just “be” with another. They take their own actions and refrain from taking away the power of choice from others “for their own good.”

Caregivers empower others to make choices and take actions.

And they celebrate their successes. Caregivers, since they tend to be nonjudgmental, are unconditional in their acceptance of others. One of the things that wear down caregivers is when they become caretakers.

Do you feel inadequate, helpless, and selfish when you are concerned about your own needs?

Do you feel the need to prove yourself as a loving person? Do you feel “it’s me or no one?”

A caretaker places care for another above one’s own welfare.

A caretaker needs to “fix” people — in order to fill the void within. Caretakers burn out quickly.

Caretakers are codependent persons who need to care for another to feel alive.

Caretakers are the people whom others can rely on to be the stable rock, foundation, or support in the system when they get into trouble.

Caretakers bail others out from major problems. When you continue to be a caretaker in your relationships, then you most likely become frustrated over the amount of effort, energy, resources, support, time, and sacrifices you need to put out to help those people who look to you for help. You may take on the role of martyr expressing how awful it is to have so many people’s lives you are responsible for and yet do nothing to change the situation.

You might also encourage a number of people to become overly dependent on you, thus increasing your stress and anxiety with such responsibility solely on you.

You might enjoy the power and control. Are you working harder and harder to make things right and yet don’t seem to be succeeding since there are always new problems needing your attention and support? Do you perhaps see yourself as a generous, benevolent and philanthropic individual?

Do you become angry, outraged, and resent the “freeloading” of others on you and yet enjoy the sense of helping others?

Are you not able to let go of the “freeloaders” in your life?

It may become a never-ending cycle, where you sense that no matter how much you do for others it is never good enough to correct the situation and feel compelled to give more and more. Caretaking may cause you to become socially isolated when people are drawn to you not for who you are, but rather for what you can do for them. You may experience a grave depression when you realize that no matter how much you give others you are constantly in a struggle to gain their unconditional love.

Even worse, you question if they would love you if you had nothing to give them but you – the person.

You may also experience a worsening of your low self-esteem when you recognize that your worth is based conditionally on what you do for others rather than on what you are as a person. People, whom you take care of can become overly dependent on your nurturance, care and support so much so that they lose the inherent capability to control their own lives. You open yourself up to be manipulated to care for others who hide behind the mask of helplessness to hook you to do what they want you to do for them. It can often be a mask behind which you hide to avoid having to deal with the problems or issues that are out of control in your life. On the surface it looks so generous, giving and noble to be a caretaker when in reality you are a dependent person who needs needy people to give you identity and a reason for being.

By use of favors, gifts, loans, inheritance and other caretaker tactics you manipulate others to give you the affection, approval, honor, respect, admiration, and acceptance you need so badly.

Some examples of irrational care-taking thinking might include the belief that you have value only when people need you, or that the people in your life can’t survive without you.

That you care for them because they love you and you just can’t stand for them to fail or get into trouble. You might believe that when they’re unsuccessful, it’s your fault or that people expect you to care for them and you can’t let them down.

Or, you may believe that you’re the only stable person around.

Other irrational thinking might include believing that it’s easier to caretake than to clean up any mess afterward as well as the belief that people will no longer care for you if you stop. Or you might believe that you have more experience and are wiser than they are, so they need your resources, help and advice to get them through this problem. You may believe that it’s your responsibility to prevent other people from hurting and suffering pain.

Identify the people in your life for whom you currently feel the need to be a caretaker. Clarify what you do as a caretaker for these people / or this person or what you feel you need to do. Identify why you feel the need to do these things for this person. Analyze if these reasons are rational, healthy and based on reality.

Then develop healthier, more rational reasons not to be a caretaker for this person.

Identify what your feelings are concerning this person and how you would feel if you no longer felt a need to do caretaker actions for this person.

Acknowledge how rational, healthy and realistic these feelings are. Identify new, more healthy, realistic and rational feelings you can have after ceasing the need to be a caretaker for this person. Help yourself by using such statements as:

  • “By letting people take care of themselves, I am allowing them to grow self-confident, competent and self-sufficient.”
  • “I am a good person and do not need to do things for people for me to have worth or value.”
  • “I am not responsible for others’ failures, mistakes, losses, or lack of success. I am responsible only for me.”
  • “I am now living my life more fully for myself and feel more freedom from anxiety, stress, panic, and fear.”
  • “It is OK to let people be responsible for their own lives even when they fail, make a mistake, or do not succeed in the process.”

Answer the following questions to determine if you are a caretaker.

These questions focus primarily on your feelings regarding other people’s behavior.

  • How do you deal with a situation in which someone in your life is experiencing a problem, disaster, failure or loss?
  • How do you feel when you realize that other people need you for what you do for them?
  • How would you feel if people no longer turned to you to fix problems for them?
  • How do you feel when you are told that you are dependent on the people who are dependent on you to need and to be cared for by you?
  • How do you feel when you realize that others have become dependent on you?
  • How do you feel about altering your thinking, feelings and behaviors to cease your need to be a caretaker?
If you are a caretaker of a person, it is important that you switch to being a caregiver; one who gives the person as much responsibility as he/she can manage. The more responsibility they assume, the faster their attitude changes, and the faster they let themselves to be in a state of well-being. Here are some key differences between caretaking and caregiving:
  • Caretakers start fixing when a problem arises. Caregivers respectfully wait to be asked to help.
  • Caretakers start fixing when a problem arises for someone else. Caregivers empathize fully, letting the other person know they are not alone and lovingly asks, “What are you going to do about that?”
  • Caretakers tend to be dramatic in their caretaking and focus on the problem. Caregivers can create dramatic results by focusing on the solutions.
  • Caretakers worry. Caregivers take action and solve problems.
  • Caretaking creates anxiety and/or depression in the caretaker. Caregiving decreases anxiety and/or depression in the caregiver.
  • Caretaking feels stressful, exhausting and frustrating.  Caregiving feels right and feels like love. It re-energizes and inspires you.
  • Caretaking crosses boundaries. Caregiving honors them.
  • Caretaking takes from the person or gives with strings attached. Caregiving gives freely.
  • Caretakers tend to be judgmental. Caregivers don’t see the logic in judging others and practice a “live and let live attitude.”
  • Caretakers don’t practice self-care because they mistakenly believe it is a selfish act. Caregivers practice self-care unabashedly because they know that keeping themselves happy enables them to be of service to others.
  • Caretakers don’t trust others’ abilities to care for themselves. Caregivers trust others enough to allow them to activate their own inner guidance and problem solving capabilities.
  • Caretakers think they know what’s best for others. Caregivers only know what’s best for themselves.
  • Caretakers tend to attract needy people. Caregivers tend to attract healthy people. Caregivers tend to attract people who are slightly above their own level of education, knowledge and mental health.
  • Caretakers us the word “You” a lot. Caregivers say “I” more.

10 WAYS TO DEAL WITH YOUR DIFFICULT OR NEGATIVE TEEN


10 WAYS TO DEAL WITH YOUR DIFFICULT OR NEGATIVE TEEN

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” ~Sri Chinmoy

I love him to death, but it’s draining to talk to him. Every time I talk with my son, I know what I’m in for: a half-hour rant about everything that’s difficult, miserable or unfair. Sometimes he focuses on the people he feels have wronged him (like his mother and I) and other times he explores the general hopelessness of his high school life. He never asks how I am doing, and he rarely listens to what’s going on in our family life for more than two minutes before shifting the focus back to himself. I tell myself I keep making the attempt to connect because I care, but sometimes I wonder if I have ulterior motives–to pump up my ego offering good parental advice, or even to feel better about my own reality of being the head of this family.

I’m no saint, and if there’s one thing I know well, we only do things repeatedly if we believe there’s something in it for us. Even if that something is just to feel needed. Is that what my son is feeling?

I thought about this the other day when a client asked me an interesting question: “How do I offer compassion to my son when he doesn’t seem to deserve it?”

While I believe everyone deserves compassion, I understand this feeling.

One mother spoke to me about her daughter saying she is offensive and emotionally exhausts everyone around her in the family. Is she hateful of her life already at age 16, or is she just terribly depressed? Some teens seem to have boundless negative energy that ends up affecting everyone around them.

How do you interact with negative or difficult teens?

Teens who seem chronically angry, belligerent, indignant, critical, or just plain rude.

When your teen repeatedly drains everyone around them, how do you maintain a sense of compassion without getting sucked into their doom?

And how do you act in a way that doesn’t reinforce their negativity–and maybe even helps them? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Act instead of just reacting.

Oftentimes we wait until our teen gets angry or depressed before we attempt to buoy their spirits. When you know your teen is dealing with difficult feelings or thoughts (as demonstrated in their behavior) don’t wait for a situation to help them create positive feelings. Give them a compliment for something they did well.

Remind them of a moment when they were happy–as in “Remember when you scored that touchdown? That was awesome!” You’re more apt to want to boost them up when they haven’t brought you down. This may help give them a little relief from their pain.

2. Dig deeper, but stay out of the hole.

It’s always easier to offer your teen compassion when you understand where they’re coming from.

However, that can’t completely justify their bad behavior.

When you show negative people you support their choice to behave badly, you give them no real incentive to make a change (which they may actually want deep down).

It may help to repeat this in your head when you deal with them: “I understand your pain. However, I’m most helpful if I don’t feed into it.”

This might help you approach your teen with both firmness and kindness so they don’t bring you or the rest of the family down with them.

3. Disarm their negativity, even if just for now.

You know your angry and depressed teen will rant about life’s injustices as long as you let them. Part of you may feel tempted to play amateur counselor or therapist –get them talking, and then help them reframe situations into a more positive light.

Then remind yourself you can’t change their whole way of being in one minute or perhaps even in one day. They have to want that. You also can’t listen for hours on end, as you’ve done in the past. However, you can listen compassionately for a short while and then help them focus on something positive right now, in this moment. You can ask about any upcoming activities or school events. You can remind them it’s a beautiful day for a bike ride or walk.

Don’t think you can fix your teen.

Just aim to help them now.

4. Don’t take it personally–but know sometimes it is personal.

Conventional wisdom suggests that you should never take things personally when you deal with your angry and negative teen. And yes, I do think it’s a little more complicated than that. You can’t write off everything your teen says about you just because they are being insensitive or tactless.

Even an abrasive teen may have a valid point. Weigh their comments with a willingness to learn. Accept that you don’t deserve the excessive emotions in their condensing tone, but weigh their ideas with a willingness to learn.

Some of the most useful lessons I’ve learned came from caring friends I wished weren’t right.

5. Maintain a positive boundary.

Some people might tell you to visualize a bright white light around you to maintain a positive space when other people enter it with negativity.

This doesn’t actually work for parents and their teens because most parents and teens respond better to ideas in words than visualizations. So tell yourself this, “I can only control the positive space I create around myself.”

Then when you interact with your teen, do two things, in this order of importance:

~ Protect the positive space around yourself. When their negativity is too strong, you need to walk away.

~ Help your teen feel more positive, not act more positive–which is more likely to create the desired result.

6. Maintain the right relationship based on reality as it is.

With your teen you may always be wishing they could be more accepting and more positive. Do you consistently put yourself in situations where you feel bad because you want to help, because you want them to be happy?

Please realize the best you can do is accept them as they are, let them know you believe in their ability to be happy, and then give them space to make the choice. That means gently bringing your conversations to a close after you’ve made an effort to help.

Or cutting short a night and going to your room when you’ve done all you can and it’s draining you. Hopefully your teen will want to change some day. Until then, all you can do is love them, while loving yourself enough to take care of your needs.

7. Question what you’re getting out of it.

We often get something out of relationship, even with our negative teens.

Get real honest with yourself: have you fallen into a caretaker role because it makes you feel needed by your child? Do you have some sort of stake in keeping the things the way they are?

Questioning yourself helps you change the way you respond–which is really all you can control.

You can’t make your teen act, feel, or behave differently.

You can be as kind as possible or as combative as possible, and still not change reality for them. All you can control is what you think and do–and then do your best to help them without hurting yourself.

8. Remember the numbers.

Research shows that all people with negative attitudes have significantly higher rates of disease and stress. Someone’s mental state plays a huge role in their physical health. When your teen is making life difficult for their family and other people around them, you can be sure they’re doing worse for themselves. What a sad reality. That your teen has so much pain inside them they have to act out just to feel some sense of relief–even when that relief comes from getting a rise out of people. When you remember how much your teen is suffering, it’s easier to stay focused on minimizing negativity, as opposed to always defending yourself.

9. Resist the urge to judge or assume.

It’s hard to offer your teen compassion when you assume you have them pegged. He’s a jerk. She’s dissatisfied. He’s rebellious. Even if it seems unlikely they will wake up one day and act differently you need to remember it is possible.

When you think negative thoughts, it comes out in your body language.

Someone prone to negativity may feel all too tempted to mirror that.

Come at them with the positive mindset you wish they had.

Expect the best in them.

You never know when you might be pleasantly surprised.

10. Temper your emotional response.

Negative teens often gravitate toward others who react strongly–people who easily get angered, outraged, or offended. I suspect this gives them a little light in the darkness of their inner world–a sense that they’re not floating alone in their own anger, bewilderment or sadness. Your teen will remember and learn from what you do more than what you say. When you feed into the situation with emotions, you’ll teach them they can depend on you for a reaction. It’s tough not to react because we’re human, but it’s worth practicing. Once you’ve offered a compassionate ear for as long as you can, respond as calmly as possible with a simple line of fact.

When you’re dealing with an angry, confused and rude teen, you may want to change the subject to something unrelated: “Your favorite TV show is on tonight. Planning to watch it?”

You can’t always save your teen.

But you can make their world a better place by working on yourself–by becoming self-aware, tapping into your compassion, and protecting your teen from self-destructing or self-harming.

Dore E. Frances, Ph.D.

Horizon Family Solutions, LLC

Sunrise


Residential Treatment Program and Boarding School for Teen Girls

At Sunrise, we know that every girl is different. Because your daughter possesses a unique constellation of experiences, talents, relationships, and struggles, Sunrise offers a teen residential treatment program that is customized to meet her special needs. Sunrise works to uncover the academic, social, and emotional potential of girls who have been held back by emotional or behavioral struggles. Our staff knows that in school and treatment one size does not fit all, so we meet your daughter right where she is and design a program that changes with her as she grows confident, secure, and healthy during treatment. All aspects of our program are designed to form a healing milieu that combines the warmth of a home, the safety and clinical expertise of a residential treatment program, and the community access of a transition program. As a result, many students who would otherwise need two or three programs can move through their entire healing process – from treatment to their transition back home or off to college – all at Sunrise, quickly, effectively, and affordably.

New Haven


RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT PROGRAM AND BOARDING SCHOOL FOR TEEN GIRLS, AGES 12-18

At New Haven, we base our treatment decisions on a simple question: What would I want for my daughter?

We know that underneath her struggles – whether with an eating disorder, substance abuse, trauma, or another challenging emotional issue – your daughter is still there, waiting to be discovered, loved back to wholeness, and reunited with her family. After fifteen years working together, our treatment team is one of the most experienced in the field of girls’ adolescent treatment. We know from experience that girls struggling with complex emotional and behavioral issues need access to a variety of proven therapies. Experience has also taught us that even the most clinically sophisticated approaches to treatment are only effective if those delivering them come from a place of connection, compassion, and hope.

Daniels Academy


A premier residential program & school for young men ages 13 to 18 with learning differences.

(801) 979-6294

Daniels Academy is a small home-style residential program & school that provides both academic and emotional support to teenage boys, ages 13-18, with learning differences.  Each component of the Daniels Academy program is designed to support the development of executive functioning and relationship skills.

Daniels Academy believes in seeing each student individually. Every student receives an individualized education and treatment plan. Daniels Academy strongly emphasizes the integration of meaningful relationships coupled with clear and concise expectations, and dependable routines and structures.

Daniels Academy values authenticity and strives to provide experiences and lessons that easily transfer to life at home, work, or school.  To help the treatment experience generalize into life back home, students spend time in local communities nearly every day.

The Vive! approach is different


We help families flourish through therapeutic mentoring for young people combined with supportive coaching for their parents. Our mentors and parent coaches wrap support around the whole family, offering experiential, real-time support, where it counts the most—in the family’s own environment rather than in an office or program setting.

Vive supports young people and their families who find themselves struggling with a difficult transition or life event, or who are experiencing mild to moderate emotional issues. Vive clients benefit from personalized support but are not currently in need of residential treatment. At Vive, we believe that young people and their parents need support. For this reason, Vive delivers a powerful combination of mentoring and parent coaching directly to your family where you live, work, play, and go to school. Therapeutic mentors work directly with young people in their real world setting (whether they are living at home, college, or independently) rather than in an office or controlled environment.

Mentors stay connected! They are available not only by appointment but also by email, text message, and telephone for those stray questions, issues, or just to connect. Parent coaches are similarly available to parents in real-time and by appointment to provide practical, compassionate support to parents when it’s needed. Vive’s integrated family services have proven effective for teens, young adults, and parents in all stages of life.

Call us at 1-800-261-0127 for pricing in your area.

Redwood Grove Transitional Systems


Redwood Grove Transitional Systems began working with families in 2006, when our founder, Dr. Tolen, sought a way to help his residential treatment clients return home with minimal chance of relapse.

We have trained therapists across the country to apply our treatment model, and continue to recruit therapists nationwide in order to meet all our clients’ needs.

Our program is a research-based, comprehensive home and community-oriented approach that addresses the complete environment in which the family lives.

We identify barriers on five key scales (personal, family, social, spiritual, and educational) and work directly in the home with our clients, their families, and their extended communities to make positive and long-lasting changes in their lives.

Our program generally lasts from one (1) to three (3) months, depending on the level of service that you choose. We always hope to have a client enroll in our program several weeks before the child is discharged from his/her residential or wilderness program so that our team can make contact with the child and begin to establish a relationship of trust with both him/her and the whole family before the child comes home. However, we understand that the decision to enroll in transitional/ aftercare services may be made late in the residential treatment process and we can achieve that relationship of trust after the child has already gone home, if necessary.

The Programs of The Pinnacle School


Elk River Treatment Program – Therapeutic Intervention Program that provides diagnostic, assessment, education and treatment services.


Elk River Academy (Mid-Term Program) – Individualized Transitional Therapeutic and Education Program with a flexible length of stay up to one year.


Elk River Healthy Lifestyles – Teen Weight Management and Education Program focusing on nutrition and positive behaviors while building self-esteem.

(866) 906-TEEN 

The programs of  The Pinnacle Schools provide diagnostic, assessment, education and intervention services for troubled teens, ages 12-18, and their families.
Our programs are based on a medical model with 24-hour medical/nursing care.

We believe “no child left behind” also applies to teen residential treatment programs.

The Pinnacle Schools pioneered the use of year-round individualized academics in the short-term residential setting. Because of our flexible length of stay, students can complete a quarter, semester or full academic year.

Continued medical and psychological therapies, along with education, ensure long-term success.

Bill Lane & Associates


WE specialize in the safe transportation of troubled teens, adolescents and young adults to boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness programs, drug treatment, residential treatment centers and more. 

For more than 30 years, Bill Lane has been involved in the “troubled teen” and therapeutic boarding school industry and has worked with over 10,000 families to provide transportation to all kinds of therapeutic and treatment facilities.

Our experience speaks for itself. Please call. (866) 492-3400


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