Many of my clients have been members of a regional center when they were young but once they started school Parents have allowed their eligibility to lapse. Also, Regional Centers represent to Parents that services are provided from the local school district once the child turns 3 years of age. It’s true that the regional centers don’t provide much support for a school age person, maybe just behavior support, social skills and respite. But future thinking Parents have to understand that once a student graduates high school the regional center system can be very helpful in providing transition and adult services.
The reason not to remove your child from the Regional Centers’ system is that it is sometimes very hard to get back in. If your child has received intensive services for their entire school lives they may present as fairly capable young adults. This is great news but they are still in need of wonderful regional center resources. Under the Lanterman Act even if your child was eligible at a young age to re-qualify they must have a “substantial disability” which results in major impairment of cognitive and/or social functioning. This impairment includes significant functional limitations in three or more areas of major life activity. This includes receptive and expressive language, learning, self-care, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. This is often a difficult hurdle for our higher functioning children and regional centers are working to prevent these young adults from re-qualifying.
It doesn’t cost Regional Centers anything to determine that your child isn’t eligible. But it costs Parents a lot money and time to fight this determination. The system is not geared to favor Parents or young adults. Hearings are decided by Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) who are employees of the Office of Administrative Hearings, a state agency. The presumption that the ALJ begins the hearing with is that the Regional Centers employees are the experts so their determination of eligibility carries greater weight and the burden is on the Parent to show otherwise.
The takeaway from this is to make sure you get your child assessed and made eligible one of the state Regional Centers at the earliest age possible and definitely under the age of 18 years. You may not take advantage of the limited services offered or available during their school years but check out what is available at every stage of their life. You may never know what your child/adult may need.
Other questions you have may be answered here on our FAQ. All other resources can be found here. If you have any further questions you may contact us.
A2Z Educational Advocates represents disabled children under-served by their school districts.
By Renee Flannery
Daily Journal Staff Writer
PACIFIC PALISADES — Jane DuBovy spent 25 years practicing bankruptcy law before making a switch to educational advocacy.
“Always one step ahead of the curve,” DuBovy said, characterizing her irregular career moves. She received her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University before earning her law degree from the school in 1981.
She began her law career by typing out a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing for a family member. She said it was an awkward beginning but after that first filing, she went on to specialize in Chapter 7, 11 and 13 bankruptcy. At the start, “I still had to hire law clerks from Pepperdine because I didn’t know what … I was doing,” she said.
She successfully ran her practice for 20 years when in 1997, DuBovy learned her son was diagnosed with autism.
“When I got the diagnosis of my son … it was so scary to me,” DuBovy said. Read more
I was nervous before my interview. Up until this point, my interactions with people with autism have been among either children in a treatment setting or the speakers in an academic setting. When Casey Reilly first walks up, one of the first things he says is “I’m sarcastic and I have a weird cynical-esque view of Autism.” Then the interview began. Instead of an interview, it felt like I was just talking to a person, who happened to have Autism, about his life. I often times forgot about the questions I had meticulously prepared a day previously. Instead I just listened to what he had to say and became extremely interested in his life as whole – the aspects of his life directly affected by Autism, indirectly affected or not all. In the middle of the conversation I asked him how he identified (as an Autistic person, a person with Autism, on the spectrum, etc.), because we had discussed it in class and I was curious. His answer surprised me because it’s not a perspective that we’ve been exposed to in class or seen in the literature; he said he identified himself as simply a person. Most of what’s written about Autism is by people who are self-advocates or are very expressive and passionate about their diagnosis. In other words, they consider Autism a salient part of their identity. However, there isn’t much writing about those who have Autism, it’s a part of their lives, but the Autism doesn’t necessarily define who they are. Casey was able to give me insight into this perspective. He admits that Autism has influenced who he is and his interests, but it doesn’t define him. Read more
Recently, I’ve come across or have been sent, autism movies and stories about romance for the person diagnosed with autism. It’s become a much larger discussion because of the number of young adults who were diagnosed early, received many wonderful interventions that helped them access neurotypicals (non-autistic diagnosed) and now want the ultimate in relationships, a person to love and to love them. This is a giant leap from not only society’s expectations for someone with this diagnosis, but also an enormous area of concern and hope for us parents of young adults on the spectrum. The following link is just one such movie that looks into the world of love through autism eyes.
School Districts are required to pay attention to all students and that includes those with possible mental health needs. Instead of compassion often these students are ignored or they lash out w/ behaviors that causes them to be suspended or expelled. Guess what, under the law, these students are entitled to assessments to determine if they need mental health services so they can access their education. press on the link below to see the latest information on this issue.
My client, Janet Grillo, has made another wonderful movie that addresses living with a child on the autism spectrum disorder. As a fellow Mom w/ a son diagnosed w/ ASD, i can relate to many of the experiences portrayed in this film. You’ll have a chance to see it on Saturday, April 23rd on the Lifetime Channel. Tune in or record it to watch later. Just don’t miss it.
Immigration is a big issue in California. We have a compassionate governor who recognizes that these people have rights. Once the children are registered for and attend California’s public school they often need the support of the IDEA to provide them assessments and educational support. Many of these families are afraid of asking for assessments for their children as they want to not stand out. If they do ask for assessments the parents are reluctant to question what the school IEP teams are saying to them. A2Z Educational Advocates has their information in both Spanish and English. We want to make sure these children get served.
I have the pleasure of representing family in their fight to get services for Paul. Mom sent me this link. Paul’s sister speaks on her feelings for her twin brother and then plays and sings a beautiful song. Her message is to focus on the abilities of each person and be loving and supportive. click on link to hear Dana.
I saw this video through Huffington Post. It shows different opinions on Autism from people who are currently living with it. My son has autism. It seemed like a punishment when he was diagnosed. 18 years later I see how it was a reward. Listen to these other families. If you’re just beginning this journey don’t feel victimized, feel empowered. You’ve been invited into a very exciting and yes challenging world. But you wouldn’t have received this invitation unless you were qualified.
The attorneys and advocates of A2Z Educational Advocates had the opportunity to hear Hasan Davis deliver the Opening Keynote address at the 2016 COPAA Conference in Philadelphia on March 11, 2015. Hasan shared his own story about the special education system, his time as a juvenile deliquent and how he went on to earn his GED, college degree and his law degree. Hasan shared some startling statistics with the over 600 participants at the Conference, including that an estimated 70% of justice-involved youth have disabilities, including psychiatric, mental health, sensory, and intellectual disabilities as well as co-occurring disorders.  Hasan shared his own story of being a student in the special education system and how he was often told what he could not do by adults along the way. He also shared how his mother and other educators, however, told him he could be anything he wanted to be and how that gave him hope to keep going. Hasan shared his powerful journey of being a high school dropout to earning his GED and moving on to college, where he was expelled twice but eventually earned his degree. Hasan then moved on to law school where he had to advocate for himself in order to be given the accommodations he needed to thrive in that setting. Hasan’s journey from juvenile delinquent to Juris Doctor was empowering and uplifting and proof that great things can happen when adults are “hope dealers” for children instead of “hope stealers.”