Ask Catherine Your IEP Question Here

Transition Triggers are NEEDED for Crisis Schooling

Triggers. We usually think of the word "trigger" as a negative. We get triggered and the result is anger or meltdowns. Especially when we are discussing Special Education, behavior plans and supporting a child in a successful school day.

Today, we're going to reframe the word "trigger" into a good thing. Something that you need. An action your child might be craving because it will help this new confusing world feel just a little bit easier.

We've heard a million times how this disruption of routine has upset everyone, specifically students who thrive in routines. We can't get the old routines back, just yet, but we can break down what the routine did, what purpose it served, and work together to implement a trigger. Not a full routine, a trigger.

Remember, when this crisis started and everyone was posting cutesy rainbow colored scheduled with breaks and work time, all while making a homemade dinner from scratch. This was going to be their new routine. It didn't work. At least not...

Continue Reading...

LIVE PODCAST: Crisis Schooling is Exhausting for Special Needs Parents & IEP Teams

Crisis Schooling is Exhausting for Special Needs Parents & IEP Teams

Listen for 3 steps to help special needs parents & IEP teams

Become part of the solution as a Master IEP Coach


Continue Reading...

Crisis Schooling Exhaustion in Special Education is Real

Crisis schooling exhaustion is real.

It's not just you, your routine (or lack of routine) or something that you can just figure out and then it goes away.

Think back to when you've had other changes in your life forced into your daily routines.

Maybe it was a move, a marriage, a divorce, a death, a job change, special needs challenges or a surprise medical diagnosis ... whatever it was, it was exhausting. But it was different. You knew the exhaustion was temporary and you either had survived this type of life change before or you knew someone who had gone through it. In fact, you or that someone you know probably came out stronger on the other side.

Here's the huge difference of what is happening right now. You and your children or students have been forced into a huge change, it's exhausting, and we don't know when it will end. We don't even have specific examples of how people have survived this in the past because schools have NEVER been shut down like this before. 

I'm not...

Continue Reading...

Crisis Schooling Special Education at Home - Tips for Parents

iep special education Apr 21, 2020

Special Education Crisis Schooling at Home for Parents
Schedule Space: You already know you and your child need breaks, but scheduling space in your day is critical. Leave OPEN space in your plan each day. Space for nothing. Space to put things back together when everything falls apart.
Schedule Check In Times: Set a reminder on your phone. Pick 3 times each day to check in with yourself and your children. How are you FEELING?
Set Up a Chill Zone: Make a place in your home where NO work is done for both you and your child. Think of it like a time out from the crisis. Only relaxing activities allowed.
Real Life Routines: Be intentional about using your real life routines to teach reading, math, following directions. Counting out cookies for a snack is more meaningful than a worksheet.
Build Independence: Accomplishing a skill independently vs needing maximum prompts is a HUGE milestone. Build as much independence as possible on...
Continue Reading...

PODCAST: Crisis Schooling in Special Education - Less is MORE

Should we really be following our state recommended "distance learning" minutes? Probably not.

Our reality in our special needs community is that we don't take breaks from learning in the same way as others. 

Our "recommended minutes" for learning will never be less because we are always striving to reach that next milestone that our peers have probably already mastered.

Less minutes with a worksheet or working on official academic benchmarks can actually mean MORE time for reaching new milestones and generalizing our skills. 

More IEP Help:

Become a Master IEP Coach:


Continue Reading...

Crisis Schooling Lessons: Different Isn't Less & Less Can Be More

There are always debates happening in special education and with the current pandemic, the arguments are getting louder and louder.

I'm going to skip over the obvious frustration of what's going to happen when we get back into school. Compensatory education? ESY? We will have plenty of time to tackle those issues when the time comes.

Right now we have to really think about what is happening today, in your house, in your virtual classroom. 

I've posted several times the recommended minutes of "school at home" from the IL State Board of Ed on my blog and social media sites. It's important for people to see that successful school is not sitting at a kitchen table for 6 hours, crying your way through worksheets.

Today somebody called me out and stated that I am sharing dangerous information. She thinks it's irresponsible that I let people know it's okay if we, as a special education TEAM, decide to do less than the recommended minutes. She thinks I'm promoting LESS learning for...

Continue Reading...

Podcast: Frustrating IEP Advice Catching Fire on Facebook

"It would be foolish to assume that services written for a school setting could be done at home with the same intensity, but that IEP paperwork we worked so hard to create doesn't have a clause to adapt for what is happening right now during the Covid Crisis... which is where the bad advice floating around Facebook is starting to focus."

IEP Help:
Become a Master IEP Coach®

Continue Reading...

Frustrating IEP Advice Catching Fire on Facebook

When you've been in the Special Education community for over 20 years, you know when something big is brewing. You can feel it in your bones. You can see the lawyers starting to try and get ahead of what's coming and then comes the parent advocacy groups marching right behind.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a special needs sibling and I'm truly grateful for the lawyers and the parent advocates that paved the way for my brother, who is 42 with Down syndrome, to get an education in the public school system.

But, the negativity and the tension between school and special needs families is why I became a Special Education Teacher... I knew in my gut at 10 years old that there had to be a better way.

I only lasted a few years in the system as a teacher, not because I didn't like the classroom and not because I got burnt out. I left, by choice, because I LOVED finding creative solutions between schools and parents, even in the toughest situations.

And here we are, right now, in probably...

Continue Reading...

PODCAST: Errorless Learning for Distance Learning with Alyssa



Alyssa is a Special Education teacher who knows her stuff when it comes to setting up students for success.

If you've never heard of Errorless Learning before, lean in and listen... it's perfect ALL the time, but especially awesome during this time of distance learning during the crisis.

Learn More from Alyssa & Get Dozens of Freebies at:

Grab Your Free IEP Checklist:

Listen on iTunes

Listen on Spotify

Continue Reading...

Virtual IEP Meeting Prep

special education Apr 05, 2020

Participating in a Virtual IEP meeting takes more than just logging in and hoping everything goes OK.

Watch this video to find out:

  • 3 things you must do before the meeting
  • 1 way to help every parent have a voice
  • Why follow up matters more than ever

Nobody wants a rush of IEP meetings when we all get back to school. This is why we MUST make virtual IEP meetings SUCCESSFUL!


Continue Reading...

50% Complete

FREE! Virtual IEP Prep Webinar

Special Needs Parents & Teachers, Get the replay sent right to your inbox so you can watch anytime!