6. "We’re sorry. We are not going to be able to provide
a one-on-one aide to care for your child like you do.” Or “Of course your
child will need a personal aide. We can’t expect our teachers to do all
that extra work."
Why is this statement problematic?
Children who are blind or visually impaired learn a series of skills that
enable them to perform the tasks of life using methods that do not require
full eyesight. The goal is for children to practice and master these skills
in order to develop age-appropriate self sufficiency. A classroom aide would
not have to “care for” such a student.
In the classroom, children who are blind or visually impaired have specific
learning needs, and if the classroom teacher cannot meet these needs alone,
a paraprofessional may be necessary. However, the paraprofessional should
not take on the role and responsibilities of the teacher. With guidance
from the classroom teacher, as well as from the teacher of students who are
blind or visually impaired (TVI), paraprofessionals can perform essential
tasks, such as adapting educational materials or reinforcing the use of specialized
Recent publications suggest that assigning an improperly trained paraprofessional
to your child may limit your child’s access to competent instruction from
a certified teacher, may separate your child from classmates, or may interfere
with the classroom teacher’s accepting responsibility for your child’s learning.
If the IEP team determines that a paraprofessional is a necessary support,
making sure the paraprofessional understands her role is important. The
role, time allotment, and specific duties of any paraprofessional must be
determined according to individual needs of the child and then clearly delineated
in the IEP.
Possible Responses for Parents/Advocates
“I’m sorry, there seems to be a misunderstanding here. We do
not want someone to “take care of” Adira. Quite the opposite. We are working
very hard at home to ensure that she will be able to take care of herself
in an age appropriate manner. We would like for expectations and training
of independence to continue at school as well. A classroom aide should provide
support only during times that she most needs it. The goal is not to make
her dependent on a person, but rather to have that person available to facilitate
her independent access to the environment.”
- “Perhaps we have not communicated clearly why we see the need for an
aide. Roberto is not yet as independent as his peers. It is hurting him socially,
academically, and emotionally (especially in regards to his self-esteem and
self-confidence). We feel there needs to be an intense and, hopefully, brief
effort to bring him closer to performing at the same level as his peers.
We’d like to have a specific goal oriented toward increasing independence
while gradually reducing the need for an aide. We’d like to get it in the
IEP right away.”
- “We feel there is a need to have an aide in the classroom at this point
to provide individual help to Emily on occasion. But Emily must learn to
pay attention and respond directly to the teacher. We would like the emphasis
to be on moving the aide into a more “background” position as soon as possible.
Then she could concentrate on adapting materials that will enable Emily
to participate in the classroom and have academic success. We, of course,
would expect that the classroom aide would get direction for adapting materials
from Emily’s TVI.”
Read the Law
Collabortive effort between the
National Center on Severe and Sensory Disabilities
and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
Copyright © 2008 National Center on Severe and Sensory Disabilities
Copyright © 2006 National Center on Low-Incidence Disabilities
Permission to use for educational purposes granted.