An Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) is a meeting at school, where the child’s team and parents review goals and develop an IEP for the student. The ARD is run according to a formal outline by a designated ARD facilitator (it is all dictated by law), but during each discussion there can be informal times to share and collaborate, too. Kiara’s ARD meetings include her ARD Facilitator, principal, assistant principal, classroom teacher, TVI, Special Education teacher, O&M teacher, occupational therapist, physical therapist, school counselor, and possibly others. It is wonderful to have an opportunity to see everyone at once to discuss my child’s progress, needs, and abilities. (I’ve often wondered why the school nurse doesn’t join us and if there is a policy keeping her from attending, but she’s never been very interested in Kiara’s medical journey so I haven’t reached out with an invitation.) We’ve been very lucky that all of Kiara’s team members are genuinely interested in her success, so we’ve never had to “fight” in an ARD; however, there are several professionals that will accompany you to an ARD meeting to make sure your child’s needs are being met. If you need this kind of assistance, contact your HHS case worker or an advocacy group.
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a document that lists a child’s educational goals. It is developed for each public school child who needs special education; in private school it is called an Individual Services Plan (ISP) and it is far less comprehensive than an IEP (in Kiara’s case it was insulting and pointless). The IEP is created through a group effort whereby each team member fills out forms for their particular specialty and then they are combined into one document that is reviewed at the ARD. It is reviewed periodically (there are legal requirements), and can be adjusted if the child’s needs change. For example, as Kiara’s vision atrophied her plan changed from some print/some Braille to exclusively Braille. The IEP is basically a contract or SOP between the school and your child.
A Teacher for the Visually Impaired (TVI) is a school teacher that has expertise in working with blind or visually impaired students. He or she understands how visual impairment affects a child’s development and learning, as well as the strategies and tools that can help a child participate in the general curriculum and other activities in school. Kiara’s TVI writes her goals for her IEP, teaches her braille and how to use assistive technology, and makes other adaptations in the classroom so that she can learn.
An Orientation & Mobility (O&M) specialist is a teacher who helps blind and visually impaired students travel. They instruct them on the use of a white cane, how to navigate stairs and other obstacles, and how to identify landmarks so that they can find their way around familiar locations. They also teach “trailing” or running your hand down the wall so that you feel doorways or hallways, as well as many other techniques to help blind students learn to travel safely.