Parents often ask me to look at their children’s IEPs or IFSPs. It is inappropriate for me to write goals or objectives for any child because in my role at Pediatric VIEW or as a consultant, I am not a member of the IEP team. Decisions related to the content of the IEP are left to the members of that team of administrators, educators, therapists and of course, parents who are charged with educating the child. However, it is appropriate, when asked, to provide an opinion on certain elements of the IEP. For example, if I have evaluated a child at pediatric VIEW and have confidence in The CVI Range score, I will know if the goals and objectives are consistent with the results of The CVI Range. I will know whether the accommodations are matched to the assessed levels of CVI characteristics. I can provide an opinion and if I think there are significant concerns, offer to participate in a phone call or video meeting with the team to see if we can get on the same page. But, a question I cannot answer is the one so often posed by parents regarding the amount of time required from the TVI or O&M staff member.
Time is a funny thing. We all know people who are slow, methodical and thorough. We know people who are fast and thorough. We know people for whom any amount of time available would never help them be thorough. No two people meet a goal in exactly the same amount of time. So, when it comes to the number of vision support minutes on the IEP, I am stumped. My questions often turn to, “Does the amount of time meet the demand of the IEP?”. Or, “Is there a CVI Range Endorsed person on the team?”, or “Does your child’s educational team feel adequately supported?”. This very sticky question has far too many variables.
But I do know that there is a “too little” amount of time. For example, I find it hard to comprehend how all students with CVI in a particular school district only receive vision consult a few times per year. I also find it difficult to imagine that all students with CVI are pulled out of their classrooms for vision support with little or no time to confer with the classroom personnel. It is confusing to me that sometimes children who have complex needs and CVI are not accepted onto TVI caseloads at all because they are labeled with a categorical placement which implies that “their visual needs are the least of their problems”. I also know that there are vision educators who are so competent that they do not measure their successes in the number of minutes on an IEP but in the improvements in student function. Frankly, I would rather have fewer minutes from an educator who is unskilled in CVI compared to one who has a depth and breadth of knowledge and skill. Time is a funny thing.
So, I find that the best I can offer is to be certain that the IEP encompasses all of the goals, objectives, and accommodations necessary for student progress. It is difficult to implement an IEP that is full of rich CVI content on a consult-only basis. It will require more time. I do not find it useful to “trust that what you are asking for is embedded in other activities that we already do”. Rather, it is critical to see the most important outcomes actually written into the IEP. Even though there is a push to try to compress IEPs into slimmer documents, the IEP is the tool that ultimately guides the amount of time necessary to accomplish the goals. The amount of vision service time will naturally flow from the elements documented in the all-important educational plan. So, when it comes to specialized instruction in, for example, teaching salient features or, learning to use iPad-based visual maps for O&M, I think less is not more. More is more.