From the monthly archives:

August 2008

Volunteers are needed for Special Olympics teams year round in sports such as basketball, bowling, cheerleading and track.

If you are interested in a wonderful opportunity to help some very special people, please call Matt Mayes at City of Scottsdale Parks and Recreation – Adapted Services.  Phone (480) 312-2234 or e-mail


Please join us for our next meeting.

Planning for your Child’s Special Life Needs

With guest speaker – Catherine Leas

  • Estate Planning: Wills vs Trusts
  • Special Needs Trust: Pros vs Cons
  • Federal Government Benefits: How to maintain eligibility
  • Guardianship: Process to maintain Guardianship into Adulthood

Plus: Meet and Greet

Wednesday, September 17th
6:00-8:30 p.m. – Notice the earlier time for this meeting only!

Mohave District Annex
Kachina Room
8505 E. Valley View Road, Scottsdale 85250-6768


Laura Holgate, chairperson of the Scottsdale Twice Exceptional (2e) Parent Group is looking for some ideas.  Can you help her?

Please feel free to contact me with any ideas you might have regarding information you would like me to include in my emails to you all in the next few months (i.e. information about certain diagnoses or questions you might have and want more information about). In addition, I am working on a website that can be connected with the 2E parent group so you can access information on a regular basis regarding programs in the area, resources, and conferences/seminars. I would love to hear your input!

Here’s how to contact Laura:

Laura Holgate, Chair
Twice Exceptional (2e) Parent Group  – Affiliated with Scottsdale Supporters of the Gifted (SSG)  and SEPACS

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The Arizona Department of Education Testing Accommodations Guidelines have been updated for the 2008-2009 school year. 

Key Sections of this document include:

  • Accommodations Overview
  • Description of Universal and Standard Accommodations
  • Determining if a Student Needs an Accommodation
  • Testing Accommodations Available to All Students, such as preferential seating, special lighting, and repeating instructions
  • Definition of a Student with a Disability
  • Testing Accommodations Available to Special Education Students, include testing with more breaks and at a different time of day, using amplification equipment, and writing answers directly into the test booklet.  Non-standard (or alternate) testing accommodations are no longer permitted for AIMS or TerraNova tests. Accommodations no longer allowed include the use of a scribe for writing, read aloud for reading, the use of a calculator or other manipulatives for mathematics.


Proposed Meeting Schedule

  • Wednesday, September 17
  • Thursday, October 23
  • Tuesday, November 18
  • Tuesday, January 20
  • Tuesday, February 17
  • Wednesday, March 4 (tenative)
  • Wednesday, April 22 

All meetings are scheduled to be held from 6:30-8:30 at the:

Mohave District Annex
Kachina Room

8505 E. Valley View Road, Scottsdale 85250-6768


Where do we start?  As parents of a child with special needs, it’s often overwhelming to know where to begin when searching for the optimum educational environment.  In the beginning, it often seems like a maze. 

So, in an effort to assist you, SEPACs asked Lois Healey, Director of Special Education Services in the Scottsdale Unified School District, to contribute to our blog.  Here is her first post in a series of Frequently Asked Questions, that we will be posting throughout the school year.

How does a parent of a child with special needs learn about what services are available in the district?

This frequently asked question has an answer with several different paths to take to learn about resources.

If a family is new to the District, a phone call to the District Special Education office will take them to an administrator who will explain the process of beginning with the “home” school and working with the IEP team at that site to determine appropriate placement. The phone number is 480-484-5032.

If a family is currently enrolled in the District and, for any number of reasons, may need additional information regarding services, the family should begin by requesting an IEP meeting with the current team. This meeting may need to include the school psychologist and/or a District Special Education Administrator who has knowledge of district-wide services and can assist in designing what is most appropriate for the individual student. It is important that the parent or any other team member who is requesting the meeting be clear in what the purpose of the meeting is and what is to be accomplished.

Program descriptions and site locations are available for parents and can be obtained at each school office; however, any changes in placement must be determined by the IEP team as set forth in IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act). After an IEP team has documented the need for placement changes, visitation will be arranged for families to observe the discussed programs before a final decision is made. This process may take several weeks, but is designed in the best interest of the student.

It is requested that program visits be made with a psychologist or other special education administrator or support staff member. This procedure exists in an effort to cause as little disruption as possible for the teacher and students who are being observed. At the same time parents are able to have their questions answered in a timely manner by the person accompanying them on the visit. District policy also requires that each visitor sign in at the school office and carry or wear a visitor’s name tag.

This information is intended to be helpful in providing guidance in making the special education “highway” as easy to navigate as possible. Staying on the path will keep lines of communication open and the focus will always remain on the student.


The first day of school can scare the most confident students and parents of all time, let alone our kiddos that have extra needs. Here’s some tips that may help:

  • Make a one sheet (ONE sheet) with a picture of your child and a letter written about their strengths and challenges simply put. This is meant to be an overview, not a novel. Keep in mind your child’s teachers have several students to learn and all the children are important. Because my son is still young, I put it in his voice to make it charming. I outline the things my son can do well that no one would expect, things that make him light up. I also highlight things he needs such as directions broken down, etc. I do this in a positive manner such as we are all good at some things and challenged at others. Now here’s the real trick….I attached a SMALL brochure regarding his disability and a Starbucks card. I figure if I am requiring them to read, let them have a cup of coffee.
  • Make 10 copies and buy 10 Starbucks cards (Barnes & Noble etc)… I give them to everyone. Main teachers, PE, Art Music, Bus driver, lunch room mom, nurse, etc
  • I take gifts for the key players such as main teachers, aides and special ed teachers and make sure they have my email and know I’m always available and open to discuss their concerns.
  • I sign up to volunteer somehow. I realize some of us work (not to mention the extra jobs with our families we all have) however, it is much easier to ask for help when you have already been there with your sleeves rolled up. Whatever you can it.
  • I always do an age appropriate presentation of my son’s disability to the class. When he was younger, I did it myself. Now he wants to be part of it. I know this is tough but I promise you, it makes all the difference. Kids are great once they have an explanation they can live with. Trust me… they are mostly great when given the information.
  • I role play with my son and go through the new situations he will be facing. You can always visit campus the week before it’s open to make your child comfortable.
  • Look into cool buddies if needed. You can look to the older grades and get the honor students to volunteer for tough times of the day depending on the schedule and IEP.
  • Always remember you can call an IEP meeting whenever you need one. I always wait to iron out as much as I can personally and then call one when things settle down in late September so we can all be on the same page.
  • Approaching everyone who helps your child as part of the collaborative team may be extra work for you, but let’s face it….isn’t the fact that our kiddos get what they need the end goal? We can do this!

Please feel free to email me with your own creative tips and suggestions. You may also email me if you need further explanation or examples on any of these ideas.

Jill Anne Castle


Enhancing Arizona’s Parent Networks


Special Education Advisory Panel

This invitation is extended to parents of children with disabilities. Are you interested in serving on a panel charged with providing policy guidance with respect to special education and related services for children with disabilities? Then, the Arizona State Board of Education invites you to submit your application to serve a three-year term on the Special Education Advisory Panel. Applicants must be able to:

♦ Commit to six meetings a year (July-June);

♦ Be willing to actively participate in meetings; and,

♦ Be a parent of a child with a disability under the age of 26.

If you are interested in serving but would like more information, please visit us online at For an application or if you have additional questions, please contact: Jeannette Zemeida, Arizona Department of Education, (602) 542-3855,


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