Indirect Consultation in Special Education

happy bus Most parents with children in special education are aware that they can request paraprofessionals be placed in their child’s general education classrooms. This accommodation is intended to increase the amount of academic and/or behavioral assistance provided to children. And while many paraprofessionals and general education teachers are excellent at what they do, most do not have the specialized training of a psychologist or a special education teacher.  To no fault of their own, even the best teachers might not have ABA training, assistive technology training, or best practices training regarding high-functioning autism, for example. In addition, typically there is not enough time allotted in a teacher’s busy schedule to consult with professionals about the needs of their specific students.

One option to alleviate this dilemma is to request “indirect consultation” for your child and teacher. This would mean that time would be set aside for your child’s teacher to consult with experts about the best way to provide services to your child while in their classroom. For example, if a teacher is unsure how to manage your physically active child in class, an “indirect consultation accommodation” allows the teacher to spend time with an expert on that subject, and together they can arrive at a data-driven solution, rather than the teacher spending time researching, or testing various interventions through trial and error.

Interestingly, studies have found that teachers who received consultation in the form of direct training (i.e., rehearsal or direct feedback) provided the most successful student interventions (Rahn, 2010, Munton, 2004; Sterling-Turner et al, 2002). That is, the most successful teachers received hands-on training from professionals that went above and beyond verbal advice. And who benefits from all of this? Obviously students with special needs, but also their general education peers, their teachers, their paraprofessionals, and finally us, when our children get off the bus smiling, because of a happy and healthy day at school.

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