Client Stories & Highlights
Transitioning from Early Intervention to Preschool
The transition from Early Intervention to Preschool services is a difficult time for families. At this time, the DOE typically cuts service levels and refuses to offer any ABA therapy. We have worked with many families in precisely this situation. In one of these matters, a family transitioned from EI to CPSE, and their child with autism continued to require 1:1 ABA therapy in order to make progress. The CPSE was willing to offer some hours of SEIT services provided by an individual with some ABA training. This, however, was simply was not enough to meet this child’s needs. We litigated the case. After an extensive hearing with a large quantity of testimony from the DOE and significant testimony, on behalf of the family, from a neuropsychologist, the BCBAs working with the child, the child’s related services providers and the child’s parents, the family prevailed and obtained funding for the ABA and the related services their child needed. This provided them with the ability to recoup reimbursement for all of the services they had implemented for their child and also provided them with a valuable pendency entitlement should they encounter a future dispute with their school district.
The Complexities of an ASD and 2e Family
One of our client families is a longstanding supporter of public education. The family had enrolled two children in local public-school programs. Their child autism experienced a difficult time transitioning into a public-school autism class and regressed significantly across all domains. The DOE ultimately deferred the placement issue to the CBST but failed to identify any programs or placements. Left with no other options, the family looked to us to come up with a strategy. The parents then placed their son in high quality, 1:1 ABA school with afterschool services. The student is now learning, his behaviors have significantly decreased, and he is finally making meaningful progress.
At the same time that our office was finalizing the settlement involving their child with autism, the parents expressed concerns regarding their other child, a gifted and talented student in middle school who had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Tourette’s Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder. Despite experiencing tremendous success in his elementary school program, the transition to middle school was difficult and this other child was having serious issues both in and out of school. Initially, we were engaged to help the family review evaluative material and prepare for an IEP meeting. The goal was to ensure the right supports were in place for this child when the family needed to think about high school. Never did we or the family feel a more complicated engagement was needed. Unfortunately, even after additional supports and services were put in place, things continued to disintegrate. This other child began to experience physical and emotional bullying at school, and he lost his self-confidence and self-esteem. We helped the family utilize every viable option offered by DOE to help their child, and eventually, the DOE asked the parents to stop sending their child to school, which was obviously unacceptable. With our ongoing support, the parents identified a school for twice-exceptional students, and we were able to secure funding for the school’s tuition and supplemental counseling services. The child has now regained his self-esteem, acquired coping skills needed to face challenging situations, and is making solid educational progress.
Quote from mom: “When I first called Mayerson & Associates, I was a mess. I was scared and didn’t know what I didn’t know. My younger son was in danger and Mayerson & Associates gave our family the road map for him to succeed. When my older son’s situation became dire, Gary, Maria, and the entire team were on it. They know the law, the system, and the players. As people, they are our partners – parents themselves who have seen it all and are not afraid to share it with you.”
We are proud that so many of our client families continue to rely on our support and advocacy even after they relocate to other areas of the country. By way of example, for years we had represented a family who resided in the New York metropolitan area. Soon after the family relocated out of state, they were facing an even more serious, if not insurmountable, challenge. Their child needed a quality residential placement and program that their new state could not offer. The family loved their new state and did not want to have to move back to New York. We worked collaboratively with the family and their school district to obtain the necessary clearances and funding so that their child could attend a renowned residential placement. Years later, the family contacted us again when it became evident their other child needed the same kind of high-quality program. Once again, we sprang into action. Ultimately, we were successful in placing both children at the same high-quality residential program, with 100% of the considerable tuition expense paid for by the school district.
From Regression to "Remarkable"
One of our students with autism was struggling to make any visible progress in a District 75 6:1:1 program. He was unable to effectively communicate, verbally, or otherwise. Often he would engage in aggressive behaviors and he was not learning any new skills. The DOE, however, refused to change his program or provide him with any ABA services. We were able to help the family secure lower cost and pro bono private evaluations that expressly recommended both an ABA-based school and a home and community-based program, including additional ABA services, Speech, and OT. Using those recommendations, we advocated for a deferral to CBST for a state-approved ABA-based school and attended an IEP meeting with the parent hoping for productive collaboration. Unfortunately, the district refused. Even after a state-approved ABA school offered the student a spot, the district still refused. We went to hearing, and due to the strong evaluation reports and powerful testimony from the parent and an evaluator who had observed the student in the inappropriate 6:1:1 setting, the Impartial Hearing Officer found that the district’s recommendation was inappropriate and that the recommendations of the clinicians who had evaluated the student were appropriate. The IHO ordered immediate placement in the ABA-based state-approved school, and a robust home and community-based program (ABA, Speech, and OT). The IHO also ordered compensatory ABA, Speech, and OT hours to compensate the student for the time spent in an inappropriate district setting. The student has made remarkable progress with his school and home program, and we continue to work with his family to ensure that his program remains in place.
Co-Occurring Conditions & Home-Based Program
Our office has worked closely with this family for 11 years. When we first met the student, he was 6 years old and in a NJ public school program for students with autism. At the time, we advocated for better coordination between the student’s home and school programs, as well as for more supports. However, the student was additionally diagnosed with OCD, diabetes, and other co-occurring medical conditions that made it impossible for him to safely attend school. Since then, we have provided guidance and support to this family by putting together a team of behaviorists, teachers, related service providers, and medical personnel to create an appropriate and sustainable program for the student in his home and community. We also have worked closely with the school district’s counsel over the past 10 years to continue district funding for the student’s program through multiple successive settlements.
Connors and Compensatory Education
One of our client families has four children with IEPs who have difficult needs. One child’s case was further complicated by a history of suspected abuse in a prior program. Another child’s program required a school placement change mid-year. Each child had vastly different needs and required highly unique programming. After reviewing each child’s school records, reports, and evaluations, we met with the family and developed a customized strategy for each child. We were able to identify possible school placements and programs that might be appropriate to meet each child’s needs and we worked with the parents hand in hand. In addition to successfully resolving each child’s case by focusing on three very different educational settings), we were also able to secure compensatory education (i.e., “make-up” services) for one student who had been deprived of an appropriate educational program for the preceding year.
Quote from mom: “We have worked with Sue, Maria and the entire team at Mayerson and they have done a fabulous job in representing our four children with IEPs. They have individualized each of our matters based on the individual needs of each of our children and they have walked us through every phase of the process. We have been extremely impressed by this firm and all of the attorneys and staff have been professional, competent and caring. They have done an outstanding job representing our children.”
Advocacy for a State-Approved School
Not every matter requires filing a case or litigation. For one mother, she needed our advocacy efforts to secure an appropriate program for her son, a 10-year-old boy who was unable to effectively communicate and who was languishing in his public school program. We provided her with the support and advocacy she needed to have the DOE reconvene the IEP meeting and ultimately recommend placement for her son at a state-approved specialized school. One September morning, Sue received the following email: “He is walking into his potential thanks to you! Thank you for helping us find our voice.” The boy’s mom sent the email with a photograph of her son on his way to his first day at his new school.
Transition Planning: Gearing up for Graduation/Aging Out
In 2001, we began working with one of our client families and their child "C" with autism. Initially, when the student "C" was preschool-aged, the school district had approved an intensive home-based program for "C". consisting of 30 hours of 1:1 ABA, five 45-minute sessions of speech and two 45-minute sessions of OT. The student made demonstrable progress in that program. When the student aged out of preschool, the district developed an IEP that eviscerated all of the student’s ABA programming and recommended a purely TEACCH based program with no 1:1 instruction. We worked with the family to secure an appropriate 1:1 ABA program where the student was able to make meaningful progress against his educational goals. In the years leading up to the student’s “aging out” of school-based services, we continued to support the family in preparing them for the student’s transition to life after school. When Mauricio recently reached out to check in on how our former student client was doing, the parents responded, “It’s hard to believe we’ve come to the end of the line with Mayerson & Associates after so many great years of working together. We always We could count on you to take good care of us!”
Attending A Public School
One of our students presents with highly complex medical, cognitive, communication, vision, auditory and mobility challenges. For years, the student attended (and made progress in) a mainstream public school with supports. When the school attempted to move the student into a far more restrictive self-contained program, our office challenged the more restrictive program, established why the student continued to require access to the mainstream curriculum and advocated for increased services (and trainings for staff members) to keep the student in his LRE to the “maximum extent appropriate.” After prevailing at an impartial hearing that awarded the student a robust program of direct services and indirect services and trainings for his providers, the battle was not over. The family had a very difficult time holding the school accountable for implementing the favorable decision. We filed an enforcement action in federal court, and ultimately settled the matter which included additional measures to ensure timely and proper implementation, as well as additional staff training. We have continued to work with the family in the context of ongoing IEP meetings and advocacy as the student has transitioned into middle school and high school.