OPRF has no ABA

Opinion

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Kudos goes to District 97 and Special Services Director Steve Caste for showing initiative and leadership in starting a Verbal Behavior ABA program in the fall ("D97 to start ABA program in fall," July 27).

As a parent of a special needs student in District 200, I lament the fact that the special education department remains resistant to a Verbal Behavior ABA program after two years of requests from a great number of parents.

Despite Special Education Director Linda Cada's mouthings to the contrary, the fact is that District 200 has no Verbal Behavior ABA program whatsoever.

There was some staff training, largely in Lovaas ABA, an older form of ABA specifically not requested by the parents. Even so, attending a training session does not make for a program.

For certain, there is no ongoing program in place in District 200 to utilize Verbal Behavior ABA in the classroom, and no ongoing consultative relationship with a trained Verbal Behavior ABA specialist, a prerequisite for an effective VB-ABA program.

District 200's special education administrators continue to live in a fantasy world where parents' requests for VB-ABA remain relegated to the domain of public relations. The reality of the lack of an effective program is unimportant. What are important to those administrators are only the public perception and their own power to set the rules.

In response to critics requesting a Verbal Behavior ABA program, the special education department is spending great resources to isolate the critics and deny their requests:

?There were ample resources to bring their hand-picked consultant chosen without parents' input. Thousands of dollars later, the consultant recommended her own "systematic instruction" program.

?There were resources in the district special education department for mobilizing other parents to speak out to the Board of Education in an attempt to isolate the critics, as happened earlier this year.

?There are resources to bring a highly paid District 200 lawyer to the IEP of my daughter next month in a blatant attempt to intimidate me, an advocate of Verbal Behavior ABA who has never brought a lawyer to an IEP and has never threatened anyone with a lawsuit.

?There were resources to send staff for training in Lovaas ABA when the parents were requesting Verbal Behavior ABA.

One has to ask the honest questions: Why is it so important to the special education administration to demonstrate that they alone have the power to set direction and select programs? Why are they so defensive in the face of parents' legitimate input? Why do they treat the education of our children as a game of power politics?

It's time for those administrators to face reality or be replaced by stronger leaders unafraid of innovation. This community mobilization for making OPRFHS special education first-rate will not go away.

Scott Berman

Oak Park

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