Friday, April 7, 2017

April is Autism Awareness Month

It’s April - Autism Awareness Month!

What is Autism?  It seems to be mentioned in the news almost daily.  Our families with children on the spectrum each have their unique understanding of Autism and how it has affected their lives and their children’s lives. However, does the public truly understand Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills and social reciprocity, repetitive behavior, deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, and unique strengths and differences. Autism's most obvious signs tend to be seen between the ages of 2 and 3, such as when a parent notices that her child does not respond to her, engages in repetitive behavior, or concentrates on an object rather than interacting with parents and other family members.  However, some of the more subtle signs of autism may be overlooked or misunderstood in some children only to be diagnosed later in life.
There is a wide diversity among individuals with Autism.  Yet, our society seems to focus only on the myths, misconceptions and challenges surrounding Autism. Let’s focus on some of the many strengths such as the ability to live in the moment and attend to detail, passion about an area of interest, and the ability to see the world from a unique perspective.  Greater awareness will hopefully lead to earlier detection and intervention as well as acceptance of individuals with Autism. 

April is Autism Awareness Month and Autism’s Universal Symbol is a Ribbon made of puzzle pieces.  The puzzle pattern reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum.  The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with autism.  The brightness of the ribbon signals hope - hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and access to appropriate services and support, people with autism will lead full lives able to interact with the world around them on their own terms.

Let’s celebrate Autism Awareness Month and the unique children, adolescents and adults who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder!

You are your child’s voice and best teacher!

The Ramage Law Group has authoritative solutions for special needs children!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Special Education – How Much Progress is Really Progress? The Supreme Court Finally Speaks

The Special Education--How Much Progress is Really Progress?  The Supreme Court Finally Speaks

Parents and advocates of children with disabilities have been waiting a long time to hear the words of Chief Justice John Roberts when he said:
When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing “merely more than de minimis” progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all.
These were the words of a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court in its Opinion handed down this morning in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. This is a huge win for children with disabilities!

How many times have you heard the phrase “some educational benefit?” For many parents that is what they hear schools say to justify their program when a child is magically advancing from grade to grade, in spite of the fact that he is not making progress on his IEP goals or is regressing behaviorally. Many schools will justify repeating IEP goals from year to year, while claiming the child is making educational benefit based on his “passing” grades and advancement. And school attorneys have argued that some is better than none. Well the U.S. Supreme Court is not buying it!

In fact, according to the Supreme Court, setting such a low bar for students is equal to sitting idly by and waiting for them to drop out. Endrew F. is a student with Autism who, like many students, repeated IEP goals year after year because he did not master them and regressed behaviorally, but passed from grade to grade. His parents withdrew him from public school, placed him in a private school, and eventually sought reimbursement from the school district. Unfortunately, the parents met road block after road block before hearing officers and lower courts. It seems they all concluded, as did the school, that under IDEA more than “de minimis” is enough. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the argument that some is better than none and held that under IDEA, a student’s IEP must enable him to make progress appropriate in light of his circumstances. In other words, advancement from grade to grade may be an appropriate measure if a student is in the regular classroom accessing the regular curriculum. However, the Court recognized that students who do not access the regular curriculum must still have a program that gives them a chance to meet challenging objectives based on their unique needs. This is the point of IDEA – individualized education.

What does this mean? The U.S. Supreme Court has not provided a strict formula for how to measure a student’s progress. Rather, it has stated the obvious – that progress must be viewed in light of the student’s unique needs. It is not enough to advance from the 2nd grade to the 3rd when the IEP goals never change because the child has not mastered them. Schools must provide educational programs that meet the student’s unique needs and then measure progress in light of those needs. That is what the IEP is all about!

This is a huge win in the fight for a free and appropriate education for students with disabilities!

Our lives here at The Ramage Law Group are spent fighting daily for the rights of students with disabilities and it is such a refreshing moment to see advancements one case at a time.

You are your child’s voice and best teacher!

The Ramage Law Group has authoritative solutions for special needs children!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

World Down Syndrome Day 2017

World Down Syndrome Day 2017

Today is Word Down Syndrome Day!  The Ramage Law Group celebrated by wearing crazy and unique socks.  Let’s all spread the awareness throughout our individual communities on the uniqueness of individuals with Down syndrome.

The reality is that individuals with Down syndrome are some of the happiest individuals in the world.  They touch others’ lives in ways that no one can, and they teach others to take the time to smell the roses, count the stars, and feel the cool breeze in the air.  These individuals live for the moment they are creating – they do not live in the past or worry about the future.  They have a contagious smile and laughter that only makes you thankful to know them.  More and more people’s lives are touched by Down syndrome every day.  By helping to raise awareness of Down syndrome you will be helping to change the perception of these individuals, help to create jobs, and helping to create a world where people with Down syndrome are fully included and accepted.

Please show your support, help raise awareness and wear funny, crazy and unique socks today!

Our lives here at The Ramage Law Group are touched daily by Down syndrome.  We hope you have the opportunity to have your lives touched by this unique group of individuals.

You are your child’s voice and best teacher!

The Ramage Law Group has authoritative solutions for special needs children!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Join Us!

Down syndrome is Down Right Awesome!

Join The Ramage Law Group in celebrating World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st by wearing crazy socks!  

World Down Syndrome Day was created to hear the voices of those with Down syndrome.  Each year those voices get louder and more widely known.  This day is a global awareness day that has been observed since 2012.

Facts on Down syndrome:

-It occurs in one out of every 691 live births and crosses all races, gender and economic groups.
-It is a chromosomal disorder caused by an error in the cell division that results in the presence of a third chromosome 21 or “Trisomy 21.”
-The 3 types of Down syndrome are:  Trisomy 21, translocation and mosaicism.  Trisomy 21 is the most common type of Down syndrome.
-The additional genetic material alters the course of the individuals’ development and causes the characteristics of Down syndrome.
-Some of the common traits of Down syndrome are:  low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm.  Not every individual with Down syndrome possesses all of these traits and they possess these traits to different degrees.
-Individuals attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, have meaningful relationships and contribute to society in a variety of many wonderful ways.
-Down syndrome was named after John Langdon Down who was the first physician to identify the cell abnormality.  John Langdon Down first described Down syndrome as a disorder in 1866 but misunderstood how it arises.  The cause of Down syndrome was later discovered in 1959.

You can help support World Down Syndrome Day by wearing unique and crazy socks that are visible to all on March 21st.  When people ask you about your socks or look at you puzzled explain to them that you are helping to raise awareness for Down syndrome and you are supporting all the wonderfully unique individuals of our world.  More and more people every day are affected by Down syndrome.

You are your child’s voice and best teacher!
The Ramage Law Group has authoritative solutions for special needs children!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Exhaustion Can Be Exhausting

Exhaustion can be exhausting.  If you are a parent of a student with special needs, you have probably heard that you must exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit against a school under laws such as the ADA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Thanks to Wonder, the service dog, the U.S. Supreme Court has now answered when families must exhaust administrative remedies under IDEA before holding the school accountable under other laws.

The case involved a young girl with Cerebral Palsy who relied on a service dog for assistance in balance, mobility and daily tasks.  The girl’s family requested that Wonder be allowed to accompany her to school and did not request any changes to the IEP.  Rather, they requested that their daughter’s special needs be accommodated by allowing Wonder to assist her during the school day.  The school refused.    The parents argued that Wonder helped the student gain much needed independence, but the school opted for a 1:1 aide instead.  The parents, after moving, sued the school for discrimination.
The lower courts both held that family was required to exhaust administrative remedies under IDEA prior to pursuing a claim for discrimination, essentially placing a needless hurdle between the family and righting a wrong.  The U. S. Supreme Court reversed the lower court and did the right thing.  The Court reasoned that the family’s claim is distinct from a complaint about the student IEP or special education services.  Therefore, they were not required to exhaust administrative remedies such as filing a claim under IDEA.
This is an important case because it removes a barrier to the right of disabled students to seek relief when their true claim is one of discrimination and is separate from their claim about an IEP or special education services.  In other words, the parents and the student need not go through the hearing process under IDEA prior to pursuing their claim.  
This case is also important because it was a unanimous decision in favor of a disabled student, a welcome development in the current state of education law.   

Read more about Wonder here.

You are your child’s voice and best teacher! The Ramage Law Group has authoritative solutions for special needs children!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Ramage Law Group Named a 2016 Law Firm 500 Honoree

We are pleased to announce that The Ramage Law Group has been named a 2016 Law Firm 500 Honoree. Earlier this year we were nominated for our growth, operational excellence and commitment to client service. It is an honor to be included as one of the top one-hundred fastest growing law firms in America.

At this time, we would like to use this opportunity to thank our loyal clients, and partners who have supported us as we have grown. At The Ramage Law Group, we strive to provide quality services for our clients and their families.  As we continue to expand our practice areas to include family law and special education, our team remains committed to providing the same personal attention to our clients.  Because of our expansion, we are able to help even more families in their time of need, whether it is due to a custody matter or obtaining a Free Appropriate Public Education for their children. 

 As we continue to grow we encourage you to follow our progress, and stay in touch! You can view the full list of Law Firm 500 Honoree firms here:

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Time to Watch

Like most parents, you are beginning to settle into a back to school routine.  You have met the teacher, set your alarm clock, planned school lunches, made car pool arrangements, and have taken a deep breath and you are looking forward to fall break.  If you are the parent of a child with a disability, you know that now is not the time to rest.  Now is the time to watch!


If your child did not receive Extended School Year services (ESY), watch for regression.  How long is it taking for your child to recover previously acquired skills?  Is she able to recover by the end of the first grading period?


If your child is struggling in his core academic subjects, when did you last review his present levels of academic and functional performance (PLAFFPs)?


If your child is telling you that she is not receiving the extra time for tests, oral instructions, shortened assignments, or access to additional help, has her teacher received a copy of her IEP or her accommodations page?


If your child is experiencing anxiety over peer interactions, is he being bullied?  Or does he need social skill instruction?


Now is the time to watch!  Special education by definition is individualized to each child.  And, individualized education must adapt to your child's ongoing needs.  The first grading period is important for your child and your child's teacher.  Review his last IEP, take the opportunity to talk with your child's teacher about his disability, and watch for signs that the IEP may not be working.  As a parent, you have the right to request an ARD meeting to review your child's IEP and request changes to it based on your child's current needs.  Use this first grading period to watch your child's school performance carefully so you can intervene early if needed!


You are your child’s voice and best teacher!

The Ramage Law Group has authoritative solutions for special needs children!