The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

18 October 2011

Help on the way for the IEP team

By Dang Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus

There’s a silver lining behind every cloud. Such seems to be the case with the Suporta sa Eskwela Program of Filipino teachers working in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Much as we bemoan the brain drain caused by the exodus of our best teachers and therapists to the US during the past decade, we cannot help but be touched by the efforts of some of these teachers to help those in need in the Philippines.

Our Angel Talker this week is one of the most progressive special educators in the country. Cecil Sicam is the school directress of Bridges Foundation, Inc. She went to Santa Clara County Office of Education, California, USA to teach SpEd for three years and then came back to serve Filipino children with special needs. Teacher Cecil is a co-founder and was national president of Autism Society Philippines. Her 30-year-old son Likas, with autism, is a full-time regular employee at Ice Cube.

Suporta sa eskwela

In February 2007, four administrators from Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) came to the Philippines to recruit teachers for their school district. The recruitment team was able to tour the different school facilities in Cebu and saw schools that were model sites, as well as schools in need.

One of those needy schools provides education to students with disabilities. They were touched by the participation and love of all stakeholders (parents, teachers, and students). Seeing the staff instructing children with rigor amid strained conditions, the Baltimore team realized how blessed they were and thus made a commitment to raise funds to support this program that was rich with quality and love.

A year later, the first fund-raiser was held at a local Filipino restaurant. With the help of the Baltimore teachers and others in the community, they were able to raise US$8,000 to purchase a Yellow Mini-Bus for the school in Cebu to allow the school to mobilize the children.

This was how the Suporta sa Eskwela Program was born. By 2010, the small group of four BCPSS administrators had grown a dozen-plus volunteers who agreed to expand their giving. They began developing criteria to nominate and select a school with a rich educational program but is in need to be their beneficiary.

One of the projects that they have chosen to fund this year is the web-based IEP Generation and Monitoring Program of Bridges Foundation, Inc. (BFI), a non-stock, non-profit school for children with special needs.

The need for an IEP

An Individualized Education Program/ Plan (IEP) is a basic requirement for schools catering to children with special needs. The IEP is a written plan that specifies the students’ academic goals and the method to obtain these goals.
An Individualized Education Program/ Plan (IEP)
is a basic requirement for schools catering to children with special needs

The IEP should include the student’s current skills, his/her strengths, weaknesses and learning style, and what goals will be targeted within the school year. It is every exceptional student’s lifeline for academic success. If students with special needs are to achieve the academic curriculum or an alternative curriculum to the best of their ability and as independently as possible, the professionals involved in the delivery of their programming must have a plan in place.

However, unlike in the US, the schools here are not legally bound to formulate an IEP for special needs nor to convene a meeting of all persons involved in the education of the child. Oftentimes, it is up to the parent to take steps to ensure their child is getting the right services and educational accommodations.

The IEP process entails the participation of everyone involved with the child’s education. IEP team members include parents of the student, special education teacher, classroom teacher, therapists, even caregivers.

Before setting goals the team must first determine the present level of performance using various assessment tools. After the goals have been identified, it is then stated how the team will help the student to achieve the goals, this is referred to as the measurable part of the goals. Each goal must have a clearly stated objective how, where and when each task will be implemented. Adaptations, aides or supportive techniques that may be required to encourage success must be defined and listed. Monitoring and measurement of progress should also be clearly explained.

In developed countries, the IEP process is facilitated by using computer software that streamlines the process. At the core of these programs is a goal bank which makes it easier for teachers to select goals and objectives and state it in such a way that includes how progress will be measured and monitored.

High-tech IEP

Web-based IEP softwares are commonly available to SpEd teachers in the US but not in the Philippines.

It is for this reason that Bridges Foundation, Inc. (BFI) has embarked on establishing the first-ever web-based IEP Generation and Monitoring software in the Philippines.

This project aims to make IEP formulation easier for teachers from assessment to goal writing, progress monitoring, and reporting. The program will incorporate a comprehensive multi-level and multi-skill assessment scale, a goal bank, and a built-in system for choosing goals to prioritize. The monitoring and reporting component of the project will track the progress of each student and likewise standardize reports.

Furthermore, software components will be based on local norms and conditions. Our laws are different from those in developed countries so it does not contain the sections that pertain to legal justifications for services. And since there is no public funding involved, especially for services such as transportation, speech, occupational and other therapies, such services are not mandatory.

What remains the same is the process of determining the student’s present skills using standard assessment tools, analysis of learning styles, strengths and weaknesses and tailor fitting goals to each student’s needs.

Parent involvement is ensured through each step as their inputs form part of the data on which assessment is based. A case team conference is convened where all individuals working with the child gather to review the IEP draft and agreeing on its contents.

Though the software does not promise to remove all the difficulties associated with IEP formulation, it hopes to upgrade the benchmark of SPEd practice in the Philippines and to serve as a starting point for further improvement.

With the assistance extended by SSE, this IEP Generation software may one day be a standard facility for all schools serving students with special needs in the Philippines.

Autism Society Philippines (ASP) will hold its 3rd Regional Conference on Autism to be hosted by the ASP-Cagayan de Oro Chapter on Oct. 28-29, at the Maisie Van Vactor Auditorium of Pilgrim Christian College, Cagayan de Oro City. The conference’s theme will be “Making Sense of Autism: A Path to Hopes, Possibilities, and Solutions”. Speakers include Drs. Stella Manalo, Cindy Llego, Annah Bebecca Doroja; allied medical practitioners Lady Suarez, Kathy B. Reyes; SpEd practitioners Prof. Mercedes Adorio, Rizalinda Cansanay, Maria Yolanda Michelle Bautista, Rosalyn Marie Sorongon, Giselle Principe; and autism advocates Atty. Jerefe Bacang, Dang Koe and JR Tan, young adult with autism.

Acknowledgement: Manila Bulletin, Help on the way for the IEP team


Anonymous said...

this is great news! where can we get the software?

Autism Society Philippines said...

Hi, You can email us at about your concern. Thank you

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