Top 5 Questions: Picking Daycare, Preschool, or Special Education Placements

Finding the right fit when it comes to childcare, preschool, or therapy is so important, and can be difficult to navigate. Rachel Smith joins me today to cover the top 5 questions from our community about this topic.

How Do You Decide What Type of Program or Placement is Best for Your Child?

There are a variety of options for programs and placements such as daycares, preschools, special education centers, typical schools, homeschooling, nannies, etc. First and foremost it comes down to what’s best for your family. How old is your child? What is available to them regarding age and diagnosis? What kind of time and financial resources do you have available?  Do you have the desire and willingness to provide an at-home program? Or do you work all day and need a consistent safe place for your child to go? These are a variety of questions to ask yourself, and then it comes down to researching and interviewing those programs to find the right fit.

What Should You Look for in a Great Program?

Positivity. That’s always the number one thing to look for. Are the students and teachers happy and positive? Because if they are not, it’s not the right fit no matter what kind of resources they have available. Additionally look for communication, collaboration, and willingness to create the right environment for your child. The goal is for your child to be happy, healthy, and safe.

What Skills and Prerequisites Should Your Child Master Before Starting a Placement?

We’ve talked about the skills needed for school a bit on the show before and the key thing to remember is a child who is not communicating, socializing, and following directions at home is not suddenly going to pick that up by throwing them into a school with a bunch of other kids. My recommendation is to take an assessment, my free online assessment is still available. And figure out what skills your child may have weaknesses with and work with the school to provide the right support. And take my courses, get to work when you’re at home, and build up those skills that can support them in a placement setting. 

What Should You Do When School is Reporting Problem Behaviors You’re Not Seeing at Home?

If your child has an IEP and problem behaviors are emerging at school, don’t wait…call a meeting. Reach out to an advocate and get help making the necessary changes to provide support and eliminate those behaviors. Additionally, get it in writing. When there is a behavior report, a meeting, or a support change, get it in writing or in a digital email exchange so you have documentation to back it up when you’re looking for an FBA and a VB-MAPP from a BCBA. 

How Do You Know If Your Placement or Program Isn’t Working? How Do You Make a Change?

This isn’t always easy because pulling your child out of school has two big problems. 1. You lose a lot of your rights when it comes to getting support and assessments. 2. There aren’t a ton of other options, especially for older children. Be really considerate of what isn’t working, and see if you can collaborate with the program to make a change: get more support, add a 1 to 1, get an FBA and VB-MAPP. Try to assess your options, and in the meantime… work at home, take it slow and try to address the problems with the school allowing them to fix them. 

If you’re looking for a placement for your young child. Try searching my name – Mary Barbera, Turn Autism Around, VB-MAPP, or other keywords important to a program for your child, along with your city and state. If you find a program another way, ask them if they’re familiar with me and my approach. Help me push the envelope and change lives for autism families everywhere!

Top 5 Questions: Picking Daycare, Preschool, or Special Education Placements


  • Top 5 questions about seeking a program or placement for your child.
  • What type of placement is best for a child with autism?
  • What to do when your placement isn’t right.
  • What to look for in a great program.
  • Are there skills your child should learn before starting school?
  • How to collaborate with your school or program.
  • Finding the right placement.
Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism? SIGN-UP FOR DR. MARY BARBERA'S FREE TRAINING


Rachel Smith – Turn Autism Around Podcast Transcript

Transcript for Podcast Episode: 216
Top 5 Questions: Picking Daycare, Preschool, or Special Education Placements
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera
Guest: Rachel Smith

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around Podcast Episode number 216. Today I have on the show with me Rachel Smith, who is a full time employee for my business, and Rachel's also a special education teacher with a master's degree, and she worked with my son Lucas since she's been 14 years of age. So today Rachel and I are doing the top five questions about how to decide or know when your child or clients are in the right placement with the right program, the right goals and all that stuff. So it's picking a school placement or home placement or finding out what is best. So let's get to this really important top five questions about placement.

Intro: Welcome to the Turn Autism Around podcast for both parents and professionals in the autism world who want to turn things around, be less stressed and lead happier lives. And now your host, Autism mom behavior analyst and bestselling author, Dr. Mary Barbera.

Mary: Hi there, Rachel. Thanks for coming on the podcast. I guess this is your third or fourth time.

Rachel: Number three. Thanks for having me again.

Rachel Smith on the Turn Autism Around Podcast

Mary: Okay. So Rachel was. Previously on two other episodes. We can link those in the show notes. She has a lot of great experience, not only working in the field of autism and special education, but also having two boys, one Everett, who had a speech delay and had some tantrum issues that we knocked to zero times. Right. So last time you were on Rachel, we talked all about Everett's throwing and hitting behaviors, and you have reported that within days you got that behavior from at least once a day down to zero, right?

Rachel: Absolutely. And now if we start to see any kind of behavior creep up, we know exactly what to do to get rid of them again. So.

Mary: Yeah, so that's on the most recent episode with Rachel. Okay. So let's just quickly fill in our audience. I kind of gave all the secrets away, but your fall into the autism world just kind of made me cover more of your special education background because we in previous episodes covered more of your working with Lucas and being a mom of two boys.

Rachel: Yes. So I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I remember. And as I got older and had more experiences, it just kind of became really clear to me that I wanted to be a special ed teacher. So I actually went to Millersville University in Pennsylvania, and I got a dual degree in elementary education and special education so that I could kind of go either route. But knowing that I really wanted to be more in the special education field. And then I went on after my first full year of teaching to get my master's degree as well through another university in Pennsylvania. And that was more reading specific. So I specialized in being a reading specialist. And through my teaching career, I taught for seven and a half years before having my first son and then, you know, trying to transition into this role. I taught elementary emotional support. And boy, do I wish I knew things that I know now, then, because I think that I could have done my kids even better. And then I taught fourth and fifth grade regular Ed, but had all of our learning support kiddos in my classroom so that I was able to support them using my special ed background as well.

Mary: Yeah. And so you have shared with me in the past, like when you are an emotional support and even autistic support, I believe you had you had some injuries, you had a concussion, you had, you know, you were out on disability for a while and like you said, like had you had not only the information in my courses, but also the right support in place, you know, for some of these kids. And we're going to get right into these top five questions for some of these kids in the school that you were at. Didn't have the right goals, didn't have the right level of 1 to 1 support, didn't have a behavior analyst on the case to support it. And so it's not just a matter of reading my book or doing my courses. And today we're going to talk about programming and placement. But I would assume you would agree with all that.

Rachel: Absolutely. I think having this information would have made me a better advocate for myself as a teacher and for my students, but they needed to be more successful. So I totally agree with that.

Mary: Right. And I think it's important, like we do a lot of these podcasts and we talk directly to parents and maybe the professionals are feeling kind of left out. But we're here to tell you that it's not just the parents advocating, it's also the teachers and really working as a team to make sure that kids are in a good placement and that teachers and other staff members are safe or safer than they currently are. All right. So last week, episode 215, I did a solo show on Home versus School, and that was actually an older blog that we turned into a podcast because it's so important and so popular about how to know home versus school ABA and those sorts of things. But we created the top 5 questions we get about school placements, home versus school, ABA versus non ABA. And so Rachel's gonna go over them and we'll both be giving our feedback. So what's question number one?

Rachel: All right, So question number one is how do I decide what program or placement, as we had talked about earlier, is best? So a typical preschool or special ed placement, home schooling, daycare versus nanny, all of those kinds of questions.

Do You Decide What Type of Program or Placement is Best for Your Child?

Mary: Yeah. So the first thing we should think about is the age of the child. So most kids that are two are either in at home with a stay at home parent or they're in daycare. Those are pretty much the options right. Now If you have a two year old with a diagnosis of autism, they can still get those home versus day care, but then they can get additional services. And I think that's where it gets confusing, even like birth to three, at least in the United States. And I know we have people from all over the world listening, but in the United States, birth to three years old is early intervention services Part C of IDEA, I believe, and you can usually get an hour here, an hour there or an hour a week of speech or an hour a week of O.T.. Very not very common to get any kind of behavioral support in early intervention, although I provided that starting out in like 2010 or 11, I started out providing behavioral treatment in the early intervention field. So it's possible. It's just hard to get. But when you're talking about a very young child like under the age of three, you also have to think about do you have a parent that's going to be able to be at home and not just working from home and kind of putting on the TV? I mean, these kids, especially kids with speech delays or autism, need engagement during most of their waking hours. So people are like, oh, my God, 20 hours a week, 40 hours a week. No waking hours are actually like 100 hours a week. So that level of engagement isn't just like a parent working from home and keeping an eye on a two year old for any two year old, but especially if it's a one or two year old with major delays. So in that case, you would have to think about, you know, do you need a babysitter? Do you need a nanny? I had au pairs live with me, not when my kids were babies, but when my kids got a little bit older too. Enable me to work and to travel. And my husband was always working full time too. So daycares can be good, but you have to find a daycare that, first of all, is positive. And then second of all, that will enable your child to get services there. That's a big thing. Now, if we're talking about an older child, the question is how to know what program or placement is best, whether it's a younger child or an older child, you're going to have to visit, you're going to have to see what's going on. And now with COVID, post-COVID, well kind of post, you know, that has kind of shut the door on a lot of observations, which makes it really tricky, too. So I think eyes wide open. It's not just about finding a place, it's also about finding an appropriate program. You know, when I was, I went to two due process cases when Lucas was young. And, you know, my attorney would be like, it's not the placement, the program, which is the evaluations, the present ed levels, the goals, the behavior plan, if the child needs one. And yes, they almost always need one. That is what's going to drive the placement. What's going to drive the need for 1 to 1. What's good is going to drive. The need for a CPA potentially was going to drive the need for a specialized setting, which is going to drive the need for extended school years. So we do have other podcasts to which we can link. One is on IEPs, we have a couple on advocacy we can link. But Rachel, just from your perspective, like how do you decide on a program placement?

Rachel: So personally, one of the things that I was looking for when we were deciding to place my older son into a daycare setting was was it positive? I was almost like that, like a working mom, who would like when I walked into the building, would like to listen to what was happening in the classrooms because I wanted to know how people were talking to kids, whether they could see me or not. Were they positive, was there yelling, was there? Those kinds of things were really important to me. As far as program versus placement, it can be a great center right, like it could have all the latest and greatest things. But if your child is sitting in a corner and not interacting with anyone because they don't have the right program in place, then it doesn't matter how great the placement is. So I think those are really important things to think about too, is how are they going to implement what your child needs within the classroom or the setting that they're in.

Mary: And how to provide enough support. We always want to use, you know, a positive story, negative and I use this when I give live presentations is like if you go to the daycare A and you have, you know, Johnny stopped that I told you sit criss cross applesauce, you know, I'm going to put that jump rope way if you guys don't share. And then you go to another one classroom B and it's like, I like the way you shared that, you know, so great. You're all keeping your hands to yourself on, you know, standing a foot apart and you're all sitting on your squares or your dots or your carpet squares. So awesome, you know, lots of smiles, lots of kids having fun. And that's really what you want to look for. And, you know, even as a child gets older, it should still be positive and fun and kids and adults should be happy. If they're not happy when you're looking or when they're on camera and might not be happy or not may not be doing the right things when there are no visitors. All right. Let's get to question two.

Rachel: So question number two, what things to look for in a great program.

What Should You Look for in a Great Program?

Mary: Yeah. So in addition to being positive and you can even count the ratios, you can go into a classroom and you could count how many people are being positive or there's another positive or there's three negatives, there's five negatives. You know, really being aware of that positive to negative ratio. The other things you're going to want to look at, I would look at is what happens when the child misbehaves or there's a problem. Is there a timeout chair? Are there punishment procedures? Is there a chart where, you know, they move their thing to red and then they miss recess, like that is not what we would recommend. We have a Turn Tantrums Around mini course that is really great. It can be completed in less than 2 hours. You can get to use it. Your behavior analyst contacts hours of your early intervention, professional or professional that needs those. We can link that in the show notes, but we need to be positive. We need to not be punishing. You know, if they have like, okay, well, we have kind of a bean bag area and it's you know, you just want to make sure it's not like punishing. It's like if they need to settle down, maybe a teacher takes them to the sensory bean bag and couch with them and calms them down, takes some deep breaths, and then they're back into the action. The other thing I would look at is, and I think I mentioned this, can they support early intervention professionals coming in, ABA therapists being one to ones with them, behavior analysts coming in and, you know, recommending things because you have to really be willing like I think one of the greatest things about teachers like a great trade of a teacher or any therapist is their willingness to take feedback, willingness to make changes to accommodate and not just be like I remember when Lucas was in typical preschool, the behavior analyst or whoever was consulting at the time, because I didn't know anything was like, We don't want Lucas and his ABA therapist to be here and the rest of the 16 kids and the teacher and the teacher's aide to be here. You know, we don't want them to be separate. We want Lucas to be part of the class. Mm hmm. Do you have anything to add? Yeah.

Rachel: I think for me, willingness to, like, collaborate with families is really important. And when I was looking at different schools and as we're getting ready to move, needing to look at schools again, what was it like? Was I allowed to come in? Did I have to give a warning that I was coming early? Things like that were really important. Like if I just kind of showed up, you know, was I going to see one thing versus if they were expecting me? Is that something different? So being able to come into the building was really important to me. While we're getting ready to move, looking at daycares again, one that we found that we're really excited about has livestreaming within the classroom. So I feel like teachers who know that they're on camera and parents can lock in at any time are probably doing what they need to be doing for your kids all the time. And like that communication piece, they have an app. They can take pictures and send me pictures. I can ask questions. So I think that's important too, is just what that communication piece looks like. At the end of the day, when you pick up your kids, are they, you know, oh, so-and-so had a great day, but there might have been this problem or are they like handing them over and they're ready for you to take them and leave. Now, what does that look like? It was important when we were deciding where our son would go during the day when he wasn't with us.

Mary: So yeah. And I think you brought up another good point that I forgot about is communication, especially for kids with autism, especially for kids that are in school. Like, I don't want to just see a smiley face or a frowny face or they ate half their sandwich. For me, I want more communication. I want...I'm a lot as a parent because I got a lot of hats on.

Rachel: I am, too.

Mary: But, you know, I want to see ABC data. I want to see whether he had his speech therapy and then what went on there. Like, I want some substance. I also want to know if he had a bad day or if there was an issue so that I can help troubleshoot potentially going forward. And you need to communicate with them, too, in terms of what went on at home or if there's a problem or, you know, so that communication piece between home and school and we're not really talking a lot about home therapy, but I do think that especially for young kids under school age, that in-home ABA therapy is often more beneficial to families and to kids than in clinic. Not for everybody, especially families that work. And, you know, it's a lot to juggle. It's a lot if the kid is sick and, you know but if you have home ABA therapy and especially if the parents and or the professionals are taking my courses and in my world, then it's very much lockstep. So you're not just working on language and academics, you're working on dressing and grooming and behavior reduction and community outings and all those things that, you know, that might be part of a good ABA center or ABA school is that home component. So it's not just a matter of getting a sheet with ABC data. They're actually somebody coming to your home either all the time because it's a home, maybe a therapy, or at least a big component of that where they're going to help you work on other goals, like if you have sleep problems or picky eating or potty training or dressing, it's really hard if the therapies not at home to make major improvements, in my opinion.

Rachel: Yeah, I totally agree. We had talked about, you know, the difference of even hiring. Maybe there's not a if you have a small child and you do work, maybe a center isn't the best place, but you could have a nanny or babysitter who comes to your house and implements Mary's techniques. Implements. You know, the ABA clinic can come in and work with that person. There are lots of options, and it's just about taking the time to really find what's going to work best for your family.

Mary: Yeah. So our third question.

Rachel: What skills should a child have before entering school?

What Skills and Prerequisites Should Your Child Master Before Starting a Placement?

Mary: Yeah, we covered this a lot in the Social Skills podcast. I think we did a top five about social skills because I think it's a misconception. Like especially with little kids, it's like, Well, I'll just put them in daycare and they'll be around other kids and then they'll start imitating or start talking. That rarely happens with a young child with autism or severe delays because if they can't talk and communicate with an adult, then talking and communicating and sharing and imitating and following the rules and everything with peers who are only two or three themselves, who have their own, you know, variables and their own issues, even if they're typically developing, is just usually going to be a disconnect. So we need to look at skills. The VB-MAPP, for instance, which we cover in the Verbal Behavior Bundle, basically says there's three parts of the baby map, the milestones, the barriers or problem behaviors, and then there's a transition assessment. And a lot of people, even people that do the baby map a lot often skip the transition assessment. And that transition assessment is really good in terms of integrating readiness skills. But also my new digital assessment gives scores in self care eating, sleeping, potty training, grooming, dressing language and learning receptive, expressive language, imitation, social and problem behaviors. And so, you know, a quick and easy way, 10 minutes and wait to find out if your child is. Really behind in one of those three areas is to go to It's still free. I said it was going to be free for the first thousand people. We've had over 10,000 people take it so far. It's still free. It's still going to be free for a while as we work out some of the kinks. I mean, the scoring is not perfect. The system's not perfect, but it is able to give us really a snapshot, almost like an EKG for somebody, you know, a snapshot by age and those levels, I could tell you. So I would say for a young child under the age of five, they should be, you know, sitting at a table, hopefully talking or communicating in some way, able to follow simple directions, touch your body parts on command, you know, imitation matching, happy, happy, doing all of it when, you know, no major problem behaviors. I mean, that might sound like, well, that's hard. That's never going to happen. He's never going to go to school. Well, we're seeing really dramatic progress in many young children. So get them communicating and attending and cooperating, at least even if you're going to eventually send them with an ABA therapist. And then I don't think it has to be all or nothing. Like with Lucas, I sent him to two mornings a week with an ABA therapist. So the rest of the time his therapists were working 1 to 1 with him and then he'd go Tuesday and Thursday mornings. So that's the other thing. And that was possible because I was a stay at home mom at the time. So you really have to look at your family circumstances, who's working, what the availability is. Is it possible to have ABA and push into typical school? I think Michelle C's interview with her when I was just about a year ago now on Elena's fourth birthday, might be helpful to link on the show notes. And because she made all kinds of progress at two, she went to an ABA center, then at two and a half, and then by three, she was fully integrated into typically developing preschools and conversational and like. And so in her situation, she was ready. But in general, we have to look at communication, self-care, problem behaviors, how they transition from high preferred to low preferred when you're looking at their problem behaviors, if they bite adults or kids, if they throw themselves on the ground like it's just not ideal to then send them anywhere where you are going to have, you know, involvement on. Okay, so you send them somewhere and they get them potty trained and they get them to stop flopping on the ground. But when they come home, they're still flopping on the ground or biting their siblings or whatever. It's like you really, while they're young, I think, need to be an even bigger part of the coordination.

Rachel: Yeah, I agree with all of that. I know like for us and for a lot of families like COVID kind of put a, you know, a damper on what normal looks like or what getting out in front of, you know, around other kids look like. Everett was home with just his dad and I for about a year. And so while he was doing a lot of things, his receptive communication was good and he was matching and imitating and he was pretty good about sharing. If other kids were around, he wasn't really communicating verbally with us at the time. So when he started school, it was a very slow transition for us. It started with two days a week like you had suddenly, you know, you started. Luka Slowly, we started slow to see how it went and what behaviors we may see or might pop up because of being around a lot of other people when he hadn't been and previously. So I do think it's just really important to, like we've been saying, find a really good placement and take it slow and do what works for your family. And that may look different for everybody.

Mary: Yeah.

Rachel: Then question four says my child has no problem behaviors at home, but school reports like tantrums and problem behaviors, what can we do?

What Should You Do When School is Reporting Problem Behaviors You’re Not Seeing at Home?

Mary: Yeah. So and if the child has an IEP and I talk about this last week, which we can link in the show notes but If the child has an IEP, there's on page five or seven, there's a whole list like is your child blind? Does your child communicate, you know, and there is one really important piece on that and that is your child. Have behavior problems that impede his learning or the learning of others. And that box. In almost every case I know with a child with an autism diagnosis, especially a young child without major intervention, that box needs to be checked because, you know, you might say even Lucas was kind of a mild mannered kid when he was little. He still is, but his behaviors are impeding his learning, his inability to sit through a circle time or to listen to a book or to, you know, you don't have to be biting other kids to have that box checked. You don't have to be flopping on the ground. The fact that he is not communicating is impeding his learning. The fact that he is not potty trained in his impeding, is learning, and then the learning of others that these verbal stimming, if he's hitting or swatting or not sharing, that's of course impeding others learner learning. But if that box is checked, that should then trigger automatically in the IEP, a behavior, an FBA, a functional behavior assessment and a behavior plan that could also then trigger, especially if you if you request that that FBA be done by a board certified behavior analyst, if you at the same time say which is one of the tricks I've learned over the decades is he needs of FBA, but he also needs a VB-MAPP by a board certified behavioral analyst that has expertise and experience with assessing with the VB-MAPP. So then you get I mean, I know you're probably listening thinking there's no way I can pull that off in Idaho, but I would try, I would try to get somebody that really knew what they were doing to complete not just an FBA, but a VB-MAPP, including the transition assessment and include, you know, like if we can get somebody qualified in there, they can make the behavior plan with data collection that requires a 1 to 1 or maybe that placement is not appropriate in the end. And so maybe right away, as soon as you say there he's having major tantrums at school, I would ask yourself, is that school like if I tried to push in a like if Lucas would have gone to his typical preschool without any support and they would have said he's having tantrums, there's no like, he needs more support, I would maybe pull him, you know what I mean? And then figure it out and then request an IEP, because all these things take time, a behavior plan, an FBA, finding a BCBA. It takes time. So. You know, it does. Maybe it doesn't have to be that complicated. You can also take the No More Time Out mini course, you could take the whole course. You know, if they have an IEP meeting, if they're having problem behaviors, you can call an IEP meeting. A lot of people don't know that. Like, you don't have to wait annually. That's a contract. If there's a problem, and especially if there's a big problem, like your child is going to get kicked out because they bit somebody, your child is going to have homebound services, your child's going to be suspended or get detention for older kids. Any of that should trigger your child being restrained because he was so aggressive. The police were called for anything from very minor to very major. You want to call an IEP meeting. And I wouldn't go to the IEP meeting without an advocate at that point, or at least get consultation with an advocate. So you're going in there knowing what your rights are, because that can really spiral out of control when a child is having problem behaviors.

Rachel: I think often to Mary, you talk about the behavior support plan. So the positive behavior support plan is one of the biggest, most important pieces, and I think it often gets overlooked. But that is in place to help create the behaviors that you want to see and that work so that we have a child who can learn. I think a lot of times IEPs are focused on what are our goals, what are our academic goals? And really we can't get to that part if we're not seeing behaviors where a child can learn. If we have such behaviors that are impeding their ability to sit in a classroom, we're never going to get to the academic goals. So that's such an important piece that I think more parents need to push for. Most of my kids had one because I was an emotional support teacher, but there are so many other kids that would benefit from having that piece that I think it's really important that parents understand that that is their right to ask for that and with data to show that they need it, you know, it's pretty hard to deny.

Mary: So, yeah. And the other good point is when you're talking about academic goals and that sort of thing, just make sure they're not too high. They're almost always too high. The goals. And also does your child, if they have an IEP and they're having problem behaviors, do they have a goal in the IEP about behaviors? So when I used to do independent evaluations and behavior intervention plans and VB-MAPPs, I would almost always be with the child that needed a lot of support. We recommend data collection. I would keep data like partial interval data and I would say, okay, 90% of the time across the day or across the 3 hours that I evaluated the child, he had 90% of the intervals. He had self stimulatory behavior, 50% of the time. He had, you know, failure to attend or whatever. And then he had, you know, in 3 hours he had six episodes where he flopped on the ground. And I would do ABC data on evaluation. Well, then my behavior plan and the goal I would suggest would be that he would have major problem behaviors, you know, flopping into the ground aggression, self-injurious behavior, property destruction at or near zero per day. And that minor problem behaviors would be reduced to 20% or 30% across a day, which then triggered the need for a 1 to 1 to keep this data. And I would also recommend the 1 to 1 to follow the behavior plan, because I'm sure as a teacher, it's really hard to follow behavior plans to a tee and keep really realistic data without more support.

Rachel: Absolutely. Absolutely. The other other advice that I would give is that if your teacher calls home to say, so-and-so had a problem today, I would always like as a parent to say, hey, can you put that in writing and send me an email with that? Because it's just really important to be able to track all of that data and a phone call can get a little iffy. So and like as a teacher, any communication that I knew was going to help support more, I would always put in writing. And it's just a great kind of habit to get into. Like, can you just write that down? You put that in email, can you send that home, that kind of thing?

Mary: A really good point. We talk about the course and the advocacy parts of the course, we talk about memorializing things. So if you go to a meeting and they say, well, you know, Johnny's attempting to leave the recess yard and blah, blah, blah or flopping on the ground or whatever, even though that's not in writing, that's at the meeting and you're just discussing it. When you get home, you can quote unquote, memorialize that discussion and say at the meeting today, I appreciate the meeting, blah, blah, blah and the team's commitment to support Johnny. My major concern at this point is that Johnny is attempting to leave the recess yard. As discussed in the meeting. You said, or you stated you would have a 1 to 1 aide within arm's distance of Johnny at all times while in the recess yard. In addition, I requested an FBA and a VB-MAPP be done by a board certified behavior analyst. So. So like you're putting everything you discussed in writing the big things, and then that way that triggers, you know, if Johnny leaves the recess yard and, God forbid, elopes or, you know, worse, you know, there's safety concerns there. There's the trigger that then gets that FBA to be triggered, that has to be done within a certain time. So I think a really good point to bring up is to put things in writing whenever you can. All right, Our final question.

Rachel: Fifth and final, how do I know if a placement my child is in is not working and when do I make that change?

How Do You Know If Your Placement or Program Isn’t Working? How Do You Make a Change?

Mary: And what do you do? Because do I hear it's not like, oh, okay, I'll pull Johnny out, and then I have a whole menu of other options. That's the problem. We recently, a couple of months ago, did a two part podcast with Zulekha, pointed out, you know, told me about the problems that she was having with her child's school. He's four. And as you point out, asked me, should I pull my child out of school? It's like, I can't tell you that. Like, I personally would not bring a child somewhere or send a child somewhere that they were crying, that they were having no progress and that they were having problem behaviors. I didn't want to go and they were having a problem because, like, I wouldn't be able to, like, take my child and drop them off there or put them on a bus if they're screaming and they don't want to go or you're having horrendous, you know, reports or it clearly isn't working, but you have to be smart. And this is what I told Zulekha is you can't just pull kids, especially if they have an IEP because. That would you kind of wouldn't have your rights then if you just pulled them out. So in that case, you know, because each child and situation is so different, I would get an advocate. You can search locally for an advocate. You can listen to or watch Amanda and Kirby's IEP podcast and the show notes and you can, you know, contact them or contact a master IEP coach online to really go through exactly, you know, even an attorney. And I'm even though I went to two due process cases all the way up to federal court, I would not recommend that. That was years ago. I was advocating not just for Lucas, but for others, and I was kind of learning along the way. I would not recommend due process unless it was absolutely the last last resort. But I would contact an attorney, I would contact an advocate, I would learn what the rights are because it's not you know, this is your child's life and you just want that to get them in a placement and to have goals in place that are good for the child. Based on their assessment, could be based on the ten minute assessment. We want to have goals in place. We want to have the right placement. We don't want families to be completely stressed out by services, either lack of services or the wrong services. And like I said, kind of tongue in cheek there's not a whole menu of options. And when they're little, you've got a whole lot more options. You can, you know, pull them out of typical preschool, try another daycare, try home, maybe try clinic ABA, you have more flexibility. They're not mandated to be in school. So you could also try to figure it out. Hire a babysitter, take my course, read my book, try to put something together where the child is happy, is safe, is making progress, is becoming more independent, and then try school later. But once they reach school age, at least in the United States, it's kind of mandated that they either go to school or that you do some kind of curriculum, a serious curriculum for homeschooling. I have had success with some cyber schools in terms of pushing in that behavioral support, believe it or not. And so just investigate. If you are considering homeschooling an older child, I would try to network with other families who have done it, find out what they're doing and how it's going. That's a huge commitment. I think I talked about it in last week's episode where I really, you know, I was picky, but, you know, one of my behavior analyst friends, like if you're so picky, like, why don't you just homeschool? And I'm like, I'm not that picky. Like, I just want him to be safe. I want him to be happy. I want him to be making progress. And I don't want to sacrifice my life and my career to just be teaching lucas. So that was my personal decision. Some people are really happy with homeschooling, but the more severely impacted your kid is, the harder it will be on you and the family to keep them home after the age of six. So that's kind of my thought is, you know, Zulekha did a couple of days after the podcast interview, she did pull him out of school and she did a TikTok video. That's how I knew. I was like, oh, gosh, she, you know, and she found high lead levels after the podcast interview. Like she was just like on TikTok saying, I found high lead levels. I pulled him out of school. Like, it's a really great, two part episode that you can listen to. But I think, you know, in your gut, if it's not right and I think, you know, it doesn't have to be like rip the Band-Aid off. Like you listen to the show and you panic and you're like, I'm going to pull them out tomorrow. Like, be smart about it. You know, learn more. Doesn't have to be all or nothing. This wasn't created in a day. It's not going to be changed and fixed in a day, you know, in terms of getting him to a better spot. So I would just encourage you to, like, look at your options. I know I went to a two day rights law boot camp pretty early on that was hugely informative. I also, from going through due processes and working with attorneys, I learned a ton about advocacy and I would just say try to partner with your special ed teacher and your administration. Try to work. Maybe it's not a matter of it's a disaster, but there could be changes. You know, maybe they could consult with a behavior analyst, bring them in for a couple hours a week or even a couple of hours a month. It's amazing how or maybe just an independent evaluation to kind of get them on the right track. I've done all of those couple hours, a month, couple hours a week. Independent evaluations, even just parents empowered by my courses can push things forward. And we are coming very soon. In the next month or two, we are going to be doing a Train the Trainer program on my approach. We haven't figured out all the kinks. This we're recording this back in January and it's going to be out in February, this podcast. But you know, in the coming weeks and months, be on the lookout. And if you are really like, Oh, that train the trainer, I want to know more. We'll post a link in the show notes where you can complete a survey, maybe get on a waitlist, ask your questions about our train, the trainer program.

Rachel: Yeah, I totally agree with everything you just said. I also think that for working parents, there can be that, like you may know that it's not a great fit and you may want to pull them, but you can't. I would highly suggest, at least in our area, like waitlists are long. If you have that gut feeling that, even though they're safe, they may not be making as much progress as you'd like to see. You know, start investigating and seeing what else is out there. Get on wait lists. You know, it can't hurt to do more research and find somewhere that you may see more progress.

Mary: So, yeah, yeah. And I tell people this all the time. If they're looking for somebody that's going to be using not just the ABA approach, but the verbal behavior approach. And ideally my approach to the turn autism around approach, which is all the good stuff about ABA and verbal behavior approach, but it also is a proven four step approach based on my background as a nurse, as a mom, as advocate. It's all child friendly, but to find some clinic or some organization or some behavior analyst in your area, no matter where you are in the world, I would search ABA verbal behavior, VB-MAPP and Orlando, Florida, or Cincinnati, Ohio or India or, you know, Ireland. You can get online services too, but that's where I'd start. And if you do interview ABA companies or organizations, I would ask them, Do you know who Mary Barbera is? Do you use the VB-MAPP? How do you use the baby map? You know, has anybody here taken her courses, you know, like. Help me push the envelope. And for me, it's a matter of I don't want to sell things. I want to change lives. I want to change the way autism is detected and treated around the world. And that's my mission. And so it's all about moving things forward and helping each child be as safe as possible, as independent as possible, and as happy as possible. And for the teachers and the administrators and the behavior analysts and the families to also be happier with less stress. So that's my goal. Really appreciate your time, Rachel. We're going to forge forward with lots of our plans for lots of improvements in our systems and continue on with this podcast. We just celebrated our four year podcast anniversary. We've been doing the weekly shows for four years and we just surpassed back in December 1 million downloads. So no stopping us now. Have a great day, everybody.

Mary: If you're a parent or an autism professional and enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out my online course and community where we take all of this material and we apply it. You'll learn life changing strategies to get your child or clients to reach their fullest potential. Join me for a free online workshop at where you can learn how to avoid common mistakes. You can see videos of me working with kids with and without autism and you can learn more about joining my online course and community at a very special discount. Once again go to for all the details. I hope to see you there.