Call for Comment from US Dept of Education

Press Release

Public Comment Period Open for Regulation Reform Agenda

In February 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13777.  In this Order, ‘‘Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,’’ the US Department of Education is mandated to review current education regulations such as IDEA. This review would focus on:

*Outdated or ineffective regulations

*Duplicated services or regulations and/or areas of need to be created

*Cost effectiveness within US Treasury guidelines

*Regulations that eliminate or inhibit job creation

The order is seeking input on those regulations that the public would like to be considered for review.  Public comment can be made by mail to Hilary Malawer, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 6E231, Washington, DC 20202, by email at: or online at the web link below:

Public comment must be specific and reference the regulation (FR Doc # 2017-13157) in the subject line along with specifics of the regulation to be reviewed and any suggestions or recommendations.  Public comment must be made by August 21, 2017.


KidGuard Resources for Parents

Parents of special needs children have several unique and sometimes challenging needs and situations.  Finding and recovering a missing child is perhaps one of the most frightening and difficult situations that a parent of a special needs child may encounter.

Per the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, children with special needs may be especially vulnerable to child abduction, kidnapping, and being a missing child.  Depending on the physical impairments, social, cognitive impairments, or communication challenges, a child with special needs may behave or act differently than their nondisabled peers, putting them at increased risk and/or impeding search and rescue efforts.

Compounding the situation, depending on their disability these kids may be prone to wander, run away from safe environments.  These children may also have a decreased sense of fear.  They may not respond appropriately with adults or in social situations.  They may engage in risk – taking behaviors due to that lack of fear.  The Autism society has reported that this is especially true for children with Autism, as these children tend to be extremely drawn to water, often lack safety awareness skills (safely crossing the road) and due to social deficits may be at greater risk of stranger persuasion as they are unable to perceive the strangers from a known adult.  In some cases, children with special needs may hide away from search teams, preferring to tuck themselves into small, confined, spaces, and non-verbal children may not be able to respond.

Parents of special needs children receiving special education services need to ensure that safety skills are being adequately taught and addressed in their child’s IEP.  Safety skills taught can include teaching a young child to walk side by side with trusted adult (reducing the risk of running in the street), teaching how to accurately and properly use a cell phone, identify when and what constitutes a need to call 911, teach how to identify “safe people” (police officer, fire-fighter or security guard), also teaching what to do if approached by a stranger using modeling and practicing various scenarios, how to respond in an emergency situation (natural disaster, active shooter, etc., thus reducing chances of getting lost, running away), how to use the internet safely (reducing their chances of being targeted by online predators) and how to manage bullying.

We found this wonderful recently launched Kidnap Prevention Guide developed by our friends at Kidguard.

Conversation Starter for Using the “D” Words

PEATC is proud to be one of the twelve partners to participate with the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) in the development of a new parent and educator tool.  This conversation guide for parents and educators is designed to help understand specific learning disorders and the role of the terms dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, particularly as part of the IEP process.

This opportunity came as a direct result of the October 2015 guidance letter issued by the USED, US Department of Education which “reminded schools that they can use terms like dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia to describe the particular issues facing students who have SLD. The terms can be used in the evaluation process, in an IEP, and can help schools better understand the needs of each student.” (NCLD, Article June, 2017)

The printable resource can be found here:

Homeschooling in Virginia

 This week PEATC is excited to introduce Kathy Kuhl, author of multiple books including, Staying Sane as You Homeschool.  Mrs. Kuhl will be hosting an upcoming webinar entitled Manage Homeschooling Children with Special Needs,
through PEATC on May 2, 2017 at 11 am.  Registration URL:

Homeschooling in Virginia

by Kathy Kuhl

Though I work with families across North America and in Europe, I often hear from parents here in Virginia. Often, these parents have never homeschooled before. Today I offer some advice for these Virginians; next week I’ll have some general tips for beginning homeschoolers with children who learn differently.

In Virginia, to homeschooling legally, you must notify your local school district of your intent to homeschool. This “Notice of Intent” doesn’t have to be done with a form, though some school districts provide one. (A few county’s forms ask for more information than the law requires you to give.) You can send in a letter or use the sample forms at the links below, as long as you meet the requirements of the law.

Virginia has two state homeschool organizations, Home Educators Association of Virginia and the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. Both have excellent websites. These websites both have information and good advice on submitting your notice of intent, as you’ll see in the links below.

Remember, when you submit a notice of intent, you are not asking permission to homeschool, and you will not be obtaining a teacher’s license.

You can find the Guidelines for Home Instruction in Virginia here.

Here’s a good explanation of the homeschool law in VA, with lots of helpful links embedded in it, from the Home Education Association of VA. (BTW, I am not a lawyer, and neither this nor the websites should be construed as legal advice.) As an introduction to the law, I particularly like this flow chart.

There’s lots of helpful information here on HEAV’s site on beginning homeschooling in general. HEAV also gives seminars and webinars on “How to Begin” and other topics.

And our other state organization, The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, has great resources as well. They do a great job keeping up on legislation that affects homeschoolers in Virginia. I especially like their video introduction to homeschooling.

What about hiring someone to teach my child?

Some parents want to find tutors to homeschool their children. In Virginia, you may hire a tutor who is a certified teacher, but then you aren’t officially homeschooling. You fall under Virginia’s “certified tutor provision,” as described here. Requirements are different.

What is Music Therapy and How Can it Help?

Noel Anderson, MMT, MT-BC

PEATC is proud to introduce our guest blogger, Noel Anderson, MMT, MT-BC.  Noel will also be hosting a webinar with PEATC on April 4, 2017, at 11 am. Registration for that event can be found here:

What is Music Therapy and How Can it Help?

With a loud cry Julie, a non-verbal teen with autism, burst into the music therapy room. We headed straight to the piano and she began banging forcefully on the keys. I accompanied her in a very structured, rhythmic manner, adding little nuisances that matched her playing. This gave her a sense of grounding and also demonstrated empathy. Initially, I matched her quick rhythm, but then gently slowed. This helped meet Julie where she was, but also supported emotional regulation. As Julie cried, I consciously echoed her in singing a similar inflection. Our musical conversation again established a sense of empathy and understanding that I was there to listen. Within a few moments, she stopped crying and regained a calm disposition. We continued to play and “converse” on the piano as Julie’s affect grew brighter and brighter.

Through our playing, Julie, though non-verbal, expressed her feelings and was able to be heard. By imitating Julie’s playing, I was able to express empathy, while the steady rhythm helped ground Julie and allow her to regulate her emotions. This is music therapy.

Music therapy is an established health care profession that uses music to improve the well-being and health of individuals, young and old. A board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) may address social, emotional, cognitive, physical, or speech and language needs through music interventions.

Within the field of music therapy, there are specialized areas of study. One such concentration is Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT), which is defined as, “The therapeutic application of music to cognitive, sensory, and motor dysfunctions due to neurologic disease of the human nervous system” (Thaut, 2005). Within NMT there are currently 20 standardized therapeutic music interventions used to meet various neurological needs. Therapeutic Instrumental Music Performance, or TIMP, “Uses the playing of musical instruments to exercise and simulate functional movement patterns”. Instruments may be played non-traditionally, such as marching on tambourines placed on the floor. In this case, the client may be strengthening hip flexors and increasing range of motion. Musical Executive Function Training (MEFT) is another technique used within NMT. By the use of improvisation (spontaneous music making) and composition, executive functioning skills such as organization, problem-solving, decision-making, and reasoning are practiced. Through music therapy, functional gains are made and positive changes are achieved.

Anderson Music Therapy Services’ mission is to “facilitate positive change through music by supporting our clients, families, and community”. This is why we exist. Though we serve a wide range of persons, we specialize in working with individuals who have various developmental and neurological disabilities including; cerebral palsy, chromosomal abnormalities, intellectual disabilities, brain injury, and autism.

Consultations are offered free of charge to answer questions and discuss the benefits of music therapy.

Noel Anderson is a board certified music therapist, neurologic music therapist, certified music educator, and vocalist.

For more information about Anderson Music Therapy Services, visit

For more information about Music Therapy, visit the American Music Therapy Association’s website, at

Thaut, M.H. (2005). Rhythm, Music and the Brain: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Application. New York, New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

Transition to Middle School

Published on Apr 20, 2016

Join us and explore transition into middle school. What may stay the same and what may change? Where can you find information and support? Mr. Bill Gulgert, Assistant Principal of Stone Hill MS will share with Virginia families a small blueprint for how to get prepared, stay informed and reduce the stress of middle school transition.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Mr William Gulgert, AP Stone Hill MS

Bill Gulgert is a father of three and an assistant principal at Stone Hill Middle School in Ashburn, VA. Bill has been in education for 25 years and has experience as a high school and middle school math teacher in special education as well as an instructional leader at both levels. He is a doctoral candidate at Shenandoah University and has earned his MS in Leadership at Shenandoah University. As an adjunct professor at Shenandoah University, Bill is able to prepare teachers with abilities which offer individualized and differentiated best practices to all students.

Resource Round Up – UDL

PEATC has a new fact sheet on Universal Design for Learning available on our website.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to curriculum design that can help teachers customize curriculum to serve all learners, regardless of ability, disability, age, gender, or cultural and linguistic background. UDL provides a blueprint for designing strategies, materials, assessments, and tools to reach and teach students with diverse needs.

You can find out more and print your own copy of our UDL fact sheet right here.


Virginia Regulatory Update on Seclusion and Restraint


Learn about ways to participate in the process

 The most recent draft of the Second Review of Proposed Regulations Governing the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Virginia (Proposed Stage) is available HERE

 Public Participation in the Regulatory Process

 There are many ways the public can participate in the regulatory process and make their voice heard. These opportunities include making a public comment, attending board meetings, and public hearings.

 For more information and to learn more about participation processes please click HERE