Special Education in the OUSD

Questions & Responses:
Assessing possible dysgraphia in OUSD(4 responses)
Navigating the Oakland School District IEP process (9 responses)
Autism Inclusion Programs in OUSD(0 responses)
ISO Special Ed options for Middle School out of OUSD(6 responses)
Archived Responses: 

OUSD Special Ed Reading Clinic

June 2012

OUSD is currently offering to place our child into the Reading Clinic currently held at Maxwell Park but destined to be at Redwood Heights next year. They are offerring to place him in an 'intensive' special day classroom that addresses learning deficits that effect reading/math. The idea is that he would be in this classroom for academics - but then in the standard learning environment of Redwood Heights for non academics like recess, pe, art etc. I am wondering if anyone can comment on their experience with the OUSD Reading Clinic or this kind of special day class? We are concerned about the quality and implementaion of the program. Would be interested in hearing any feedback that might help give us a full picture of what we might be getting into.

My son attended the reading clinic 3 years ago as a third grader. It was a great experience for him. It really turned his reading around! The teachers and director there are great.

The only iffy part of the experience was the schoolbus (the school district provided transportation to and from the reading clinic). My son had one excellent driver and one very unfriendly driver who couldn't manage the kids' behavior and really seemed not to speak English. That required a lot of intervention on my part, and involvement with the bus company and the special ed. dept. Feel free to contact me for more info. kc

March 2012

Does anyone have experience with Oakland's special education reading clinic? My son is being recommended for the program for 4th grade next year. He has struggled with reading since K and now has an IEP for visual and auditory processing deficiencies (aka dyslexia). He has been receiving pull-out reading tutoring at his current Oakland public school but the teacher and resource specialist told me they aren't seeing any progress in his reading. This is now affecting his math abilities and his attitude.

The reading clinic is a collaborative effort between OUSD and the Lindamood-Bell corp. It is 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, in the mornings and then the kids are bused back to their individual schools.

How did your child respond to the program? Specifically in reading improvement, comprehension, etc; did your child enjoy the program, and how did they (and you) handle the transisition back to the classroom each day? We need to do something but I'm worried about how he will manage the rest of 4th grade while missing most of the mornings every day. thanks! -anon

My son attended the OUSD reading clinic in 3rd grade and I can't recommend it highly enough. Prior to the reading clinic he couldn't really read. He made huge improvement and enjoyed the experience as well. I'm happy to answer any questions you have about it. Laura


Preschool for high functioning 3.5 year old boy on the spectrum

Sept 2011


I'd like to hear from parents who have their preschooler in OUSD's Burbank school, or anyone who has information about this school. It has been difficult to find information about Burbank - my understanding is that when Tilden closed, they moved the special needs programs and teachers to Burbank, but I don't know if this is correct. I am the mother of a high functioning 3.5 year old boy on the spectrum, and am trying to decide between Burbank and a more typical preschool. Any information about teachers, program, etc. would be appreciated. Involved mama

I suggest attending OUSD's Community Advisory Committee meeting on September 12. You will meet other parents and can get the type of advice for which you are asking. You can subscribe to the group list by writing to OUSD SpecEd CAC cacoakland [at] gmail.com

There will be a meeting at and about Burbank on January 9th. The CAC's agenda for the year can be found at the group's wiki here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3tkeswl

The OUSD Sped Parent Handbook here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3fet35e

From CAC Oakland's email list:

Dear Friends,

Another school year is upon us and OUSD's Community Advisory Community for Special Education (CAC) will be holding its first meeting of the year on Monday, September 12th at Family Resource Network, 5232 Claremont Avenue in Oakland (the BANANAS building near the DMV). For our first meeting we will have a potluck starting at 6pm so that we can catch up with old friends and meet new ones. The meeting begins about 6:30pm and the featured topic this month is Advocacy 101: At School, in the District, and Beyond. We will be talking about everything from ''how do I talk to other parents/guardians about my child?'' to ''how do I make sure my child is getting the support he/she needs?'' to ''how can I support my teachers?'' and more.

The Director of OUSD's Programs for Exceptional Children (Special Education) will also talk about the recent re-organization which follows the new regional model the District has adopted. And we will have time for community questions and concerns. dana


CH (Communication Handicap Class) for 5 y.o

Jan 2009

I am looking for a Pre-K CH class (Communication Handicap) for my daughter who will be 5 y.o. May 2009. Does anyone know of a city that has one? I heard Oakland has one but I heard they were closing Tilden. I was wondering if anyone's child has attended one in either Oakland, Berkeley, Alabany, Alameda, or the LaMorinda area. Judy

There are CH classes throughout the Oakland schools, from Marshall to Bella Vista to Tilden (which I hadn't heard is closing) and beyond. The OUSD team that meets with you will make recommendations for placing your child. If you'd like to talk with parents who have been through the same thing, you might come to a support group organized by two OUSD moms; the next meeting is Thursday, January 29, from 7:00-8:30 PM at Communication Works, 4400 Keller Ave., Suite 200, Oakland. If you want to connect online, try the social networking site 8 Second Rule, also created by an OUSD mom, http://8secondrule.ning.com/ . --Sarah H.


Oakland Kindergarten For Sensory Integration Issues

Dec 2007


We have just learned that our son may have some mild sensory integration issues. He also has speech issues. He has been thriving in a play based preschool called Inch By Inch. This has added a whole new dimension to our search for the right kindergarten. Can anyone reccommend a school in the Oakland area, private or public, that addresses these issues well? I would love to hear from families who have been through this.

Hi, I am an occupational therapist working for OUSD. There are SO many good kindergarten teachers out there. Rather than really focusing on a specific school, I think it depends on the teacher's flexibility and openness to using sensory strategies in his/her classroom to meet an individual child's sensory needs. Since you can't pick the teacher, it is hard to determine where would be the best fit for your child. I have not worked in every single school in the district, but from my experience, I can say that Hillcrest, North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS), Lighthouse Community Charter School (downtown), Peralta, and Chabot all have great K teachers who would be sensitive to your child's needs. There are probably many others. I hope people will respond to your post who have their children in OUSD and can speak to specific teachers/schools. Best of luck to you in finding the right fit! OUSD O.T.


Navigating OUSD Special Ed for 3-y-o's speech therapy

Nov 2006


I am the mother of a three year old who is exhibiting signs of a speech delay. I just returned from his 3 year check-up, and his pediatrician agreed with me that his language is not where it should be for his age. He has a large vocabulary of nouns, and some 3-4 word sentences, but cannot hold up a conversation of more than 2 sentences or answer questions, never asks questions, and does not express thoughts/feelings. I have been given referals to Children's Hospital for a hearing screening and speech and cognitive development evaluations. My insurance will pay for half of the diagnostics, and none of the speech therapy, so I will be going through the Oakland School District if he qualifies. I would like to address the problem as efficiently as possible. I am not sure if I should set up an evaluation through the school district, or if it would be quicker and help move things along if I went ahead with an independent assesment. If anyone has relevant experience to share - who to talk to, what to ask for, programs to look into - I would greatly appreciate it Concerned Mom

You might try calling CEID (Center on Early Intervention on Deafness). CEID is a model early intervention program for babies and young children who have hearing impairments and severe speech and language delays. They have a pediatric audiology suite on site and offer speech therapy and many other services. They're a great resource. Their number is (510) 848-4800 and they are located at 1035 Grayson Street in Berkeley (off San Pablo just north of Ashby Avenue). http:// www.ceid.org/index.html Donna

You're taking action about the speech issue at exactly the right time. Early intervention makes a huge difference. Our son is now 4 and he's been in speech therapy for about a year, which has made an incredible difference in his ability to speak clearly and be understood. There is still work to be done, but it is happening right before our eyes.

Your referral to Children's for a hearing assessment is always the first step. You need to know if there are any organic reasons for the delay. Our son had some hearing loss and had tubes inserted in both ears last May. Dr. Wesman at Children's runs the hearing program and he is absolutely wonderful. Not touchy, feely...just really good at getting things done. Whatever you decide to do about private speech therapy (we decided against it), get your child assessed by the school district. They are required to develop an Independent Education Program (IEP) for any child deemed to have an issue that needs to be remediated. That IEP will follow your child through her entire school career and entitles you to access to all district speech services AND private services if the district is unable to resolve the problem, or ANY speech issue that might arise later in her school career Jennifer

Hi, good for you for getting an early start on this. It was actually our preschool teacher who picked up on some odd speech patterns in my 3-yr-old, and she suggested I contact OUSD. I did not even know about Children's services. Anyhow, we went through OUSD and while it was not exactly a zippy process, it was fine. Her symptoms were slight enough that it took a couple of evaluations before they were sure she qualified. The personnel we have dealt with have all been outstanding, including our speech therapist at Montclair Elem and OT's at Tilden and Montclair. If you can afford Children's diagnostic process, I would gather as much info as possible and do that too. There is also a private group called Word Works in Oakland that offers free screenings from time to time. You could try to get in there as well. With younger preschoolers, it is sometimes hard to pin down a diagnosis, but there are certainly treatable symptoms. We still don't really know what my daughter's diagnosis is, but she is having amazing results through 45 minutes of speech therapy a week and consistent follow-up at home and at school. Best of luck to you! Montclair Mommy

Hi there, Your message is one of the reasons I troll through the ''Advice Wanted'' newsletters - to try to share some experience and get you hooked up with others who can provide some advice and support! My son (now 11) was diagnosed at about 4, and we started with a private assessment through Childrens and subsequently with a developmental pediatrician, as the speech language pathologist wanted to make sure that other things she observed were also assessed. That pediatrician recommended that we contact OUSD to get our son into a speech language focused preschool, which we did. (Tilden Preschool) This required a full-on assessment by the district - psych testing, speech language, OT because we suggested that might be part of it. It takes a few months to get it all done, so get started! You can certainly pursue the private assessments and therapies too (we did; it seems that the earlier you pile on the corrective measures, the more rapidly gains are made.) We did private speech, OT and ''floor time'' play therapy to address a variety of issues including tantrums.

Please feel free to contact me via email, as there are lots of other things that can be helpful. The material in the archives that is more recent is specifically posted around ''Learning Disabilities'', which is pertinent - but how would you know to call it that? I guess I should do a separate posting that lays out the process steps people go through so it can be posted under ''Language Delays in Preschool Aged Children'', and see if we can get it posted.

My other advice to you is to hook up later with the Oakland ''CAC'' or Community Advisory Committee, which is essentially the parent-staff group for special needs children, teachers, schools etc. in Oakland. You can contact them to be put on the mailing list at cacoakland[at]comcast.net Fire me an email and we'll see if you want to do a phone call or if I can find you a parent to talk to whose child is at Tilden now Nancy

Good for you for looking for the best way to help your child. I'm not sure it's an either/or situation - that is, you may be better off getting an evaluation through your insurance and also requesting one from OUSD. You could also see if the SLP from Children's could be present at your child's IEP meeting with the school district, although you may have to pay for that privately. That way, if there's anything unclear in the report the SLP will be there to clarify and expand on it, and possibly advocate for you (although that may not be necessary). Good luck! anon

Make a written request of the district describing the problems and asking for an evaluation in ''all areas of suspected disability.'' Phone the Infant to 5 year old referral office (510) 879 - 1766 to ask where to deliver the request or send with delivery confirmation. (Bring two copies and have the receptionist initial date and time of receipt.) The district then has two weeks to provide you with an assessment plan to sign and return and another 60 days to complete the initial evaluation and hold a meeting to discuss the results. Services agreed to at that meeting will start more or less immediately. Contact me directly if you would like more information. Dana Lear, DrPH Negotiating the Maze Special Education Advocacy, Research, Support

I believe the Preschool Diagnostic Team at OUSD is more used to evaluating 3-year-olds and then recommending services than in looking over private reports and then figuring out services. Doing it the ''regular'' way will probably make it faster. Through OUSD, a speech-delayed preschooler may get one-on-one speech therapy at a nearby school, group speech therapy, or be enrolled in a Special Day Class (at the somewhat run-down but EXCELLENTLY staffed Tilden School) that is specially tailored to help kids his age with communication. I would trust the Diagnostic Team to place your preschooler appropriately. After he is getting some speech therapy (or more) through OUSD, you then have some time to do additional evaluations at Children's that might help fine-tune ways to help your child. (OUSD staff cannot, for example, give your child a diagnosis.) The most urgent thing is to put a request for an evaluation in writing (this is called referring yourself) and mail it to: OUSD Preschool Diagnostic Team, 2850 West St., Oakland CA 94601. Then you can follow it up with a phone call, 879-1766. If you're looking for additional parent advice, I think Tilden (tilden.ousd.k12.ca.us) has an active PTA --Mom of successful Tilden School grad

i used to work with kids with language delays, and there are a few things I feel compelled to mention: 1. sooner is better -- IF your kid has a language delay, the sooner you start therapy, the better. 2. when dealing with a school district (I didn't work for OUSD) the priciple of ''the squeaky wheel gets the grease'' absolutely applies. Resources are limited, and the parents that complain the most, call the most meetings, and are generally the most annoying usually get more of what they want than the passive parents. Consider hiring an advocate. good luck kevin

Dear Concerned Mom - my son was also diagnosed with a speech delay when he was three. The good news is that there is a lot of support in the East Bay for children with communication delays. I know it is a daunting experience once you begin down this path. We have given my son services in a number of different ways.

We were anxious to get my son speech support immediately so we started with private speech therapy sessions twice a week while we investigated other options and got him assessed by the Oakland School District. You should definitely get him assessed by OUSD -- it is a huge bureaucracy to deal with and the special ed department is overwhelmed but if you are a ''squeeky wheel'' progress can be made. If there is a long delay in getting your son assessed at Children's Hospital (I was quoted 3 months just for an appointment) you may want to try Alta Bates' Herrick Campus -- it also assesses children but is not as impacted as Children's Hospital.

My son was tested at Herrick in a very timely matter. I also had my son fully assessed by a developmental pediatrician -- your general pediatrician could give you recommendations of some in this area. Our dev. pediatrician has been great by helping sort through decisions and placements for our child and working with the school district to get ther right resources. We have used a combination of private and public support. I hope this helps a bit. anonymous