Monthly Archives: April 2016

Amazing stories

Today I read amazing stories about two successful young adults. One story is about a young woman with Down Syndrome that is graduating from college.

And one is about a young man with Autism that is working a great job, using his talents to be successful.

Two seperate and unique stories, two paths of independent decisions! The readings are inspirational to me, so I hope you enjoy reading them as well!

-Mrs. Katie


Who are the stakeholders in your student’s plan?

Let me introduce you to Joseph. Or Josephine. Either way, let’s call this student “Joey”. Joey is a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP), or a Section 504 plan. Joey has a supportive family. Joey needs support to succeed in the school setting. Joey also needs support and direction to participate in the community.

Joey has a group of stakeholders in his/her life. These are people that have input, ideas, education, therapy and support to provide and to enhance Joey’s life from Early Intervention/Pre-K to Primary Education, through Secondary Education to Graduation/Post-secondary transition planning. These stakeholders are part of Joey’s life, education, and community participation.
Let’s review the list of potential stakeholders:

  • Parents/Guardians
    Family Members/Friends/Peers
    Personal Companion or Assistant
    Advocate/Legal Advocate
  • Teachers: General Education teacher(s)
    Special Education teacher(s),
  • Paraprofessionals
  • School based support/IEP team: Resource Specialist
    Student Support Specialist
    Guidance Counselor
  • Related Services: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Occupational Therapy practitioner
    Physical Therapy practitioner
  • Community based: Vocational Rehabilitation
    Community organizations
  • Health Care: School Nurse/ Health Care Assistant
    Physician/ Specialist
    Clinical therapy practitioner

Who is involved in YOUR student’s life? If you are Joey, who else is involved in YOUR life? It is important for the stakeholders to work together to prepare Joey to actively participate in and complete school, transition to post-secondary education/vocational training/community participation, and increase health care awareness. All of these are  important for an optimal life plan for every student with special health care needs. Actually, for all students!
I have explored the term synergistic effect- “An effect arising between two or more agents, entities, … that produces an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects.”
When a collaborative relationship among the stakeholders is successful, the synergistic effect will enable success with more efficacy than each member of the team working singularly, for the benefit of Joey!
I welcome input to help me expand this list, to be complete. Who is missing from the above list?

( (2016). Synergistic Effect. Retrieved from )

Synergistic effect


“An effect arising between two or more agents, entities, factors, or substances that produces an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects. It is opposite of antagonism. See also synergism.”- Read more:

I used that phrase in a paper I wrote for class this week, about parent/educator (therapist) collaboration. I really appreciate the definition and application. To quote from my conclusion :

As indicated in the research, it is necessary for lines of communication to remain open. This allows information about special education, IEP meetings and goals, and other important knowledge that would support the student, to be available and shared between parents and educators. When this collaborative relationship is successful, the synergistic effect will enable optimal success from the beginning of services through transition to the student’s chosen post-secondary role in life.


Gail Hendrick Endowment Essay, Spring 2016

(I received notice from the University of Florida College of Education that I had been chosen to be a recipient of the Gail Hendrick Endowment. I was requested to write an essay, describing why I chose special education or what I hope to accomplish in my career as an educator. Let me share with you my current vision.)

I am very grateful for having been chosen as a recipient of the Gail Hendrick Endowment. In addition to the award, it has provided me an opportunity for personal reflection at this point in my graduate studies.

I graduated from the University of Florida in 1997 with a Bachelor of Health Science in Occupational Therapy.  I worked for many years in a variety of settings, appreciating the learning experiences each provided.  As the years went on, I realized my calling was to work specifically with students that have special needs, to assist them in achieving success in a school-based setting.  I love working with the students, each with their own diagnoses and needs, but more significantly, their own individual abilities, hopes and dreams. I appreciate working with my colleagues in the education-related professions as well. I continually learn from the teachers, staff and students in the schools and want to learn more!  When my own son graduated from high school and left home for college (the University of Florida!), the process of his enrollment reminded me how exhilarating it is to grow academically. Within a year, I decided I wanted to go back to school. I researched regarding what programs of study would guide me professionally in assisting students to achieve their potential in school and in life. I considered graduate studies in Occupational Therapy, as I believe this is a strong and holistic profession, which addresses so many aspects of a student’s life. Due to my passion for working in the schools, I also investigated the UF College of Education and found the Teach Well Online Academy.   I learned about the Education-Health Care Transition (Ed-HCT) program and realized I had discovered my answer! My primary role is a health care professional. And yet, I treasure working in the educational setting. I work in middle schools and high schools with students and families that need training and planning to prepare for successful transition to their chosen post-secondary setting. Transition planning must address the students’ educational requirements, their life skills, their health-care awareness, and much more.  The Ed-HCT program is educating me with the methodology I need to understand and address what my students require to achieve those details.

When I was informed about receiving this scholarship, I did some research about Gail Hendrick.  I read a press release from December 2010 when this Endowment was created. University of Florida Special Education professor emeritus Mary Kay Dykes, who had been one of Ms. Hendrick’s teachers, was quoted as saying, “Gail wanted to learn everything she could so she could help her students have a better life”.  I feel that is a perfect description of how I view studying at UF, first as an undergraduate student in Occupational Therapy and now as a graduate student in Special Education.  I hope I would make Ms. Hendrick proud.

Kathleen Harris, OTR/L

BHSOT, UF 1997

Student, UF Train Well Online Academy 2016


Lansford, L. (2010, December 22). $1 million endowment will boost teaching of children with special needs. UF College of Education Press Releases.  Retrieved from


Spring 2016: Methods of Education-Health Care Transition (Ed-HCT)


Every individual takes important steps moving from childhood through the teens to young adulthood. There are lessons to be learned, events to prepare for and decisions to be made.  In childhood and early adolescence, most students rely on their families or caregivers to meet their needs and make important decisions. As time progresses, increased independence becomes the goal of the student and the parents.  This is not always a simple path.  In some students’ lives, there are factors that require increased preparation to enable a successful transition from high-school to the path they choose to take, whether that is post-secondary education (college), vocational training, and/or community participation.

Students that have special educational needs are assisted with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or are provided accommodations in school by a Section 504 Plan (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973). At age 16 (14 in some states), the IEP begins to address transition services, and the student, family and IEP team work together to develop  a plan to assist the student to successfully transition from high school.  Students with special health care needs (SHCN) may or may not have an IEP. However, they need


  1. What does a student need to prepare for successful transition?
  • Education:

Meeting high-school graduation requirements,

Preparing for post-secondary education/vocational training.

  • Health care independence:

Having a good understanding of medical condition,

Having a good understanding of health insurance coverage necessary,

Making medical appointments,

Filling prescriptions and understanding safety precautions,

Being able to describe health care needs when necessary.

  •  Healthy choices in daily life:


Cleanliness and safety,

Personal hygiene,

Relationships and sexuality,

Understanding potential effects of recreational drugs/alcohol on health conditions.

  • Employment opportunities:

Completing assessments and investigating what the student wants to pursue,

Contacting appropriate agencies and/or employers to make the connections.

  • Community participation:

Contacting appropriate organizations and agencies that provide social opportunities for students with SHCN who will not be employed or seek post-secondary education, due to their functional limitations.

  • Living arrangements:

Living independently,

Living in a dormitory at post-secondary education location,

Living with others (family, significant other),

Living in a supported community/group home.

  • Transportation arrangements:

Driving independently (standard automobile or adaptive vehicle for drivers with disabilities),

Using public transportation,

Using community services,

Being transported by family and friends.

  1. Who is involved with the student in the EdHCT plan?

In EdHCT, every student has a group of stakeholders that are involved in his or her life. This group is comprised of people with different levels of education and background. Each student’s team of stakeholders has a different make-up, but include many of the following individuals: the student, the family/caregivers/guardians, advocates, teachers/paraprofessionals (Exceptional Student Education [ESE], general education), IEP team, related services, health care team (physician, school nurse, specialists), school administrators, potential members (to include potential colleges, employers, community assistance [e.g., Vocational Rehabilitation]), friends and peers.

Resource List:


Autism After 16 is a website that provides information regarding adults with autism, to provide important knowledge to them and their families. As the website indicates, “Our intention here is to try to help adults with ASD and their families make sense of what’s out there. Our big focus out of the gate will be Transition issues, since so many of you are struggling with Transition right now” (Autism After 16, 2016).


Project 10 Transition Education Network works with Florida school districts to address secondary transition services to students for successful post-school outcomes. Information provided includes health and safety, independent living, student-focused planning, requesting accommodations and more than 50 other topics.


Got Transition/Center for Health Care Transition Improvement is a website full of information and resources to assist with transition from pediatric to adult health care, in order to educate youth, their families and health care professionals regarding that transition planning.


Autism After 16. (2016). About Us. Retrieved from   

Got (2014-2016). About Got Transition. Retrieved from    

Lollar, D. (2010). Launching into Adulthood. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Sitlington, P., Neubert, D., & Clark, G. (2010). Transition education and services for students       with disabilities  (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Education.

Project 10 Transition Education Network. (2016). Home. Retrieved from

(Prepared by K. Harris,  for UF Class, EEX 6788, Spring 2016)

New Step: Intro to Education-HealthCareTransition at UF

I invite you to visit this Prezi presentation titled “Student” that I created for my first EdHCT course at UF.


I have learned, and continue to learn, so much and am becoming more aware of the needs of students with whom I work. I also continue to grow excited,  knowing that I am on a voyage to improve the lives of  students! I see the union of the health care profession of which I am a proud practitioner (Occupational Therapy) with the setting that I love working (Education), to prepare students to achieve their utmost levels of independence possible in post-secondary education, vocational training and/or community participation- wherever their lives take them!

Here is the written summary project for my Prezi, from Summer 2015:

  The Education Health Care Transition Model:

For the Benefits of Students with Special Health Care Needs

Kathleen T. Harris

University of Florida

In this illustration, the student is represented by a tree, the Education- Health Care Transition (Ed-HCT) team is symbolized by the root system providing the foundation from which to grow, and the family provides nutrition and support for the student and the Ed-HCT team. The results are represented by the fruit on the tree, that the student continues to produce successfully after leaving the public school system. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide services to more than 6.5 million eligible children (IDEA, 2015).

Every year, more than half a million young people who have been identified as having a disability leave school (U.S. Department of Education [USDOE] 2007f). All leave behind the IDEA entitlement to free appropriate public education (FAPE) when they make the transition to the adult system (Lollar, 2010).

The Transition Planning Team provides collaboration of the General Education, the Exceptional Student Education, and Health Care Teams. From age 16 (in some states 14) until he finishes school, the student’s IEP must address transition planning. The IEP team must determine what instruction/services will help the student prepare for transition from school to adult life (Lollar, 2010).

The integrated Ed-HCT model allows the teams to come together to ensure a smooth, seamless transition plan for the student to successfully continue to post-secondary education, vocational training, health care independence, and employment and/ or community involvement. In this model, the whole student benefits from the work of the teams to enable him to grow and produce the fruit of a successful life, with success being personalized for each student individually.

The Student – The student is the most important member of the transition team. Listed with the student are several key roles that the student plays in transition planning.

The Family Unit – It is the family unit that supplies the nutrition/support to the whole process. The family unit is with the student in transition planning and remains with him as he leaves the public school system.

General Education and Exceptional Student Education – For the student’s future to be successful, he needs a firm foundation, a root system that allows him to grow into all he can become. The IDEA law provides intervention for students with Special Health Care Needs (SHCN) . Infants and toddlers (birth -2) receive early intervention under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B (IDEA, 2015).

This is where the general education team combines with the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) team, in the school setting.

Health Care Team- An important role in the life of a student with SHCN is filled by the health care team, for assistance to the student in health care issues while at school and for training for health care understanding leading to his independence.

The fruit of the Ed-HCT team’s transition planning: Postsecondary Education/ Vocational Training, Health Care Independence, Healthy Choices in Daily Life, Living/Residential Arrangements, Transportation Arrangements, Employment Opportunities, and Community Participation. Each is discussed individually in its separate slide.

Use of this visual representation:

This illustration will serve as an educational tool to transition team members, to explain the needed collaboration of a student’s educational teams and health care team. It demonstrates how both professional groups working together meet the needs of the student in transition planning more completely for a successful preparation towards life to achieve his potential, with maximal independence as possible after leaving the high school setting. It demonstrates that this is person-centered planning, as the student is the focal point of the plan  along with his family.  The symbolism used brings together the student with the variety of stakeholders in his life and future.  It also illustrates the many facets of life that need attention and preparation during his training, and that all are equally important to achieve success. This includes his potential post-secondary training and employment/ community involvement, as well as his need for independent self-care and health-care awareness. This visual tool is usable for the array of members of the transition team, and illustrates well how the planning, training and cooperation of all the team will best prepare the student (and family) for his future.

For support, sample Evidenced Based Practice (EBP) reports are provided:

EBP1: Evidenced-based practices in secondary transition: Self-determination skills, student knowledge of transition planning have been established by the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center, to research functional life skills and health care awareness in daily tasks (2015).

EBP 2: Evidence-based practices organized by skill being taught: 1. Student-Focused Planning. This category includes practices in the areas of IEP development, student participation in planning, and planning strategies. 2. Student Development. This category includes strategies in the areas of life skills instruction, career and vocational curricula, structured work experience, assessment, and support services. 3. Family Involvement. This category includes practices in family training, family involvement, and family empowerment. 4. Program Structure. This category includes practices in program philosophy, policy and evaluation, strategic planning, resource allocation, and human resource development.  (National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center, 2015).

EBP 3: What Works Transition Research Synthesis  Project (funded by Office of Special Education Programs [OSEP]) reviewed and synthesized 20 years of research in the area of transition for youth with disabilities (Sitlington et al., 2010).

EBP 4: Evidence-Based Secondary Transition Predictors for Improving Postschool Outcomes for Students with Disabilities- The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the secondary transition correlational literature to identify in-school predictors of improved postschool outcomes in the areas of education, employment, and/or independent living for students with disabilities. Based on results of this review, 16 evidence-based, in-school predictors of postschool outcomes were identified. Of the 16 predictors, 4 (25%) predicted improved outcomes in all three postschool outcome areas, 7 (43.8%) predicted improved outcomes for only postschool education and employment, and 5 (31.3%) predicted improved outcomes for employment only. Limitations and implications for future research and practice are discussed.  (Thinkcollege, 2009)

EBP 5:  Evidenced Based Practices that Promote Transition to Postsecondary Education: This practice included studies that (a) asked students with disabilities to identify needs and (b) summarized needs in literature reviews about students with disabilities in postsecondary education. This article summarizes needs and recommendations from college students with disabilities and authors who reviewed related literature from 1995-2006. The summary includes needs in five areas: self-determination, social skills, academic preparation, accommodations, and assistive technology (AT). Each of these areas of need is described and recommendations for practice are discussed. The purpose of this article is to identify a set of evidence-based transition practices that will address these needs and increase the likelihood of success for students who enroll in postsecondary education institutions  (Webb, Patterson, Syverud & Seabrooks-Blackmore, 2008).

EBP 6: Evidence-Based Practice in Educating Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children: Teaching to Their Cognitive Strengths and Needs. This practice examined research findings concerning the loci of the pervasive academic underachievement among deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children and issues associated with interventions and instructional methods that could help to reduce or eliminate it. Investigators have hypothesized that at least 50% of the variability in DHH students’ achievement may be because of instructional factors, and several studies have indicated that when taught by experienced teachers of the deaf in mixed classrooms, DHH students may gain just as much as their hearing peers. Only recently, however, have findings begun to emerge concerning related language and cognitive differences between DHH and hearing students as well as instructional differences between teachers with and without experience in teaching DHH students. Building on convergent evidence from such studies offers the prospect of a significant improvement in academic outcomes for those children in the future. (Marschark, M., Spencer, P., Adams, J. & Sapere, 2011).



ADA: the law. (2015). Laws and Regulations. Retrieved from

AHEAD. (2015). Retrieved from

DeFur, S. (2011, February). Transition planning: A team effort.  Retrieved from

Disability. (2015). Retrieved from (2015). Retrieved from

Evidenced-based practices in secondary transition: Self-determination skills, student knowledge of transition planning. (2015). National Secondary Transition Technical Center. University of North Carolina- Charlotte. Retrieved from

Evidenced-based practices organized by skill being taught. (2015). National Secondary Transition Technical  Center. University of North Caroline-Charlotte. Retrieved from

Floridahats. (2015). Retrieved from

Glossary of Terms: Evidence-based practice. (2015, April). In Effective Health Care Program. Agency for  Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Rockville, MD. Retrieved from (2015). Retrieved from

Lollar, D. (2010). Launching into Adulthood. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Marschark, M., Spencer, P., Adams, J. & Sapere. (2011, February). European Journal of Special Needs Education, v26 n1. Retrieved from

Olmstead: Community Integration for Everyone. (2015).  About Olmstead. Retrieved from

Project 10 Transition education network. (2015). Retrieved from

Rudy, L. (2012, March). Building a transition plan. Autism After Sixteen. Retrieved from

Sitlington, P., Neubert, D., & Clark, G. (2010). Transition education and services for students with  disabilities  (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Education.

The ticket to work and self sufficiency (ticket). (2015). Retrieved from

ThinkCollege. (2015). Retrieved from

Health in the Individualized Education Plan. (2011, June).  Adolescent Health Transition Project, Center on Human  Development and Disability, Washington State Department of Health, Children and Youth with Special Health  Care Needs. p.3.

Webb, K., Patterson, K., Syverud, S., & Seabrooks-Blackmore, J. (2008, October). Exceptionality, v16 n4.  Retrieved from