Stephanie’s self-contained classroom was supposed to have a sink. In the spring before her transition-to-kindergarten year, Stephanie’s occupational therapist recommended the sink as assistive technology that would help teach self-care skills. The IEP Team agreed with the recommendation: they wrote Stephanie’s IEP to include a working sink in her classroom.
When Stephanie arrived at school in September - no sink. Her parents’ questions were answered by Stephanie’s teacher: “I think the school is working on it.” Eventually, instead of a real sink, a makeshift device was installed: a suspended water jug that dribbled water into a tub. Stephanie’s father says the sink’s suspension made it unsafe and basically “. . . unreal. It didn’t work like a sink. It didn’t do what Stephanie’s IEP intended it to do.”
By the end of October, Stephanie’s parents had confirmed their suspicion that the cost of purchasing and installing a working sink was keeping the school from equipping their daughter’s classroom appropriately. The family had a dilemma: should they use due process to get the assistive technology Stephanie needed or should they find another way? The family chose to pull together its resources to make another way; they decided to design and build a working sink. With the help of a clever, mechanically talented friend, with consultation from the therapist and teachers, by Christmas the sink Stephanie needed was installed in her classroom. The IEP requirements were satisfied; the classroom had a portable, safe, easy-to-use unit; the sink cost a fraction of estimates to purchase and install.
Due process would have probably gotten Stephanie the assistive technology she needed in her classroom. The family’s choice, to use volunteer resources, not only got Stephanie the assistive technology she requires, but also helps to build a good working relationship with school staff and administrators.