Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Autism and the Law

I attended a well-known Special Education Law Conference this past week and walked away with some major thoughts and concerns.

I sat in the last row by the aisle so that I could watch and observe the interactions going on among the attendees. There was another room with about 20 exhibits from local and national vendors on all sorts of training and information on special education needs. The majority was related to Autism.

1) The conference was sold out (500+) and over 90% were parents, 8% educators and 2% others (including Lawyers). These are approximate numbers based on hands raised when asked by the instructor who was attending.

I was part of the 8% and was stunned that not more administrators and special education leaders attended. Perhaps they have their own in-service training on the subject but my own application data says this is not true.

2) It became apparent that special education laws are quite clear when it comes to student and parental rights, it was also realized that most of the parents and caretakers had no idea what goes on before, during and after Individual Education Plans (IEP) are developed and agreed upon by the school system and that parents.

No matter what you may think institutions of educations are a business and are run in a short-term budgetary driven objectives. Budgets and dollars drive decisions, not the best interest of the child in most public schools. Do not get me wrong, the good folks who work in Special Ed Departments mean well and are hard working individuals who also want what is best for the children but the system in which they work (money from government) will not allow this to happen because of the limited funds they receive.

The “Demise of the American Education System” is a direct result of the continuous Demise of the American Management System” because no one has an Aim/Method that is an on-going plan of action that understands both short term and long term planning. There is way too much “Tampering” within the silos and castles that make up a system.

3) Most importantly Lawyers, Lawmakers and Educators do still not understand “Autism” and the impact that is upon us and there is no preparation for the onslaught that will be entering the school systems in the next five tears.

During the training very useful segment on understand school testing and how it related to special education was done. My point and question that I raised was the current mode and method of testing to determine where an Autistic child should be placed or what their achievement level is capable of is flawed with ignorance.

Educators who work daily with mainstreamed autistic children and others who are labeled as contained are riddled with flawed testing. In fact the tester does not complete most of the testing I was in the room for because of the lack of understanding. Autistic children are all different and the current means of testing wants to put them in a box.

Here is another news flash for you statisticians and number crunchers. What you call the Bell Curve is not appropriate when it comes to Autistic and many Special Education Children. They each have their own categories thus requiring their own means of testing. You take the short cuts because of time and money and put them in buckets according to ‘normal” testing.

What you must understand is Autistic children are the outliers on your normal curve. Why? It’s just I just said they do not belong in that process. If you understand Control Charts and SPC you will know that most outliers are a result of combing processes together that deliver wide variation of results. You just remove the outliers into their own process group and then reconfigure your data.

Last news flash, Outliers are not always bad, if they are good discover why and replicate to improve your process.

We really on standardized forms and calculations today and people just plug in numbers and wait for some program to provide them with categories and standard answers for why a student belongs in that group. So sad when it comes to our special children because this is the mask that most public schools hide behind when making decisions about your child.

Parents, please learn your rights.

4) Most of the attendees (parents) wanted to know more about their autistic children.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I heard on parents venting their frustration with their school system on how their child was being treated.

Personally I had six conversations about being an aide/para pro and what were my qualifications or how they get one for their child and why can’t the system understand that “SOCIALIZATION” is the autistic child’s main disability and not academics (again, there is no testing that determines this accurately).

It causes me great anguish to listen and see their tired and frazzled faces tell me their experiences.

5) I talked to a college professor (former public school psychologist) whose college has started an Autistic program about some of these problems on break.

He told me how his college plans on training the aides and paraprofessionals who work wit mainstreamed and contained autistic children because most of them have no training and just yell at the children.

I asked him how long it would take for his program to produce book learned professionals on autism and would it meet the demand that is now and in the near future. He looked at me funny as to say what and who are you?

Sorry folks, it comes down to money and not need with the people making the standards for our children. They want to train the people who spend seven hours a day, five days a week with autistic children (I agree this is good) but they have no plans to gain the knowledge and be taught by the people what have application knowledge.

6) Lastly, overall I thought the conference was very good because of the learning I obtained and the anguish I heard.

However, I was disappointed in the Q & A session at the end. There was an overwhelming amount of autism related questions submitted and none were selected to be addressed by the panel made up of lawyers and specialist

More proof as to the seriousness of this problem in our schools.

Here are two sites that can provide you with additional information on the laws



Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Over the past three years one of the subjects that I get the most hits on and request for more information is my SIPOC + CCCC customer improvement flows. The fact sheet below was co-developed with my quality partner for a number of years - Julio Reyes (J-Man).

Julio and I created and designed many quality worksheets like the one below. More importantly Julio utilized these sheets when he met with his internal customers to gather more information for a high level process flow.

Julio is a master designer for fact finding and data automated databases, matrices, worksheets, etc.

Click on the diagram to enlarge for copying or printing.

SIPOC + CCCC created by qualityg in 1991

Additional Enhancements by Julio Reyes in 2001


To get all my posts in SIPOC + CCCC click on the label below this post or on the Label Section in the sidebar.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Autistic Student --->Schools, What gives you the Right...? Updated 4/22/08 - Earth Day Project

I work with an Autistic High School Student who has very little reading skills and comprehension very low. If I gave her 10 pages of notes to copy she could it with no problem but would not understand anything that she wrote/copied. The mainstreamed teachers I work with rely on me to make the right decision for what is best for the student. I must also add there are a number of general ed students who are no better in this area of learning.

However, what is right for the student? And, what makes me think I have all the answers? Nothing makes me think that because the only answers I have are for the individual student I’m working with at the time and it takes experience and caring to begin to understand what is best for an autistic student. I have no job description, function or process by which to follow.

Sometimes I get between a mainstreamed teacher and the special education department over grades that are provided for the student. I always initial or sign every paper I provide help to the student in completing so the teacher knows the student did not think this was done independently (The Teacher knows this because that is why I am there). The teacher provides the grade based on his/her instruments for measuring. This teacher will give a passing grade if you do all the class assignments even if you fail all the tests (this student has failed them all). The Sped folks do not want a grade just a letter showing the student is doing work and will allow the student to go through the system. Sort of like going to Limbo, not heaven and not hell just OK.

Personally I just want what is best for my student, I want her to feel part of the class whenever this is possible (which is not often) and by getting a letter grade for work that is done with my help is OK with the teacher and me. The problem is some folks think that this is doing the student’s work and that the student cannot possible get a passing grade.

So far this is a story that goes on everyday in many public schools across the country. However, what makes a passing grade so bad?

The answer is Parents. You see if a parent sees a passing grade on their child’s report card they are convinced their child belongs in the general education classroom. The Sped people see this as a danger because they can no longer manipulate or move a student because they think they no best what is good for the child.

Folks, in many cases this is Bull Shit. The welfare of the student goes by the wayside and it is the almighty BUDGET DOLLARS that drive decisions.

So here is my problem. What gives anyone (teacher, administrator, aide or paraprofessional) the right to determine what is best for anyone’s child? Their job is to provide good objective documented data and information and provide it to the parents so that THEY make the decision for their child.

It’s all about scheming, manipulating, dollars and absolute power that drives many of these decisions and it sucks.

Parents please understand that the school system officials are doing what is best for the budget dollars and themselves; YOU are the only one who has the best interest of your child. Learn the law, ask questions, and challenge them. If you need help check your yellow pages for a child advocate or go to a web site that explains the laws and your rights.


Updated 4/21/08


Last week Roberta turned in her Earth Day Project that she worked on at home. No involvement from me except to keep reminding her to turn it in on Friday. The class voted on the best project and she won by a large margin. it will now be entered in the school contest with the science teachers voting.

Undoubtedly she will receive an "A" I wonder who will complain about this grade.
To read my other posts on ASD click on the ASD Label below or on the side panel.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Quality System (QSA) Comments/Questions

Developed by qualityg
The following QSA questions go with a previous post that explained the process for conducting a Quality System Assessment in your company. The post can be found at http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2006/08/quality-tooltechnique-quality-system.html
The following comments/questions are generic in nature so they can serve as a guide or model for your own assessment. By no means are they all encompassing, once you start to answer the questions additional questions come naturally.
Make sure you document your findings to create an objective feedback report to your customer. The combination of this assessment and the objective trend data collected will help you in your improvement efforts.


1. Analyze process by starting at the end of the process.

2. Reduce Cycle Time by eliminating rework (measure- right the first time).

3. Before working to improve cycle time, teams should look to improve/standardize the process.

4. Do all people do the same thing and do it the same way?

5. Search for parallel processing.

6. Don’t use survey results, focus group research to establish problem statements. Use Cause and Effect Process Indicator measures that reflect source of customer pain and it
gets measured continuously (need predictability).


Ice Breaker: If our company were to stop servicing phones and went into the business of making cars, what kind of car would we manufacture based on the quality of work we do today? How many of you service your car as outlined in the Preventive Maintenance schedule?

I. General Categories - (Document what you do. Do what you document.)

A. Position Job Description

1. What kind of work do you do? Is there a job description for it? Is there a process to update your job description?

2. How did you learn your job? Who trained you? How long does it take (months/years) or do you think it will take to be proficient on your job (know job, feel comfortable)?

3. Does the Center have a formal plan for training replacements (Manager)?

B. Standardization of Policies/Procedures

1. What type of standards (i.e., call standards, procedures and documentation (i.e., Policy & Procedures, M&P) do you have in the center? And, are they current? Is there someone who ensures updates to the procedures?

2. Where are they located (On-Site Library, At their desks, On-line)?

C. Process Improvement (Problem Solving Method)

1. What type of breakdown do you encounter?

2. What corrective action steps do you follow?

3. Who is responsible for ensuring that corrective action is taken?

4. Who follows up to ensure root cause is removed from process and standardized?

5. What document or procedures tell you how to do this?

6. Can you provide documented results from this methodology?

7. Is there a formal feedback system in the dept/center for making suggestions for quality and productivity improvements? Do you contribute? Do you receive recognition? Is something done with your ideas?

II. Specific Categories

A. Organizational Leadership

1. Name the top three things you need to do your job correct 100% of the time -- be specific (i.e., training - what kind of training).

2. Name the department(s)/group(s) that your center needs to work more closely with to meet department/center initiatives.

B. Design, Development and Control

1. When you, as a Supervisor, receive a policy or procedure for a new or revised product or service, IT too or M&P, how do you roll it out to the department/center? How do you determine its effectiveness?

2. Do you have a procedure that tells you how to provide feedback to Field, M&P, Training, IT and Sales/Marketing (If yes, request a copy of the procedure)

C. Process Management

1. How do you listen to the voice of the service order process? Do you have a process management system in place to assure this process meets the Company key initiative of service order accuracy?

2. Are there documented corrective action procedures that you follow? (If yes, request a copy) Note: If yes to the previous question, then what type of corrective action and prevention are you doing in the center?

3. Do you provide feedback on poor design of procedures/services/products? How do you know that the new procedure/product/service has been tested? Did it improve quality/cycle time?

4. a. Are you or any of your people on a Process/Quality Action Team or attended Quality Classes/Training within the center or outside the center? If yes, b. what are the subject areas that you are improving (cycle time, timeliness, accuracy)? c. What kind of process/quality tools or techniques is used on the team or if you are not on a team, what tools and techniques do you use on your job? d. What type of documented results did the team achieve? e. Does leadership support it?

5. Name the last two working instructions you received. Were they current, well defined, and user friendly? Did you receive corresponding training, if applicable? What are the major steps or objectives for the two procedures?

D. Customer Preference
1. a. As a Customer Service Center employee, who are your Internal Suppliers? b. Do you as a Customer Service Center employee have expectations of these suppliers? c. Do you as a Center Management Team Representative have a process to communicate Center expectations to your suppliers? d. If yes, are there formal processes that describe this partnership (can we get a copy)?

2. Are your customers (internal/external) happy with the quality of your work? How do you know? Are they Loyal? How do you know?

3. Name the five most important things to you on your job?

4. Do you have a form, method or procedure developed for or with your supplier that identifies defects (can we see it or get a copy)? Does the form, method or procedure have a problem solving process for corrective action (prevent it from recurring, root cause)?

5. Is there an internal measurement system that measures non-conformances (i.e. failures -- types, rates, and service levels)? Are the measurements meeting or exceeding internal standards? What process improvement plans are in place to improve them? (obtain copy if available)?

E. Organization Behavior and Change

1. What would it take for the dept/center to change to become best in class?

1. What would it take for you to help this dept/center become the best in class?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Arrogant and Ignorant Leaders

I was watching a PBS show about today’s leaders and the host (Dean from a University Business Department) was asking for examples of what it means to be a good leader.

The guest (not fair to single out one leader when there are so many that fall into this category as it pertains to this post) did not provide many concrete examples but when he did the sentences all started with “I” and it always included when he was President here, and Vice Chairman there and then moved to be a CEO and that you must remain focused and not be swayed by evil doers and make sure you have a good chief financial officer to keep you out of trouble.

The host smiled and stroked this leader the whole interview. qualityg would have asked “What made you such an arrogant and ignorant ass-hole.”

Maybe this one too…

Is it your arrogance that makes you ignorant or is it your ignorance that makes you so arrogant??

Let me define the terms for you…

Arrogant is defined as: A feeling or an impression of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or presumptuous claims.

Ignorant is defined as: Lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified.

Clearly many would argue that I’m not in tune with what it takes to be a great leader and that I would not ask that question if given the opportunity. Those who know me would say, yes he would, and smile at the same time just like the Dean.

Others would say that having these qualities separates the great leaders from the weak ones. Leaders must be confident. qualityg would respond and say… well I will let you fill in the blank!

Not once did I hear him mention the employees that served under him that made him great in his own mind. I mean business in America is doing very well in many sectors, much better than what the great leader’s are paying their lowest-paid workers, by a large amount from top to bottom.

I know there are many great leaders with excellent qualities and attributes. I just wish scholars and TV hosts would do some homework and give these type of leaders some quality air time.

Want some more examples of incompetent leaders go to my posts at:


Friday, April 11, 2008

Boycott Beijing Olympics? Nope, Boycott Big Business First!

I’m getting tired of the hypocrisy that continues on and on and on from protesters and countries over the human rights issues in China. It's too easy people, do something that really matters.

It's always the middle guy that gets screwed, this time it's the athletes 9again). Most of you politicians who want the boycott (Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi to name a few) just want to "feature" yourselves in today's news. Shameful

Look, I’m not against boycotting/protesting the Olympic Opening Ceremony but it should not be done until Big Businesses from all the countries remove their factories and stored from China. Raise China's unemployment, move jobs back home where they belong. You want to play in the China game you will lose in time because as soon as the Chinese government determines they have enough technology and can do it lower than you within their country you will be gone baby! C'mon protesters use your wallet instead of your mouths.

What about my Quality of Life and those of others who lose jobs to China by the thousands? If we are serious then the governments of the countries who want to boycott should halt the money going to China.

You want to make a lasting point, then hit the pocketbook, after all isn’t it always about money or oil?
Gosh I remember the big impact the boycotts had on the Moscow (USA) Games and the Los Angeles Games (USSR) - NOT!!!

Exxon Joins China Project With 2 Others

Caterpillar Opens New Plant In China

Monday, April 07, 2008

Leadership by Probing Around

I received a call from a friend recently asking me if I knew of any questions he could ask as he walked around a new department he was just assigned.

The following set of questions was designed to assist leaders in asking process analysis questions while they visit an office or department. These questions are also intended to provide a new leader some basic information about what his people do each day on their jobs.

• What did you do today to delight the customer?

• What did you do today better than yesterday?

• Who are your internal customers?

• How do you know your output (i.e. service order) is good? By what method?

• What do you need to do your job correct 100%?

• What does your internal/external customer need to do their job 100%?

• What feedback do you receive?

• What keeps you from doing error free work?

• What can be done to make your job easier?

• How do you let your internal suppliers (i.e. Engineering, Sales, Operations, IT, etc) know how well they are performing?

By What Method?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"World Autism Awareness Day" - qualityg style

April 2, 2008

Today first World Autism Awareness Day. It is a special day to honor to the bravery of the individuals with autism and their families.

Today I wore my favorite autism shirt to school. I often feel more people should live outside the box and take lessons from our special children.

Interestingly at school today no one was aware of Autism Day. Eight students commented to me after reading the shirt that they had a brother, cousin, sister or uncle with autism. None had a clear understanding of what it meant, one student thought his cousin was "Dyslexic" because he could not read.

I was disappointed that none of the Special Education teachers, aids or administrators was
aware of Autism Day. I know that it is the first one but if special education people are to truly understand this disability and want to make a difference in how they are educated they should already be well read and interested on what is in some cases and will be the most time consuming in the near future.

I walked the hall with one of my high school autistic students today. He looked at my shirt but was much more interested in the latest “Reaper” episode on TV last night. It was our way of staying connected and just having a friendly conversation. As he turned down the hall to his science class and I was heading to my car to drive to the middle school I could still hear him talking about the episode and I just smiled and said Happy Autism Awareness Day Kevin.

My dogs Maggie and Angie also want to wish everyone a good autism awareness day.

To read my on-going posts on Autism and mainstreaming please click on the Label on the side panel or below this post and all of the will appear for your reading.

Please continue to view the many shows and people on TV that talk about autism. Read articles and books to educate yourself to the symptoms and characteristic, the numbers are alarming and it may hit you or a loved one at anytime.

In the last four years I have read over 50 books on this subject. I learn something new in each one and the ones I learn the most from are the books written by parents and the trials, tribulations and exceptional heart warming moments.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Grad Student Walkout and Do you want a Grad Student Teaching your Children?

University of Michigan graduate student instructors held a walkout last week (3/25/08) because of their pay. Currently the average salary of a grad assistant (this does not mean these instructors have a Master’s Degree) is $ 15,000 dollars for a 20-hour workweek (around $60.00 an hour) eight months of the year. The students gain a Master’s Degree at the end of their employment.

The Graduate Employees Union stated that current pay does not cover basis expenses spread out over a year and many students can’t get additional work because of visa restrictions (that means foreign students, remember Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the nation).

This must be one tough union because after a one day walkout the University President Mary Sue Coleman agreed to give the striking students an immediate 6.2% pay increase followed by 3.5% increase in the seconds and third years. They will also receive TOTAL health care premiums. Oh yes, they also continue to get free tuition (remember this is the University of Michigan).

This is a “Historic Deal” said a grad student who is the union’s lead negotiator.

I have a few questions for all you parents of NON-Graduate Assistants. Do you think this is fair? And, Did you know that Grad Students are teaching and grading your children while you think they are being taught by the great minds at the University of Michigan?

The professors are doing research which is fine, but for the amount of money in tuition I would want the best minds teaching my children, especially in the areas of business where application and experience is so needed to prepare our students for working careers. I don’t care that a student is a 4.0 student at taking tests and writing papers, I expect a “proven” instructor with both teaching credentials and experience.

So who will pay for these increases? The already strapped taxpayers of Michigan, the parents of the students being taught because their tuition will go up next year to pay for this foolish, selfish and arrogant agreement by the University of Michigan Officials.

I have written on this topic before, below are some examples:

My Nephew was complaining about his Math course not to long ago because he could not understand the instructor. You see he had a foreign instructor that made it very difficult to understand what was being written and stated in class. Efforts to get help from teaching assistants were useless because of the long lines and 2-3 hour wait usually on a weekend.

Read my posts at http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2006/03/quality-education-math-sucks.html



Lastly, from another post …

A friend’s daughter struggles with Math at Michigan State, when I asked what she thought the problem was, she replied my instructors have such an accent I can’t understand what they are saying. They usually have a grad student that will set up times to meet outside of class, but when I go the lines are a mile long. Why don't parents challenge the school, after all are they not losing money? Oh, it's probably the kid’s fault; it's easier to threaten them instead of challenging a great institution.qg says... Students must speak up in one voice for the good of all and get these teachers removed from instruction, move them to research, move them out the door; you deserve to be taught in the language of your country. If you can't get the school to move them, then stand up in class, be humble, be polite and ask the instructor to "repeat" what you need to know, repeat again until you are understood. Tape the instructor and take it to the Dean and demand a passing grade and your money back. By doing nothing means you approve, then you must explain to your parents why you are failing. Who are they going to believe??