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September 5, 2012

Special Needs Advice from a Seasoned Traveler in Negotiating Educational Storms

No matter how old your special needs child is, eventually he or she will attend school and issues with teachers/administrators will arise.

Depending on the school your child attends, you may face issues throughout the year or just transitional issues with each new class/teacher. If your child is in public school you'll likely go through the IEP process.

Having a written plan is great, but you still have to make sure it's implemented.

If your child is in private school, you'll need to work with the administration and teachers to set up an educational plan.

Georgians also have the option of using the SB10 special needs scholarship to help fund private school tuition; however, once you elect the scholarship you give up your rights to the written IEP.

That said, you can still find a school that will work with your child within the guidelines written in your IEP.

Regardless of your situation, as a parent, you are your child's best advocate. That means:

  1. Always Be Prepared: Keep written notes and documents at close hand.
  2. Be Proactive: Set up private meetings with teachers at the beginning of each year.
  3. Communicate Constantly: with teachers, preferably via email so you have all the info in writing.
  4. Know Your Child's Best Needs: What works best for your child before you go into meetings, such flexibility in schedules, modification of work, asking for a particular teacher, extra tutoring etc...
  5. Have an Alternate Plan: If your current educational plan isn't working then figure out what changes your child needs to succeed.
  6. Never Panic: Work through the crisis in your head and on paper before you go into meetings.
As the parent of two SNKs, I've been through dozens of these meetings in more types of schools than I care to imagine: Montessori, Public, Charter & Private. Every year, both of my kids face crises that always have to be dealt with immediately.

I learned a long time ago to keep written records of everything, and I learned what works best for each of my children. You never know when you'll have to face a SUDDEN STORM: change in doctors or medication which effects your child's school performance, a sudden change in teachers that just doesn't work, an illness that throws a complete wrench in your child's routine or an annual transition to a new classroom/school that just doesn't work out.

This year our son, moved to middle school at his private school. He went from 1 teacher/1 classroom to 3 teachers/3 classrooms. Can you spell HURRICANE? And we saw it coming, but still weren't prepared.

One month later it was fast turning into a Category 5.

Today I went into a teacher meeting with a worse case scenario--the possibility of having to move the child back to his teacher/classroom from last year who would continue teaching him his current curriculum without changing classes.

I thought that was going to be the end result and was prepared for it. Instead I found that the teachers were all willing to work with our child through a series of modifications.

In other words, we modified his plan, rather than scraping it and going with a new one. We're going to ride out this storm head on, but we're battening down all the hatches!

At the same time we let the teachers know that we are 100% on board with enforcing the new plan on our end. If they send home written homework assignments we will see that they are finished correctly, and turn back in. We will work on our child's organization skills (zero) with his teachers' help.

Long story short, no education plan will work unless every player--teachers, administrators, students and parents--is completely on board and willing to work together to ride out the rough seas.

We are all in the Educational Boat together!


July 4, 2012

Chuck E Cheese goes Electric. . .but until they change their policy on food allergies I won't bite. . .

It’s advertised as the place where a kid, no matter what their age, can be a kid, but nobody told the bosses at Chuck E. Cheese that age is just a number.
ap new chuck e cheese ll 120704 vblog Chuck E. Cheese Ditches Retro Rodent for Rockstar
CEC Entertainment Inc/AP Photo
The parent company of the kid-friendly pizza chain has just given the pink slip to its long-time rodent mascot, trading in the baseball hat and glove-wearing older version for a younger, hipper electric-guitar-playing mouse.
Texas-based CEC Entertainment plans to formally introduce the new mascot in a national ad campaign set to launch Thursday, but teased what’s to come on the chain’sFacebook page with a shadowed mouse holding a guitar next to the text, “You’ve Never Seen Chuck Rock Like This Before.”It’s advertised as the place where a kid, no matter what their age, can be a kid, but nobody told the bosses at Chuck E. Cheese that age is just a number.
ed mouse holding a guitar next to the text, “You’ve Never Seen Chuck Rock 

Chuck E. Cheese Ditches Retro Rodent for Rockstar - ABC News

Regular blog followers may remember Taz's 5th birthday when we went to the local Chuck E. Cheese for his party and were informed that he could not eat his special #GFCF food there. . .the manager made him eat his dinner in the car during his own birthday party.

We even contacted corporate afterwards to complain because they have no problem with folks bringing in Cakes and Cupcakes. We were informed that the restaurants do not allow any outside food except Cakes and Cupcakes. Until they change this policy we won't be back no matter how well "Chuck Rocks."

June 26, 2012

Why Are American Kids So Spoiled?

This article is a perfect example of why American Parents are generally failing when it comes to raising their children. The same can be said about our special needs children. Any child can be taught to regularly do chores, set the table, take out the garbage, pick up their clothes etc...

Just make it part of their routine. My special needs kids have chores. Do yours?

June 25, 2012

Starting ADHD Medication at younger age May Improve Test Scores

Both my kids started before 4th Grade and Taz actually started in pre-K. He was one of the rare recommendations for starting at such an early age because of behavior and complete inability to stay still for even a few minutes.

Just remember that your kids need to be evaluated regularly for correct dosage as they grow and advance in school and it's a good idea to discuss newer options each year with your doctor, since medications change and no one size fits all.

Starting ADHD Medication By Fourth Grade May Improve Test Scores, Study Finds - ABC News

Photo: "You say jump, I say how high" ©nianya-photography

June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day Mystic and all Special Needs Dads

In our house Father's Day means the first day this year that we will have full respite. . .Taz is at the beach for the summer with Camp Auntie and cousin and Jessie's off to soccer camp for 4 days. We've come a long way since the days of not even being able to sit in a restaurant with our children.

I was very pleased to see a great article on Dads struggling with autism in our local paper today.

Dads struggle with child's autism, embrace parenting  |

April 4, 2012

The Tazmanian Chronicles

Are you wondering what these pictures have in common?

3 words . . .

The Tazmanian Devil

and in honor of World Autism Awareness Day this week as well as Autism Awareness Month, I'm adding another chapter to my on again/off again Taz Tales. . .

Taz started my week by getting bitten by a dog who he was warned not to pet. The next day he sliced his finger at Art Camp while collecting old cans at the park to make a robot. Today, two days later he successfully went turtle fishing in our lake, captured a a fat snapping turtle and I'll just let you guess the outcome of that encounter.

And this evening, of course, he insisted on immediately spending his $10 in birthday money from Grandma. . .problem is he wanted a 1-man raft (blow-up style, no oars and no pump), which he can't take on our lake and would probably have gotten a hole in it on the first trip out even if he could have.

It took me 10 minutes in the store to convince him that he had to buy something else. . .there was no way I was putting up with the inevitable 5-alarm meltdown that would have occurred as soon as he got the thing home and finally digested the fact that he couldn't pump the thing up, much less take it out on the lake.

So he settled for a set of giant Boxing Gloves. . .hmmmm will have to see if that was a good idea.

Taz may be autistic, but he's incredibly artistic and he's ALL BOY. . .how many boys go through life without being bitten by a dog and a turtle or slicing their finger on an old can.

And I'm sure there will be a post script to this edition of the chronicles because the week is after all only half over.