Tag Archives: Education

Understand Typical Developmental Milestones and Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe

10 Oct

We all hope for happy and healthy children. When there is a glitch…when a parent has the unfortunate situation of being told that their child will need help in the very early years, when neuroplasticity is at a peak, emotions may rage.  Cuts to the early intervention program, in many areas of the country have heightened anxiety about the future for disabled children, those receiving services through the early intervention program or those receiving services elsewhere.  Some parents have expressed reticence about enrolling their child in a specialized education program, or having professionals in their home to offer services to their child.   That feeling is respected.  Acceptance of a developmental delay or other type of handicapping condition may take a while to set in.  That said – I have a few suggestions.

I have realized that parents whose children receive early intervention services or those who would like their children considered for program participation are genuinely unsure of the process or they are not educated about what might qualify their child for services in a particular area.  Others are unaware of what they would expect to see in terms of skill development in a variety of areas.  That is unfortunate.  Parents need guidance and there are resources available for you.  Especially of concern is that you learn about when typically developing children acquire specific milestones like crawling, sitting, standing, speaking, eating solid food, drinking from a cup, assisting with dressing.  There are many more that could be mentioned.  Below is information that may be helpful: 

DVD:  A Life to Love: Preventing Accidental Injury to Our Most Precious Resource-available in English, Spanish, Chinese Creole, Arabic and Russian  (produced by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services @ 150 William Street New York, NY 10038.  NYC residents can call 311).

Clinical Practice Guidelines Quick Reference Guidelines for Parents and Professionals are available through the NY State Department of Health, Early Intervention Program, Corning Tower Building, Room 208, Albany, NY 12237-0618  These are available free of charge at http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/eipindex.htmeip@health.state.ny.us  and relate to a variety of developmental areas such as vision, communication, hearing, motor function. 

Zero to Three www.zerotothree.org

Communicating About Disabilities With Your Child

24 Sep

The attraction to disability may be nothing mo...

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So – your child has received an IFSP (individualized family service plan) or the IEP (individualized education plan).  They are now going to start receiving services.  You receive copies of reports and now have to absorb in black and white what your child’s difficulties entail.  These are very hard for a parent to read.  Maybe you need some support in understanding the disability, learning how to help your child.  Does this sound familiar?  This is now your life and your child’s life. You have to look the problem right in the face, just as the people in the picture above are doing to something that is unknown to us, but in the distance. You are not sure really what it is but as the figure moves closer,  a new reality takes place for you and your child. 

Good news is that those who work with infants, toddlers, older children and adults with disabilities or learning differences can act as invaluable supports.  They can help advocate for your child and aid you as a parent in understanding the nature of the problems with which he or she lives.  Professionals can help you learn how to teach your child about compensating for the difficulty that they have so that they develop into functional and safe adults. 

There  is an important key here – we are talking about your CHILD.  Parents do a disservice to your child if this is not something that is not openly discuss at home,  from the time that your child is young.  You may readthis and wonder how in the world do you talk to a child about the problem that they have and at what age?. 

Preschool aged children with disabilities are in classrooms with typically developing classmates, depending on the severity of the problem.  At younger and younger ages children are consequently becoming aware of differences in others.  This concept mayy already be discussed at school before you have gotten around to it.  Your child deserves to hear about their personal situation from their parent or other primary caregiver first.  So – here are a few jumping off  points for you.

With a child as young as preschool age, you might start very simply at pointing out things that a child may see around him or her.  Perhaps you pass by a person who is blind and walks with a seeing eye dog.  Talk about what the dog does.  A family member wears glasses, a person is in a wheelchair, the universal symbol for handicap accessibility.  Discuss theese situations.  

Your child’s teacher, school director, religious leader and/or the pediatrician might able to guide you in recommending books that describe the disability specific to your child.  They may also know about books that describe children in general, who may have disabilities or difficulties in learning.

Television shows such as “Dora the Explorer“, “SpongeBob Square Pants“, “Little Bear” and “Sesame Street” have episodes  in which the children have disabilities.  You may choose to watch these shows with your child and discuss this if the situation presents itself. 

Talking to your child, especially as they are young adults of what they have to do to keep themselves safe. For example, if they take medication then perhaps they should not be drinking alcohol. If they have a physical disability and want to drive a car, they may need to be guided in terms of adapting the vehicle.  Again – be guided by professionals treating your child for especial significant points to discuss with them. 

 Part of maturing as a person is understanding who we are.   If we do not truly do so, then how can we take care of ourselves as we grow.  Consider this true story.  A young man who lives with ADHD at his Bar Mitzvah (a right  of passage into adulthood; typically at the age of thirteen, within the Jewish religion) prepared a discussion about the Torah portion for that week.  He presented it to his family and friends.  The discussion was striking.  The young man said that he thought that the Biblical character, Moses, had difficulty controlling his anger and had an impulsive side to him.   He illustrated that within the Torah reading for that week.  Further, he related this to himself.  He was able to openly discuss his own disability, having recognized it in someone else. 

The next day, the same teen-ager left for school and by the end of a year demonstrated some ability to calm himself down in moments of anger more efficiently so that he was not physically hurting  other people. In this particular case, it is an ongoing process – but his awareness of the problem is ultimately what is enabling him to compensate for it.  He has taken ownership for this particular aspect  of his personality. 

Resources  are out there to help parents as well as adults.   Here is a sample of a few that might be meaningful for others reading this post but you can generally find this information by just typing into a search bar the name of the disability, illness, problem and information for parents, children and adults generally are found. 

CHADD (children and adults with ADHD) www.chadd.org has a link that is designed to give parents information

Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation www.sinetwork.org

Autism Society of America www.autim-society.org

Stuttering Foundation: tips for parents www.stutteringhelp.org

American Speech-Language Hearing Association: www.asha.org has a link for “self-help groups for speech-language and swallowing disorders” and “resources” which links you to ways to help a child  or adult understand a hearing disorder

American Psychiatric Association www.ParentsMed.Org provides resources about medication for children as well as adults

Epilepsy Foundation www.epilepsyfoundation.org

If you go into either www.pbsparents.org or www.nick.com and type in a search for information, programming related to children with disabilities a number of resources are loaded and provide assistance for both parents and caregivers.

If anyone reading this has more information that they think would be useful for others, please comment so that others can benefit.  Thanks.

Getting Started in the New School Year: Checklist for you…

16 Sep

An orange check mark.

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Ok…now it is week two. 

BE AN ADVOCATE.. and keep going…..

Your child in the new school has a counselor. Call that person who you got the name of during week one.

Follow up.  Check if they have that IEP. If they do not have the IEP with their school name on it then you will need to call your local school district and have them send it on.  Request a copy for yourself too. 

Ask to double check your child’s daily schedule – regardless of their age.  Are they getting the classes that they are supposed to be.  Are the preschool programs in sync with what you were told that they would be.  Just check.  If you are confused then ask now.

Try to get the name of the therapist who is going to work with your child.  Just work on getting a name at this point of the year.    

Get a composition book and proactively write “communication book” on the front of it.  This book should be given to your child’s teacher  or counselor with a request that it be given to the new therapist.

Write a note introducing yourself in the communication book and  ask for the new therapist’s name and phone number.  If the therapist has an email ask for that too.

Ask the therapist -in your introductory note, to connect with you when your child begins session and to give you their name.  Offer your contact information and keep a line of communication open.

Give the therapist a couple of weeks to respond to you.  It sometimes takes a little bit of time to get schedules together.  In the meantime – YOUR homework is to lay the groundwork for organizing communication between you and the school.  You should have the IEP at the school by the end of this coming week, if not earlier. 

BE PERSISTENT…. and KEEP GOING….

My child just got an IEP (individualized education plan) and is in a new school this year. What do i do???

4 Sep

"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...

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Is your child starting a new school?  If so, you most likely are feeling a certain amount of anxiety, as is your child if he or she is old enough to understand what this means for them.

BE AN ADVOCATE

Ensure that your child does not fall through the cracks….

You might think something like …what are the teachers going to be like?  will my child like his or her teacher and will they make friends at the school?  You are probably wondering when the services that are authorized will start.  Well – here is news for you they may not start on time unless you stay involved.  This is not to put down anyone who might an administrator or teacher in any one school – but things sometimes happen, especially in a large educational system – like the public school system.  You  a tremendous help and partner in making sure that your child gets help.  Here are some quick suggestions for you to keep in mind.

Having worked in schools; with the professional hat on (so to speak), i can give you some advice. Some schools do not see the paperwork for students who have an IEP (if it is a public school program, especially) until the school district sends them over.

It will be helpful if when you go to school – during the first week, stop by the main office and give the principal a copy personally.

Get the name of the director of special education services at the school. If that is not the exact title – just explain to the staff that your child receives services – he is mandated for — therapy (fill in the blank) and you would like to introduce yourself.  I believe that they will really appreciate this initiative on your part.  It also sends a very positive message to the school about YOU as a parent. 

Now that the school is aware of the fact that your child is to be receiving services….Make sure that your child is on the list of students who should be receiving services in the school. This is extremely important because sometimes not all the names have been sent over from the district office.

Inform your child’s classroom teacher and ask for the name of the person who will be providing services.  Get a phone number/extension for that person and an idea of when they will be in school. Be aware that sometimes related service providers/therapists might travel between different schools during any particular work week.

Ask the school in a few weeks to tell you of the schedule for therapy for your child.

Ask the therapist for a weekly report – bring in a composition book…put in your name and phone number and ask for theirs. 

Double check the number of sessions that your child can receive during the year.  With budget cuts impacting on services across the country and possibly, a limit on this should not be overlooked!

In October – we will revisit this topic for next steps.  Schedules may not necessarily be finalized until the first few weeks  into that month – but make a start to get involved in the process.  It will be appreciated and most important – will benefit both you and your child.

How Do We Get Back to School?…..I’m Lost..

2 Sep

Lunch boxes

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Heading Back to School..A Change of Seasons and a Need to Re-Organize.

Organization is hard for most people – so sit back and take a breath.  Read on and think about what is important for YOUR family. Maybe this post will be useful for you…..and maybe you will have other thoughts of what works for you that might be helpful to others.  Please share…

School sales started even before August 1st. I had trouble with that. It seemed too soon to be broaching the topic of the change of seasons. Well – it still does. Some things cannot be changed I suppose. The “new year” is here. I say that because to me the year ends at the end of August and it always starts September 1st…oh no! is that today?? (gulp).

The Annual Chores Related to the Beginning of School are Upon Us….

School Supplies: an annual rite of passage

I did not see that many “back to school” sales for awhile. Maybe i did not want to see them. Time has marched on the past few weeks. Late last week I walked into a stationery store to get some toys for work. Aside me was what appeared to be a mother and daughter on a shopping spree for new school supplies..an annual rite of passage. It starts again…the hunt for that clean and crisp new notebook, new pens filled with ink, unsharpened pencils, crisp notebook paper etc. I must be dating myself – but one ritual I remember was making book covers from the nice shiney ones that they sold in the stores.  They were paper with pretty designs.  As we got older, my parents gave us paper bags (my brothers and I).  I also remember metal lunch boxes, insulated bags, ice packs and thermos bottles for lunch box preperation. It was always nice to have a matching box and thermos at school. Everything had to be properly labelled.  Look at the lunch boxes above..in the picture…It was so much fun to pick out a new one.

Clothes

Make sure that you have the proper uniforns, shoes/socks, a sweater and a bookbag

On hold, but on the list for later:  wintercoat and boots, gloves, scarf and hat-depending on where you live.

Schedules and Routines:  Manage These With Ease:

You probably have a child or a few children around at home grumbling and growling about the fact that they will lose a certain amount of freedom next week. Alarm clocks wil be set again a bit earlier. Baths will have to be taken earlier. Bookbags will need to be packed and clothes laid out before bed. You probably have numerous rituals like this in your household. How to begin??? Make a list of the ones that are important for your particular household. You may even want to get a wipe off board and post daily schedules on it , an academic school calendar might be helpful to note the school holidays, teacher conference days and medical appointment dates for example.  Post this and a list of emergency phone numbers on a bulletin board. Office supply stores will have a large selection of these for you to choose from.

Practice Will Help Everyone 

Whatever routines you have organized for your individual family….try and  use them over this holiday weekend.  I  recall at night that i would be helping my mother set the table for the family (five of us) at night, after all of the dishes were cleaned up from dinner.  Lunches would be made and then plans for the nexr night’s meal.  Mom would even season food the night before sometimes, if she was going to be leaving early for her own job,  in the morning. As we got older, she left earlier. 

i have always found nighttime to be the most challenging.  So- I am going to suggest that you practice setting out the clothes at night,establish the bath schedule for your child/children and put it to use over the weekend.  Set up a routine bedtime forr everyone and get a good night’s sleep……it is going to be a busy year…

Hope it is a very happy and healthy one for you and yours

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