Posts Tagged ‘ special needs education ’

Including Kids With Special Needs In Classrooms: There Are No Easy Answers

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Max is in a school for kids with special needs, and always has been, but I often wonder about whether we should consider inclusion for him.

It’s a toughie: We think he’s getting a great education, and the teachers and therapists are outstanding. If he were in a so-called typical class, he’d get pulled out a lot for therapies. I’ve heard, straight from a school source, that the quality of aides in our district’s public schools isn’t up there.

Still.

I long for him to be around so-called typical kids, both because I think they could have a positive impact on learning and for social reasons, too. And then, there’s this truth: Growing up in a special needs hothouse, as wonderful as it is, isn’t preparing him for the real world.

Last night, I watched the documentary Certain Proof: A Question of Worth; it’s about the challenges children with severe cerebral palsy face in the public education system. It really got me thinking about inclusion, as did this infographic on the topic.

Ah, special needs parenting decisions, decisions….

Photo of child writing on blackboard via Shutterstock

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How Happy Are You With Your Child’s IEP?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Like “PT” and “OT” and “CP,” “IEP” were initials I’d never heard until I had a kid with special needs. But now that Max is nine, I am a downright veteran of the Individualized Education Plan. Wait, that makes me sound old; change that to “a master of the Individualized Education Plan.”

It seems like most parents are satisfied with their inclusion in IEP meetings, according to a study that just came out in the Journal of Disability Policy Studies. Researchers looked at the experiences of families of more than 10,000 students with disabilities around the country. Most parents said they’d attended their child’s most recent IEP meeting; of those parents, 70 percent felt their level of involvement in making decisions was “about right.” Disability Scoop notes that parents of kids who have challenges with behavior or social skills were more likely to be dissatisfied with the IEP process.

I am one of those satisfied parents, starting with the fact that I think the school my son is in is excellent. Not only are the teachers and therapists knowledgeable and competent, they care deeply about the kids. When I go to the IEP meetings, I feel like I am on a team—and I do not have to play defense. They listen to concerns I have and offer to follow up on them (and they do), and they address all of my questions. I also usually walk out of there with a list of websites, equipment and even toys that could help Max.

Over the years, I’ve had to push for additional therapy sessions for Max. Sometimes, I’ve gotten them and sometimes, I haven’t. Once, we made a concession; I wanted Max to have an extra speech therapy session, and we agreed we would do one with other kids—communal speech therapy! He’s loved that, and it’s been great for all the kids. I’ve learned that while I am there to make sure Max gets what he needs, I need to be open-minded to compromises, too.

I usually type up a list of points/concerns ahead of time, so I don’t forget stuff. The other thing that could make IEPs go better is a pitcher of margaritas. But I’d settle for white wine.

What have your experiences been with IEPs? Got any good tricks for navigating them?

Image: Row of binders via Shutterstock

 

From my other blog:

Stuff special needs moms say

25 things that make special needs parenting easier

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