Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Walk, Roll, Shobble*, Stroll for Children with Special Needs

On September 21, 2014, the Federation for Children with Special Needs will hold their second annual fundraising walk, “Walk, Roll, Shobble*, Stroll!”  Once again, it will be held at the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton, MA from noon to 3pm.

Last year, the event drew over one hundred participants and raised over $13,000 for the Federation! Upon arriving, participants enjoyed tunes spun by DJ Kevin Sullivan, who got everyone on the floor dancing the Cha-Cha, the Electric Slide, and the Hokey Pokey; and playing Freeze Dance and Wonder Ball.  The morning’s activities included face painting, arts and crafts projects, balloon animals and hats, and much more.  Families brought picnic lunches, and were provided with snacks, drinks, and ice cream treats.

After lunch, FCSN’s Executive Director Rich Robison welcomed participants, thanked them for coming, and introduced guest of honor, Nicole Tarzia, Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts 2013.  Ms. Tarzia encouraged all in attendance to dream big!  At 1pm, Tarzia and event mascot Frances the Elephant led the participants on a trek around the nature trail, where they also searched for a variety of playful scavenger hunt items.
The weather also cooperated for the event. The sun came out in the afternoon just in time for the walk to begin, and walkers, rollers, shobblers*, and strollers were treated a warm, sunny autumn afternoon.  There was just enough of a breeze to carry the bubbles blown by the participants.
All in all, the first Walk, Roll, Shobble*, Stroll was a lot of fun, and we can’t wait for this year’s walk! Register today! Hope to see you there!   

*where a shuffle meets a hobble

By Rebecca Rizoli 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: "Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work"

As a long-time special education professional-turned-advocate I simply cannot say enough about the value of this book for parents. I recommend it to anyone who is going through the special education process for the first, or fiftieth, time.

Readers will quickly learn that Judith and Carson Graves' book, Parents Have The Power To Make Special Education Work: An Insider's Guide, stands in refreshing contrast to the ubiquitous jargon and bureaucratic double-speak that too many parents encounter during their special education journey.

With a robust Foreword by the well-regarded Robert K. Crabtree, Esq., this accessible gem gives beginner and veteran parents alike a simple, straightforward overview of federal and state special education laws and their relevance to common situations parents may encounter. More immediately, this book offers practical strategies for parents navigating the seemingly never-ending maze that has become special education in the United States. Main chapter topics include: understanding the perspective of school personnel and how and why conflicts of interest arise, understanding evaluation reports, writing measurable IEP goals, handling Team meetings, why keeping good written records is essential, the legal process, and planning for transition to adulthood.

Given the Graves' at times maddening experiences with fighting for services for their now-grown son over many years, they could be forgiven for being bitter. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. To the contrary they have taken their experience as a family and turned it into something truly compelling and constructive and from which other parents, caregivers, and professionals can learn.

Chapter 7: Writing Effective IEP Goals in particular had me enthusiastically nodding with each paragraph and marking up the margins. With real examples of IEP goals and benchmarks this chapter alone is worth the cost of the book. Additionally I have not seen a better discussion elsewhere specifically for parents on the relevance of writing specific, measurable goals as it relates to tracking a child's progress over time. I think parents will also find chapters 8 and 9 especially useful as they speak to the daily realities of meetings and paperwork and how to handle these situations effectively and productively.

I expect this book will be on my shelf for years to come not only as a go-to reference and strategy manual but as an eloquent reminder of an important and perhaps overlooked truth: Parents do indeed have the power to make special education work!

For more information please visit www.makespecialeducationwork.com

By Christie C. White, M.Ed.
Special Education Advocate & Consultant

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Effectively Communicating Neuropsychological Assessment Results at IEP Team Meetings: A Conversation with Dr. Karen Postal

What options are available to Team members for productively discussing a child's educational needs in light of private medical evaluations particularly when the potential for conflict is high? As a former IEP Team Chair, this is a question I've grappled with for years. And like so many "big" questions, I don't think there are any easy or obvious answers.

For Teams charged with reviewing neuropsychological reports of course, there are two basic parts to the conversation. First, what does the report say? Second, how do the results translate into eligibility, services, and/or placement for a given student?

If there's a tension between special education and neuropsychology, I think "ground zero" is at the IEP Team meeting table. If you're ever looking for a front row seat on how this tension gets played out, I don't know of a better place to see it. Or feel it. 

I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Karen Postal, neuropychologist and author of the book, Feedback That Sticks: The Art of Effectively Communicating Neuropsychological Assessment Results. We spoke, among other topics, about effective strategies for discussing neuropsychological assessment results at Team meetings. 

Here is the link the audio interview if you'd like to give it a listen: www.speducated.com/feedback

After you listen to the interview, please consider posting a comment below to share your thoughts and experiences. You never know who you may help in the process!

Christie C. White, M.Ed. is a parent advocate who writes a special education blog for the parents & caregivers of young children in Massachusetts at speducated.com.