Friday, May 6, 2011

Parents of School Age Children with Disabilities, Limitations or Challenges Pt.1 of 2 by Mrs. Dorothy Barron

Parents of School Age Children with Disabilities, Limitations or Challenges Pt.1 of 2 by Mrs. Dorothy Barron

As Co-founder of and when I served as Director of the Organization, Parents Focused on Education, many calls were received by our office from Parents of children with disabilities, limitations or challenges; many calls involved school issues. Sadly, many of the issues and problems in Education that parents experienced, shared and sought solutions for almost twenty years ago in this area are the same which many of today’s Parents face; little seems to have improved. 

This post, Parents of School Age Children with Disabilities, limitations or challenges and who attend school outside the home is a two-part series. Part 1 consists of general information and 3 Action Steps, along with the significance of each step and Part 2 offers ten tips to Parents of Children with disabilities, limitations or challenges, which that can assist you, the Parent, as you navigate and advocate on behalf of your child/ren in Education.

Some Parents (and others) strongly protest to having their children categorized or labeled as a child/ren with disabilities; they prefer other such terms as a child or children with limitations or challenges. We respect such and therefore use all three terms here.

While I cannot speak for what occurs in/at all schools, for most, provisions are both limiting and limited when it comes to what schools are able to provide for this sector of students in Education.

For Parents who have school age children with disabilities, limitation or challenges; may I be frank with you and for two reasons: 1) as many of you are already avid and persistent advocates for your very special and unique child (ren); you want solutions to cut through the Education chase or red tape and 2) I want to prevent you wasting excessive time and exhausting unnecessary efforts and energy as you attempt to have the education needs of your child/ren met in Education.

Please do not become discouraged, but from a realistic point, keep in mind that if a great number of our schools are having trouble accommodating and meeting the needs of mainstream students, what does such say about students who have special needs in Education?

Here are 3 action steps that you can consider immediately taking and the significance of each:
1. Visit your child’s school and tour the school and your child’s actual classroom(s).
Ÿ  Is your child’s class tucked away in some dismal, unsightly and unadorned setting, which bespeaks of out of sight, thus out of mind?
Ÿ  What is his/her daily school routine; does his/her class eat in the school’s cafeteria and attend school functions/activities (a limited form of inclusion) with the rest of the student body?
Ÿ  What students comprise your child’s classroom and how does such affect your child and other students within? Some Special Education classrooms are a combination of slow learners, those who have mental and/or physical disabilities, limitations or challenges, as well as students who have discipline and behavior problems. The significance: Visiting and interacting assists you with becoming an informed and knowledgeable Parent; thus the beginning or starting point of Parental Involvement in your child’s education and/or with your child’s school.
Talk to your Child’s Teacher
Ÿ  Meet your child’s Teacher(s) and School Principal. Schedule a conference(See Parents Taking Charge in Education Parental Mini-Guide Book- How to Hold A School Conference & addition, School Conference Tracker) with the teacher and academic team which oversees your child‘s Individual Education Plan (IEP).
Ÿ  Get the scope of the school’s capability in the area of providing for your child’s academic needs.
Ÿ  Go one step further; get name and contact information for the Special Education Director for the entire school system. The significance: You begin engaging with those with more or higher authority (See Parents Taking Charge in Education Parental Mini-Guide Book- Chain of Command: Who is in Charge) within the Education System and you can obtain resources and resource information that may not readily be available at your local school. Most importantly, with knowledge of who has specific authority and decision making powers, you do not waste excessive and valuable time, effort, energy and frustrations interacting with those who do not have the knowledge or decision making powers to assist you and your child/ren.
Document, Document and Document
Ÿ  Such cannot be over-emphasized. You must keep an on-going and in-depth record of your child’s education/school career (such is pertinent to all Parents).
Ÿ  Document, document, document! The significance: Documentation will withstand and assist you time and time again as you and your child navigate through and work to obtain the most positive learning and fulfilling education experience tailored for your child’s individual needs.

Note: A Parents Taking Charge in Education Mini-Guide Books Series #2 (announced June 2011) New Title: How do I Get Involved in My Child’s Education & School? By Mrs. Dorothy Barron

Mrs. Dorothy Barron, Author & Founder
Parents Taking Charge in Education at

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