Monday, March 5, 2012

Special Education Parent Support

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One thing that was really hard for me when SensiGirl was moved from a regular ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education,) to Early Childhood SPECIAL Education was the lack of support I experienced. I went from chatty weekly meetings, sitting around a table drinking coffee and tea and snacking on goodies with the other parents, to home by myself with a few instructional informational parent panels a year.  I was lucky that I had my core circle of friends and my mom's club.  I don't know if I have ever felt so lost.

When Random Guy was assessed as needing help by the school district he continued with ECFE with supports and I continued with my parent meetings.  We just added inclusion preschool classes for the remainder of the week. It worked great!  SensiGirl wasn't allowed in the ECFE class after her assessment; she had been causing too many disruptions.  The leaders of the ECFE class said I could stay in the parent group, but now that things were so different for SensiGirl, it didn't provide what I needed anymore.
Luckily the ECSE classes were in the rooms next door to the ECFE classes. SensiGirl would only have to adjust to a new classroom, not a new school or playground.  SensiGirl had a really hard time separating from me when I dropped her off, so we figured out that it was easier for her to leave me.  She could take the bus to school, SensiGirl loves the bus. We are lucky to have had that option.
The part that is missing in many communities is the family education part of special education.  Parents of children with special needs are not only lacking in many resources, they are cast out of the mainstream resources that were once available to them.  They lack support as they embark on a whole new realm of learning: IEPs, 504s, ASD, assisted communication devices, SPD, and on and on.
I am working within my school district to get a special education family education group started. SensiGirl's teacher has been trying to get something started for a while now too. We both want something sustainable, so we are working towards that goal.
What I would really like to see are those weekly meetings again, instead of typical childhood development and parenting strategies, we could discuss special needs parenting strategies, (sensory diets,) etc. and share knowledge of community resources.
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I don't think that will happen next school year, but if we keep plugging at it, I know we can get something like I envision.  Parenting a special needs child requires a special skill set, one that includes advocacy, statistical analysis and research savvy.  Most parents don't come with all those skills, but they can be taught. What can't be taught is the connection with other parents to help you on your journey with raising your child. A helping hand or an open mind to listen when you are at your rope's end.
The other community resources in my area are very specific as to catering to diagnoses: the Autism Society of Minnesota, Pacer and ARC of Minnesota. What I would like to know is if you have anything like I am talking about in your community? How is it done and how can we make it more available in other communities?


  1. Love the eggs! LoriBW

  2. Wishing you the best of luck in getting a parent group together. Parents need each other for advice, support, names of neurologists to go to/avoid, etc. A web site that I tell my students parents to check out is www.mothersfrom