Filmmaker Dan Habib appeared before an audience of more than 200 people at Aquarium of the Bay on January 10, 2012 to screen his documentary, "Including Samuel" and showcase some of the other important work he has pioneered. "Including Samuel" chronicles the Habib family's efforts to include their son Samuel, who has cerebral palsy, in every aspect of their lives.
Mr. Habib is passionate about the importance of young people with disabilities assuming a leadership role in the disability rights movement. He showed a short film clip about the "I am NORM"campaign, which sprang from discussions around the country about the "Including Samuel" film. "I am Norm" was developed in January 2010, when twenty young people, with and without disabilities, gathered in Washington, DC to develop a national campaign to raise the awareness about inclusion, provide opportunities for youth to share their ideas about inclusion, and promote inclusive practices in schools and communities. In just one weekend, the youth created the "I am NORM" campaign. It suggests that because people have different interests, different ideas and different abilities, that in fact to be "different" is to be "normal." "I am Norm" provides a powerful tool for young people to talk about difference, ability and disability. To learn more about the campaign, go to http://www.iamnorm.org
The evening with Dan Habib was co-sponsored by The Child Care Inclusion Challenge Project, Children's Council of San Francisco, San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Support for Families, Union Bank and Aquarium of the Bay.
My name is Jim Riley, Isaiah's Dad. When he was 3 years old his Papa, Keith, passed away suddenly. Shortly after that it became apparent Isaiah's delays were quite serious and I found out his true diagnosis. Not only had I become a single parent but also the parent of a special needs child. My family had changed in ways I had never imagined. I tried my best to do all that was required but eventually it became too much.
I am not completely alone — I have an amazing family and many friends — but I needed, and still need, help from others who have previous experience and knowledge with special needs children. I went to a support group for newly diagnosed families and became a part of Support for Families; I am now a board member. Now I am able to share and help others from my experience. Support for Families saved my family!
How well are programs supporting young children with disabilities to participate successfully in their homes and communities? Parents, teachers, therapists, early
There are three child outcomes for children receiving early intervention or preschool special education services:
By looking at how much children progress in each of these outcomes, states and the federal government get a picture of the effectiveness of their early intervention and special education programs—what are the results of those services being provided to young children and their families. States can use this data to help improve their programs.
To help states understand and measure these outcomes, the Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) Center was funded by OSEP. The ECO Center also has many resources designed specifically for families. In its Q & A document, the ECO Center provides the following definition of an outcome: "An outcome is a benefit experienced as a result of services and supports provided for a child or family. The fact that a service has been provided does not mean that an outcome has been achieved. Likewise, an outcome is not the same as satisfaction with the services received. The impact that those services and supports have on the functioning of children and families constitutes the outcome."1
Furthermore, these outcomes are considered functional ones because "they refer to behaviors, knowledge, and skills that are meaningful to children in their everyday lives. The outcomes refer to actions that children need to be able to carry out or to knowledge that they need to have in order to function successfully across a variety of settings and ultimately to be successful in kindergarten and later in school."1
A short video titled "Child Outcomes Step by Step" was recently developed by Results Matter, Colorado Department of Education; Desired Results Access Project, Napa County Office of Education; and the Early Childhood Outcomes Center.2 A simple definition of each outcome is given with clear examples of behaviors and skills demonstrated by children of different ages—infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The video can be viewed online or downloaded here. It is a tool for understanding child outcomes that families, practitioners, policymakers, and funders will find helpful.
For more information about the three child outcomes, please visit the Early Childhood Outcomes Center website.
2 Edelman, L. (Producer). (2011). Child Outcomes Step By Step (Video). Published collaboratively by Results Matter, Colorado
by Ann Svensen
Did that Come Out of My Child's Mouth?
"The reasons for back talk are as varied as the personalities of the children who use it," says Bozigar. The child could be hungry, tired, or in a transitional period. But children who talk back usually do have one thing in common: They're trying to separate from their parents and exercise control over their lives. How should you handle these outbursts? Bozigar suggests parents do some behavior tracking: "For three days, make notes about what your child says, what the situation was, and how you responded. See if you notice any patterns. And keep in mind that when kids talk back, something else is going on underneath. The goal is to help them express it constructively."
Six rules for fighting fair
How to respond: Model good behavior. Try saying, "Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to do things we don't like to do?" Don't yell back and don't be sarcastic. Your response is going to determine what happens next. Parents will never be able to control their children. The only person you can control is yourself. When you model control, you teach kids how to control themselves.
How to respond: Kids this age care more about what their peers think than what you think. They'll try to dangle bait to get you going. Don't bite! You'll lose: School-age kids always need to have the last word. Instead, let the child own the problem and empathize with him. Try saying, "You don't think I know what's going on with you right now and that's frustrating, but you're being disrespectful. Please go to your room until you've calmed down and can talk rationally with me." You'll have to be proactive to keep on top of the "It's not fairs." Limits help kids develop inner control. Set limits for when you think your kids will be ready to cross the street safely, stay up later, go on a date, etc. Then try saying, "You know that in our house the rule is ______"
How to respond: Instead of taking responsibility, this age group often puts parents on the defensive. Say your daughter borrowed a scarf that had sentimental value and then lost it. You might blurt out, "How could you be so irresponsible!" Look out -- she'll most likely turn that response around on you: "Oh and you've never lost anything before? Excuse me for not being perfect!" Instead of attacking, try talking in concrete terms: "You did this, so I feel this." Use the restraint and respect you'd show a guest in your home. The goal is for you to express your feelings in a way that allows your child to take responsibility for them.
How to respond: Beware -- they may look like grown-ups, but teenagers are not completely rational. They think differently than adults and children, and often feel they're invulnerable. Be concerned about their responses and listen to them. Help them to see that you're on their side. If they say they want to be left alone, back off but don't give up. Take a more subtle approach. Write them a note without attacking or blaming, and say that you'd like to hear back from them. Always keep the dialogue open. Try talking in a lower voice. If you model screaming and shouting, that's what you'll get in return. And remember, you are always the authority in your house; you can set limits. As parents, you cannot be friends with your children, but you can still treat them in a friendly way.
Reprinted with permission from http://life.familyeducation.com
The Parent Mentor Program ("PMP") has been a part of Support for Families for over 25 years. It is now in its fourth year of providing information covering Special Education to its Parent Mentors as a means of adding value to their mentoring skills. This eight (8) month training series provides our Parent Mentors additional instruction in understanding Special Education so that they will feel better prepared in supporting families they mentor. This series includes one workshop in April where a panel of disability related advocacy professionals will present in areas covering IDEA, Section 504, ADA, and the Hughes Bill and their application in special education.
To commemorate eight months of hard work, the program will be celebrating our new mentors' efforts at our upcoming graduation in May. A hearty "Congratulations" to these new mentors! Support for Families would like to extend a big THANK YOU to ALL of our mentors, past and present. Over the many years, your hard work and dedication have been a vital part of the Support for Families network.
Interested in becoming a mentor?
If you've thought you could use more help in understanding the IEP process and would like to help families at the same time, becoming one of our mentors through the Special Education Series can help you learn and understand more about IDEA. You would have the opportunity to meet other parents and learn about your rights and responsibilities; special education eligibility criteria; the special education "language;" and tips and strategies to help you prepare for your child's IEP. The next Special Education Series begins September, 2012.
The PMP welcomes JoAnna Van Brusselen to the team. JoAnna will be providing information and support to both Spanish speaking Mentors and Mentees as their Community Resource Parent. We would like to thank Sonia Valenzuela for her prior instruction and training to our wonderful Spanish speaking Mentors. Sonia is now placing her focus as an Education Coordinator for SFCD.
The Parent Mentor trainings are FREE. Limited child care is available with two week advance registration with Joan or JoAnna.
by Karen Kauschen, Member, San Francisco Unified School District Community Advisory Committee for Special Education
My daughter with autism will start kindergarten next year. She has been a preschool student in an SDC (Special Day Class) since she was three years old.
The information available to parents about Special Education services within SFUSD is limited. The Special Education section of the enrollment guide lists schools under different service delivery options. There is minimal explanation of the difference between these options, and no information about specific programs in each classroom.
I had to contact each school directly and leave a message for each SDC teacher. Sometimes I was able to schedule a tour within a few days, other times it took weeks of calling them back.
I attended the enrollment fair and it was overwhelming and incredibly crowded. It was jam-packed; only the pushy parents got through. The way the schools were set up in the building was confusing to me. I suggest that anyone attending the enrollment fair make a list of schools prior to attending. There was a map available before the fair detailing where all the schools were located. Spending a few minutes marking my list with the locations was helpful. It would be beneficial to have this fair occur earlier in the year. Our IEP meeting was scheduled the Monday after the fair.
Only one school at the enrollment fair had anything about Special Education prominently displayed. At each school's table some principals had nothing to say about their SDC classes, other principals seemed well informed and had information to share. I could just tell the difference between schools that considered the SDC classes part of their community.
There was little information shared on school tours that seemed to apply to parents looking for SDC classrooms. It was nice to see the computer rooms and pretty outdoor gardens but if the principal can't give me any specifics about how the students in SDCs use them, it is really meaningless to me. I suggest contacting school principals privately, not during a public tour.
The reality is the enrollment process in SFUSD is overwhelming for all parents. The schools are actively wooing general ed parents by providing tours with relevant information and having an informed presence at the enrollment fair. By contrast, the parents of students requiring Special Education services are left on their own.
It would be helpful if case managers and content coordinators had specific information to share about the classroom options for transitioning students. They should be able to supply parents with teacher names and contact information. Each school needs to provide relevant information about their Special Education services . This could be after the general tour, or on a separate Special Education tour.
I also suggest that any parent who is actively looking for a new classroom for their child speak to other parents. I give special thanks to my mentors and the parents helping me navigate this journey. I hope we all find the jewels in the mine
The purpose of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for Special Education is to advocate for effective Special Education programs and services, and advise the Board of Education on priorities in the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA). The State Education Code mandates that each SELPA must have a CAC and that a majority of CAC members be parents. In San Francisco, CAC meetings are usually held on the fourth Thursday of each month (except July, November and December). These meetings are open to the public; everyone is welcome to attend. Joining the CAC gives you an opportunity to have your opinions heard and make a difference in the way Special Education is conducted in our area — please join us!
by Robin Hansen, former CAC President, Parent and Advocate
An area that may get ignored during the IEP process is transition, especially if you have a youth who is high functioning. That is a youth with typical intelligence who may have Asperger's, "high functioning" autism or a learning disability. Most parents are so focused and or frustrated dealing with the IEP process or just getting their youth thru high school with passing grades that they don't realize that transition is going to be a whole new ballgame. Parents and youth need to understand that planning for transition should start no later than middle school. For example, if your youth goes into a special day class for language arts for even one semester of high school, you may have just cut off your youths chances of entering any California four year public university. Careful consideration needs to focus on articulating academic goals for the youth when they exit high school. Will they have a regular high school diploma?
Another factor that can be challenging during the transition process is that once the youth is 18, the youth is legally an adult. This means that the youth has a right to make decisions. There is the potential that parents and youth can become divided and put the youths education at risk. Sometime after a youth turns 18, the school could have an IEP meeting without the parents.
We all know that although a youth may be 18 years old, and legally considered an adult, the majority still need the guidance of their parents. In addition, many youth with neurological issues like autism and learning disabilities may function at an emotional level about 2-3 years younger than their peers. Youth when given the option to sign off on their own IEP do not always realize the consequences of their actions, feel they are the "master of their domain" and, may sign off and possibly end up with an IEP that is detrimental.
The solution is for parents and the youth to work as a team. In fact, long before the youth turns 18, the parents and youth may draw up a contract appointing the parent as their advocate and stipulate that no IEP meetings may be held without the presence of both parents and youth unless one of the two parties stipulates otherwise in writing. Teaming/partnering does NOT mean that parents make all the decisions.
Partnering means youth lead with strong support from the parents. For example, you can assist your youth to prepare to go to an IEP meeting. Assist by asking them what their goals are, what is working and where do they think they need support. A list should be generated with the parent and teen before the IEP. If your child is going to go to college, offer to go with them to meet with the disabled students counselor. Offer to be their scribe and take notes so they can spend time conversing with the counselor. Many of our kids have fine motor, memory, organizational or processing issues. They can't write and think at the same time. They can't remember what they just heard. Offer to keep a file for them where they (and you) can access it anytime. You might assist them by keeping the passwords to get online to the school website when they need to check on grades, early registration dates and the latest emails from the school.
When you attend the IEP and/or make that appointment with the counselor, let the youth and the counselor do the talking. Think of yourself as less of a parent and more as an advocate. Bring a list of questions that your youth has generated. You may just want to introduce yourself as an advocate instead of a parent. Leave your contact information with the counselor in case the youth cannot be reached. If you don't get a complete answer or don't understand something, say that you are taking notes and you want to make sure get accurate information. This strategy is a good way to get information your youth may have missed without "taking over" the meeting.
The counselor should give you a release to sign which will allow the school to share information with you.
If you have a counselor that does not welcome you into the office with the youth, you and your youth may want to pick another counselor. You may have to "shop around" until you find one that clicks with your "team".
Becoming a new parent is an exciting and unforgettable time! Did you know you could receive up to six weeks of benefits through California's Paid Family Leave program to bond with your new child? The Paid Family Leave program was created for these moments in life. California is leading the nation in making it easier for working people to balance the demands of the work place and family care needs at home.
To learn more about the Paid Family Leave program, visit the Employment Development Department website at www.edd.ca.gov/disability or call 877-238-4373.