Saturday, October 5, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Getting the Help You Need (Part One)

Nearly every day I hear from parents who are seeking help and services for their child with special needs. Many are frustrated because they feel like they are hitting brick walls and not making any progress getting extra assistance.

This series of blog posts will offer tips and suggestions that will help you get what your child needs. Not everything will apply to your situation--chances are I have no idea of your unique circumstances. I'm offering this information from a professional viewpoint so you can get some ideas that may help you.

The first step is to identify what you want. You may want to try these steps:

  • Do some good research. Remember some basic principles.
    • Google is not good research. 
    • Ask your public librarian to help you with research suggestions. 
    • Check out who wrote the web site you're reading by clicking on the "about us" tab. If it's a university site, the information posted there has been verified by multiple people. Pages from businesses who have a vested interest in your business are often filled with misinformation and inaccuracies. 
    • Verify your information with multiple sources. What worked for your friend's child may not be appropriate for yours for many very good reasons. 
    • Check medical information with a doctor who actually has an "M.D." or "D.O."
    • Determine if there are any reasons your child should not participate in a particular therapy or treatment. 
  • Become familiar with different educational terms. A parent once requested an orientation and mobility evaluation. She became very upset when I denied it. This type of test is done to determine if an individual with very poor vision (legally or completely blind) can be taught to walk with a cane. The student in question didn't even wear glasses--the parent thought this service would help the young lady find her locker. If you can see better than I can, you don't need O & M services. 
  • Read all you can about the services you think you want. Many parents of children with autism request ABA therapy, but research has shown that the effects do not last after therapy stops. 
  • Even if a medical doctor has recommended certain services, remember that he has probably never worked in a school and may not completely understand what has been asked. 
  • Be wary of advice from others. Acupuncture does not "cure" Down Syndrome. If a therapy seems too extreme or potentially dangerous, check it out with professionals before proceeding. 
  • Always try the least intrusive methods before going with drastic measures. 

How did you determine what help your child needed? 

Next week - the best (and worst) ways to communicate.