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Archive for the ‘Parenting Children with Special Needs’ Category

Take Your ADD/ADHD to College

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

 

Off to college

Sending a child with ADD/ADHD off to college can be challenging. For the last eighteen years you have been responsible for finding the services she needed to manage ADHD and succeed in school.  If she took medication or had additional educational interventions such as a 504 plan in high school, you’re probably wondering if she will be able to access similar help or accommodations at her college or university. How can you help your child find the services she may need to be successful?  How can you ‘pass the baton’ so she becomes responsible for her own self-care and success when she goes away to college?

First, if you have the time, start early. It may be too late for this advice (if you are like me, the car is packed and you are heading out tomorrow) but many universities have programs that cater to students with learning differences. For example, The University of Iowa offers students with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities access to the REACH program. West Virginia Wesleyan College campus has The Learning Center which helps students with learning disabilities, attention disorders and other special needs find a wide range of support options (http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2011/09/21/20-incredible-colleges-for-special-needs-students/). If you don’t know where to start, educational consultants can be a tremendous resource to help your child plug in to the right college or university.

If your child already her acceptance letter, then take some time with her to locate resources on her campus. Be sure to explore services such as the student writing center and campus TRIO programs (federally funded programs on many campuses that offer everything from free tutoring, writing help, to financial help). If your child’s mother or father is a veteran, then she may qualify for additional help and financial aid. Here in Texas, children of Texas veterans qualify for housing and tuition help through the Hazelwood Act.

Most importantly, locate your campus ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) officer. Even if your child wants to try it on her own at first, she may realize later she needs some accommodations and resources. Every public/federally funded college campus will have an ADA office and she can go there any time. Her ADA officer can help her locate counselors and psychiatrists, and help her design accommodations that work for her.

Here are a few tips from http://www.campusexplorer.com/college-advice-tips/B6B71A43/College-Advice-For-Students-With-A-504-Plan/

  • While a high school is required to identify your requirements and provide free appropriate public education to meet them, a post-secondary institution is not required to waive or change academic requirements. However, colleges cannot discriminate on the basis of disability, and must provide the necessary adjustments for you to function academically. This includes housing for students with disabilities that is comparable, accessible and affordable.
  • While disclosure of your disability to a college is voluntary, it is necessary in order to qualify for assistance. You may apply for an adjustment at any time, but it is recommended that you do so early. Initiate contact with a school before the college application process begins, and ask questions. It may take some procedural time for your application to go through, and requirements may vary amongst different colleges.
  • You will also need to provide proof of your disability, so be sure to research what is necessary for different institutions, and start your evaluations before senior year. Neither the state nor your college is responsible for the cost of obtaining documentation of your disability, but your state vocational rehabilitation agency may provide funding.

Top 10 Ways Elementary-Age Children Transition Back to School

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

Top 10 List

About this time of year conversations among parents of school-age children begin to change. Talk turns from summer camp to school-ready bedtime rituals, mosquito repellant to earth-friendly lunch containers, and shopping for swimsuits to shopping for school supplies.

Not to be outdone, we here at achievebalance.org decided to dedicate this article to:

Top 10 Ways

Parents Can Smooth The Elementary Child’s Transition From Summer to Fall

Enjoy and share with a friend!

  1. If you are transitioning your child to a new school, take time to visit the campus and ask for a tour. School summer hours are usually posted online and office personnel are happy to show you and your child around.

  2. Find out what kind of food is served in the cafeteria and which food groups are allowed for snacks. Many schools have a policy against nuts and foods of minimal value (FMV). Don’t be the parent who packs cupcakes and peanuts if those foods are forbidden.

  3. Call the bus facility if your child is a bus rider to see what the commute time is in the morning and afternoon. Help your child prepare and pack extra water, especially if the commute is long and the heat is extreme.

  4. Create your list of emergency contacts and share that list with your child. It’s good for your child to know who may pick him up if you can’t. Teach your child never to go with anyone who is not on this list. Create a password only you, your child, and the designated contact will know for added safety.

  5. While you are picking up school supplies, remember that your child will probably get additional lists from teachers the first day of school. Don’t get stressed; budget accordingly.

  6. Discuss ‘phones at bedtime’ rules before the first day of school. Believe it or not your child does NOT need her phone for an alarm clock. If you plan to make your child leave her phone in the kitchen at bedtime, introduce the idea now so she doesn’t have to go cold turkey the night before her first day of school.

  7. Check the school handbook before you go clothes shopping. Most schools without uniforms still have rules about school clothes.

  8. Get your child’s input on school lunch ideas. For a young child, lunchtime is an exciting break during the day and can be a bit of comfort from home. The first day of school is not the time to surprise a picky eater with food they hate or a junk-food junky with a health-food-only lunch.

  9. If your child is having anxiety about the start of school or has trouble separating from you, check yourself. Your child may be picking up on YOUR anxiety. Make sure you project confidence and encouragement about school when your child is around.

  10. Celebrate the end of summer and the start of school by doing something fun! It may become a tradition you can both look forward to every year.

We at achievebalance.org wish you and your family an amazing school year!

Children with Special Educational Needs: A Guide for Newcomers and Ex-Pats

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

This article by Achievebalance.org therapist Jason Davis was originally posted in 2012 but it contains great info parents can use now.

Parents who have concerns about a child’s academic or behavioral progress turn to schools to help them determine what is best for their child. Likewise, when school personnel notice a child having difficulty maintaining passing grades or appropriate behavior, they will act as a special education advocate and may turn to parents to introduce options for intervention.

In the United States, school districts have programs that can assist parents in determining the appropriate academic placement and interventions for their children with special educational needs. Many parents do not know what these programs do or how they can best assist their child and it can indeed be confusing. Most interventions will either be classified as 504 or Special Education.

The term, “504 program” comes from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This national law protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities. If parents or the school can document that a child has a disability, part of the special education process are interventions that can be designed to help the child succeed academically. 504 interventions are usually classified as “accommodations.” Examples of disabilities that can be covered under the 504 program include everything from something temporary like a broken arm to chronic conditions like dyslexia, ADHD, or diabetes.

Special education programs fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These programs are designed for children who have a disability that is considered a “qualifying condition.” Examples of qualifying special education disabilities are blindness, deafness, and developmental delays. Children receiving special education services will have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) rather than accommodations.

Parents are encouraged to visit the government website for IDEA and talk to their local school district to learn more about disabilities that fall under both 504 and special education and how they can partner with their school to develop the best plan for their child.

Jason Davis is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He received his Masters of Science in Counseling from the University of Houston Clear Lake and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater from the University of Texas at Austin. He can be found providing counseling services at achievebalance.org in The Woodlands, Texas. Contact Jason at 936-697-2822 or http://www.jasondaviscounseling.com

Taking Your Stuff [disability, addiction, anxiety, etc.] to College Part 2

Monday, August 17th, 2015

When a child has struggled with issues such as eating disorders, cutting, and substance abuse, it’s important to think ahead before they go off to college. Last week I wrote about the services that are available at most colleges and universities. This week I will discuss ways to maintain clear communication with your student once he or she is away at school and construct a plan ‘B’ if you see they are struggling.

Your child may not like it, but there are ways to maintain clear communication without crossing that boundary into becoming a helicopter parent. In fact, if you have a history of helicopter parenting, you may struggle with these tactics. Here is how I explain the difference to parents: Helicopter parenting implies that you are actively trying to impact outcomes and control your child’s behavior. Instead I want you to observe, and when you discover immanent danger, intervene with natural logical consequences.

How do you observe your adult child away at school and have clear communication without controlling? First, before your child goes away, as parents you must clearly define priorities and expectations. Let your child know coping with his or her struggle or learning difference takes precedence over academics and social life. Encourage your child to suggest strategies to cope with her struggle or difference and then discuss the natural logical consequences for ignoring those healthy strategies. Let your child know you will be observing her purchasing behavior. Form a relationship with your child’s resident advisor or other student advocate on campus let your child know you will be asking them to report any concerns. Finally, let your child know you will be dropping in unannounced on occasion to see how she is doing.

Natural logical consequences are the keys to intervening without controlling. Here is an example: John and Joan are parents and they discover their daughter Jan, who is a recovering alcoholic, has been skipping classes and she stopped going to the student alcohol recovery group. Before Jan went away the family agreed her recovery was the most important priority and Jan even picked out the recovery group on her own. Now, Jan tells Joan that the recovery group is full of people she doesn’t know and she doesn’t really have time for it because her studies are so intense. She tells her mom she’ll go, “if you want me to fail all my classes.” If Joan and John were still helicopter parents they might tell Jan she doesn’t need to go to her recovery group and just focus on her studies. They might lecture Jan or try to guilt or bribe her into going to the recovery group. They might worry that setting limits with Jan would stress her further and even make her start drinking again.

John and Joan are not helicopter parents, however, and they discuss their observations. First they notice their daughter is not taking care of her addiction. Because that could mean life or death for their daughter, they decide to address that first. Second, they acknowledge their sadness that their daughter may not be ready for college. It was Joan’s alma mater and they both must grieve their dream for now. Finally, together they call Jan and remind her that as a family they decided that Jan’s recovery was more important than school and if she can’t do both then she is choosing to come home to finish her education. If Jan chooses to stay away at her current school, they let her know they love her and they honor her decision, but they will not support that decision financially.

Jan may feel like her parents are trying to control her, but in fact, Joan and John are setting a boundary. The boundary is unpleasant for Jan but it is teaching her than Joan and John will not enable her unhealthy coping. It also lets Jan know Joan and John will not lecture or shame her and they will love her no matter what she decides to do.

 

 

 

Taking Your Stuff [disability, addiction, anxiety, etc.] to College

Monday, August 10th, 2015

This month is all about ways you can help your child transition successfully to higher education and independence. My last article discussed helping your child make the transition, and this week I’m going over the services that are available at most colleges and universities. My next article will discuss ways to maintain clear communication with your student once he or she is away at school and construct a plan ‘B’ if you see they are struggling.

Sending a child off to college who has experienced emotional and behavioral struggles can be hard. Issues such as eating disorders, cutting, and substance abuse require the help of outside therapists and medical experts. Similarly, mood and behavior difficulties like depression, anxiety, or ADHD, may require additional educational interventions such as a 504 plan. Educational differences such as dyslexia and dysgraphia may also require special education interventions. By the time a child turns eighteen, most parents have become experts at accessing services that help their child feel better, stay healthy, and succeed in school. The question becomes, then, how do you help your adult child maintain the same level of interest in self-care and success when they go to college?

Depending on your child, you can start by looking at colleges that address his or her need. The University of Iowa offers students with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities access to the REACH program. Through The Learning Center on the West Virginia Wesleyan College campus, students with learning disabilities, attention disorders and other special needs can find a wide range of support options (http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2011/09/21/20-incredible-colleges-for-special-needs-students/). If you don’t know where to start, educational consultants can be a tremendous source of information to help your child plug in to the right college or university.

If your child has his or her heart set on a particular university, then be sure to tour services such as the student writing center and campus TRIO programs (federally funded programs on many campuses that offer everything from free tutoring, writing help, to financial help). Your child’s campus will always have an ADA office so include that in your visit when you take your college tour.

Here are some tips from http://www.campusexplorer.com/college-advice-tips/B6B71A43/College-Advice-For-Students-With-A-504-Plan/

  • While a high school is required to identify your requirements and provide free appropriate public education to meet them, a post-secondary institution is not required to waive or change academic requirements. However, colleges cannot discriminate on the basis of disability, and must provide the necessary adjustments for you to function academically. This includes housing for students with disabilities that is comparable, accessible and affordable.
  • While disclosure of your disability to a college is voluntary, it is necessary in order to qualify for assistance. You may apply for an adjustment at any time, but it is recommended that you do so early. Initiate contact with a school before the college application process begins, and ask questions. It may take some procedural time for your application to go through, and requirements may vary amongst different colleges.
  • You will also need to provide proof of your disability, so be sure to research what is necessary for different institutions, and start your evaluations before senior year. Neither the state nor your college is responsible for the cost of obtaining documentation of your disability, but your state vocational rehabilitation agency may provide funding.

Social Skills Activities for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Technology is making the task of teaching social skills to children with Aspergers a lot more fun than it use to be.  Special needs apps for Asperger’s Syndrome for the iPad are leading the way in terms of ease of use and superior graphics, and proving to be an excellent source of social skills activities for kids dealing with a variety of special needs issues, from autism to Asperger’s.  Here are 8 great apps for Aspergers children:

 

Model Me Going Places                        Free     (Model Me Kids)

This app offers 6 icons that involve social stories related to places children frequently encountered in daily life.  The visual cues and images are professionally done.  The six social stories include Hairdresser, Mall, Doctor, Playground, Grocery Store and Restaurant.

iCommunicate                                        $49.99   (Grembe, Inc.)

With this app your child can create pictures, storyboards, routines and visual schedules.  You can also create custom audio in any language.  This app enables you to include pictures from your camera or Google images.

GarageBand                                                $4.99    (Apple)

This application allows children to learn to play a musical instrument.  There are several instruments to choose from and learning is interactive.  Children can record themselves playing the instrument and then play it back.  The app also provides instruction on writing music and composing an original piece.

Pictello                                                        $18.99   (AssistiveWare)

This app is comprised of a storybook for activities of daily living.  Your child can incorporate personal pictures in order to help them share verbally with others.

ABA Flashcards-Emotion                       Free   (Kindergarten.com)

This app provides a classic social skills development tool with a twist.  The emotion cards show pictures of children actually engaging in the emotion in natural settings.  The lifelike images and realistic settings should make transfer of training more comprehensive.

Social Stories                                             $6.00 (MDR)

This social skills activity for kids uses real to life pictures and stories that children will encounter every day.  Examples include classroom rules, reciprocal play and taking turns.  There and 6 stories total.

Tom the Talking Cat                                $.99 (Outfit7)

The cat in this app repeats what is said and even imitates pitch and tone.  Great communication tool and practice for speech.

Loopz                                                             $1.99 (Mattel)

This app requires your child to follow the music that is played and copy it from memory.  It is great tool for building memory and listening skills.  You can even purchase the board game to play along with the app.

 

Jo Ann Broquie is licensed in Texas as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology and a Licensed Professional Counselor. www.achievebalance.org

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