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Archive for the ‘Special Education Resources’ Category

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

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

This article by 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 in The Woodlands, Texas. Contact Jason at 936-697-2822 or

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 ( 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

  • 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   (

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.

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