Tuesday, November 18, 2008

my blog has moved..check it out!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Kids in Crisis Spend Days In Emergency Rooms

Kids in Crisis Spend Days In Emergency Rooms: Psychiatric Patients 'Boarded' In ERs While They Wait for Care, November 5, 2008, WCVB Channel


Saturday, November 8, 2008

"You are Ruining My Life." Sound familiar?

Most parents usually look forward to the end of the week; enjoying the weekend with their children! I  know I do, however, this weekend, like many others has already been doomed for us.  My son just stated, "you are ruining my life" in the loudest, cruelest tone of voice you can imagine. At least this time, he did not use the "f" bomb and I did not get any calls from the neighbors wondering if everything was okay over here!  Time and time again I attempt to create a fun weekend, with less structure than we have during the week, but without fail, each time I do so, he fails, but I have hope that he will one day be able to give me back some time, energy and emotional safety that he drains out of me daily.

Let me give you an example: today my son refused to go to his social skills group and instead decided to stay home, despite the fact he was well warned that I had a few things I had to get done today for a wedding I am going to in a few hours.  He was great on the errands; I took care of his needs by getting him his favorite lunch and allowing him to watch the same DVD he has watched 1000 times over and over again and I met my own needs of buying a new shirt and getting my nails done. He was respectful, on task and fun to be with all morning!

Then as soon as we got home, he became disrespectful, irresponsible and not fun to be around. He does best with a schedule, so I had him do 20 minutes of outside play to get some fresh air and exercise and then said he could play "pretend play" (his obsession at age 9). He could not handle the 20 minutes of outside play. He sat and clicked a wooden gun back and forth for 10 minutes. So after 10 minutes of watching this terrible stimming behavior, I gave him 3 choices to do (bike, catch or trampoline) he refused all 3 very loudly and so I very nicely chose an activity for  him...a bike ride around the neighborhood!  That is when I was told   "you are ruining my life" which was followed by 4 severe punches to my stomach and arms and a good old kick to the shins. Needless to say, he is now settled in his room reading and doing puzzles for the remainder of the time I am home. I am looking forward to when he will fix our relationship so we can enjoy the rest of our weekend together.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Massachusetts Special Education Timelines

1.  Referral 

2.  Within 5 School Working Days of Receipt of Referral
  • School Notifies Parent/Guardian
  • School Requests Consent for Evaluation
3.  School Receives Consent for Evaluation from Parent/Guardian

4.  Within 45 School Working Days
  • Assessments Completed within first 30 School Working Days
  • If requested, Written Summaries Provided to Parents/Guardians 2 Days before Team Meeting
  • Team Meeting Conducted
  • 2 Copies of IEP sent to Parent/Guardian
5.  Within 30 Calendar Days
  • Parent/Guardian Reviews IEP
  • Parent/Guardian Chooses Options and Signs IEP
  • Parent/Guardian Returns IEP to School
6. School Implements Program Which Parent/Guardian Approves

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Top 10 in a Good Advocate for YOU

Remember: Parent Advocates are not trained lawyers and there is no authority of certification in parent advocacy, but a good advocate has been through professional training and knows the law. A good advocate will also help you to recognize when  you may need a lawyer.

A Good Advocate's Top 10:

1.  Has solid experience and training in advocacy; knows the law.

2.  Expert in Special Education.

3.  Takes the time to get to know your child as an individual.
  •  Too many times advocates never even meet the child they are working for = Red Flag
4.  Professionalism
  • has a written contract
  • arranges to review relevant paperwork
  • arranges to meet you in person
  • discusses fees up front
  • confidentiality
  • invites you to contact references
5.  Understands the nature of your child's specific disability.
  • Ask for references before hiring your advocate. The best advocate for a child with autism is usually not a good advocate for a child who is legally blind.
6.   Empowers, informs and educates you to help strengthen your own advocacy skills.

7.  Discusses your child's strengths and weaknesses not only at school, but at home and in the     community, as well. 
  • It is crucial for your advocate to get a solid understanding of your child from a developmental and global perspective.
8.  Willing to contact collateral's and work together as a team.
  • Your advocate should not be angry and hostile toward the school. Advocacy works best when everyone works together.
9.  Must love paper trails!

10.  Should be available to attend school meetings with you.

My Very First Blog!

Hi, Welcome to my blog!   Five years ago, I was a graduate student working on my Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology, when I became a specialized foster parent in the state of Massachusetts. I had 3 foster children stay at my home before I received a phone call to foster a 4 1/2 year old little boy named Ian. He was a little guy,  with a ton of energy, just a few words and no eye contact.

IAN   DAY #1
I was very excited to have Ian, he was the youngest foster child I had had at that point!  I picked him up from the psychiatric hospital on December 4th, 2003. He had been living there for 6 months; he was all packed and ready to go with his plastic shopping bag packed with c
lothes for 2 days, a fleece blanket and a stuffed animal. He also came to me that day with a chaotic past filled with horrific abuse and neglect. I was told he had some minor behavioral issues, but nothing major. Soon after he moved in, I saw the true colors of his past show, but despite his struggles, he is the most resilient child I have ever met. 

The plan for Ian was to stay in foster care for 3-6 months and then reunite with his birth family, however, after a year in foster care, his birth family proved they were not able to care for him and he was put on the adoption track.  From the moment I met him at the hospital, I  fell in love with the blond hair, blue eyed, bundle of energy and could not imagine our lives without each other. We pursued the adoption and four years ago I became the proud adoptive mom to my son, Ian, who is now 9 years old!

 I finished graduate school 6 months before we finalized our adoption and was eager to start working full time in the special education/counseling field again. Even before my masters program I had done a lot of work in the field. My speciality was in learning, emotional and behavior disabilities. I quickly realized being a single working mom to a child with special needs was not working for us in any way. I began working part time in different roles in my field and again this was not working for us. 

Just recently, in the past year I realized in order to be the best parent to Ian, make a decent income and have a flexible schedule, something had to change, which leads me to where I am now in my life. 

I work from home as an Educational Consultant/Parent Advocate to help families navigate the special education maze and I am in the process of building a $1mm health and wellness company through Arbonne! This has been life changing for our family and I am excited to be on this new track where I can help other families, follow my passion and be the best person and mother I can be.

My blog will focus on different topics in the special education field and my hope is to open the lines of communication up between professionals and families struggling with special needs children. My expertise includes Reactive Attachment Disorder, Early-Onset Bipolar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Learning Disabilities. I encourage you to leave comments and/or email me; your feedback is always appreciated and encouraged.

"Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."