For people who care for children with disabilities …
We are well into the school year and forging ahead. As I navigate my district’s special education system (and it’s a great district), the more I realize that no one cares for my son as much as I do. For him to succeed, he needs my help. And this means structure, encouragement and extra time and support beyond the school day. It also means good communication between team members at school, so as Jack’s mom, I see myself as the team leader and need to make sure that everyone is working towards the same goals for Jack.
Keeping on track and in open communication with our IEP team inside school and out is our number one goal this school year. Jack receives the maximum minutes for speech at school but we also work with a private speech therapist named Amy Keil who has worked with Jack once a week since he was three. The bond they have has just blossomed over the years and I attribute a lot of Jack’s success to her. Amy is wonderful. Not only does she give us homework to work on with Jack, but she also keeps open communication with Jack’s speech therapist at school.
I asked Amy to give some key things that parents can work on with their children that will have them succeed inside the classroom and out. Here’s her response:
“Whether a child receives therapy services in school, a clinic or even the family’s home, there is often a false belief that only the “professionals” know what is best for their child. In actuality, it is important to remember that parents know their children “best.” This makes parents a valuable resource and partner in determining therapy goals and providing opportunities for carryover activities between the sessions.
“I have been so fortunate to work with Jack and his family over the past several years and our partnership has changed and evolved to meet Jack’s needs. In the beginning, John and Roberta would often observe and participate throughout the sessions. This allowed for them to directly learn techniques and strategies to help him learn to make certain sounds and words. When he started school, the partnership expanded to include his teachers and school therapists. This communication was initiated by his parents, who wanted his school and private services to complement each other. As Jack started to participate in sports and activities, his parents understood the importance of functional language, and at their request, we targeted vocabulary and phrases to help Jack communicate with unfamiliar listeners and peers while at baseball practice or karate. Now that Jack is in 3rd grade, he often plays the role of the “teacher” to his younger brother Jase, who participates briefly at the end of his sessions. As you can see, Jack’s success is due to the partnerships that John and Roberta promote between themselves, his teachers and therapists.”
Amy Keil, M.A., CCC-SLP
Bottom line…YOU know your child best!!!!
PS — The last month was crazy with Down syndrome awareness month. We talked to Jack’s third grade class (that was interesting and a whole lot of fun), did a bulletin board in the school’s hallway and even wrote an article for the district. Jack also made the Barracuda Swim team, he worked so hard and we are so proud….but then broke his arm on the monkey bars, so maybe next season…
Here are some recent photos of Jack, Jase and speech therapist Amy Keil.