Advocating for kids with special needs

Get involved with your child's school, and ask if you can speak to the class about his or her special differences and abilities.

How would you answer if, say 10 years from now, your child with learning differences, autism or special needs asked you, “Mom, what exactly did you do to help me?”

As the mother of two kids with differences (my daughter has dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD and my son has high-functioning autism and is gifted at math) here is what I hope will someday make my kids proud:

Understand your child’s differences and rights.

Pretty much the moment we receive a diagnosis, parents dive into learning about their child’s unique condition, be it due to a developmental delay, congenital condition or the result of an injury.

This is an important, instinctual first step that immediately helps us know what we are facing and what to do next. This may include understanding not only your child’s condition, but how to work with your health care provider or insurance company to get your child the care and/or therapy that he or she needs.

The vital second step is to gain a basic understanding of federal and state laws that protect your child with differences.

Make your child’s school a safe school for all kids.

For kids to learn and grow, their school must be a place where they feel accepted, accommodated and most of all, safe. Did you know that kids with differences have a greater than 60 percent chance of being bullied on their school campus (according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities)?  As parents, we should be involved with keeping schools safe for all kids by knowing our state’s bullying laws, and making sure they are being enforced on our campuses.

Ensure everyone on your child’s campus understands people with differences.

Talk to your principal about how students and teachers are being educated about learning differences and special needs in your school district and on your child’s campus.

Do you have a child with a recognizable disability, like Down syndrome, who shares a mainstream classroom with typical kids? Ask if you can read a book about your child’s differences to his or her class at the start of each school year, like the mom of a boy in my daughter’s class does each fall.

Encourage your community to promote acceptance.

As I’m often reminding my son, “Observe.” Look around you and listen, too. Do parents and other adults in your community use words of acceptance when they talk to or about others? Do they use the R-word or racially derogatory language? Are they actively singling out kids from sports teams who are awkward or clumsy? Or are they inviting the child with autism or Down syndrome to join their team (like my son’s coach has done the past two years)?

Align yourself with parents who embrace similar values, and encourage them to help you approach parents who are not modeling appropriate behavior on the field and in the community.

Parents brings moms and dads smart, fresh advice to help you raise healthy, happy kids. Check us out at Parents.com.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.