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
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.