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

Woman dies when run over by bus at…

A woman at the Burning Man arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert died on Thursday when she was run over by a bus carrying participants.

National

Texas parents sue day care center for duct…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas couple has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Fort Worth-area day care center seeking $1 million…

National

Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…

International

Egypt queries Mursi over documents "leaked" to Al…

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is investigating jailed ex-president Mohamed Mursi in connection with documents that judicial investigators say were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…