Support & simple strategies for navigating your child's special education. [email protected]
I am an Educational Advocate & Consultant who lives and practices in SE Michigan. Mom to two beautiful, equally amazing children Drew and Katherine... Drew was diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2005. This diagnosis led me to a deep involvement in the disability community... I currently head Autism H.O.P.E. of Lenawee, a nonprofit support and education organization for families raising children and young adults with varying disabilities. Through this venture I have volunteered my time as a Parent Advocate for families struggling with the special education process. It was soon evident that the need for advocacy, guidance, and support was greater than the time I could devote volunteering and 123 Advocacy was born. The goal at 123 Advocacy is to educate and empower parents and guardians. you are your child's first and best advocate. When you do need help with or accompaniment to an IEP/504/meeting I will gladly attend or provide advice and support. If you would like to learn more or require a consultation please call Jennifer at (517)918-1516 or email [email protected]
Mission: Support & simple solutions for navigating your child's special education
Michigan Transition Services Association
As the school year starts, please remember this when you start building relationships with the parents of your students. Sometimes, parents are juggling many aspects of the care and support of their child and sometimes things will “fall” and the parent may crumble. Parenting a child(ren) with a disability can be an enormous amount of stress. Be a support for the student and the parent! ♥️
Found at Parent/Professional Advocacy League
What things do you do to prepare your child for the new school year? How do you support his/her IEP goals from home?
Down Syndrome Inclusion Evolution
change.org Support creation of an inpatient mental health unit in Lenawee County
[07/06/18] I'm resurrecting this page! Sorry for the long break... I will still be offering the same advocacy services, but also hope to focus on ways you can build community supports and improve school relationships. I believe that these are paramount to a positive outcome for your loved one with disabilities
[02/22/16] I realize I don't post here frequently, but I assure you that I am busy in the trenches! If you need anything please call 517-918-1516 or email [email protected]
[12/03/13] My sincere apologies for being out of the posting loop on FB the past several months. I was working through a very difficult time concerning a school transition and health concerns for my own child. I will do my best to post more actively moving forward! Hope everyone is having a great school year so far!
One day at a time:)
Look at yourself in the mirror and smile
At the end of the day, as you drag yourself to bed, look in the mirror and smile! You made it through another day. Regardless of the challenges that were presented, how much you feel you accomplished or didn’t complete, you made it through another day protecting your family, advocating for their needs, and scaffolding this chaotic world for your child. You may feel completely exhausted, that you are defeated, like you said and did everything wrong, and left behind a million things you have left to do! However, if your family is safe, protected, and receiving your love, you have had a successful day!
Between running between therapies, meeting with professionals, advocating at school, dealing with a meltdown in the middle of Kmart, arguing with a family member who feels that you are parenting wrong, chasing your child as he escapes down the block, and watching as your child changes clothes twenty times before he finds the one outfit that feels comfortable, you may not feel like a success! Believe me, most parents of children with special needs are super human! They take on more challenges and stress, and have to multitask more than any other parents. It is a new battle everyday and you tackle them as a passionate soldier! You enter challenges for which people do not have answers. You are often alone, facing challenges that most of us would run away from. Why do you do it? You have no choice! You are your child’s voice, protector, mentor, source of love, and the only one who truly knows him. You are his link to the world, and with every day that passes, you have served that role with honor and passion. So look at that face in the mirror each night and smile! You are one awesome person!!
Talking to your child about their ASD... Good read.
Does your child understand his autism? Self awareness equals empowerment!
It is very important that children on the spectrum learn to understand what autism or asperger's are, and how it effects them; both strengths and challenges. It is important that they learn how they are different from others, not only in terms of how they experience the world, but also how we experience the world. Life will always be a struggle for them, since the world is based on how we process information, and does not match how they experience the world. Learning about their differences from us allows them to better adapt and advocate for themselves.
For most people on the spectrum, daily living is a constant struggle, since they are always trying to navigate a world that is not a good match for them. This struggle can be handled more effectively if the person begins to understand how their differences impact these challenges. Learning about their differences is two fold. First they have to understand how they process information, and second, they have to understand how we process information, so they can understand the differences. This allows them to understand why the world is often confusing, and allows them to better adapt to it. From this awareness they can learn to maximize their strengths and compensate for their differences.
I usually break these differences down into sensory, cognitive, social, and emotional differences. Once the person begins to understand how we are different, his challenges start making sense to him. From there they can make accommodations to minimize the daily challenges they face, develop coping strategies to face stressors they cannot avoid, and learn to regulate their nervous system so they do not get overwhelmed. They can identify what physical, social, and emotional challenges tax their nervous systems so they can build in accommodations to avoid and/or modify these conditions to lessen the negative effect. They can learn how to adapt to the work setting, navigate around social issues, independently follow their daily routine, and build a home environment that allows them to escape the confusing world, regroup, and rebound for the next day. The person can do an "autopsy" of each daily setting/events (work, school, family, recreation, etc.) to identify possible challenges/stressors, then build in modifications, adaptations, and accommodations to minimize these challenges and maximize their independence and emotional well being. They learn how many of their strengths can be used to maximize their success, and how to build on their preferences to improve quality of life. So, as early as possible, but definitely in the teen years, try to build on the importance of the child learning about his differences and how to identify and design strategies for maximizing his ability to adapt to the settings he is in.
It is very important that we focus on "strength based" parenting and teaching. Once the person learns what his sensory, processing, emotional, and social needs are, he has to embrace these needs and fine ways to meet and protect these needs; learning how to modify, accommodate, and adapt his environment and daily routine to meet these needs. It is important that the person doesn't feel the need to "fix" or "change" what his needs are, but to use his strengths to better meet those needs.
At what age should your start! The earlier the better. My experience is usually around eight or nine, if they seem to notice differences. You want to catch them as they are first noticing differences, before they start setting up defenses that are hard to break down. Often by the time they are 13, if it hasn't been discussed, they may simply deny it and refuse to recognize it. Focus on discussing all aspects of the child, strengths and weaknesses, interests and personality traits, with autism just one being one small area of it. In reality, it is good to have this type of discussion with all kids. We all need to be able to have strong self awareness, know what our strengths and weaknesses are, and how to develop our strengths to help support any weaknesses.
cnn.com John E. Robison says this is Autism Awareness Month, a good time to set the record straight: Autism is not tied to violence.
What every child wants us to know!
"I would if I could. If I don't, then I can't! So don't blame me, support me!"
Assume that each child does the best they can, given the situation that they are in, and the skills that they have. In times of difficulty, either scale down the demands, or increase the support. It is the adult's responsibility to change, not the child's. If we take this stance, we may not always be right, but we will never go wrong! Understand first, before changing behavior; and most of all do not blame the child. Change the conditions, lower the demands, provide better support, and teach greater skills. This puts the responsibility for change on the adult, not the child.
This is a premise that we have to remind ourselves every day, when tackling the challenges of autism. Because of the deep frustration, and our own feelings of inadequacy, when parenting/teaching these children, we often blame the child. I have done it, we all have done it. It comes at times when we feel incompetent in helping the child. Just like how it applies to the child, it also applies to us! "Assume WE are doing the best that we can, given the situation we are in, and the current skills that we have." Unfortunately, since we cannot change the demands, we have to (1) gain greater skills, and (2) increase the supports to help us out.
pages03.net Submit your favorite local non-profit to receive $1200.
Megan Hissong... Something you may keep around for others in the future? I think the attitudes are starting to change (in part thanks to your persistence in making people listen/getting them to understand)... But, this is good perspective!
“Do you think I am having fun!” From the child’s perspective!
“Do you think I am having fun when I scream, fall to the floor and slam my head repeatedly?”
“Do you think I am enjoying it when I meltdown in the middle of a classroom with my peers staring at me?”
“Do you think I am having fun when I cannot sit still, and am running around the room, bouncing off the walls, ignoring your assistance?”
“Do you think I am having fun when I am staring into space, with glassy eyes, and turning away to block you out because I am overwhelmed and shutting down?”
“Do you think I am having fun when I repeatedly hit my face with my fists until all the frustration is gone?”
“Do you think that I enjoy hitting, kicking, and biting you when I love you?”
When I hear people discussing my behavior, what is there that leads them to believe that I like to do this; that I find enjoyment in creating havoc, stress, and anxiety for myself and others? Do you think I would do this if I had more adaptive ways of dealing with the problem? When I am continually acting out to gain your attention, you say I am “seeking attention” (like I like it) and put me on extinction. Do you ever think about “why” am I needing constant attention in the first place. Why am I acting inappropriately to obtain attention? Instead of ignoring me, try and listen and understand why I “have the need” to act that way. Seeking attention may be the obvious observable function, but ask yourself (1) why am I needing so much attention, and (2) why am I using this behavior to get it. Don’t just “ignore” me. It doesn’t teach me anything, but makes me feel isolated and unwanted. It does not deal with why I need the attention, or teach me more appropriate ways of getting it.
When I act out when you place demands on me, yes I may be trying to “escape and avoid” these demands, so you force me to comply, so my acting out is not rewarded by allowing me to escape. You say I act out to “manipulate” you to avoid things I do not like. Have you asked yourself “why does he feel the need to escape or avoid?” If most children willfully comply, why am I resisting so adamantly. Don’t you think if I had the tools, and felt confident enough to do it successfully, that I would also “want” to do it?
When I become overwhelmed in events with overpowering sounds, sights, and smells, why would you think that forcing me through it is somehow helping me? If my brain becomes overloaded with stimulation, how can I be expected to “handle it?” What is that teaching me, if my brain doesn’t allow me to learn during those moments?
I wonder why you do not ask these questions. You call me a manipulator, lazy, disrespectful, oppositional, etc, like I somehow intentionally choose to act this way; assuming I know how to act differently. At your meeting, you sit at a table and discuss among yourselves how I must learn to act better, to not be spoiled, learn to respect others, and comply with your demands; like I am so how having “fun”, intentionally choosing to act this way. You don’t first look at what you might need to change, but try to force change on me. You scold, force, punish, and restrain me, like I purposely want to be this way. Are you that DUMB to think that if I knew how to do it right, and I felt confident doing so, I wouldn’t have more “fun” being cooperative and receiving the positive attention and rewards like all the other children. Look at my face! Look at my actions! Look at my emotions! How do you assume that this is fun!
Please let me tell you, if I felt good about myself, confident in what I am doing, and safe and accepted by you, I would not be acting this way. Either the demands of the situation are greater than I can handle, the way you are supporting (or not supporting) me is overwhelming me, or I do not feel “safe” in doing it. I do not mean to “piss you off!” I do not find joy is making you angry and lashing out at me in frustration. I am not having fun in watching everyone stare, scold, and ridicule me into submission. How do you think that timing me out, taking away privileges, and restraining me helps me to feel safe, accepted, and competent in your presence!
Please, when you look at me struggling, assume that I am feeling anxious, insecure, and most importantly “inadequate” at the moment. The stronger the opposition the more insecure and inadequate I am feeling. Then, ask yourself how can you (1) change the expectations and demands, (2) how can you provide greater assistance to support me, and (3) teach better skills for meeting these expectations. And most importantly, in the heat of a meltdown, think “how can I help him feel safe”, not “how can I control him.” And when it is over with, ask yourself how you can change the conditions next time to avoid setting me into “fight or flight”, rather than how can you punish my behavior into submission. You are the one placing me in these conditions, you are the one who has to learn to change! Yes, like for all children, I need realistic boundaries and consequences to learn to be successful, but meet me where I can realistically succeed, be a supportive mentor, and please do not assume that I am having “fun” and “prefer” to act this way!
Thanks you for listening to me. Please do it more often!
Please take a moment to vote for Autism H.O.P.E. of Lenawee in the United Bank and Trust $1200 nonprofit giveaway! It would greatly help the families in Lenawee County...
pages03.net Submit your favorite local non-profit to receive $1200.
Michigan Dept. of Education (MDE) is accepting public comment on two documents.
The first is the annual report that the MDE submits to the U.S. Dept. of Education, with assurances that Michigan is providing students with FAPE.
The second is a guidance document about problem solving in special education, going over mediation, complaints, etc. It will replace their current document on this topic.
Links to both of these documents can be found on the front page of our website under "News"; please note the deadlines for sending in comments.
michiganallianceforfamilies.org Michigan Alliance for Families - Michigan's Parent Training and Information Center and a MDE Mandated Activities Project. 1-800-552-4821 or
npr.org For those who rely on technology to speak, there are a limited number of voices. "Perfect Paul" sounds robotic, and "Heather" can seem too old for some. Now, a researcher is using sound samples from people who have never been able to speak to create new, personalized voices for them.
Is homework a struggle in your home?
wral.com If your home is like most, homework time is marathon at best, and a combat zone on some nights. Here are five things that helped our family survive the homework nightmare.
greatschools.org What you can do if your child's reading isn't on track.
[03/10/13] Educational Acronyms
I am an Educational Advocate & Consultant who lives and practices in SE Michigan. Mom to two beautiful and equally amazing children Drew and Katie... Drew was diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2005. This diagnosis led me to a deep involvement in the disability community. I am the current Director of HEART of Southeast Michigan, a nonprofit support and educational organization for families raising children and young adults with varying disabilities. It was through this venture that I first volunteered my time as a parent advocate for families struggling with the special education process. However, it was quite evident that the need for advocacy, guidance, and support was greater than the time I could devote volunteering and 123 Advocacy was born. My goal at 123 Advocacy is to educate and empower parents and guardians--by providing simple strategies for your toolbox my aim is to increase confidence and independence in meetings while building/repairing relationships with school staff when possible. If you would like to learn more or require a consultation please call Jennifer at (517)918-1516 or email [email protected]
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