Tag Archives: families

My Baby Soapbox

img_online-early-childhood-education-degrees[1]I am having a hard time putting words to the thoughts I am having today. There are so many parts of the story I am about to tell that need addressing, and so much at stake in the message.

I was on the phone the other day with a friend of mine I have had all of my life. He and his wife have a beautiful baby boy, let’s call him Brian. Brian was born with disabilities, specifically, he has WAGR syndrome. It is something that very few people ever need to find out more about, as so few people are born with the specific genetic traits. WAGR contributes such a small part to this story that I am not going to spend my time focusing on that aspect.

Brian is a happy, quickly developing little man, who is making progress every day. He is full of smiles, laughter, and love for those around him, and a true pleasure to be with. All of the things we look for in children of this age, he is doing well at. Eating on his own, learning to get more of his lunch in his mouth than on the walls or floor, getting around from place to place of his own free will, interacting with people, expressing himself, exploring and becoming more independent and just generally being a two year old kid.

There are a couple things that he has been working on developing, that with physical and occupational therapy as well as some support for his visual impairment, he is making great gains, and using his skills across his environments consistently well. He seems to like putting things in his mouth quite a bit, but at this age, everybody’s doing it!! My guess is that it is one more way for him to experience his world, with his vision limited a bit more than most his age.

He is a part of a beautiful family and is surrounded by uncles, aunts, grandmas, grandpas and family friends. He lives in a lovely neighborhood, where he has made friends with other little people his age, and spends his days as any two year old does, at school while mom and dad go to work, and busy at play dates and being a beautifully integral part of his family and community the rest of the time.

Sounds great, right? Well…that is where I need to get on my baby soapbox today. Continue reading

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Review of “You’re Going to Love This Kid!” A Professional Development Package for Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom by Dr. Paula Kluth!

I have the distinct pleasure of reviewing and sharing my thoughts about my esteemed colleague and friend Dr. Paula Kluth’s latest work with Landlocked Films and Brookes Publishing. Paula has just released a DVD and Professional Development Package, based on her best-selling book, You’re Going to Love This Kid! .

For years, I have been giving this book to parents and school professionals as the go-to book for understanding how to create inclusive classrooms, especially for students that are on the autism spectrum. I have given it as teacher gifts, as food for thought, and as a reference that is like no other in book form….it has been the closest thing to being with Paula in a personal conversation about how it can look for kids….until now. Continue reading

My Personal Reflections as of Late…

Another recent reflection - Half Dome of Yosemite on Mirror Lake - Inspirational!

Another recent reflection of mine...Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park. Inspirational!

It has been a busy couple of months for me. I have been in circles of people that are my academic superheroes, and if you will allow me to – I would love to drop a few names before reflecting about my learning in this post.

Linda Darling-Hammond spoke at a PTA event that I attended, where she talked about her book, The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future"". An incredible evening where she spoke about what she knows about the US and how our education is being impacted by the high stakes assessment and funding streams that exist, which create not only an achievement gap as we typically would define it, but an experiences gap that affects kids around the country. In places like Palo Alto, California, where I heard her speak and she is a local, the difference in per pupil spending dwarfs that of neighboring schools in nearby San Jose. Her data was hard to hear about how this affects the kids in schools, and how many places throughout the US experience much the same gap. Continue reading

Listen to me talk about Inclusive IEPs on the Special Needs Talk Radio at 9 am EST, on November 4th!

Nicole Eredics' blog, The Inclusive Class

I am happy to announce that I will be speaking about inclusive IEPs on November 4th, at 9 am EST with Nicole Eredics from The Inclusive Class, on Special Needs Talk Radio. More details as to how you can tune in that day, or listen to the show after the recording will be available soon on the Special Needs Talk Radio website, and on my events page, so check back for that information.

After connecting with Nicole, a blogger, independent consultant, and seasoned general education teacher in inclusive classes, she has asked me to be on her show to talk about the many ways IEPs can be written to foster and support inclusive education. This is an exciting new radio show, to spread the word, share our practice, and continue the good work and energy around creating inclusive places for students with disabilities. She has many distinguished professionals in the field lined up to discuss an array of important topics, so please check out the schedule and see if there is something that you might find of interest or in support of the work you are doing to create inclusive schools. Continue reading

Commencement Night Reflections

My family after commencement ceremony

Despite my paperwork and degree being completed in the fall of this past year, there was only one commencement ceremony for the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota this spring. So, when I decided to walk in commencement last week, my thoughts were, as I already had my degrees framed and placed on the wall weeks ago – that I would do it only so my three young boys could see the end result of my late hours and hard work all the while raising them to be the young men that they are. It has all been so abstract for them.

I started my Masters program when I was pregnant with my first son; he is now 12 years old. I received my Masters in education around the time that I had my third son, and went on to pursue my doctorate. The culmination of all of this work happened in a real way last week, as I sat there with my colleagues, professors and friends waiting for my Ed.S. to be conferred. I imagined the night as something that would be exciting for the boys to see, as well as important for them to realize. A woman, not just any woman, but their mother, going through all of the pomp and circumstance in full regalia! I was so very right in thinking that it would be a good thing for them to be a part of – they are still congratulating me as I tuck them in for bed at night, and wearing my mortar board around the house during the day, all the while talking about what they want to do when they grow up. Continue reading

Towards a Working IEP: Part Two – The Student Centered Approach

Image from Including Samuel Documentary by Dan Habib

My last post talked about how to balance the playing field between the parents and the professionals at IEP meetings, so that the team can come to decisions together about students with disabilities and the supports and services they require to succeed in school settings.

As important as it is to have the balance as I described, the even more important piece of creating an IEP that is what I call a “working IEP”, is writing the paperwork that supports the whole person in way that is useful and positive. Continue reading

Towards a Working IEP: Part One – Balancing the Playing Field

A great deal of my consulting work has come about through parents of kids with disabilities inviting me to be a part of their son or daughter’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings. IEPs are the central paperwork portion of the special education services that students receive in schools, and are filled with loads of information that is used throughout a school year to meet the needs of kids with disabilities.

It has been my experience that IEPs can be beautifully written and executed. I have also experienced IEPs that are basically useless paperwork that follows a child through their school years without much meaning. The intent is for it to be the former, but that is, unfortunately in many cases, not how they are written or used. Continue reading