I hope you had an enjoyable summer spending some extra time with the kids with looser schedules. Depending on which part of the country you’re from, your kids may have already gone back to school and some are just getting ready to start after Labor Day.
As a mom who’s raised three children I feel nostalgia for the “back to school” time of year as the children grow and mature, and each new year brings new adventures and challenges. Our early preparation includes making sure the children have stylish clothing, school supplies, and in today’s world, making sure they are up to speed with the latest technology!
Then there’s being the “mother tigress” that is always resting in the background, ready to jump in case we need to advocate and protect our kids throughout the school year. When we have a child with special needs it is all the more reason to be aware and involved with our child’s educational needs and to make sure their needs are being met.
We have different personalities and parenting styles. For me, I tried to get along and communicate with the school’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team and made sure that I educated myself to be a professional parent and fully prepared to participate with and in the IEP Team meetings. If you become educated about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and how it pertains to your child’s individual special needs, you can become a confident advocate for your child.
There are several ways you can get started by going to the home page of FamilyConnect and studying the information that is available on the site and the many partner organizations that also offer numerous resources. Check out the Education topic where you can find articles about knowing your rights, the expanded core curriculum for students with visual impairments, options for educational settings, and assessments (evaluations) that help determine what your child’s educational needs are, which the team needs to consider when developing the IEP.
There is also an Overview of the Service System for Visually Impaired Children toolkit that you can download in English and in Spanish. You can keep it in a notebook for your information and available to you as a reference and checklist as you prepare for and attend your child’s IEP meetings.
Additional reading materials that are loaded with information on all aspects of educating children who are blind or visually impaired, including children with multiple disabilities, can be found through the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)’s bookstore and the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI)‘s publication lists. A Parents’ Guide to Special Education for Children with Visual Impairments can be a reference in your personal library throughout your child’s educational career.
Most of all—enjoy your children, spending time with them, having conversations with them, and listening to their ideas and getting to know their special qualities and personality as they develop and define who they are along the road to independence.