Hello fellow parents,
As we wrap up parent-teacher conferences, it seems like the right time to re-introduce ourselves to those we met on Curriculum Night and to introduce ourselves for the first time to those who were unable to make it. We are the Special Needs Parent Coordinators for the Collective this year. Our job is to make it easier for parents to find resources, service providers and/or other parents with whom to talk. These are new positions, so we’re open to other ways we can help.
Preschool is a vital time for development because it’s often the first time we see our kids in a setting with new adults, different routines and actively engaging with many peers all at once. Sometimes, because of this new setting, teachers/pediatricians/parents see that a child’s development isn’t necessarily following the typical curve. It often comes up in earnest for the first time at the first parent-teacher conference, after teachers have had a good chunk of time to get to know the kids. Some of you may find yourselves in this situation now, addressing behaviors or issues that you haven’t necessarily seen at home but that are cropping up in school. We’ve been there. Hearing that your kid may have a development delay or disability can be overwhelming and surprising, but you’re not alone. We are here to offer support from a parent perspective and to improve the overall inclusivity of the school community.
Early intervention, meaning before the age of 5, is something that the Collective encourages and supports. As you probably know, recent studies have shown that early intervention can have a tremendous impact on an individual child as well as the school community. If needed, children can receive speech and language services, occupational therapy, physical therapy and/or a variety of other services that teach skills to better enable children to cope with school and life. These services can be provided through the Department of Education (at no cost) or privately (insurance/out-of-pocket) or a combination of both. We’ve navigated both routes and are happy to share our experiences if you choose to pursue services for your child. The resources/skills that come with services are often great assets for the entire school community. Whether it’s lessons a SEIT (Special Education Intervention Teacher) teaches a small group about better ways to socially interact with one another or a language skill someone learned and is using in class, all our kids benefit from increased knowledge.
In an effort to build the community’s knowledge base, the Collective is making room in its library for a special needs section. If you’ve got any books that your family isn’t in need of now, please donate them. If you need a reading list, we can help you find an appropriate one for the issues your family is facing. We will also be gathering materials from the Department of Education to inform parents of the services available, IEP process and parents’ rights. We will also be putting together a list of resources in our area. If you know of a service provider/facility that you’d like to recommend, please email us with the information. And of course, since children with special needs aren’t the sum total of the services they receive, if you just want to swap stories, feel free to contact us.
And with that, email us if you need us.
Nadine & Colleen (Sam C., Rainbow)