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How To Date Someone With A Special Needs Child

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How To Date Someone With A Special Needs Child

Wanting and finding someone to be in a relationship can have it’s up and downs.  There are many factors - both minimal and substantial that effect who you choose to be with.  However, when you meet an individual who seems to have most or all of the qualities you are looking for and feel as though this could be a long term relationship, you find out that they are a parent of a special needs child.  This, depending upon the person, can be a wonderful thing.  In addition to the worries that a parent possesses, there are a whole host of other concerns that are part of the mix.  These additional issues take time on the parent’s part to think about, work through and address whether it be on their own or with the child’s other parent.  

Some of the worries can include:

  1. Will my child be accepted in the world?  We all want to be accepted for who we are and what we can bring to this world.  We all have something positive that others can learn from and make this world a better place.

  2. Will my child develop correctly and meet the criteria for their age - both physically and mentally?  Will my child walk, talk and possess the social skills needed to make friends and work with other individuals while holding down a job?  Trying to play catch up isn’t easy.  It produces more stress and anxiety for the child as well as the parents.

  3. When will I find the time to spend time with my special needs child and my other child (ren) that are not special needs?  Can I juggle my time so everyone is getting what they need (nourishment for the mind, body and soul)?

  4. If my child has been diagnosed with a specific condition, is there a vast amount of information out there whereby I can educate myself and therefore be the best parent I can be?  

  5. How will my child perform within the academic environment?  Is my child’s intellectual and physical disabilities going to effect them in these areas?  

  6. Is my child medically fragile? Does my child spend a significant amount of time in the hospital or going to physician appointments? 

  7. Will the individual that I meet understand how I feel and what I am going through?  If a person has not walked in your shoes, it may be very difficult for them to understand where you are coming from even though they may truly try.

  8. I am tired and therefore can I provide to another person the time, energy and love that they deserve to make the relationship what it should be? Can I have a wonderful, giving and loving relationship with a person who is willing to accept my child for who they are and can they find it in their heart to love my child as if they were their own?

Dating a person with kids is sometimes looked at as impossible or dating someone with a child or children that are special needs is impossible.  It is not!  If you go into the relationship knowing that there are more requirements and that it has a different set of challenges, it will make it far easier for all parties involved.  But, it is not impossible.

You need to understand the other parent’s role in the situation. 

You might have to meet this person as they might have the right to know who else in the child’s life especially if the parents are on good terms.  If the parent’s are not on good terms, then you would have to just listen to your partner’s complaints, if any about the other.  Being a good listener is an integral part of being a great partner whether there is a special needs child involved or not.

You have to earn the child’s trust. 

Many times it takes a while for a child to warm up to you and trust you.  You need to foster this especially if you are going to be around the child quite a bit if you feel this relationship will be long term.

Be genuine.  To your partner and their child.  If you are just playing a game, the child will pick up on that.  Additionally, it is extremely disrespectful to your partner if this is how you treat his/her child and the relationship.  Without genuineness, truthfulness and respect the relationship will never work.

Never make your partner choose between you and his/her child. 

When you have a child with special needs, plans need to be thought out and scheduled ahead of time.  Impromptu plans are difficult for the child as they usually need to know what is going on (from this moment and 3 steps forward).  Therefore, in order to make the outcome a positive one, a little extra time is needed in preparation. You need to understand the accommodations that need to be made when making plans.

Dating someone with children can be difficult and stressful at times but when you have a child with special needs in the relationship, those feelings can be magnified exponentially.  You must be patient and understanding to ensure that your partner knows that you will be there in the ups and downs.  You must be a person that they can rely upon, no matter what.

The bottom line is that dating someone with children especially children with special needs provides a whole host of challenges and not everyone has the makeup to do so.  The best advice is to be honest.  If you start dating someone with a special needs child and over time you feel as though it is too much to handle:  You must be honest.  Your honesty could be hurtful at first but the other person will be forever grateful.  This will allow for both of you to move on and find someone who is better suited for each of you.  But if you have the love in your heart, the patience and commitment then it could be a start to a wonderful new life.  You are the only one who can make that decision.  


Need immediate insight into your child’s situation and how to address their current issues? Schedule your Open Opportunity Session for an expert analysis and strategic plan you can implement today.

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Can I Hire An Advocate To Just Go With Me To A CSE Meeting?

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Can I Hire An Advocate To Just Go With Me To A CSE Meeting?

Many parents feel as though they do not want to attend a CSE meeting alone, which is more than understandable.  The CSE, unfortunately creates an environment of intimidation and in some instances hostility. 

Therefore, hiring an advocate who knows the case backwards and forwards can only be an asset. 

Hiring an attorney to attend the CSE turns the environment into an adversarial situation which you do not want.  The district will have it’s back up and more likely than not, will not work with you to attain the goals that you have set forth for your child. 

Additionally, if you hire an attorney to attend the CSE meeting with you then the district will also have their attorney in attendance.  If you have not attended a CSE meeting at all or not with any representation, such as an advocate, then I would not advise having an attorney at your meeting.

The CSE schedules meetings with a sizable amount of notice. 

If you feel as though you cannot attend the meeting alone and need an advocate then PLEASE contact one immediately.  If your child has had difficulties and there have been red flags prior, then you are going to have to play catch up.  This is not fair to the child. 

My one question is "Where have you been?!"

I have had many parents contact me last minute (within 1 week of the meeting or less) to attend their child’s meeting.  This will do a tremendous disservice to your child as the amount of preparation involved is substantial. 

The CSE is something that is to be taken very seriously. 

Your child’s future is contingent on the outcome of the meeting.  DO NOT dilly dally when it comes to your child’s future.  They are counting on you.  Please keep in mind as well, if the advocate is top notch then they may not be available as their calendar will book up quickly.

 

  1. If your child has had problems either recently in school or for a while, then hire an advocate immediately.

  2. If you have had an advocate and that individual has not been effective, then don’t be wishy washy, find someone else who is qualified.

  3.   If you have never gone into a CSE meeting before, then absolutely hire an advocate to attend.  This sets the tone for the relationship you will have with the school moving forward.  If they see that you are being proactive, then they are less likely to take advantage.  Of course, this is not a guarantee but in all my years of working as an advocate, the school takes a family far more seriously when they see that are totally invested in the child and are on top of things from the beginning.

More times than I can recall, I have had parents contact me to JUST attend a CSE Meeting. 

There is a feeling from parents that if they have the presence of an advocate then that will be enough for the district to stand up and take notice and therefore agree to what the parents are requesting. 

NOTHING could be further from the truth!  If you contact an advocate and they are more than willing to attend with no information or very little (perhaps based on what you tell them as a parent), BEWARE!

Personally, I do not JUST attend a CSE Meeting.  My business has a process to follow whereby all the information is gathered from the parent during the Open Opportunity Session and then if advocacy hours are needed, they can be purchased and implemented.

For instance, if you were in a car accident and as a result became injured, would you expect the attorney to represent you in court against the defendant with only the information that they gathered from a conversation with you? 

Of course not!  They would have to do a great deal of reviewing documents (discovery) from physicians, hospitals, therapists, police report, etc. in order to put a case together.  If the attorney did not do this then he/she would not be able to represent you properly and your case would be very weak.  Therefore the chance of you winning would be quite minimal.  Why take a chance with your child?  There is no difference between this scenario and hiring a great advocate who will represent your child as if their practice depends on it. 

A phenomenal advocate requires the following to be fully prepared to attend a CSE Meeting:

These items are non-negotiable and if they tell you otherwise, then find someone else immediately.

  1. The child’s file from any schools that they have attended or currently attend.

  2. The child’s file from any physicians that they have seen or currently see.

  3. The child’s file from any therapists or mental health professionals that they have seen or worked with.

  4. Any notes that are available from outside sources where the child may have attended, been enrolled in (extra curricular activities, etc.)

  5. All testing results from all individuals or facilities when the child began the process (diagnosis, medications, etc.)

In order for an advocate to truly take on a case, these items must be furnished.  There are many hours involved to prepare for the CSE meeting.  The advocate needs to read through all files, look at all testing and diagnoses as well as, in some cases, speak to specific individuals in order to get a first hand look as to the child and why they are at the point they are now (while taking notes to refer to during the meeting). 

Additionally, if the case is to be handled properly, emails need to go out to specific individuals, communication needs to become a part of the pre-CSE meeting along with forming a “relationship” with the individuals that will be seated at the meeting.  This information will form a design of where the child is and where they should be going.  This design will encompass what is needed for the child to move forward and progress therefore allowing him/her to attain their pinnacle level while doing so in the least frustrating way.

I implore you! As a parent, do your homework.  This is your child’s present and future.  You have an obligation to do the right thing for him/her.  Do not let your child down!


Need immediate insight into your child’s situation and how to address their current issues? Schedule your Open Opportunity Session for an expert analysis and strategic plan you can implement today.

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Why Should I Have My Child’s Classroom Placement Changed?

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Why Should I Have My Child’s Classroom Placement Changed?

It is a long and arduous process trying to enlist all the individuals that are needed to diagnosis, test, meet and come up with a plan when a child is special needs. With that said, when everything is in place, everyone provides the therapy and help that is needed and agreed upon, the situation runs like a well oiled machine. However, when things do not play out as they should, the situation can become frustrating, anxiety ridden as well as what seems to be hopeless.

I can’t tell you how many times, families have contacted me for varying problems on varying levels. However, the one problem that seems to be a common thread is that their child has been placed within a classroom setting that is not considered to be the least restrictive environment or anywhere close to that.

If after all the doctor visits, the diagnosis, testing (from the physician as well as the school) and meetings, your child is placed in a classroom that you, as the parent, feel is not appropriate then you need to be proactive in ensuring that a change takes place immediately. Early intervention is the key but moreso the intervention needs to include the right decisions made for your particular child. 

For instance, if the child is receiving all the support services that are listed on his/her IEP but your child is placed in a classroom that is inappropriate, then only part of that child’s day is going to be helpful. 

The child’s IEP is like a puzzle. There are many different facets and when they all come together correctly, they work in unison for the goal of improving and teaching the child so they can move forward with skills that have been mastered.

 

Let me give you an example:

I had a mother contact me about her son. It was one week into the beginning of school so she was very proactive and caught things quickly before they had a chance to become a whirlwind. Although her child had an IEP with many support services to target different areas, the classroom placement was all wrong.

The teacher sent home a picture of the child, with his head down on the desk, sleeping. Her son was so bored in this class that he fell asleep. She contacted the teacher right away and asked what the scenario was behind the photo. The teacher explained that the class was working on a project and her son had completed it before any one else. Because of his boredom and the teacher not giving him another task, the child fell asleep. 

Honestly, I could not believe that the teacher even sent this photo home because it validated that she was unable to discern if the child actually belonged in her class. Basically, it made the teacher look questionable.

The mom contacted the CSE Chairperson to call a meeting as she wanted the child to be moved out of this inclusion classroom and put into a mainstream classroom. She was accommodated with a meeting and at the meeting she brought up her thoughts and concerns as to why her son should be moved to a class that was more appropriate for him. We received 1 answer and that was from the principal. 

The CSE agreed that he could be moved but the response from the principal took me by surprise. She said “We can move him but it will take awhile. I will have to see where I can place him as all the classes do not have room and are filled to capacity.” This was a stall tactic and very upsetting to the mom. 

My question then became this: “If a family just moved into the neighborhood and came to the school to register their child, would you tell them that the child could not start school for awhile because all your classes are filled to capacity and you do not know where you will place that child?” The response to my question was met with a blind stare from the principal along with no response from the CSE Chair or anyone else for that matter.

We ended the meeting with ”I’ll be in touch and will let you know when we plan on changing the classroom placement.” This response was from the CSE Chair. 

Not only was this response upsetting but the school was not following the law and placing the child in a least restrictive environment whereby he could learn and benefit from an appropriate education. 

This was unacceptable. 

For the following 3 days, I emailed the CSE Chair 2 times a day. Once, first thing in the morning and once at the end of the school day inquiring about the status of changing the child’s placement. 

My thought process was twofold. 

One - I was always kept top of mind. 

Two - She would get tired of seeing an email from me in her inbox and address the situation quickly. Well, it worked. The child’s placement was changed into an appropriate mainstream classroom yet all of his support services stayed the same with a combination of pull out and push in services.

What I tried to explain during the meeting was the fact that the child was bored because he was at a higher functioning level than the other children in the class. Although you always want your child to be with a variety of children and levels, they should always be in a class with some children that are on a higher level than your own child. 

The higher functioning children serve as a role model so the other children can learn from them. This learning is not structured but organic. They learn from the other children’s social skills, learning styles, listening to directions, completing a task, etc. The children that may be on a lower level of functioning are able to look to your child and use them as a model. This way it is a wonderful and productive way for children to try, address and master different skills with not only the assistance of the teaching staff and support staff but with their peers as well. 

Many children feel as though they are judged by the staff but feel less intimidated when being helped and working with their peers. Many, many times children will succeed further and quicker when looking to their peers for assistance. They are able to not only understand their struggles but see the struggles of others.

The moral to this story is ALWAYS place your child in an environment with children that are on their level but the class must also have children that are on a higher functioning level than themselves as well as a lower level. It gives the child a goal and when they are able to grab that brass ring (the goal), the accomplishment and self-esteem raised from that, skyrockets.  

 

If you feel at any time your child’s classroom placement is incorrect, speak up immediately. 

Don’t let the school tell you to give it some time. The more time you wait for the change to happen, the less likely it will. If your child is communicative, then ask them questions about their day all the time in order to get a sense of what the environment is like. If they are unable to communicate to you in regards to this, start a communication log with the school and invite them to write you a quick note as to what your child did, how they did and whether or not your child is proactive in forging friendships with those children. 

A child not having any “friend” in their class could indicate that they do not feel comfortable with anyone. This could be for a multiple of reasons - you need to try to pinpoint why. All children should feel that they have a “buddy” in their class. This lessens the feeling of isolation.

Your child spends a great deal of time within the classroom that they are placed. Not everything is perfect in regards to school,but placement needs to be!

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Need immediate insight into your child's situation and how to address their current issues? Schedule your Open Opportunity Session for an expert analysis and strategic plan you can implement today.

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Why doesn’t my child respond to me?

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Why doesn’t my child respond to me?

Q: Why doesn't my child respond to me?

 

In this particular situation, there are a few things that may be going on:

  1. The first thing I tell parents is to take the child to the pediatrician. Communicate your concerns.

  2. After a visit to the pediatrician, make an appointment with an audiologist to check to see that there is not a problem with the child’s hearing.

  3. After testing the child, if the audiologist finds that there is no problem with the child’s hearing then your next step would be to take him/her to a pediatric neurologist.

Be aware:  Not all pediatric neurologist are the same and there are some very ineffective ones out there.  Additionally, based on the many stories from families that I have worked with, they have included that the pediatric neurologist is very quick to prescribe medication.  At this point in the process, medication should not even be brought up or considered.

  • Not making eye contact could be that the child hears you (hears the words) but is unable to process what you are saying.

  • The child may speak however their expressive language could be more mature than their receptive language and hence no eye contact when spoken to.

  • The pediatric neurologist, after testing has been completed should give you a diagnosis and explain what can be done to address this particular problem.

  • If the pediatric neurologist does not find any problem from his area of expertise then perhaps the problem could be behavioral.

Behavioral problems can be addressed in several ways at home.  By using a rewards chart (you determine what that reward is).  Make sure that you make it clear to the child what they are working towards.  Unknowns for children with disabilities (especially) can cause a great deal of anxiety.  Using privileges (or taking them away) speaks to the child. Making an appointment with a Behavioral Therapist can also be used. 

Be aware: Although there are many individuals that work in the education/behavioral field and have the proper credentials, this DOES NOT mean that they are the consummate professional and most importantly know precisely what needs to be done and how to carry it out.


Need immediate insight into your child's situation and how to address their current issues? Schedule your Open Opportunity Session for an expert analysis and strategic plan you can implement today.

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