Tag Archives: Charter Schools

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein – SPC Episode 30

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein

We’ve decided to start off the new year by reposting what I think is one of the most inspiring interviews I’ve done. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein.

Blind Justice

In November of 2014 Richard Bernstein became the first blind attorney to be elected as a Justice to the Michigan Supreme Court. Or as he likes to say, “Blind Justice is now on the Michigan Supreme Court”.

Justice Bernstein was born blind and has risen far beyond whatever boundaries or limitations anyone could have imagined. He successfully sued against the Law School Admissions Council for the right to be admitted to law school, arguing that the LSAC test was visually biased due to their use of charts and graphs in the test. As a practicing attorney, he was a strong advocate for the rights of disabled people and special education. He’s also a marathon runner and has completed an Ironman Triathlon.

Special Education Advocate

However, he holds no illusions over how he was able to achieve so much. In his own words: “85% of the blind community is unemployed… If I hadn’t been born into the family I was born to, where I was so blessed to have the resources and opportunities and I was given the absolute best of everything, If I hadn’t been born into an affluent family, what I would honestly tell you is, that there’s no question that I would be part of that eighty-five percent of the unemployment rate. Because there’s really no difference between myself, and any other person with a disability… So I think that when you ask the question, ‘what are the biggest challenges that are currently impacting people with disabilities’, I would really venture to say that it’s primarily socio-economic.”

Improving, Not Cutting, Special Education Support.

In this episode he shares his thoughts on special education, disability laws and rights, and his ideas on the progress we’ve made as a society in dealing with individuals with disabilities. Take a listen to more of the thinking of one of the most amazing and inspiring people we’ve ever had the honor to interview. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein.

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Links To Follow:

Richard Bernstein Profile On Michigan Courts Page

Justice Richard Bernstein Profile In Wikipedia

Justice Richard Bernstein Facebook Page

Profile Article on Justice Richard Bernstein In The Detroit News

 

Social Issues In School – Revisiting SPC Episode 08

Social Issues In School.

When we talk about issues that can cause anxiety for parents of special needs kids,  dealing with social situations in school and elsewhere is probably right at the top of the list.  Will our children be accepted or will they be teased or shunned? Will our kids be able to handle the day to day interactions in the class room, in the cafeteria, or on the playground? What about bullying? And what are we supposed to do when our kids experience problems with these situations? Many of these social issues in school start early in pre-school and elementary school and can cause a lifetime of stress and problems for parents and children alike.

Social Workers And How They Help.

For many schools the person who can help guide our kids through their day in school is the social worker. They’re also the person who parents can talk to for help with making sure their special needs child can fit into the various social situations and can offer advice that parents can use to reinforce the school’s expectations at home. They are also often the ones who work with the parents of other students to facilitate better communication and understanding.

Advice From A Real Elementary School Social Worker

Our guest on this episode of Special Parents Confidential is Chris Kenward, an elementary school social worker who has many years of experience dealing with both special needs students and general education students.  Many experts agree, the vast majority of social problems begin early in elementary school so the sooner a child with special needs can get help in dealing with social issues, the better their progress will be throughout their life. The information Chris shares here is vital for every parent of a special needs child, as well as for teachers, special education experts, care givers, and anyone who has a relationship with a special needs kid.

Links Mentioned In This Episode

Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid – The website by the authors of the book. Includes a page with links to where you can purchase a copy of their book.

Driven Story by Jon Singer  – The website of the Sibling Support Project, where you can see stories from the book and order a copy.

Views From Our Shoes – Sibling Support  – The website of the Sibling Support Project, where you can see stories from the book and order a copy.

Colds and the Flu – Revisiting SPC Episode 48

Colds and the Flu – Revisiting SPC Episode 48

It seems like every year the season for colds and the flu gets longer. Whether you’re a parent of a special needs child or not, our kids are coming down with colds and the flu all year round – for that matter, so are we parents. But what exactly are colds and the flu? Did you know that they share some of the same symptoms? How do you tell them apart? What’s the difference between the flu and a 24 hour stomach bug? How do you treat these illnesses and what can you do if you have a special needs child that has sensitivities to medicines or has challenges with standard treatments?

Why Do Colds And The Flu Affect Kids Differently Than Adults?

For this episode of Special Parents Confidential we are joined again by our friend Dr. Patricia Schultz, who has some answers. Including ways that you can help treat kids who have aversions to medicines. She also talks about the warning signs for when your child might have something else going on instead of the cold or the flu, why dehydration is a huge concern for sick kids, and – most importantly – when it’s time to take your child to the hospital.

Always Call Your Doctor First.

You’ll hear great advice about how colds and the flu, as well as Noroviruses and other illnesses can affect babies and infants, toddlers, younger children, teenagers and adults.  As always, though, Dr. Schultz’s advice is merely for informational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your child’s health, be sure to contact your family health provider or pediatrician.

Links Mentioned In This Podcast.

The Oral Rehydration Solution from The World Health Organization

The Common Cold – What Parents Need To Know. From the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Flu – Healthy Children from The American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Surviving The Stomach Bug – American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Kids Health – Vomiting 

Kids Health – Diarrhea

Support Special Parents Confidential

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Applied Behavior Analysis ABA – Revisiting SPC Episode 15

Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA.

In January of 2014 we posted episode 15 of Special Parents Confidential, in which we learned about Applied Behavior Analysis ABA. Our guest was Conny Raaymakers, who is a board certified behavior analyst. Her interview has become our most downloaded and listened to episode, with nearly double the listens of any other episode we’ve done. It’s even been cited in a text book on applied behavior analysis.

What Is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA is a term parents of special needs children hear a lot in schools, doctors offices, therapy centers, and just about anywhere our kids interact with people. Studies have shown that ABA can be used to help children as early as 18 months learn to cope with everything from social settings to the educational environment. ABA has been proven to be successful especially for children with autism and can be used to help kids with other disabilities and disorders.

New Contact Information.

However, since that interview took place, Conny has had some changes in her career. She is now the Director of ABA services at Developmental Enhancement Behavioral Health. Conny is a Behavior Analyst and Limited Licensed Behavioral Psychologist.  She talks about the history of Behavior Modification, the decades of research that has been done to study the effectiveness of the treatments, and clears up the misconceptions people have about Applied Behavior Analysis. Conny also discusses the drawbacks and problems with using alternative or ‘fad’ treatments, how to watch out for misleading claims and how to spot phony success stories.

Updated Links & Information

Developmental Enhancement Behavioral Health

Conny Raaymakers Profile Page

Email: craaymakers@debh.org 

Association for Behavior Analysis International

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Special Parents Confidential 54 Neurocore and the Education Secretary

Neurocore and the Education Secretary

The new Eduction Secretary of the United States has caused some controversy in the past months since her appointment over her views on special education, and her financial ties to a company called Neurocore. Specifically, she seems to have no interest in special education at all. Indeed, one of the first actions that took place after her appointment was the removal of all special education information from the Department of Education website. That information has since been restored, but it is still troubling. It should also be noted that this is the first time ever that an entire section of the United States Education Department’s website was deleted and only restored after public outcry. While it was claimed that there had been a simple mistake during the transition from one administration to another, many were quick to point out that this had never happened before in the entire history of the department during either administrative transitions, or otherwise.

Education and Special Education?

Further troubling is that Betsy DeVos’ only answer to any questions about the future of education in America, including special education, is to state her belief that, “parents have the right to choose what school they want their kids to attend”, and that, “states have the right to decide what that education will be”. Seemingly, without any federal government oversight. If that is truly the case, where does that leave special education, and the oversight of IDEA – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, that was implemented by Congress in 1991 and has been administered by the Education Department in since then?

What Is Neurocore?

During her confirmation hearings it was revealed that Mrs. DeVos and her family are the majority owners of Neurocore – a brain training program that has been hyped as a way for people with learning challenges to succeed. (They are also majority shareholders in several for-profit Charter School corporations, which we addressed in SPC Episode 43 with Kristen Totten of the Michigan ACLU.)

Our Guest: Ulrich Boser

Back in May of this year an article appeared in the Washington Post, written by our guest for this episode, Ulrich Boser. He investigated Neurocore, went to one of the Neurocore Centers to have an exam done, and checked out their findings with medical doctors and education experts. He talks about the concerns about Neurocore’s claims of success, and the problems caused by Mrs. DeVos’ financial ties to the company.

Links Mentioned in the Podcast:

Ulrich Boser’s Website and Blog

Ulrich Boser’s profile at the Center for American Progress

The article about Neurocore in the Washington Post 

Learn Better – The book about how we learn, mentioned in the podcast 

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Special Parents Confidential 53 be nice campaign.

be nice. 

A new program called the ‘be nice’ campaign has been started in West Michigan to help end bullying. One of the hardest issues to deal with for parents of special needs kids – as well as parents of any child – is bullying in schools and online. What do you do if your child is the victim of bullying? For that matter, what do you do if you discover your child is bullying other children?How far does bullying affect a child? What kinds of impact does this have on a child’s mental health? 

Learn About Mental Health.

Did you know that problems with bullying are the leading cause of suicide in children and teenagers? Bullying can also cause issues of depression, drug abuse, and other mental health problems that can affect people for their entire lives.

In this episode we’re going to talk to an expert in the subject of bullying. Christy Buck is the executive director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, and they have a new program that offers a solution. It’s called the ‘be nice’ campaign and it’s designed to to help kids, families, schools, and communities work to understand and end bullying. We’ll also learn about mental illnesses, how to recognize when problems escalate to thoughts of suicide and what to do in these situations.

We also talk about the common myths and stigmas associated with bullying, depression, and mental health issues that can cause problems for kids as well as adults. For example, a person doesn’t need to ‘bottom out’ before they should get help. We discuss ways to overcome these myths and stigmas.  You’ll also learn how the ‘be nice’ campaign can be used by your school or other organizations.

Links Mentioned in the Podcast.

be nice. campaign official website

The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (website)

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

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Special Parents Confidential 51 Michigan Alliance For Families

Michigan Alliance For Families.

Find out how the Michigan Alliance For Families, and other similar organizations around the United States can help you negotiate special education services for free.

What Is The Michigan Alliance For Families?

Trying to get help with the special education process can be very difficult, and potentially expensive. There are dozens of advocacy service businesses and legal firms that specialize in handling IEPS for families. There are hundreds of books you can buy. Seminars you can attend. Personal counseling services. The list goes on.

But did you know that some of the best help for negotiating special education services is available for free from your own State government? Every State in America has what’s known as Parent Information and Training Centers that offer help in everything from early intervention, to writing an IEP, to legal support, transitioning issues, and beyond.

Free Is A Nice Price.

Here in Michigan, the Parent Center is called the Michigan Alliance For Families. They offer parent-mentors… these are parents of special needs children… who have been trained to coach other parents to work with schools and get the help that their children need.

Our guest for this episode is Kelly Orginski, who is the executive director of the Michigan Alliance For Families. She explains how the Michigan Alliance came together, how the parent-mentors are trained and work with families, and how they can help. She also talks about what parents can do to help themselves with the negotiations, and where to find help from similar organizations in other States.

Links Mentioned In This Podcast

Michigan Alliance For Families 

Center For Parent Information and Resources – National parent information center site.

Find Your Parent Center – Directory from the Parent Information and Resources website that links to all State Parent Information Centers.

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