Tag Archives: Legal Issues

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.

As always a reminder that if you like this episode of Special Parents Confidential or any episode we’ve done, please share our site with your friends, family, and all your connections on social media. You can do this easily with the social media buttons located right below this paragraph. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us on Google Plus, Tumbler, Linked In, Pintrest, Stumble Upon, Reddit, or other social media sites that you use. You can also sign up for our email service and have new posts and podcast episodes delivered right to your inbox the moment they’re available online. That form is located to the right of this text. We’re also on iTunes, Stitcher, and Poddirectory as a free subscription and if you have a moment, feel free to write a review about our podcast on either of those sites. Anything you can do to help spread the word about Special Parents Confidential will help us be able to continue these podcasts.
Thanks for your support!

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

 

Sibling Support – Revisiting SPC Episode 29

Sibling Support

The Holidays always mean family visits, and with that in mind, we thought the subject of Sibling Support would be a good one to repost. This is the first of two episodes on Sibling Support we did, back in July of 2015.

Being a parent of a special needs child requires a great deal of concentration and a lot of involvement. So much so that often if the special needs child has siblings, they can feel overlooked or forgotten. Another challenge is stress involving sadness or unanswered concerns about the special needs child, which can lead to greater problems as children grow into adulthood. 

Communication Is Key

The simple fact of the matter is, the sibling is going to have the longest relationship with a person who has special needs. Longer than the parents or any professional support person. Siblings can be the most important person a special needs child will have in his or her life. Yet for many families, parents don’t always communicate well with a sibling about the situation involving the special needs brother or sister.

How can parents prevent poor relationships with the rest of their children so that they are able to help advocate and care for their special needs sibling? One excellent way is to make sure your other children have support group help, like Sibling Support.

Groups That Can Help.

In this episode of Special Parents Confidential, John talks to Andrea Vugteveen, a Sibling Support Group facilitator with Family Tree Therapies in Grand Rapids, MI. Andrea talks about the problems that siblings often have in their relationships with their special needs brother or sister, as well as their parents. She discusses what siblings of special needs kids want, and offers advice on what parents can do to make sure the relationships are strong and healthy.

Links Mentioned In This Podcast

The Sibling Support Project

Sibs UK – Sibling support for the United Kingdom

The following PDF attachment has the above links, as well as book titles, and links to You Tube videos about Sibling Support. Download the PDF by clicking here: Sib Group Parent Resources  

The following PDF attachment is the letter for the Child Who Has A Sibling With Special Needs. Download the PDF by clicking here: Dear Child Of A Sib With Special Needs

As always a reminder that if you like this episode of Special Parents Confidential or any episode we’ve done, please share our site with your friends, family, and all your connections on social media. You can do this easily with the social media buttons located right below this paragraph. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us on Google Plus, Tumbler, Linked In, Pintrest, Stumble Upon, Reddit, or other social media sites that you use. You can also sign up for our email service and have new posts and podcast episodes delivered right to your inbox the moment they’re available online. That form is located to the right of this text. We’re also on iTunes, Stitcher and Poddirectory as a free subscription, and if you have a moment, please write a review about our podcast on either of those sites. Anything you can do to help spread the word about Special Parents Confidential will help us be able to continue these podcasts.
Thanks for your support!

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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Thanks for your support!

Early Intervention – Revisiting Special Parents Confidential Episode 25

Early Intervention – Revisiting Special Parents Confidential Episode 25.

It’s IEP Season and we’re looking back on older episodes that deal with Individualized Education Plans. Early Intervention is one of the first terms that parents hear when they are trying to find help for their children. We talk to an early intervention coordinator to learn about the process.

Early Intervention.

There’s probably nothing more nerve-wracking and stressful for any parent than the realization that your new baby, your toddler, your child might have some problems. Whether it’s not speaking, not walking, or not engaging socially like other kids, the hardest question many parents face is, what do I do about this?

Of course friends and relatives will tell you, oh it’s alright, that’s just how some boys or some girls are… and they’ll grow out of it. But that’s not always the best advice, and if  your child does have a developmental delay or a learning disorder, they are simply not going to grow out of it. They need help. And then the question becomes, where do I get that help?

Our guest on this episode of Special Parents Confidential can answer a lot of those questions. Barbara Corbin is the Early On Coordinator with the Kent Intermediate School District in Kent County, Michigan.  She handles Early Intervention, and Early Childhood Special Education with school districts. She helps parents get their first diagnosis and coordinates getting help for children right at the very beginning. Thanks to advances in medical research and therapies, children can be diagnosed very early, and Early On programs can start at age two.

Links to websites mentioned in the podcast:

1800EarlyOn Early Intervention information for Michigan, with links to other States. The website name is also their toll free phone number: 1 800 Early On.

The Arc of Kent County Information resource for people with intellectual and developmental delays.

Center For Disease Control (CDC) Page for Parents and Infants This page has the Milestones and Schedules information to track expected progress for infants and toddlers.

Great Starts Collaborative Early Intervention Page Success Starts Early’s webpage on Early Interventions. The entire site is full of helpful information for all parents.

Pathways.org  Free online resource and tools for parents.

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center Online resource tools for families of children with special needs.

Michigan Alliance for Families.  Provides information, support, and education for families who have children (birth through 26 years of age) who receive (or may be eligible to receive) special education services.

Revisiting Special Parents Confidential Episode 06 Special Education Advocacy

Revisiting Special Parents Confidential Episode 06 Special Education Advocacy.

It’s IEP Season and we’re revisiting older episodes that offered information to help with the IEP process. Today we’re Revisiting Special Parents Confidential 06 Special Education Advocacy. Learn about the role of the Special Education Advocate and how they help parents negotiate the Individualized Education Plan, as well as the 504 Special Education Plan, and what the difference is between these two options.

Special Education Advocacy.

As parents of special needs children we hope that our kids will have every opportunity to get a good education, and get assistance when they need it in school. Special Education has changed over the past couple of decades. Special needs children are spending more time in mainstream classrooms and spending only limited time out of the class with their special education teachers for whatever assistance they need.

But what exactly is Special Education? We know that our kids are supposed to get help. Where can we get good advice or assistance when facing the task of getting the educational help for our special needs children? Do we have to see a lawyer? Can we just expect the school to handle it properly? What are the standards? What’s an “IEP” (Individual Education Program), what’s a “504”, and what kind of educational help can we even reasonably expect our children to have in the first place?

Our guest on this episode of Special Parents Confidential can answer a lot of those questions. Kathy Holkeboer is a Special Education Advocate in West Michigan. Advocates for Special Education work with families on understanding what kinds of educational assistance their special needs children are entitled to have, based on need.  They can even go with the parents to meet with school officials to put the special education plan in place for each school year.

Links To Websites Mentioned In This Podcast

Pacer Center The National Parent Training and Information Center for children with disabilities. They offer publications, workshops, and other resources to help parents make decisions about education, vocational training, employment, and other services for children with special needs.

Parent Technical Assistance Center Network Directory of regional (State by State) special education advocacy centers for parents of special needs children.

Michigan Alliance for Families Special Education Advocacy for families in Michigan. Note: for non- Michigan residents, you can search similar websites for your state in the PTAC directory.

Wright’s Law Special Education Law and Advocacy, created by two lawyers, Peter and Pam Wright (husband and wife), providing legal assistance and information for parents of special needs children.

Contact Information for Kathy Holkeboer – (note: Kathy is a special education advocate in the State of Michigan, and works primarily in the West Michigan region. Residents of other States or regions in Michigan should consult the PTAC directory for Special Ed Advocates in their area). Holkeboer Advocacy -Facebook page.

Revisiting Episode 21 Special Parents Confidential IEP And The Law

Revisiting Episode 21 Special Parents Confidential IEP And The Law.

It’s IEP Season and we are Revisiting Episode 21 Special Parents Confidential IEPS And The Law.

Individualized Education Plans. IEPs for short. Possibly one of the most stressful times for parents of special needs children. IEP meetings are those annual events when parents meet with schools to plan out the kinds of help and services their special needs children are going to receive for the next school year.

IEP meetings are very long, sometimes taking two hours or more, and usually filled with terminology that can sometimes be overwhelming. Parents are expected to understand a huge amount of information and make decisions on what kind of educational support their child will receive in the next grade year. The problem is for many of us, we don’t even know how our kids are going to do from week to week, much less three or four months later, after the entire summer break.

Typically the schools bring in the teacher, the special education teacher, any school therapists, the school social worker, and the Principal or Vice Principal of the school. Sometimes the school or district psychologist will attend, sometimes the district’s Director of Special Education will also attend. There can be as many as ten to fifteen people representing the school in these meetings. It is very easy for parents to feel ‘ganged up on’ or intimidated, especially when there is often only one or two parents in the room.

This is where Attorney Advocates can help. Lawyers who work in special education advocacy and mediation are trained in all areas of special education law. They can be the parent’s voice in the room and they know exactly what the laws are in what the school should be doing for your child and whether your concerns are being addressed.

Our guest on this episode of Special Parents Confidential is Attorney Randi Rothberg who’s firm, Thivierge & Rothberg is a Special Education Law Firm based in New York City. She and her partner, Christina Thivierge focus exclusively on representing families of children with special needs, including attending IEP meetings, mediation, Due Process, and, when necessary, litigation in the State and/or Federal Courts. She talks about some of the problems that can arise when parents face an IEP meeting, how to prepare for those meetings, what to watch out for when you’re faced with things you don’t agree with in an IEP, and how to look for an advocate in your area. Randi also does advocacy work for issues of bullying in schools and discusses addressing those situations.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER:

Some of the legal issues Randi discusses are general, however some points, such as the “Parent Member in IEP meetings” are specific to New York State and may not apply in your State, or Country. Please consult a Special Education and Disability Law Attorney or Special Education Advocate in your area for complete information on your State laws and your rights.

Here are the links mentioned in the podcast:

Thivierge & Rothberg PC – Representing children and adolescents with disabilities in New York & New Jersey

COPPA – Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates

Wrights Law – Special Education Law and Advocacy