Tag Archives: 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.

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

 

Death And Grief – Revisiting SPC Episode 32

Death And Grief.

Death and grief are subjects that are often overlooked at the holidays. Celebrations can be difficult for families who have recently experienced a loss. Adults and children experience grief in different ways, especially children with special needs. The important thing to remember is there is no time-frame for ‘getting over it’ or even the so-called ‘sense of closure’ (which often never happens). With that in mind, we invite you to listen again to episode 32 from January of 2016, to get some great advice on coping with grief. 

Death is one of those subjects that few people want to talk about, yet everyone will experience. For children, death, and the grief that comes with it, can be very hard to talk about. Many kids, even teens, don’t have the abilities or the tools to adequately express their emotions. And when a child has special needs that can make expressing emotions, or even basic communication challenging, the lasting effects of dealing with death and grief can be devastating.

Children Experience Grief Differently.

As parents, it’s sometimes easy to forget that our kids are upset when we face the loss of a parent, grandparent, sibling, or family friend. We see them playing together at funerals and think to ourselves that they’re okay. Sometimes it’s not till days or weeks later that the emotional problems begin to show themselves. Death and grief are difficult to understand for children, no matter what the age.

Support Groups Can Help.

Fortunately there are groups and organizations that exist for the sole purpose of helping children deal with death and grief. One such group is Ele’s Place, in Michigan. Our guest on this episode of Special Parents Confidential is Kelly Ahti, one of the program directors for Ele’s Place in Grand Rapids. She talks about the challenges of how grief can affect children of all ages from toddlers to teenagers. Kelly also has ideas of what parents and relatives can do to help kids deal with their emotions and get through the difficulties and sadness that occurs.

Links to Websites mentioned in the interview:

Ele’s Place – a Healing Center For Grieving Children and Teens

The National Alliance For Grieving Children Resource website with a national and international directory for counseling and therapy centers for children who are grieving.

Sesame Street Video and Articles on Grief 

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!

A Sibling’s Perspective – Revisiting SPC Episode 31

A Sibling’s Perspective.

The Holidays always mean family visits, and with that in mind, we thought our episode on a sibling’s perspective would be a good one to repost. This episode is from October of 2015, when we interviewed Aubrey Boerma, who grew up with an older brother who has Autism.

What’s it like growing up with a special needs sibling? Do you have feelings of being ignored by your parents? Do you worry about how your special needs sibling will be treated by society or your friends in particular? Are you frustrated over how often you have to explain why your special needs sibling “acts like that”? 

As hard as it is to be a parent of a special needs child, it can also be just as hard to be a sibling of one. From having to attend numerous medical or therapy appointments, to missing out on school events or social events, many siblings feel like their lives have to take second place to the lives of the special needs child. Even into adulthood, some people carry resentments and anger over their relationships with their special needs siblings. 

There Are Answers.

In this episode of Special Parents Confidential, we talk to Aubrey Boerma, who has a brother with special needs. She also works with sibling youth support groups, helping child siblings learn to cope with their special needs brothers or sisters. Aubrey talks about how not all sibling relationships have to be difficult. For many people, having a sibling with special needs can be an incredible experience. You learn to be a much more patient and tolerant person with great empathy for all kinds of situations. Many siblings of special needs children, including Aubrey, say that their brother or sister are the best thing that happened to them. She also has suggestions for parents on how to help siblings talk about their relationships and their feelings toward their special needs brother or sister.

Links To Websites Mentioned In This Podcast:

The Sibling Support Project  Founded in 1990, the Sibling Support Project is the first national program dedicated to the life-long and ever-changing concerns of millions of brothers and sisters of people with special health, developmental, and mental health concerns. 

Sibling Leadership Network – Providing siblings of individuals with disabilities the information, support, and tools to advocate with their brothers and sisters and to promote the issues important to them and their entire families.

The Sibling Survival Guide – A “How To” guide to being an adult sibling of a special needs person. 

Growing Up With Ben – The Blog Post that Aubrey wrote about her life and relationship with her special needs brother.

Learn The Signs – Act Early – Revisiting SPC Episode 37

Learn The Signs – Act Early

Last spring we talked to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention about their Learn The Signs, Act Early, program to help parents better understand if their child has Autism. 

Autism is a growing concern for parents across the United States and around the world. It’s estimated that 1 in 68 children will be diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. The good news is there are now more effective treatments and therapies than ever before, and there is more credible research and information that can help parents, educators, and medical professionals work effectively with children and adults with Autism to lead healthy and productive lives.

Learn The Signs. Act Early. From The CDC.

To help parents understand what Autism is and how to better monitor their children’s developmental milestones, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, commonly known as the CDC, has launched a new program website: Learn The Signs. Act Early From the website: 

“From birth to 5 years, your child should reach milestones in how he plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves. Track your child’s development and act early if you have a concern.”

In this episode of Special Parents Confidential, we talk to two guests from the CDC; Katie Green, who is project lead for Learn The Signs. Act Early, and Dr. Jennifer Zubler, who is a pediatric medical consultant for the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. You’ll learn about how the program began, some of the milestones that your child should achieve, the importance of early diagnosis, and how to talk to your doctor or pediatrician if you are concerned about your child’s developmental progress.

Important Links From The CDC:

Learn The Signs. Act Early.

Developmental Milestones.

Printable Milestones Checklist pdf.

Amazing Me – It’s Busy Being 3! Parents, this book for children ages 2-4 will show you what to look for as your child grows and develops. Whether you read this story to your child online or have a hard copy of the book, ask your child to find the koala bears. Each page with a koala bear also has a star and milestone at the bottom just for you. See if your 3-year-old is able to do some of the same things as Joey.

What To Do If You’re Concerned.

The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. – Resource website from the CDC with great information on many issues for parents of special needs children.

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, Tumblr, Linked In, Pintrest, Stumble Upon, Reddit, or other social media sites that you prefer. 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, TuneIN, 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 services. 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!

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

A Reminder: Please share Special Parents Confidential with your friends, family, and  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, Tumblr, Linked In, or other social media sites. 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, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIN, Poddirectory, Blog Talk Radio, and other podcast directories as a free subscription. Additionally, please consider writing a review about our podcast on any of those services. 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!

Education Funding – Revisiting SPC Episode 27

Education Funding

Every year it seems the news is full of stories with politicians calling either for cuts in education funding, or increases in education funding.

This year, however, cuts were attempted in special education funding. Thankfully, the Congress was able to work out a bill that increased funding for special education. Never the less, many are worried that this is just the beginning, and that more attempts like this will be coming.

A Possible Solution.

Back in 2015, the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA), which oversees nine school districts and four public service academies in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, put together a ballot initiative to raise taxes specifically to fund their regional special education programs for the next six years. Despite widespread sentiment among most people against raising taxes, the ballot initiative passed successfully.

John spoke to KRESA Superintendent Dave Campbell to talk about the initiative and how their combined districts were able to get the funding passed. Proving that taxes to fund education can be raised when parents, educators, administrators, taxpayers and voters work together to make sure the message is heard.

Why Listen Again?

The process of getting this ballot passed took a few years. However, the need is dire enough that understanding how to get an initiative like this passed is very important. If your school district is having budget problems, the KRESA Special Education Funding Initiative might be a great blueprint on how to protect your school’s special education funding.

Please note: the link to the news article on M-Live about the successful election may be expired, depending on when you see this post. Typically they are good for about two years after the posted date, which was two months before this episode was posted.

Please be sure to share this episode with everyone you know. Use the social media buttons below to make sharing easier.

 

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 

Please be sure to share this episode with everyone you know. Use the social media buttons below to make sharing easier.