Should There Be Cameras in Special Education Classrooms?

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While classrooms across the nation are supposed to be safe places of learning for all children, the reality is that this expectation doesn’t always mirror reality.

But when the students on the receiving end of unfair or even inhumane treatment are special needs children, some of whom might be nonverbal and unable to tell their parents or caregivers about any incidents, the situation can be even more harrowing.

Consider these cases, for instance:

In light of instances like the aforementioned, some parents and experts are increasingly calling for cameras to be installed in special needs classrooms to protect the vulnerable.This blog will consider whether or not there should be cameras in special education classrooms.

Pros & Cons

Any talk of introducing cameras into the classroom environment is bound to be controversial with proponents for and against. What follows are some pros and cons of such a policy.

  • Pros: Cameras essentially give a voice to special needs children who might otherwise be able to tell their parents or caregivers of any difficulties they encounter at school. Having footage of mistreatment, moreover, will provide proof of any mistreatment. In special needs classes with cameras, students would have a safer work environment that is more conducive to learning.
  • Cons: When it comes to cameras in the classroom, one key problem that some might have is the issue of confidentiality. In other words, there may be concerns over who gets to see the video tape. As well, some parties believe that cameras should either be installed in all classrooms — special needs and non-special needs — or in no classrooms at all. Yet another complaint is the costs associated with equipping special needs classrooms with the technology.

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Ethical Considerations

There are definitely some privacy issues that are bound to come up when discussing this topic, but it can be argued that the benefits of protecting children override any privacy concerns. Furthermore, teachers who have any issues with this sort of arrangement should remember that they are under contract with a school system that has the right to dictate working conditions within reason. Although there are people and groups who are for and against this issue, the best interests of children should be paramount since they may be unable to speak up for themselves.

What the Experts Say

In one report, a number of experts comment on a new law ordering schools to rollout cameras inside of special education classrooms. Meanwhile, Sue Nelson, who is the superintendent at Tuloso Midway, says in the report that the order is “a non-funded mandate,” which means that the schools will have to shoulder the cost of buying and implementing the technology. She adds that this aspect of the technology plan is a problem since the cost has to be footed by the schools.

Katie Kelly, a psychologist and attorney in Florida, says in a report that parents of special needs children who have been mistreated are coming together via the Internet to push for cameras in special education classrooms. She adds that stories of abuse happen to be “a daily occurrence.”

Indeed, the debate about whether or not there should be cameras in special education classrooms continues, and there are proponents on both sides of the fence. The needs of children, however, is the most important part of the equation, which means that a positive development would be for there to be a more widespread rollout of cameras in special needs classrooms across the U.S.

The 5 Best Apps For Kids With Special Needs

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Apps that are specifically designed for kids with special needs provide the sort of interactive technology that can facilitate their developmental progress.

While apps in general can offer productivity or entertainment benefits, they can have an even greater benefit for children who have special needs. Whether they have cognitive delays, speech impediments, autism, or any other special needs, there are apps that can, in an interactive way, give them the tools they need not only to learn academically, but also to grow developmentally.

The reason it is important to roll out apps for children with special needs is the technology can empower kids to make solid strides in managing emotions, listening, communicating, reading, and more while leveraging interactive technology on smartphones or tablets.

What follows is a rundown of the 5 best apps for kids with special needs. Children with all sorts of special needs will be able to get something out of one or more of these apps.

1. Proloquo2Go

Proloquo2Go is a symbol-supported communication app designed to help special needs individuals who are unable to speak. While its $249.99 price tag is not cheap, it is considered a segment leader. It was built to help special needs people with communication and speech issues to work on their communication and language skills through research-based vocabularies. Among the other important things to know about Proloquo2Go, the app covers users from beginning to advanced as well as caters to people with a wide range of fine-motor, visual, and cognitive skills. It is available on iPhone and iPad.

2. Zones of Regulation

For special needs children who have difficulty regulating their behavior, The Zones of Regulation helps to manage emotions as well as alertness levels. Users can substantially heighten their self-control and their problem-solving skills with this interactive technology. The software is designed for iPad and iPhone, and is available for $5.99. It’s also available for Android for $14.13.

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3. Dexteria

Dexteria, available for iPhone and iPad for $3.99, is an app for fine motor skill development and handwriting readiness. It offers hand and finger activities that will help special needs children with motor skill issues to build strength, dexterity, and control. It’s also available for Android for $12.99.

4. Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box

Designed to benefit youth with autism as well as a range of other special needs, this app utilizes abstract animations as well as sounds to introduce basic touch skills and awareness. The app encourages exploration of touch gestures via two dozen scenes. It costs $5.49 for iPad and iPhone. It’s available for Android for $3.12.

5. Scene and Heard

Scene & Heard is an augmentative communication app designed to help children who have autism. It employs visual scenes for context-based communication and creates learning aids with interactive features. Users can also draw their own scenes with the drawing/painting tool included as part of the app. It’s available for iPad and iPhone for $54.99.

The 5 apps listed above are particularly useful for children with special needs, and can help them to develop the sorts of skills that are compromised as a result of the challenges they face.

What Is the Best Legal Plan for my Special Needs Child?

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When your child approaches adulthood and is set to go out into the world on his or her own, parents understandably worry about their wellbeing.  Did they do a good job preparing them?  Does their child have the necessary skills to support itself financially?  These concerns are even more crucial when the adult child has a special need such as autism, which is why it is a good idea to speak with a special needs lawyer and have an active legal plan that takes care of your special needs childs financial and medical situation.  Whether the child is capable of taking on all responsibilities or needs some guardianship, take the time to speak with a professional and know what your child can and cannot do on his or her own.

Assess Your Childs Capacity to Make Financial Decisions

One of the hardest things for any young adult to get a handle on when they first go out into the world on their own is the ability to make sound financial decisions; this is especially difficult for child with special needs, so it is important to take a look at how well they do making financial decisions before you make any guardianship decisions.  Its a good idea to make a checklist of how well you think they can handle this responsibility:        

  • How well did they perform in math in their classes?  What was the highest level they completed?
  • How well can your child read?
  • Will your child be employable?
  • What kind of financial skills do they already possess?  Do they have the ability to balance a checkbook?  Can they read a bank statement?  Can they make investment decisions?
  • Is your child able to make change at a store?
  • Are they employable?
  • Are they susceptible to financial exploitation?

When you take an honest look at your childs capacity to make these sorts of decisions without you, you can outline the best course of action for the future and their independence.

Can Your Child Make Personal Care Decisions?

Finances arent the only decisions your special needs child will have to make on their own.  They will have to make personal decisions that we may take for granted, but for a child on the autism spectrum, they can be difficult.  Something as simple as understanding a diagnosis can prove to be a challenge, depending on how functioning your child is.  Answer these questions for yourself in order to get a better idea of what your child will be faced with:

  • Can your child have a conversation with their doctor and understand the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plans?
  • Can your child drive a vehicle?
  • Can they live independently?
  • Can your child learn to vote and understand the consequences?
  • Can your child do everyday functions on their own, such as bathing, cooking, grooming, and dressing?

Once you answer these questions for yourself, talk to a special needs law attorney no later than two months before your childs 18th birthday in order to decide upon a legal plan.

Understand the Different Legal Options Pertaining to Special Needs Children

How your special needs lawyer chooses to proceed with how to handle your childs financial and medical well-being will depend greatly on your childs legal capacity. In the legal realm, capacity pertains to the ability to understand, reason, and appreciate the consequences of ones actions.  Overall, there are three ways to legally proceed:

Legal Documents

If your child is high functioning, the lawyer may be able to process legal documents for your child that will detail a financial and medical plan.

The documents you should be familiar with are as follows:

  1. a)     Durable Power of Attorney: identifies a trusted person who has legal authority to make various financial decisions when a person is incapacitated, including paying bills, authorizing bank transactions, or filing tax returns.
  2. b)    Designation of Health Care Surrogate: identifies a trusted person to make various medical decisions in the event that your child is unable to give informed consent, including authorizing a medical procedure, authorize discharge from hospital or transfer to another facility, or change residence.
  3. c)     HIPAA Authorization: states the Health Care Surrogate can access confidential health care information under the HIPAA medical privacy law.

Guardian Advocate Proceeding

Guardian advocate proceeding allows your special needs child to retain the highest level of independence in their decision-making.  The goal of this court-assisted proceeding is to assign a parent or guardian as a Guardian Advocate to assist and support a special needs child with their decisions.  The adult child retains their legal rights while the Guardian Advocate has the legal authority to assist in medical or financial decision-making.  There are some limitations to this option, however.  For example, if the adult child has another mental health diagnosis separate from their autism, like bipolar disorder, the court may prevent you from filing a Guardian Advocate Proceeding.

Guardianship Proceeding

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If your child with special needs has a lower capacity, your only option may be a guardianship proceeding.  This option appoints a legal guardian to make financial and medical decisions.  This proceeding may be right for your adult childs situation if their ability to make decisions is hindered by a physical, cognitive, or mental disability.  The adult child loses some or all rights (depending on the capacity of the individual), which are granted to the guardian.  These rights include:

  • The right to vote
  • The right to marry
  • The right to contract
  • Apply for government benefits
  • Make medical decisions
  • Determine residence
  • Seek employment
  • The right to sue or defend
  • The ability to manage real or personal property

Planning ahead and creating a plan for your special needs adult child can really alleviate worry and unneeded headaches that may come up if you havent figured out what to do.  Talking through the next phase of your childs life with a special needs lawyer will help give you peace of mind and give your child the right amount of freedom.

How to Socialize Kids with Disabilities

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One of the biggest challenges of being a parent of a child with a special need like autism is helping them socialize with other children.  Socialization is an anxiety point for children with these sorts of needs and negative encounters with others can hamper social development.  Working in small steps, discussing plans with teachers, finding groups that share your child’s interest, and employing behavioral therapy methods are all ways that you can best help your special needs child socialize.

Talk With Teachers

One of the struggles of being a parent of a child with special needs is the fact that you can’t be with them all hours of the day.  Once they are old enough to go to school, you are leaving them in the hands of the educators and administration of the local school system.  Communicating with your child’s teacher can be a great way to build a relationship and to get them on board with a socialization plan.  Discuss your child’s needs with them and how best they can get them integrated with the rest of the children.

Work in Small Steps

Socialization can cause anxiety in children with special needs, so it is important to ease them into situations that are out of their comfort zone.  The best way to get these children to improve is to build upon positive interactions, regardless of how small.  For example, try taking them for a walk around your neighborhood; this will allow them to interact with neighbors with a simple “Hello” or polite wave.  These are low risk interactions that should yield positive responses.  From there, you can build to closer, one-on-one interactions with children their age and eventually to group settings.

Find Children with Similar Interests

As your child grows, you will be able to identify the activities that they gravitate towards.  Whether they have an interest in art, music, or any other fun activity, when you figure out what makes them tick, it’s important to encourage it and find children that share that common interest.  As children with special needs, such as autism, tend to have a tough time socializing, a good way to break that initial wall is to introduce a commonality between your child and others.  If you enroll them in an after-school art program or music class (or whatever it is they like to do), it can help them work past their initial anxieties and pursue a relationship centered on that common interest.

Employing Behavioral Therapy

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An effective way to help your special needs child socialize is to identify the challenging behaviors that your child may present and the factors that may cause them.  This is one of the cornerstones of Applied Behavioral Analysis, one of the most common therapy strategies for child with autism.  Behavioral therapy works by identifying these triggers and devises an intervention plan that works to produce more positive outcomes to social situations.  This therapy is centered on positive reinforcement of good behavior and is specific to your child’s needs.  Once a plan is created, it is a good idea to train caregivers and teachers on how to best implement the intervention plan for full effect.

Socializing a child with special needs can be a struggle, but it’s not impossible.  If you have a plan and employ some assistance from the child’s educators and behavioral therapist, you can help your child assimilate well with others.  Remember to reinforce good behavior and game plan for negative behavior.

The Best Special Education Programs in California

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When it comes to special education programs in California, there are some schools that have set themselves apart from the pack on account of the high-quality education they provide to students.

Special needs students are a diverse group, and there is no one-size-fits-all format, so the sorts of programs that make the grade as far as excellence goes pull out all the stops to help students.

According to the Overview of Special Education in California from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, approximately 10% of California’s students have disabilities that affect their education, and this no doubt means that there is a definite need for quality special education programs in the state.

Read on to learn about the best special education programs in California. While there are more than are contained in this blog post, the list will nonetheless give you a sample of top programs.

Excelsior Academy

Situated in San Diego, Excelsior Academy is a private school that aims to provide a safe and nurturing environment where students can become independent, thinking, literate, and productive. Students from K-12+ with learning disabilities, Asperger’s, ADHD, and more attend the school that offers not only a thorough academic education, but also a transition program that it calls Pathway to Independence. With this transition program, students study various transition and independent living skills such as communication, vocational, motor/mobility, and more.

Westview School

Westview School is based in Los Angeles and, as part of The Help Group continuum of schools, seeks to provide a nurturing and supportive environment to help special needs children to achieve scholastic and personal success. Westview, a private, nonprofit institution, services students with learning disabilities, high functioning autism, ADD, and emotional issues. Westview’s approach involves providing individualized attention, small classroom sizes, extracurricular activities, and counselling services for additional academic and personal support.

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Chartwell School

Located in Seaside, Chartwell School caters to K-12 students with a variety of special needs. It aims at empowering students who have language-based learning differences such as dyslexia, and it seeks to offer students the skills and coping mechanisms they need to do well in college and beyond post-secondary school. While Chartwell offers a program that covers the same material as any other school in the state, it also adds a component that includes research-based methodologies to help students to overcome their learning difficulties. As well, it has a student-to-faculty ratio of about 5:1, which means that students get individualized attention.

Alameda County Special Education

Alameda County Special Education is a public school system in the Bay Area. While the student-to-teacher ratio of 25:1 isn’t as favorable as it is at many private special education schools in California, Alameda County Special Education nonetheless offers a quality education to its approximately 4,000 students.

Carmack Elementary School

Situated in San Bernardino, Carmack Elementary School is a public school with around 75 children from grades KG-8. Its mission is to provide instruction needed for students to develop the self-esteem, skills, knowledge, and understanding needed to achieve personal and social development regardless of handicapping condition. Its “Learning, Achieving Succeeding!” tagline underscores the school’s commitment to helping students to reach their full potential.

Again, there are plenty of special education programs in California that are geared towards serving students with special needs. While these programs offer excellence for special needs students, every school in California is required to follow your child’s individual education plan. If you need help getting your child the resources they need, an advocate can provide your family with the representation you need.

Animals as Therapy for Special Needs Families

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Whoever was the first to say that dog is man’s best friend, probably didn’t know how true that statement actually was because a canine’s loyalty, while admirable, is just scratching the surface.

When it comes to special needs families, dogs and other types of animals can offer important therapeutic benefits that can make a huge quality-of-life difference.

Animal therapy is a term that refers to the interaction between a person and a specially trained animal. This sort of therapy is used to help people to recover from or to cope with health issues or disabilities. While canines and felines happen to be the most popular therapy animals, other animals like horses, guinea pigs, and even fish can be used for this purpose. The animal type selected will depend on factors such as the therapeutic objectives of the patient’s treatment plan.

Physical Benefits

Whether young or young at heart, your special needs family member can derive physical benefits courtesy of animal therapy. For instance, horseback riding can help to strengthen muscles. In fact the North American Riding for the the Handicapped Association, which happens to recommend horseback riding for people with physical, learning, and emotional disabilities, says that the activity can help participants to enhance their muscle tone, coordination, balance, motor skills, and posture. An interesting point to make is that the rocking motion that occurs when people ride horses is akin to the pelvic motion made while walking. It has also been demonstrated that using horses for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes can help people who have mobility issues to improve muscle tone to the point where they may be able to learn how to walk using a walker.

Motivation

Animal therapy involving dolphins can give special needs individuals the motivation to develop various skills. For instance, children in therapy sessions led by a professional might be given the chance to swim with or pet a dolphin if they properly demonstrate a specific skill. Because animal therapy is generally regarded as a fun activity by children, these children can become motivated. This can help them to complete the treatments faster and with fewer hiccups along the way.

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Companionship  

Dogs can provide important companionship benefits for all member of your family. When it comes to special needs, however, dogs can take on an added degree of importance. For instance, they can be specially trained in order to help visually impaired persons who want to maintain some independence by safely going out and about. Some experts actually insist that dogs provide the sort of companionship needed for the development of kids who have disabilities.

Emotional & Social Benefits

Pet therapy can help special needs persons to increase their self-esteem, improve their ability to interact with other people, enhance their verbal communication skills, encourage them to exercise, lessen their anxiety, decrease their isolation, and develop their nurturing skills. As a result, there are many reasons why therapy animals can play a special role in special needs families

Animals as therapy for special needs families is a good idea. If you believe that a family member could use a therapy animal, then ask his or her medical professional for recommendations and a referral to get the ball rolling.

Dealing With Food Allergies and the Special Needs Child

 

244665391If your child has special needs and food allergies, you must be extra vigilant to ensure that he or she remains safe at home, school, and play.

Food allergies among children are far from uncommon when you consider that around three million children living in the United States have the condition.

But how can you even tell if your special needs child has food allergies? Read on for the nitty-gritty on how to tell, what to do if there is a food allergies problem, how to go about meal preparation, how to keep your child safe away from home, and how to handle emergencies.

How to Tell if Your Child has a Food Allergy

Many parents find out that their children have food allergies only after seeing certain symptoms, subsequently taking their children to see the doctor, and then getting a diagnosis. One source notes that 90% of all food-related allergic reactions are caused by eggs, wheat, dairy, nuts, seafood, and soy, and they can lead to symptoms that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • Hives
  • Dizziness
  • Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is particularly troubling since it could potentially be fatal. Essentially, it impedes breathing and sends the body into shock.

In the event that you see any of the aforementioned symptoms in your child, you’ll want to take him or her to the doctor. The medical professional can conduct a number of tests, including an allergy test, to determine if your child either has food allergies or some other condition.

What to Do

The first thing you need to do if your child has food allergies is to cut the offending foods from his or her diet. This will require you to read labels carefully while shopping for groceries.

You’ll also want to equip your child with the skills he or she needs to stay safe. For instance, your child should have an epinephrine pen at all times, carry antihistamines such as Benadryl to treat slight allergic reactions, and use a medical alert bracelet.

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Meal Considerations

When cooking at home, you may have to cook separate meals so that you can accommodate both your special needs child who has food allergies and the rest of your family members who do not have food allergies. As well, be sure to properly wash up the dishes, cookware, and utensils to safeguard against possible allergic reactions.

Out and About

In addition to ensuring that your child knows about his or her food allergies and understands what to do if there is a problem, you have to involve other parties such as the school and anyone your child will be around. On the one hand, schools may have to make certain accommodations in the cafeteria. On the other hand, people at whose homes your child visits must know about your child’s food allergies, understand what the symptoms are, and know how to handle emergencies. Kids now a days are involving in many negative extra curricular activities and parents should keep their eyes keenly on them to avoid any severe reactions, such as high school kids are found to be taking some chemically composed formulas to enhance their study efficiency, in that manner they are openly marketing to buy adderall online xr pharmacy and to buy this from multiple online pharmacies. Although it is not a bad thing to do, but the wrong usage could lead to some major or minor side effects.

How to Deal with Emergencies

Kids Health recommends a five-step checklist for you in the event that there is ever an emergency. They include the following:

  1. If your child’s doctor has insisted on an epinephrine pen, you must ensure that your child always has it nearby. Also important, you have inform your child about when it should be used.
  1. You, your child, and those your child associates with must recognize the signs of a severe allergic episode — like labored breathing or fits of coughing — and take decisive action speedily.
  1. Practice makes perfect. So practice using the epinephrine pen routinely so that you and your child know what to do if the time comes to use it.
  1. In the event that your child suffers an allergic reaction and has to use the epinephrine pen, apply it straight away. Also ask someone to call the police, and get to an emergency room quickly since your child could potentially experience a second round of symptoms.
  1. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions as it relates to storing the epinephrine pen. Also, take note of the expiration date so that you can get a new one as required.

You must be diligent if your special needs child also has food allergies since the consequences of an allergic reaction can be very serious. If you adhere to the aforementioned tips, though, you can certainly keep your child safe at home, school, and play.

Why Pokemon Go is Perfect for Special Needs Children

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Pokemon Go has completely taken the world by storm.  Both adults and children have pulled out their phones to hunt Pokemon and maybe catch a fan favorite (almost always Pikachu!).  Pokemon Go may be a trip down memory lane for some or just an excuse to take the dog for a walk, it also has added benefits for children with special needs and their families. The social aspect of this new craze allows special needs children develop new skills which their families can take an active role in.  

Easy to Pick Up

Video games have gotten very complicated since the days of Tetris or Super Mario Bros., but Pokemon Go is an easy concept for anyone to pick up, whether they are children with special needs or parents that haven’t picked up a video game controller in a few decades.  You simply open the app on your smartphone and walk around; eventually, you’ll come across a Pokemon that you can toss a Pokeball at with just a flick of your finger.  This ease is one of the major reasons the game has taken off so well and a big contributor to how it helps children with special needs.  

More Social Interaction

Pokemon Go is a natural icebreaker, not just for children with special needs, but even children and adults that may naturally be shy in social situations.  Go to any public park, playground, or church and you’re bound to see a lot of people with the same goal: catching Pokemon.  The game essentially gives people a shared goal and this can help break down social walls and can get kids with special needs an aide to help them interact with others.  Players can show each other new catches or share information on where to find the more elusive Pokemon.  They can also work together as a team to take down a gym leader and claim the spot for their own team.

A Reason to Get Out of the House

When a child has a special need, especially autism, which affects how they socialize with others, its not uncommon for that child to prefer to stay within the confines of his or her room and set up a routine in which they are able to limit the amount of socializing they need to do in a given day.  With Pokemon Go, part of the fun is the adventure can be had out in the real world.  For example, in order to get more Poke Balls, a player has to visit Poke Stops, which are pre-determined landmarks like parks and churches.

Pokemon Go is the one game where it doesnt pay to sit in front of a TV all day, which can help children with special needs learn to make their schedule a little more flexible, diversified, and allow them to become more acquainted with changes in their routine.

Strengthening Family Bonds

Parents of children with special needs can sometimes find it difficult to communicate and share experiences with their children. Many of these children, whether they have autism or other needs, have a hard time expressing their likes and dislikes as well as carrying conversations with others.  Pokemon Go has actually bridged the gap between special needs children and their parents.  It has become a shared activity for children and parents to go on walks to catch Pokemon.

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Creating Attainable Goals

Pokemon Go has a built-in system of tasks that need to be done and medals that reward certain milestones.  These unlockable goals give children, especially those with special needs, a sense of accomplishment and can boost confidence and self-esteem.  These goals could be as simple as catching a favorite Pokemon or taking down an opponent in a gym battle; regardless of how big or small, it can do wonders to help a special needs child grow.

Pokemon Go can help both children with special needs and their parents.  With its social and physical aspects, Pokemon Go can help grow a childs personality and help them interact with the world in a way they havent been able to beforehand.  

The Back To School Guide for Special Needs Kids

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After a summer break filled with all sorts of fun extracurricular activities—with some rest and relaxation thrown in for good measure—there will inevitably be another school year.

Buying some back to school clothes and supplies for your kids may be on your to-do list. But that is only scratching the surface if you have a special needs child who needs to be ready for the classroom environment.

This is so because children, and more so special needs children, could have more difficulty adjusting to a new teacher, new classmates, and a new grade level.

In order to make the transition to the school year from the summer break as smooth as possible, what follows is a back to school guide for special needs kids.

Talk it Out

Before the school year kicks off, you should open up a two-way dialogue between you and your special needs child. By so doing, you can help to lessen, if not altogether eliminate, any pent up anxiety your child may have about returning to school. Even though changes can be difficult for anyone, you can get your child to relax and even to look forward to the new school year by focusing on the positives such as the opportunity to connect with old friends, to make new ones, and to learn new things. If your child is headed to a new school, try to schedule a tour of the facility beforehand so that he or she develops some familiarity with the school environment.

Comb Over IEP

Familiarize yourself with your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is a written statement for special needs children. The IEP essentially serves as a blueprint for your child’s educational needs, so you need to look at it before the new school year starts to ensure that it still meets the needs of your child. Keep in mind that IEPs have an expiration date, and make sure that you stay on top of when your child is slated for a reevaluation. Ensuring that your child’s IEP is still relevant will help to make the academic year less stressful for your child and will position him or her for success.

Familiarity Breeds Content

If your special needs child gets anxious whenever he or she encounters change to the status quo, you can potentially alleviate any worries by setting up certain routines for both before and after school. These activities to start and end the day can serve as calming bookends, so to speak, which will give your child comforting, settling anchors.

Stay in Touch

When it comes to making back to school preparations, you need to focus not only on your child, but also on the staff at your child’s school. In other words, you should make it your duty to know whom your child’s teacher is, not to mention the principal, in the event that you need to inquire about anything related to your child’s IEP. The school staff are there to help your child, and you are obviously your child’s best advocate. By staying in touch, and voicing your opinions and observations, you can be the advocate your child needs.

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Organize for Success

When buying school supplies, look for things that’ll help your child stay organized. For instance, you can, depending on your child’s special needs, opt for color coded binders or folders that correspond to specific subjects. This organization will help your special needs child to remain more focused and provide less opportunity for your child to possibly get flustered or frustrated in an environment that could trigger sensory overload.

Back to school can certainly be a particularly stressful time of year for special needs children. By following the aforementioned tips, you can make the transition to the school year from summer break less stressful and more enjoyable for your child.

Should You Consider a Charter School For Your Special Needs Child?

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With ten different types of schools in the Los Angeles school system, each of which can carry their own enrollment period, parents are finding it very difficult to choose the right school for their child’s needs.  

Recently, however, LAUSD came under fire for not spending part of their budget on high needs students. This has led many special needs families to consider switching from public schools to charter schools..   Here are some pros and cons of charter schools, especially if your child happens to have special needs.   

PRO: Charter Schools Give Families Options

The popularity of charter schools has grown because they give families the option to choose the school that fits their childs needs.  For a family with a special education student, this can be a huge benefit.  Not all public school districts are created equal.  The provisions that a public school has at its disposal for special education students can rely heavily on its funding.   At least with a charter school, these families can research what to expect with how that particular school works to accommodate these types of students.

CON: Charter Schools Can Create Exclusivity

Obviously, charter schools cannot practice discriminatory acceptance methods, but their model does tend to favor certain students.  If, for example, the charter school looks to save money by reducing transportation services, this can affect low-income families more than it will affect higher income families.  Charter schools can also set their own curriculum, which can create an exclusivity that can negatively impact special education students.  Some schools have been accused of discriminatory acceptance practices against special education students in the past.

PRO: Niche Teaching

Public schools are exactly what the name implies: they are schools that are designed to serve the general public.  Each public school has a certain set of standards that they have to adhere to, leaving very little room to specialize the curriculum.  Charter schools have the ability to design their own curriculum and can specialize in the form of teaching they subscribe to.  Montessori schools, for example, focus on freedom within limits and independence.  This type of teaching philosophy, which focuses on a childs natural development, was developed specifically with special education students in mind.

CON: Underfunding

As charter schools are technically for-profit institutions, making money is part of the game.  The government funds of a public school, on the other hand, are meant to go straight into the education experience, whether that means paying administration or buying supplies.  Typically, charter schools only spend about 50% of their budget on instruction, whereas public schools spent closer to 60% of their budget on instruction.  In order to make a profit, charter schools will usually cut spending in places that public schools spend more: teacher compensation, special education, transportation and high school education.

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PRO: Smaller Class Size

As charter schools tend to have less enrollment, each classroom tends to be smaller compared to public schools, especially those in urban areas.  As special education students need more attention, keeping them in overcrowded classrooms can prevent them from getting the education that they need and deserve.  More manageable class sizes in charter schools are beneficial to special education students by giving them more one-on-one time with a teacher that is not as overwhelmed.

CON: Less Transparency and Less Student Freedom

Public schools are subject to the Freedom of Information Act, which by contrast, charter schools are not.  The reason for this difference is that charter schools are privately funded, so when it comes to some information, charter schools can be a little more tight-lipped.

Only recently have some measures been put into place that require charter schools to release certain data, including disciplinary data.  When studied, the data (collected from more than 5,000 United States charter schools) showed that disciplinary actions were carried out against black students and students with disabilities at a disproportionate rate compared to white and nondisabled students.

Charter schools do have their advantages, for students that require special education classes, but there are also some drawbacks in this system.  Research your local charter schools thoroughly in order to decide what is best for your child.