From Emotions to Advocacy
The Special Education Survival Guide by Pam & Pete Wright
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Year in Review Series
Success Story: Plans Are Our Safety Net
and Steve have four children. Their youngest child is Justin who is
15. Justin has autism. Laura and Steve have encountered obstacles in
their sons education from the beginning. Today, Justin attends
his local high school, takes general education courses, and earns As
in art and wood shop.
Do we have a clear view of what we want for our son? Yes.
We started out, as many parents do, with
goals and aspirations for our son. With the diagnosis of autism, we
had to modify what we saw as the path for his future. We had to get
through the grieving process before we could look forward to a future
for our son.
have a child with a disability, you battle with insurance companies
and schools, negotiate with employers and co-workers for time off, respond
to the needs of family members, and deal with the unexpected. As these
demands increase, your stress level increases too. It is easy to be
sidetracked and forget what is important.
We make lists of expectations. We write out our goals. We post outcomes of what we want to see happen.
We have a plan for our son. We also have contingency plans. Plans are my emotional safety net. If things do not go as expected, we have plans to fall back on. We make the best of the present situation or make temporary fixes until we can put changes into place.
We realize that Justin may never be completely independent. We plan for that too. When you have a special needs child, you have to modify your expectations more often. Sometimes there are obstacles you do not see until it is too late.
Our main goal has always been for Justin to have the most fulfilling life possible. We broke this down into several areas. In the beginning, our goals were very basic like communicating and cleaning his room. During modification times, we add to these goals. Now, some of our goals for him are:
Now we include the word functional in goals. When developing Justins IEP, we bring a list of outcomes for his life that we developed. When the teachers list a goal, we look to see how it connects with these outcomes and if it is functional. We also bring our list of educational expectations for the year. We have found that many teachers appreciate a list of ideas.
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