Where Parents of Special Needs Students Can Get Help
Being parents to children is challenging enough as it is, but the patience and energy (not to mention the finances) of both mom and dad can be taxed to the hilt when the family has a child or children with special needs.
Medically speaking, people with special needs are those individuals who have to be assisted due to their existing disability which could be a mental or psychological disorder, a physiological infirmity or a combination of both.
If the malady manifests itself by the time such a son or daughter has to start going to or is already in school, where parents of special needs students can get help from are government agencies at the federal, state or local level. Government entities tasked with assisting parents with such school-age children or teens are expected to have laws and ordinances enacted that will, for example, protect the rights of people with special needs, extend their status as dependents beyond eighteen years old or provide governmental financial support to such families until the time that their special needs students have graduated and are earning an income thru gainful employment or self-employment.
Where parents of special needs students can get help from, too, are schools themselves. Most, if not all, schools are expected to have what are called Individual Education Plans (IEP) in place in their respective campuses, specifically designed for special needs students. These programs should cover the gamut of concerns such as the use of the latest electronic devices and digital technology to help them learn, developing their skills to behave as independently as possible, and their safe use of the school bus.
Sadly, there are schools which continue to pay lip service to the IEP imperatives and, despite the follow-ups made by parents to implement the various concrete steps of the plan, students with special needs continue to be inadequately attended to in various centers for learning due to a lack of implementation or, worse, due to the absence of such a plan.
Local and state governments have also been remiss in protecting special needs students through legislation which would penalize, for instance, bullying and taunting of such students in schools and in neighborhoods. Writing your congressman about the need for such legal protection can elevate the concern to the national level as it is becoming a serious problem in the U.S.
To address the shortcomings of these institutions, where parents of special needs students can get help from are lawyers whose area of expertise is special education law. Such attorneys can advise parents on a course of action that would effectively put pressure on the concerned school to draw up an IEP in the first place, and to live up to their commitment to implement the plan with fixed timetables and to institutionalize the plan's strategies so that it can be rolled out every school year together with the regular curriculum.
There is usually strength in numbers so where parents of special needs students can get help from are advocacy and support groups who have had many years of experience with their own special needs children. These groups consist of parents, doctors, nurses, lawyers, educators and others. They represent their own children with various disabilities and they have banded together in common cause to help themselves realize the improvements needed for special needs students in the community and on campus. Such groups can be found in most major U.S. cities.
It's not inconceivable that the aforementioned special education lawyers and the support groups have already joined forces in some states to help amplify the plea for sensitivity, patience and caring by parents with special needs students.
Parents of Special Needs Children Resources
- About ADD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- About Stress in Childhood
- "Autism Today"
- Exceptional Parent
- Exceptional Resources Inc.
- Heads Up!
- Hints for Mothers of Many Children
- Impact of a Handicapped Child on the Family
- Kids Together, Inc.
- The Learning Disabled Child and the Home
- Parents with Disabilities Online
- Special Mommy Chronicles