My son, Richie, is thirteen years old and has autism. Over the years, it was hit or miss with planning birthday parties for Richie. Richie’s first few birthdays were successfully celebrated with intimate family at home. For his fourth birthday, we tried Chuck-e-Cheese. It wasn’t terrible. We booked the party as early as possible – 10:00 am, as we were told that this time slot was best for having the least noise and crowds. He had fun, but there were many young toddlers there in the morning (who tend to scream), and this was a sensory nightmare for Richie and his invited classmates. Over the years, we’ve rented bounce places, shelters at parks, and most recently, we held backyard parties with rented moon-houses, themed with Richie’s favorite character that year. In time, of course, Richie’s preferences changed. We needed to plan our celebrations around his evolving preferences.
Having a child with special needs isn’t the gloom and doom that some might imagine it to be. Yes, there was the initial shock, sadness, fear, and overwhelming stress that consumed me when I first learned of Richie’s life-long challenges, but there is also an unspeakable love and happiness that I don’t share with anyone else on this planet. My son and I have a unique language of our own, I understand him and he knows he can count on me.
In today’s modern world of technology and jam-packed schedules, families are spending increasingly less quality time together. One of the best opportunities to bond with your child is through cooking. Not only is it important for children to learn their way around the kitchen, but an introduction to culinary arts can promote learning and increasing critical thinking skills. All children with varying abilities can be given a variety of cooking tasks to complete successfully, while having fun in the kitchen.
Planning to attend an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting sometimes causes many parents stress and anxiety. I remember the days I dreaded IEP season. I can remember some IEP meetings that were so challenging, we needed to plan another meeting to revisit unsettled topics. But, there were also many successful meetings that were over in less time than the scheduled hour. Being prepared, confident, and well informed will help decrease feelings of anxiety, and the meeting may not be as dreadful as you might have expected it to be.
If your child is just starting to receive special education services in the public school system, it is extremely important to learn about special education processes, beginning with understanding the IEP (Individual Education Plan) document and all of its components. The IEP is important to your child’s education, but it can be as equally confusing to understand.
Choosing a school is one of the most important decisions a parent will make. Since the start of a new school year is quickly approaching, many parents have been asking me for my list of “Best Schools” across the state. The truth is there is no “best school.” I have heard great success stories and just as many disappointing stories across all learning settings.
Author: Christine Goulbourne