Is your school obeying the law?
The Massachusetts DOE’s website has a page called “Program Quality Assurance Services.”
This lists which public school districts are up for review to see who is or is not in compliance with education requirements – including Special Education laws.
For example, in 2015 a few of the school districts up for review include:
• West Springfield
Find out when your school district was reviewed, or when their next scheduled review will take place, on the DOE’s Coordinate Program Review Page at http://bit.ly/1rLhyyX
I hope this page is a useful tool to help ensure that your child is receiving the best special education supports available in your school district.
Here We Go Again
It's hard to get out of beach and pool mode. But summer is almost over and it’s time to embrace another school and work year.
There is always lots of commotion with moving forward to this next stage of the season; IEPS, medical forms, becoming familiar with the new aides for our child, and organizing the other kids’ schedules around our special child’s particular needs.
The good news is that once everyone is settled in, we can enjoy the organization and quiet moments that come when all the planning is finally working.
And then it will be time to make our holiday lists…
Have a great school year!
Pass the National Background Check Bill
The Arc of Massachusetts has asked that everyone share this important message. In part, it reads:
“Please act on this alert for HB4125 An Act to Require National Criminal Background Checks (for Staff who work with individuals served by the Departmental of Developmental Services - DDS)
Right now only Massachusetts criminal background checks are conducted for those working with individuals served by DDS…If someone lives in Rhode Island, New Hampshire or other neighboring state we have no way of knowing if they have a record in that state or in another state from which they recently moved.
Passage of this bill is important to protect a vulnerable population from sexual or other serious abuse…"
To find out more and submit a message to your lawmaker, visit the Arc of Massachusetts National Background Check Bill page.
A Miracle for Justina
The case of Justina Pelletier is the nightmare that any special-needs parent fears.
Justina is the 15-year-old from West Hartford, Connecticut that is being held against her family’s wishes at a Boston hospital since February 2014.
There is way more to the story than can be related in this short blog. However if you visit www.justiceforjustina.com you will see her parents side of the issue and case for bringing her home. A more newsworthy view can be found by just searching Justina’s name in the internet.
No matter how you find information, it is important that as a parent you educate yourself on what a worst case scenario can look like when parents and doctors disagree.
I hope that Justina goes home to her family soon. And I hope this never happens again.
“Mom, where I am I going next?”
For most teens, an answer from a parent may be “to your room to finish your homework", or “stop texting your friends and I’ll tell you.”
However this question came from my special-needs 19-year-son. He wondered what his disability supports will be when he graduates from his out-of-district school.
I don’t know.
The DDS says no even though he was in their system since age 3, supported by diagnostic reports taller and thicker than Manhattan phone books.
The DMH says no, even though those same reports document that his OCD, ADHD, anxiety, and other co-morbid issues must be addressed by a comprehensive mental health support system.
Seems they think that the DDS should take him. Or I should look elsewhere.
And when I explore other disability organizations, they usually won’t accept someone not funded by the DDS or DMH.
No wonder so many people fall through the cracks in our system.
For any state agency legislator that may happen to read this blog, please tell me how these roadblocks are supposed to help the very people you are designated to serve?
My young adult, and many other young adults need your help. Today.
Massachusetts' Disability Events
Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work: October 16th, 2014, Newton. Free and open to the public. A conversation with Authors Judith and Carson Graves, authors of Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work: An Insider Guide. Introduction by Special Education Attorney Robert K. Crabtree. Registration required to 617-658-9800 or visit the NESCA events page
The Fragile X Society of Connecticut Conference: October 18th, 2014, Farmington, CT. For families, educators, therapists and providers who care for children and adults with fragile X-associated disorders and autism spectrum disorders. Understanding and Managing Hyperarousal Throughout the Lifespan is this year’ theme. Presenters are Sarah Scharfenaker and Tracy Murnan Stackhouse. Fees apply. For more information contact 860 - 233-1904 or CentralCT@fragilex.org or visit the Fragile X Society of Connecticut Conference Page.
Disability and Community Resources & Craft Fair. October 19th 2014: Dartmouth High School Gym, South Dartmouth, 10 - 4 pm. The 2nd Annual South Eastern MA Community Resources & Craft Fair will feature many area disability and community resources for your child or student. There will also be raffles, crafts, specialty art vendors and more. For more information visit The Dartmouth SEPAC page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-207-3015
Disability Legislative Breakfast with Joseph P. Kennedy III and "Community Living for the Future" October 21, 2014, Mansfield. At this Massachusetts State Legislative Breakfast, Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III of the 4th Congressional District, is will discuss the disability topic of Community Living for the Future
Other guest speakers include:
Leo Sarkissian - Executive Director The Arc Mass
Elin Howe – Commissioner Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Families and Advocates
This event requires an RSVP to the disability affiliate below that sponsors your district.
The Arc of Bristol County: 508-226-1445
The Arc of South Norfolk: 781-762-4001
The Arc Center of Hope: 508-764-4085 or email@example.com
Charles River Arc: 781-444-4347
“Real Lives” & “NBC” Bill Signing at Fenway Park: October 23, 2014, 12:45 p.m. Ceremonial Signing of NBC (National Background Check) & Real Lives Bill - which Governor Patrick officially signed into law over the summer. The National Background Check (NBC) Bill will require employees working with people with disabilities in positions that receive state funding to undergo federal criminal background checks in addition to the current mandatory state checks. The Real Lives Bill will streamline the funding mechanism for people with disabilities receiving state support and allow families greater control and flexibility over their supports. To join this event, RSVP to RSVP@mdsc.org
Great Beginnings Conference: October 24, 2014, Worcester. “Culture, Yours, Mine and Ours” is the theme of this year’s Early Education Conference. Topics and speakers include:
• Immigration Status & Public Benefits
• Effective Use of Cultural Mediators, Interpreters, and Translators
• Early Intervention Alchemy: Mining and Valuing Families’ Cultural and Linguistic Resources
• Cultural Humility: Working in Partnership with Families and Communities
For more information visit the Great Beginnings Conference page
"The Science of Happiness” author at View from All Sides Conference: November 6, 2014, Marlborough. This family support training conference features experts sharing cutting edge information on a broad range of topics for parent education, early childhood, home visiting, family support, and other human service professionals who support children and families.
• Keynote address of “The Science of Happiness” will be presented by Dr. Catherine A. Sanderson, Professor of Psychology at Amherst College. Dr. Sanderson will cover what makes us feel happier, research, and provide easy ways to increase psychological well-being. For more information visit the View From All Sides conference page or contact 617-502-8742 firstname.lastname@example.org
Joining Voices Conference “Partnering with Professionals”, November 6, 2014, Framingham. For families with children & youth with special health care needs and professionals. Workshop topics include:
• Care Coordination
• Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project
• Guardianship & Adult Family Care
• MassHealth & Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative
• Pediatric Palliative Care
• Pediatric to Adult Health Care Providers
Registration deadline is October 31st. Fees apply. For a limited scholarships available to family members contact email@example.com
For more information about the Joining Voices Conference contact 617-236-7210 X306 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Joining Voices Conference Page.
Disability Transition Resource Fair: November 8, 2014, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m., Framingham High School Cafeteria, Framingham. The Framingham Special Education Parent Advisory Council, FHS PTO and Framingham Disability Commission host. Free but registration is required. For More information vis itthe Framingham SEPAC page. Or contact email@example.com 508-877-6475 or Roschmrosch2@aol.com 508-879-7407 or visit the Framingham SEPAC page.
Find more Massachusetts Recreation on our Recreation Page
Inclusive Camps & Activities in Massachusetts for 2014: From Ayer to Boston to Plymouth, Sturbridge, Worcester and more, camps and programs to help your special child stay busy, engaged and included by enjoying movies, sports, recreation, outings and social activities. See the Camp Page for listings.
Boston Museum of Science Disability Prototype Testers: The Boston Museum of Science is seeking visitors with all disabilities to test new exhibit prototypes, explore the museum, and give feedback to help improve their accessibility.
Testing includes free admission to exhibit halls for the day and free parking in the Museum's garage. To participate and give the Museum feedback fill out their Boston Museum of Science on line form or contact 617-589-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Adaptive Recreation Across Massachusetts: With the DCR’s Universal Access Program:
Viewing deck at the Summit House atop Mount Holyoke at Skinner State Park is now be wheelchair accessible with the ramp opening scheduled for mid-June, for a spectacular view of the Connecticut River Valley.
Mount Tom State Reservation has a new accessible trail leading to a viewing bridge on Lake Bray.
Mt. Greylock State Reservation has several new accessible interpretive and signage exhibits open.
Scusset Beach has a new accessible boardwalk over the dunes and two new beach wheelchairs that roll into the water
More information can be found on the on the State of Massachusetts DCR Universal Access Program Page.
Sensory Friendly Films are now on the Recreation Page.
Free Disability Parent Workshops in Massachusetts - From the Federation For Children with Special Needs:
Effective Communication with the IEP
Suspensions & Discipline in Special Education
To register, contact The Federation For Children With Special Needs in Boston, Massachusetts, or email@example.com, or call 800-331-0688.
SPED Child and Teen is not responsible for any listed events' contents, or changes in content, times, dates, fees, or speakers. Please check with event host to verify details.
SPED Child and Teen does not endorse any event, listing or product on this site, and all content is for information purposes only.
Teens and Young Adults
Disability Transition Resource Fair: November 8, 2014, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m., Framingham High School Cafeteria, Framingham. The Framingham SEPAC, FHS PTO and Framingham Disability Commission host. Free but registration is required. For more information visit the Framingham SEPAC, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org 508-877-6475 or Roschmrosch2@aol.com 508-879-7407
Raise the Bar 2014 - Disability Employment Conference & Career fair. October 30 & 31, 2014, Norwood, MA. Learn about advancing the employment of people with disabilities. Conference features speakers, exhibitors, networking, workshops, and a Career Fair where job seekers with a disability can meet and network with some of Massachusetts’ leading employers. Fees apply. For more information visit the Raise the Bar 2014 or 508-856-8359 email@example.com
Sexuality & Adult Children with Special Needs: October - November,2014, Fitchburg. For parents of an 18 - 33 year old adult child with special needs. Gain a deeper understanding of your child's sexuality, and how to support and facilitate the development of healthy romantic and platonic relationships for your children. A commit to all 5 weeks is required. A staffed activity will be available for your adult child to participate in while you attend the workshop. Fees apply, partial scholarships available. Register to 978-343-6662 X1010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transition from School to Adult Life: Using the IEP to Create Success: October 20th, 2014, Abington. Free workshop will cover transition planning and services required for youth with disabilities ages 14-22 which prepare youth for employment, independent living, adult services, education and the legal obligations of a school district. To RSVP contact email@example.com 508-583-8030, x224 or firstname.lastname@example.org 781-335-3023, x2227
Free Transition Planning Conference for Families: October 25th, 2014 Merrimack College, Andover. CLASS Inc's conference will cover educational support for families of children on the autism spectrum or with developmental and intellectual disabilities, ages 12 to 22 and beyond. Topics include:
• Turning 18: Legal Matters & Government Benefits
• Independence, Housing & Transportation
• Employment , Education, Day Services
• Social & Recreational Development
For more information, contact Stacie Murphy at SMurphy@CLASSinc.org or 978-975-8587, ext. 121
ImprovBoston Disability Scholarship: The No Limits Media and ImprovBoston scholarship is to help a person with disabilities learn improvisational comedy. People with disabilities will perform alongside improvisers of every type. Eligibility requirements must be met:
• You must be at least eighteen 18 years old
• You must be able to engage productively in collaboration with others
• Only complete applications will be considered.
For more information contact email@example.com or visit ImproveBoston Disability Scholarship page.
CBT for Young Adults with Aspergers: Through November 4, 2014, Watertown. The Aspergers Association of New England’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Group for ages 18 – 30 focuses on helping young adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and related profiles continue to develop skills to manage anxiety and depression. No drop-ins, fees apply Participants must have a current AANE membership. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-393-3824 x44
Transition Matters Conference: October 29th, Marlborough. This Institute for Community Inclusion conference will offer networking with school professionals, adult service providers, and families of people with disabilities. Dr. Mary Morningstar from the University of Kansas will the keynote speaker, and will also lead a breakout session about working with families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Other Topics include:
• Results-oriented transition assessment
• Learning from common district mistakes
• Supporting youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems
• Effective practices that support career readiness
To register visit the Youth Movies Conference Page.
Special Needs College & Career Access Project (CCAP): Fall 2014, Danvers. A collaborative effort of North Shore Community College and Northeast Arc. CCAP is designed to prepare ages 18 to 26 with developmental, intellectual or learning disabilities with educational and hands-on practical experience in Horticulture, Canine and Feline Care and Arts/Entrepreneurship. Scholarships are available. For more information contact 978 624-3062 or email@example.com at 978-777-9135
"Transition Talks" Parent Groups: October 9th, 2014, Seven Hills Family Support Center, Sturbridge, 6 p.m. Free and open to the public. Transition Specialist Robin Foley will discuss the special needs journey and transition for ages 14-22. Topics include student visions, post secondary opportunities, etc. For more information call 508-796-1954. For the Fitchburg Seven Hills Family Support Center call 978-632-4322
Planning A Life Making the Most Out of High School: TBA in Boston., Springfield and Worcester. For parents of students with disabilities aged 14 to 21. Topics cover: Creating a VISION, Person Centered Planning, Portfolio Development, Transition Requirements of IDEA 2004, Assessments, Transition goals into the IEP, Employment & Job Development, Work Supports.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org 617.236.7210 - ext 336 or registration info at 800-331-0688 or email@example.com or visit www.fcsn.org
NEXT STEP: College Success & Independent Living program: Boston. For students, grades 9-12, who present with a social language deficit, Aspergers Syndrome, NLF, or related learning differences, and are serious about attending college after high school.
NEXT STEP gives students a chance to hone executive functioning, problem solving, and self-advocacy skills that are necessary for living with other students on a college campus. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-278-4119
Easter Seals Massachusetts - Youth Leadership Network: Boston, Worcester, New Bedford, & Springfield. For youth and young adults between the ages of 14 to 26 disabilities. The Network is a place for these individuals to increase their independence by learning how to develop a personal leadership plan, along with working to spread disability awareness and help decrease bullying through the Don’t disABILITY campaign. It is also an opportunity to build friendships and receive mentorship from others in the disability community. For more information contact email@example.com 617-226-2855
"Advocates in Motion" Social Program: This Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress program provides fun, inclusive, interactive events and fosters social relationships for teens and young adults ages 13-22. AIM participants develop leadership and self advoacy skills, form meaningful relationships with peers and build their self-confidence in an encouraging environment. AIM members meet one Sunday afternoon per month from September to May. There are a variety of social, recreational and volunteer activities throughout the year. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 781.221.0224 or visit www.mdsc.org .