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
Sensory Santa & Special Needs Holiday Events in Greater Massachusetts can be found on our Recreation Page. Please also visit our Event Submission page to learn if your holiday event can be submitted.
Help! The Holidays Are Coming! December 16th, 2014. Minute Man Arc for Human Services, Concord. This time of year can be particularly trying…a potential emotional roller-coaster, often accompanied by too many “shoulds”. This certainly can occur for all families, but as parents of special children, it can be more challenging. Talk about how to manage and actually enjoy the upcoming holidays. R.S.V.P. by Friday, Dec. 12th to MKlein@minutemanarc.org or at 978-287-7900 with your phone number, or visit www.minutemanarc.org
Special Needs Camp Fairs for January 2015! Can you believe it? We already have posted Boston event dates for January 10th and 22nd of 2015. It's never too early to plan, so push away the cookies and wrapping, and go visit our Camps Page 2015
School Phobia – When School Becomes Your Biggest Fear: December 18, 2014, 12 noon–1:30 Davenport 4 Boardroom, North Shore Medical Center, Salem. Free lecture with Corey Meyer, MD Outpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, MassGeneral for Children at North Shore Medical Center. Discuss anxiety, the various causes of school phobia, appropriate assessment for help, and various treatment options, focusing on what the individual and family can do. Registration is required to 978-354-2670 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the North Shore Medical Center.
Special Education Surrogate Parent Training: Boston, Easton & Holyoke: Federation for Children with Special Needs is recruiting Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESP) for a child in your area who needs a voice in the classroom.
Boston - December 6th, 2014.
Holyoke - December 6th, 2014.
Easton - December 10th.
SESPs make special education decisions for students in Massachusetts whose parents are unknown or unavailable. This training helps potential volunteers learn more about what is involved in becoming an SESP, about the students eligible for SESPs, and the impact of trauma on their lives. For more cities, dates or information, visit the FCSN Events Page or contact email@example.com at 671-399-8342
Inclusive Camps & Activities in Massachusetts for 2015: 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
Sensory Friendly Films are now on the Recreation Page.
Find more Massachusetts Recreation on our Recreation Page
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
Transition Talks" Parent Groups: December 11th & 18th, 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 Support Center call 978-632-4322
Easter Seals Youth Leadership Network (YLN): December 2014, in Boston, New Bedford, Springfield & Worcester. For ages 14 - 26 with disabilities to participate in group activities designed to help prepare youth to transition from high school to adulthood.
• Boston - December 6th
• Worcester - December 13th
• Springfield - December 18th
• New Bedford - December 20th
Parents are also invited to stay for a parent group, covering topics related to transition services and program for youth with special needs.
RSVP to email@example.com or 617-226-2855 or visit the Facebook page
Introduction to Transition Planning for Middle/High School Students: December 17, 2014, Ivy Street School, Brookline. Topics include:
• Development of self-advocacy/self-determination skills to support a student’s vision
• Transition Assessments to assist with and support transition goals.
• Using transition planning forms to develop transition goals which lead to meaningful opportunities in education, training, employment, and independent living
This event is free, but RSVPs required to firstname.lastname@example.org 617-620-7779
Self Advocacy Documentary Looking for Massachusetts Youth ages 14 - 22: In collaboration with Emerson College, The Spotlight Program has an opportunity for teens and young adults ages 14-22 to participate in a self-advocacy documentary project at a reduced rate. They are currently enrolling for the Winter semester beginning January 10th. For more information visit The Spotlight Program or Families can also visit www.spotlightprogram.com for more information or contact 978-624-2310
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.
Planning A Life 2015- Making the Most Out of High School: Boston, Holyoke and Worcester. For parents of students with disabilities aged 14 to 21, educators and other professionals. Topics:
• VISION Development, Self Advocacy/Self Determination
• Employment, Housing and Postsecondary Options
• Transition Planning Form, Transition Assessments
• Community Connections and more…
• January 23/24, 2015, Boston
• February 27/28, 2015 Seven Hills, Worcester
• March 27/28, 2015 Holyoke
Fees apply. Families scholarships available through the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC) at 617-770-7676 . For more conference 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
"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 email@example.com or 781.221.0224 or visit www.mdsc.org .