I Did It!

Exactly 2 weeks ago today, I left the world of working for someone to enter the ranks of those who work for themselves.  How does it feel?  Exciting! I think my husband summarized it best when he gave me this card on my last day of employment.  It read:

“Imagine Doing what you Love, and Loving what you do, being happy from the inside out, experiencing your dreams wide awake, being creative, being unique, being you—changing things the way you know they can be—Living the life you always imagined”  He nailed it. As I’m writing this post, this is exactly what it feels like.

My first day as an entrepreneur felt challenging but also exhilarating, full of possibilities.  I moved from a job that as my last days approached I found intolerable, to one that made me excited for Mondays.  What led me here?  Let’s just say that this has been years in the making.  I always had the entrepreneurial bug within me.  I think I inherited this from my dad, whom everyone called “buscavidas” (hustler), as I always had a hard time conforming and allowing the status quo and bureaucracy make things difficult for those people who need help. 

Then, a chain of events started to happen.  Let’s just say that it was as if the universe was telling me it was time to quit was I was doing in favor of what I was always meant to do.  I could say that it was a series of both, unfortunate, and fortunate events that got me there, but in essence, I left a world that felt fake, uncaring, and every-man-for-himself type of world, where everyone spends and unreasonable amount of time covering their butts, for one where not only my butt, but my heart and soul are exposed for everyone to see.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I decided that from now on I will utilize this platform so that everyone out there can understand and realize that when they think they don’t have a choice, what they are really referring to is that they don’t like the choices they have, and they choose the one at hand because it is the safest, rather than expose themselves and choose what’s right. 

There is always a choice!

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What is Early Intervention? Read here to find out!

What is the Early Intervention Program?

First, let’s take a look at the law (IDEA), to see how it is defined.  IDEA states that the Early Intervention Program is designed for very young children, ages birth to 3 years old, who qualify based on an existing disability, is diagnosed with a disability, or is considered at risk based on criteria based on the individual states (in the United States).  individual state’s health department manages the program based on each state’s eligibility determination formula.  To freshen up on the law, please check previous post here.

Is Early Intervention a mandated service? 

Parents can opt-into this program and can have access to a range of services based on what is recommended for their child.  For example, children and families can have access to social workers, case coordinators, special instructors, speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other services based on their needs or on their families’ needs.  However, this does not mean that if a child is found eligible for the program, the parents MUST accept it.  Accepting this program is at the parent’s discretion, and parents must give consent in order to have their child tested for eligibility.

I suspect my 2-year-old child may need some help, what should I do?

 You will need to have a referral for the Early Intervention program in your state.  In New York, each municipality (region) oversees early intervention within its boundaries.  For example, in New York City, each borough, or county, has a regional office dedicated to this program.  Referring a child is not as difficult as it may seem.  You can refer your child by talking to your pediatrician.  If she/he think that a referral is warranted, they will refer your child to a specific municipality.  You can also call your state’s department of health.  In New York City, for example, parents can refer their child/children to the early intervention program simply by calling 311.

I’m still confused.  When should I call the Early Intervention Program?

In a nutshell, if your child is experiencing difficulties in the expected milestones, for example, walking late, not walking, not talking, having difficulty engaging with you and his/her surroundings, and having difficulty engaging with toys, among other things, it is always a good idea to request an evaluation.  A group of professionals will come to your home to assess your child’s cognitive, social, motor, language and affective domains.  In other words, they will look at how your child plays, relates to you, relates to his surroundings, and communicates, and they will come to a conclusion regarding possible services needed.

It is better to be safe than sorry!

For more information, please drop Dr. Klimek a note.

A mother is looking lovingly at her little boy while her little boy looks intently at the camera.
Early Intervention Helps the Entire Family!

The Special Education Continuum Explained: How to Determine the Best Placement for your Child-Part 2

(Please read background post here)

What is the best class for my child?

This is the most common question that I hear from parents who are getting ready to have a Turning 3* or a Turning 5** IEP meeting.  It is also a common concern for parents whose children have been recently diagnosed and will be in a similar situation.  The truth is, the right placement depends on your child’s needs, and your child’s needs should be at the heart of every IEP meeting that will result in a recommendation for placement for any student.

“But, wait”!  You may say.  “My child has just been diagnosed with Williams Syndrome.  Doesn’t that mean that he will need a much more restrictive environment, like perhaps a 12.1.4 self-contained class”?  Not necessarily.  Having a diagnosis does not necessarily mean that the student will AUTOMATICALLY be placed in a certain type of setting.  The diagnosis, or educational label, may inform the team and the providers as to what methods, strategies, and techniques may be useful for your child to learn optimally, but labels do not determine specific needs for every child. Neither can a diagnosis determine how much contact your child will have with his/her typically developing peers. 

Ideally, the IEP team at your child’s school (or at the regional Committee of Special Education) will have conducted an evaluation that covers every area of your child’s development.  This evaluation will help determine specific needs in the different domains, such as the cognitive, social, affective, and language domains.  You should make sure that the team that evaluated your child explains what was observed and what this would mean for assessing your child’s recommendation.  Please remember that you are also an integral part of the IEP team, and your feedback will provide invaluable input and will help the team determine what is best in your child’s case.

What happens if members of the team disagree on what recommendation to make?  Of course, in an unrealistic world all members of all teams agree on everything.  Of course, this is not a good way to grow.  We do well when we reveal our ideas and share them.  We may come up with better scenarios.  As a parent, do not be hesitant to share what you think and feel!  It is important! 

What happens if no matter what is said, the team does not agree with the parent?  There are certain resources to pursue in this case.  We will explore these and more in Part 3.  Stay tuned!

As always, if you have questions, drop me a note.

Best Placement Options
We all benefit when our special loved ones experience the best educational placement!
  • Turning 3 refers to an IEP meeting carried out when the child ages out of the Early Intervention Program and is ready to join preschoolers.
  • Turning 5 refers to an IEP meeting carried out when the child ages out of preschool and is ready to join elementary school peers.