Dr. Vanessa Lapointe’s latest book: Parenting Right from the Start

It was nothing but refreshing to read Dr. Lapointe’s professional take on attachment and development.  Let’s just say that many of the ideas that she talks about in her new book Parenting Right from the Start are the very same ideas that I have been teaching my families for quite some time.  This is all especially true when dealing with special needs families, and at the same time, harder to crystallize.  It is worth pointing though, and I can firmly say that this will be one of the first books I will be recommending to my families from now on. 

The wholistic, and at the same time, individualized approach that she teaches the families she works with very much approximate the message that I try to instill in the families that I work with, namely:

  1. You got this!
  2. Don’t let fear of judgement by others take over!
  3. Don’t let judgement of yourself take over!
  4. Relax and enjoy the ride!

My knowledge is not only based on years of experience but also on years of working on the connection between Eastern and Western thought.  I can only summarize it with what a parent told me this morning, as we were talking about his daughter’s traumatic past, “worrying and dwelling are like a rocking chair, they give you something to do but you won’t get anywhere with it.”  Those wise words carried me through the day, and they can get you through the worst crises as well as the not-so-terrible ones:  temper tantrums, defiant behavior, resistant behavior, and normal developmental challenges that all parents are exposed to. Did your child have a tantrum?  Did you yell when you shouldn’t have?  Forgive yourself and move one.  Learn from this experience and take a step back next time. 

Parenting Right from the Start focuses on exactly what the title claims:  Parenting way before you decide to have children, but in a non-judgmental, caring way.  It explores common milestones from the parents’ point of view and from the child.  It teaches parents to look at the world through the child’s eyes.  The result is a more confident parent who is in control and understands that it is normal for parents to feel overwhelmed sometimes.  It teaches parents to deal with those feelings of defeat and provides an avenue not only to help the child grow, but to help parents grow.

To get a copy of this book, click here.  The paperback is out on October 8th, 2019. 

Highly Recommended!

If you have any questions of comments, drop me a note!

Cheers!

Dr. Klimek

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Parental Rights Violations

Three years ago, when I joined the Enrollment Division at a local education department in a major metropolitan area in the Northeastern United States, I did it partly motivated by the fact that as a relatively high ranking administrator, I would get to make decisions that would influence the lives of students and parents.  I was particularly interested in improving the lives of students with disabilities and their families.  I wanted to influence the decision-making process so that it would be a fair system, equitable, and barrier-removing for all families.

Little did I know that no matter how hard I tried to remove barriers to access, the “system” would see me and my efforts as nothing more than another obstacle.  For starters, in is well known and well documented that our system has been plagued by laws and policies that have historically favored those on top.  For example, in our city, there is a policy that has been in practice in the past few years.  The policy is aptly named “the reform” and even though it claims to uphold the values of inclusion as its advocates claim that “all students must be served in the same schools as their general education peers,” it truly and many times, violates the principle of the Free and Appropriate Public Education for students with disabilities.

In the past few years I have realized that this policy mostly benefits upper-middle class, white students, as they are typically the ones who favored from this loophole between what Federal Law (IDEA) provides as a right to students with disability, and a policy enacted by a local education department.  The local policy seeks to enforce flexible programming for students that were determined to be best serviced in a particular program, typically a self-contained, small, and structured class for students with special needs.  Flexible programming allows schools to place students in large classes, as long as they work to try to meet the minimal requirements on the IEP.  Psychologists working under these conditions, have been advised to recommend programs that would not require schools to service student in small programs for the entire school day, therefore providing the necessary loophole to make flexible programming possible.

In my view, this is a clear violation of parental rights and student’s right to a Free Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment, a set of rules set forth as provisions to one of the most important educational laws of this land.  Here is the caveat to this loophole:  The typical upper-middle class, well-to-do person, is able to consult a lawyer, sue the local education department for inability to provide services under the provisions of IDEA, and get paid thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to send their child to a private school.  As a matter of fact, in my career as an education administrator, this has been the scenario in almost the entirety of cases that crossed my desk.  The typical student whose parents work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and barely have time to sit at the dinner table and help their child with homework will struggle with whatever decisions schools make for them.  Their children will struggle too.

If you feel that your child has been left behind by a system that does not support him/her, and your family, please drop me a note.  I’m here to help.

More to come on this story…  Stay tuned!

We are all Special in our own way! We are not all the same!

Taking Responsibility for Our Village

As parents, we may be faced with difficult choices, difficult decisions, and sometimes we get a little sidetracked and lose sight of who we are. Families, and parents in particular, can become really pivotal figures in the development of their children. This is not to say that as parents we shouldn’t depend on a village to raise our children. Much to the contrary, we should keep the village in mind, but we also need to understand that each person within the village has a role that he or she must be responsible for.
It may be tempting to rely solely and exclusively on the knowledge and experience of another person, but the truth is that there is no replacement for the knowledge that we as parents, or as family members, can provide. Therefore, pointing fingers is not useful. Providing support is. Support comes in many different forms and in different directions. We are accustomed to talking about “support” as in coming from the professional to the family, but the family can also provide support to the professional.
In an ideal situation, collaboration is mutual, the village grows, and the knowledge is shared. For example, when a child is having a difficult time focusing on a particular toy, it is important to ask the parent if there was anything happening during the week that may have determined the behavior. The parent may provide information that will save time and frustration to the child, and the teacher may be able to introduce a novel toy so that the child can learn a new task. Support can be something that seems very simple but can have powerful consequences. Knowing that the child had a negative experience with the toy prevents frustration and promotes a positive learning environment.
Our village is richer, when we all collaborate. The questions still remains, what do we do in the face of frustrations? We look inside. There is a way to move forward. There is someone to reach out to. There is a helping hand.

If you are experiencing frustration, have questions, or just want connect, please leave me at the contact form below.