My Child was LEFT OUT of the holiday program at school

 

It's that time of year again! Too many parents are going to be posting on FB how their child was NOT included in the holiday celebrations at school this year.

Many parents will not even post about it. They will keep it to themselves and push down the feelings of being excluded.

Here's the real deal - 99.99999% of the time, this does not happen on purpose.

Teachers and special education teams are working hard just to hold it together through the chaos of December in school and organizing the supports needed for ALL students to participate in holiday celebrations gets forgotten.

This doesn't mean it's right. It's just the reality.

Good thing there's an easy solution!

Start the conversation, TODAY, with your child's team on how your child can be part of the school community through holiday celebrations.

Make sure the team knows you aren't asking for your child to be plopped on the end of the choir riser to pretend to sing jingle bells. Let them know you are open to creative solutions...

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Special Needs Moms - Do They Even Know You?

Uncategorized Dec 09, 2018

Hey Special Needs Moms,

It's Self Care Sunday, again, and we're going to get real about something that happens to ALL of us as moms who have EXTRAORDINARY responsibilities. 

We forget who we are.

We can't remember what we used to like or even more likely, what we used to like doesn't make us smile anymore.

Our priorities have changed.

It feels lonely, like nobody really "gets us" or understands who we are.

The real question is - do we know who we are?

Do you know what makes you smile, laugh, feel JOY?

You know when I'm talking about self care, I'm not talking about spa days and 3 hour coffee dates with your BFF. 

I'm getting real with you about stuff you CAN do, without a struggle. These are things you NEED to do to keep your sanity in your every day struggles.

So this week:

Find something this week that will make you smile. Something different than what is in your daily routine. Buy a new book. Try a new latte. Grab some fancy colored gel pens and a new journal. Make...

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Don't Blink - It goes so fast

 

O.M.Goodness! This video!!! I'm asked all the time how I still have overflowing passion and joy when it comes to special education and IEPs after 20+ years... little Sara saying "Thank you, Catherine" explains it all.

Meet Gracjana... Sara's mom. Her daughter is transitioning from Pre-K to Kindergarten, which we all know means there's a bit more stress involved than just an annual IEP meeting.

Hours of prep work, 4 programs visited, binders full of notes and plans. 

The team expected the meeting to last more than 90 minutes. It didn't. In fact, we were done in one hour. In just 60 minutes we worked with the team to change two proposed IEP goals, get a plan in place for transitioning smoothly to the new school, modifications made to seating in the "bigger" school and even talked about (and agreed upon) how inclusion is going to work.

Gracjana is not only a rockstar special needs mom, but she has also completed the IEP Coach Mentorship. She is diving deep into special education...

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Trust Your Gut - You are EXTRAORDINARY

Special Needs Parents - It's time for you to make (another) tough decision.

You need to decide to let go of the limits and labels that others have put on you as a special needs family and trust your own gut to find your own path.

For those of you that don’t know, I’m connected in the special needs community in many different ways.

First, I’m a special needs sibling. My brother has Down syndrome and I grew up listening to my mom advocating for hours on the phone for my brother to get a better education.

Listening to my mom advocate fueled me to become a special education teacher. Most people think I became a teacher because I wanted to teach kids “like my brother” or because one of my brother’s teachers inspired me, but actually, it was the opposite.

I became a teacher because, as a special needs sibling, I wanted change not only for my brother, but for his friends…. Who were also my friends.

So at 10 years old I decided I would change the...

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Leave the Pity Party

I just read another one of those blog posts that float around social media talking about how isolating it is to be a special needs parent.

Yes, I see the need to talk about the loneliness, but there's a key step that is NEVER talked about when it comes to special needs parenting.

You NEED to walk out of the pity party.

Just go. Leave. Don't come back.

I'm serious.

Sure, you're going to have rough days that seem lonely, but that's still not an excuse to join the pity party.

You can have your own meltdown, just don't walk back through those doors of feeling sorry for yourself and then making yourself feel both better and worse because you've surrounded yourself with people who are feeling bad about themselves, too.

Here's the thing - if you are going to finally get out of the pity party, you need to find a different party to attend.

No, I don't mean one you have to leave the house for, although sometimes leaving the house is needed, especially when you find that tribe that all wear...

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PROUD Special Needs Sibling Moment - My Brother Rocks!

 

Every now and then my brother knocks my socks off by showing me a skill I never thought he would master!

Motivation for finding his favorite football game on TV was a big enough kick in the pants for him to learn how to speak clearly to say "N-F-L" into the voice activated remote.

Anybody who knows anything about Down syndrome, knows that understanding speech patterns in persons with Down syndrome can be difficult. 

Voice activated controls are usually not an option, but HE DID IT!

Moms & Dads - Keep going. Keep pushing through, especially when others say "no way".  Your gut knows what is possible and as a special needs sibling, I can say with confidence that your other children will LOVE you even more for pushing their siblings to always go farther than others expect. 

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Special Needs Financial Planning - No Small Thinking Allowed!

 

I began the story above, from my car, sharing with you how I just finished my annual financial planning meeting, as a mom and special needs sibling.

Please excuse the tears about half way through the story of me sharing about an email that a special needs mom sent me while I was sitting at that meeting... all the emotion just hit me when I was thinking about her and her family's future. 

She's experiencing the same thing I experienced MANY years ago when I decided that NO boss or company was going to limit my families financial stability.

I would take charge of our finances - because that's what special needs moms do, right? Take charge.

I have my brother with Down syndrome in his 40's, a dad who passed of cancer, a mom who had a triple bypass a few years ago, on top of a daughter who is recovered from severe Epilepsy, and an older daughter who needs my attention with all the crisis that is always happening - did I mention I'm a single mom and sole provider for my family? ...

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Check Your Child's Reading Level

 

There's so much to track in an IEP!

So let's break it down and just tackle one step today.

It's time to know your child's reading level.

Watch the video, take notes and ask questions HERE in our private FB group.

I can't wait to help you feel confident that your child is leaping book to book making progress!

-Catherine

Have questions about your child's IEP, beyond just reading? ASK HERE

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3 IEP Prep Steps - Before Your Next IEP Meeting

Believe it or not... Parents & Teachers & Therapists all struggle with IEP meetings. 

I know, Parents, you are thinking that you are the one that has 12 people around the table who all "know what they are doing", but I'm going to let you in on a little secret... not all teachers & teams feel confident at the IEP meeting. 

In fact, after working with both parents and teams for over 20+ years, and having been a teacher myself AND having a brother with Down syndrome... I can confidently say that nobody feels 100% sure at the IEP table. I mean the stakes are HIGH, we all have to work together to build an awesome education for an exceptional student.

The pressure is ON at these meetings and everyone knows it. So you lose sleep, get hyped up on caffeine and then fuel yourself with determination to do what's needed for an extraordinary child to LEARN. 

So what should we do?

Prioritize and Prepare - the best we can. 

So before your next IEP meeting - Do...

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Insider thoughts as a special needs sibling

Uncategorized Oct 20, 2018

I’m a proud special needs sibling.

My brother has Down syndrome.

I fight with my brother. I cry with my brother. I tease my brother. I laugh with my brother.

My brother needs both you and me to be patient. Speak clearly and slowly. Allow him time to do things on his own.

He understands more than most realize. Watch out. He’s listening to you. He learning from you.

The biggest thing you need to know about how to treat my brother... be kind. I’m not far behind.

#spedteacher #specialneedssiblings #downsyndrome#bekindtooneanother

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