Offering a helping hand to ‘special needs’ families

Special Needs NJ Family Services serves locals in Sussex County

Sussex County NJ Parent Advocate: Linda Leenstra

BY CLAUDIA CARAMIELLO PUBLISHED DEC 10, 2013 AT 6:18 PM (UPDATED Feb. 2017) ShareThis ANDOVER —

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” This famous quote from “The Lorax” appears on the cover of a pamphlet for Special Needs NJ Family Services LLP in Andover. It serves as an important message and theme of the children’s advocacy agency, who believe that all children have the potential to succeed academically regardless of any “special needs.”

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Be the change you want to see…Gandhi

Offering a helping hand For a parent, having a child who has been classified in school is usually an emotional experience fraught with confusion, questions and anxiety. The question, “What do we do next?” is raised, and parents can feel overwhelmed with paperwork, Individual Education Plans (IEP) interpretation, and meetings with Child Study Teams.

Helping a child to stay motivated, reach their potential, and like school can be a daunting task for mothers and fathers. Serving families throughout NJ but anchored in Sussex County, Special Needs NJ provides individual services to families who have a child in the school system with special needs. These services include Advocacy for the child, tutoring, life skills, ABA therapy, and now adding Life Coaching for parents and aging students.

The goal of Special Needs NJ, is to help parents navigate the sometimes confusing world of having a classified child, as well as making children aware that they have someone on their side.

“If you went to work everyday and were compared to the guy in the next cubicle, you would start to hate going to work,” says Special Educator, advocate, therapist, and life coach, Linda Leenstra, known warmly to her students as “Ms. Linda.”

“Everybody needs to understand that we are not all square pegs that fit neatly into the square hole. The American education system is so stuck on this concept that children begin to feel like there is something wrong with them; they don’t fit into the system,” says Leenstra. “Here at Special Needs NJ, we feel that individualism is a great thing!”

Classification:  In New Jersey, there are 14 different types of classifications within the education system. For parents, making sense of the terminology, and navigating a path toward well being for their child can be intimidating. Leenstra provides the important service of going into the schools with the parents and attending IEP meetings with the Child Study Team. She often encourages parents to bring a picture of their child to the meeting which helps keep the focus on why everyone is there. They are there for the child. “It is important for school systems to know that we are not working against them, but with them,” says Leenstra. “The best thing for a child is an educated parent, and our main drive is to educate parents on how to get their child in the right program.”

In an effort to help a child reach their potential, Special Needs NJ also will go into homes and provide, not only tutoring, and help with a specific subject, but life skills for children who have a learning disabilities, and behavioral training for both parent and child. Special Needs NJ can help train parents on how to deal with struggles their child may be going through, and provide encouragement to the child. The agency will also assist parents in organizing and understanding the paperwork and forms that comes with having a child who is classified.

Anniversary: as Special Needs NJ is entering it’s fifth year, they continue to grow and provide help to families in New Jersey. The agency also works on a sliding scale fee, and are individualized to a client’s needs. Leenstra regards her role as advocate and educator as more then a job, and establishes a strong connection to the families she works with.

“If you think about it, kids are always under scrutiny, always judged,” says Leenstra. “They are naturally free spirits who want to learn, explore, touch everything, but then they go to school and have their art work compared to other kids.” “For every negative statement made, we should always make five positive ones,” Leenstra advises. “People want to be complemented, not compared.”

For more information visit http://www.specialneedsnewjersey.com or call 973-5343402

Special Needs NJ provides a free consultation to discuss how their specialized services fit your individual needs.

Pictured: Linda Leenstra, Court Appointed Special Advocate, with Judge of Morris and Sussex County Courts NJcasa

 

 

New Resources

Here are a few more references for families with disabled members

Disability Accommodation Cost Guides

Personal Finance Guide for People with Disabilities

8 Steps for Learning Disabled Students Who Want to Go to College

34 Great Jobs for People with Disabilities

Autism and Addiction: Coping with and Treating Your Dual Diagnosis

Travel Tips for Workers with Disabilities

The Guide to Securing Life-long Accommodations for Adult Children With Special Needs

Types of Service Dogs

NJ Miss Amazing 2016/2017

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CONGRATULATIONS! to our own Linda Leenstra, sworn in as Morris/Sussex County Court Appointed Special Advocate

casaPictured: Linda Leenstra sworn in by Judge Berdote Byrne Superior Court of NJ in the Historic Court Room at Morristown, Monday November 7, 2016

A Call to Advocacy

August is upon us and before you know it school will be back in session.

Is your child ready? Do you know the services they should receive related to their disability? Are you worried about beginning another year of uncertainty, missed goals, and limited progress?

We can help you navigate those murky waters called “Special Ed.”

Call us today if…

  • You feel your child may have a learning disability
  • You don’t understand the ins and outs of the (IEP), Individualized Education Plan
  • You want to know your rights as a parent
  • Need help writing a letter to the school
  • Don’t understand the evaluations process, percentiles, outcomes etc…
  • Feel your child should be making more progress in academics
  • The school seems to be fluffing you off, saying she/he will catch up

Special Needs NJ has been providing families with “special needs” members for over 15 years in the areas of IEP interpretation, letter writing, IDEA law review, evaluation and assessment interpretation, understanding timelines, everything up to and including meeting attendance with your (CST) Child Study Team. Giving you the skills, techniques, and guidance to help you become the “BEST” advocate you can be for your child.

We understand ALL of the classifying categories; ALL of the related services, and most importantly How you can get the best possible program for your child to progress and become successful in their educational experience.

DON’T WAIT ANOTHER MINUTE….

CALL (973) 534-3402 and we will give you a free consultation.

Statistics show that children who get the proper services during the formative years of Kindergarten-3rd grade perform beyond their expected potential. Unfortunately we see most students because they are struggling and by 3rd grade they are 2-3 years behind, by 5th grade they are 3-5 years behind, and by 8th grade they are moving into high school with only a 5th grade reading level!

However, don’t despair if your child is already in this situation… it’s NEVER too late!

call, email, or fill out the service form right here on our page.

Our prices are conservative and very reasonable

Isn’t your child’s future worth it?

 

SNNJ also provides: Tutoring, Life Skills Coaching, Behavior Management

SUMMER TUTORING

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SPECIAL NEEDS NJ

Is booking now for summer tutoring

Academics, Social Skills, Behavior Management, Executive Functioning SkillsABA etc….

Call (973) 534-3402 or email to specialneedsnj@hotmail.com

for intake interview

IEP Tips:

If at all possible; do not go to the IEP alone! You don’t necessarily need to bring a trained advocate, bring someone who cares about your child and your family. They don’t need to speak. Just ask them to be there to support you, and take notes. This will send the district the message that you take your rights seriously.