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 review time!!

This is such a crucial time of year for all of us “Special Needs” families.

It’s time for the dreaded annual IEP (Independent Educational Plan) review.

Please, Please, Please remember the following very IMPORTANT actions you need to take as you prepare.

  • The IEP and CST (Child Study Team) meeting is yours, NOT theirs!                                              This meeting is taking place because of you, your child, and your family
  • Come prepared                                                                                                                                                Make sure you prepare an agenda of what you want to discuss, see happen, plans and interventions “needed,” etc…                                                                                                            Don’t let them dictate the meetings time frame and events. Yes, you may want to discuss those evaluations and test scores, but it is NOT the only reason you are there. Make sure you have ALL re-eval documents a minimum of 10 days prior to the meeting. Understand what they mean and what are your child’s strength and weakness areas yes, but unless you need clarification…going over stats and percentages should not monopolize the time you have to meet.                                                      If your child is already classified and has been, chances are you are aware and agree that he/she has a disability and is entitled to services. So, get down to business after a short (15 minute) review of the evals.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            NEVER, deny or refuse triennial re-evaluations!
  • Parental Concerns is IMPERATIVE!!                                                                                                            Every IEP has a “Parental Concerns” section, it’s usually a tiny box only about 1/4″ wide….. This does NOT mean you have to fit all of your concerns here!                              Come with an already prepared, typed statement of your parental concerns (probably what you intend to discuss anyway) and formally REQUEST it be included in the official (LEGAL) document of your child’s IEP. This way it becomes a full part of that IEP and everyone your child works with will have access to your input.
  • Record, Report, Re-state                                                                                                                                 Most schools will send you a confirmation letter stating the time, place, and whom will attend the IEP meeting. It may ask if you intend to bring someone? If you request any other professionals and staff? and whether or not you plan to record the meeting?                                                                                                                                                        YES! You want to record the meeting!                                                                                              No, not to antagonize or catch them….. but to have a record for your own to review or for the review of others that may have been unable to attend (That parent out there earning the paycheck who can’t afford another day off the job).                                    You are emotionally involved. Therefore you may not remember or even understand what is being stated/proposed and you need to review the meeting later when you are in a calmer state.                                                                                                                                 The recording will also serve as a resource you can refer to in order to clarify the items discussed for your follow up summary.
  • Follow up summary                                                                                                                                           YES! ALWAYS follow up EVERY meeting, phone call, discussion, teacher email, notes and ANY contact you have with the professionals that service your child with a follow up summary….   “My understanding of what was discussed, proposed, implemented etc….”
  • Finally, and probably MOST IMPORTANT!!!                                                                                              Send ALL correspondence to no less than 3 people in your district ie. the case manager, head of special services, and the building principal. This will ensure you are heard! As well as provide a time stamped/documented record (always send via email) of your insights and perceptions. It also helps that others on your child’s case are aware that they are accountable to replying and taking actions by others within the system.                                                                                                                                                     A recent statement from a client…..”thank you- I did the “copy 3 people on email thing” the last 2 times- whew boy does that work! THANK YOU! “
  • Get support!                                                                                                                                                         If you feel you need some support or expert advice, contact us here at Special Needs NJ  (973-534-3402) to talk to an Advocate/Special Education Consultant

SNNJ SUMMER 2015

Summer Programs at Special Needs NJ, LLP

Newton, NJ (Sussex County)

Providing Help to Students with IEP’s

Join “The Crew”    image3941

A Saturday work crew that helps keep things working,   repairs, clean ups, vehicle maintenance, painting, woodworking etc…. This group is for High School students to put their learned skills to real life practices. The aim of this group is to educate towards “un-entitlement!” Many of our youth have a sense of entitlement, they want what they want! In this Saturday work crew young men and women learn how to take care of things they “want” to have. We teach the use of measurement through building projects, how to do upkeep on a vehicles, cleaning of the pool, maintenance of gardens and paths, use of kitchen tools, budgeting, and much, much more.

Details page 2 click here for full newsletter

Parents support group: support for parents with classified children, forum for questions and advice, expert seminars & program presentation, or just a night of relaxing.

Special Back to School info August

More on page 2

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Tutoring clubs: These are tutoring sessions provided in our center for academics, ABA & IM therapy, and life skills practices to keep students with IEP’s from regressing in their skills.

Page 2
CLICK HERE FOR FULL NEWSLETTER

Teens & Tweens

SUMMER CAMPs

 2 week sessions starting June 15, 2015, held Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays from 9am to 2pm. This group is for young men and young women grouped as 5-8th grade, and HS age with an IEP who wish to connect with other teens in the area.

Campers will learn many life skills such as making shopping lists, shopping, cooking, kitchen safety, working together with others, following directions, properly channeling anger, coping skills, how to make friends/ conversation skills, craft and woodworking projects, plus fun events; swimming, hiking, horseshoes, and games

Each camp will be limited to 8 students per session; lunch is included each day, and additional tutoring sessions available from 2:00-4:00 pm on Monday and Wednesdays.

Price: $650.00 per session covers supplies, food, transportation for outings, end of session pizza party & Bon fire etc… additional $100. to stay for tutoring M&W Requirements: must have IEP, and pre-camp interview

DATES:

1. June: 15-26 HS

2. July: 6-17 5-8th grade

3. July: 20-31 HS

4. Aug: 3-12 5-8th grade

5. August: 17-28 HS Camps may be cancelled if minimum of 4 students each is not met

CONTACT US NOW: (973) 940-6923

CLICK HERE FOR FULL NEWSLETTER

Hudson County Special Education Parent Leadership Round Table

Hudson County Round Table Feb 2015

Hudson County Special Education
Parent Leadership Round Table
This is an opportunity to meet face to face and exchange ideas around what works to enhance and sustain family engagement in schools to improve outcomes for children with disabilities. Strategies to start and run local special education parent groups/advisory groups will be discussed and shared. Come and network with other parent leaders in your county.
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 24th 2015
Time: 6:30pm-9:00pm (registration and networking 6:30PM-7PM)
Location: West New York Housing Authority Building
515 54th Street
West New York, NJ
Entrance to the building is on 52nd Street. Municipal parking across the street (on 52nd
Street)
Snow date: Tuesday, March 3rd (Same place and same time)
To register go to http://hudsoncospecialedroundtable.eventbrite.com or contact Myriam Alizo at malizo@spannj.org or 201-960-7159

PATHWAYS for EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN

 
pathways
Empowering Children of ALL Abilities
Project Win Win Employment Training
Pathways began an innovative employment training program for children ages 12 and above in May 2008. Since then, the program has grown tremendously. It is housed in our studio facility in Boonton, NJ. 
Richard Constable, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs visited the program in November 2014 and was amazed at the array of programs and how the children trained alongside their peers for workforce placement. The program does three things a) Trains children for careers they are passionate about, b) Works to place children in job settings, and c) Teaches about the possibility of starting an entrepreneurship. Today the world is filled with opportuntity and the work force is changing constantly in a way that helps those with disabilities. Learn how you can begin to train early to get the skills needed to be successful in a dynamic workforce!
The Harlem Wizards Are Back!
Join us for a great afternoon of fun, basketball hoops, and entertainment. The Wizards are coming Sunday – February 15, 2015 at 2:00pm at the Montville Township High School large gym. The Montville SuperStars made up of parents, teachers and Pathways’ basketball players are taking on the Harlem Wizards. All of our $30.00 Courtside tickets are sold out. We still have the $15.00 general admission tickets. Last year we completely sold out of tickets so get yours soon!  Click the Wizard logo to the right to order tickets online. You can also pick up tickets at Montville Pharmacy – 185 Changebridge Rd. or Montville Recreation – 195 Changebridge Rd in Montville. You can also order tickets on line by going to our website at www.PathwaysKids.org
Our Video Crew Does it Again!
Pathways’ video crew has joined once again with Taisha’s Table to film her cooking show. If you did not get a chance to see this, you have take a look. This recipe will no doubt capture the heart of chocolate lovers everywhere! We tried this New Years Eve and could not stop eating it, the fondue was heavenly!

Advocacy from a parents perspective

Why Do You Need an Advocate?

Authur: Dan Coggshall

My daughter’s first IEP meeting was a disaster. They sat my pregnant wife and I down in chairs made
for kindergarteners and began to tell us everything that was wrong with our amazing daughter. They
used terms like “z­score” and “standard deviation” and presented us a document full of acronyms, like
LRE and PO, and abbreviations like “grp” (because the two extra letters in group were apparently too
much to write).

I was confused and I was sad. They kept saying we were part of the team, but everything we said was
dismissed. They kept saying “IEP” which I knew meant individual education plan, but they were clearly
trying to put our daughter in the same program they put every other kid in.
My wife and I tried to explain where we were coming from. We tried to share our daughter’s unique
gifts and challenges. We tried to get her the program we knew was right for her. But, we didn’t speak
the language. We were too emotional. We were too angry. They had a rebuttal for everything we said.
They had wording that made them bulletproof. This was one of the most significant days of our lives.
This was a regular Tuesday for them.

I consider myself a pretty smart person. I went to college. I’ve worked in education. I’ve negotiated
contracts. I’ve made myself an expert on all the medical aspects of my daughter’s syndrome. But, I was
totally lost coming out of that first meeting.
I became determined that it would be different the next time. I read every book I could find. I poured
through websites. I joined support groups. I attended training’s. In this process, I realized two things:
1. Unless I devoted all my waking hours to it, I would never have time to learn everything there is
to know about educating children with disabilities.
2. I would never be able to turn off the emotions when it came to my own daughter.

I realized I needed help. I realized I needed an advocate.

Special Education law allows parents to include anyone with special knowledge of the child on the IEP
team that makes decisions about the child’s education. This could be a neighbor, a tutor, a volunteer
from nonprofit, or a professional advocate who makes his or her living helping parents of children with
disabilities navigate the special education system.
Unlike lawyers, who bring with them high fees, long delays, and opposing lawyers, advocates can sit at
the normal IEP table and work within the team to represent the needs of the child with disabilities.
Why did I need an advocate? Why do I think you need an advocate, regardless of your unique
situation? Here are five reasons:

1. You are outnumbered. At almost all meetings, the parents are outnumbered. It’s not unusual
for it to be one parent up against four or more people from the school district. Sure, everyone is
supposed to work as a team and I have heard some great stories of truly collaborative teams(just as I’ve heard stories about unicorns), but it’s usually you against them. One voice against
four is really hard.
A good advocate is an extra voice on your side in the meeting. A good advocate can bring
balance to a meeting and provide back­up. With an advocate present, the school personnel will
be far less likely to try to gang up on you or take advantage of you.

2. The people from the school know more than you. This is their job. They know the
acronyms and the policies. They almost always write the documents you are reviewing. They
talk about things before the meeting and come in with a plan ­­ without you. You are working
just to get up to speed on what they know.
A good advocate can help you keep pace because an advocate can walk in knowing the things
you don’t know. A good advocate speaks the language and knows the rules.

3. The people from the school know less than they should. Just because it is their job,
doesn’t mean they are good at it. Very few people who work for the school have read the
applicable special education laws. More than likely, they did not study the pertinent Supreme
Court cases. What they know is what they’ve been told and what they’ve seen. They know the
way “they” do things ­­ not the way they are supposed to do things.
A good advocate has read the law. A good advocate has seen special education implemented in
other places and has seen how it’s supposed to happen, not just how it happens in that
particular school. A good advocate can come to the table with ideas and solutions balanced
with an understanding of the law to call the school personnel out when they are breaking it.

4. You love your kid too much. It’s hard to make a point and cry at the same time. Emotional
pleas in the movies often win the day and end in slow clapping. Emotional pleas at the IEP table
usually involve a lot of blubbering and end with awkward silences. Worse, yelling and name
calling can destroy any good will the team has toward you.
A good advocate cares about your kid, but can talk dispassionately in order to coherently work
on your child’s behalf. A good advocate stays calm when tensions rise and a good advocate
can help you avoid the embarrassing blubbering.

5. Lawyers are expensive. We all imagine that all we have to do is threaten to sue and the
school district personnel will be shaking in their boots. It doesn’t work that way. When you
threaten to sue, they smile inside because they know that (a) they have lawyers on the payroll
and (b) you don’t. Lawyers are expensive both in terms of time and money. If you’re child is in
an inappropriate placement, can you afford to wait two years and pay twenty thousand dollars?

A good advocate can work quickly and can do so for a lot less money ­­ law degrees,
paralegals, and those leather office chairs are expensive! Even better, a good advocate can help
you negotiate more than the district is required to do under the law. Far more can be
accomplished in an IEP meeting than in a due process hearing.

For all those reasons, I knew I needed an advocate to help secure the correct setting for my daughter.
We were able to work with my team and find solutions to ensure she receives an appropriate education.
I also knew I couldn’t stand by while other parents tried to do it on their own and I decided to give up
all those waking hours so that I could train to become an advocate myself.

Our thanks to Dan Coggshall for authoring this guest blog

Dan has completed his course work with NSEAI (National Special Education Advocacy Institute), and is now interning with us here at Special Needs NJ

Have you been where he was? Lost and confused over the “ABC’s” of Special Education? Outnumbered by school personnel in an IEP meeting (just you against everyone free for that period)? Do you feel your son or daughter is not in the “best” possible environment or program for their “needs?” Do you need help navigating the murky waters of Special Education and your child’s diagnosis or disability?

Many say that a parent is the best advocate for their child. While this is true in many situations, in the IEP meeting this many times is NOT the case. Your emotions are in charge, they don’t understand the guilt, and mourning you are experiencing over the fact that you are even there! That your child is struggling and you feel it’s your fault. You’re to stressed over the 4-12 faces staring back at you to even be confident that you are hearing anything they are saying!

Don’t put yourself through another meeting like the one Dan has described, call for an advocate today! (973) 534-3402

You will receive a half hour consultation with an educational consultant, experienced in Special Education law and practices, who has assisted many families on this journey called the IEP (Individualized Educational Plan). We will hear your struggles, meet your child, review your evaluations and recommendations, formulate a plan, write letters to your CST (child study team), and hold your hand all the way through the process of obtaining the best possible placement for your child and their “Special Needs.”

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(973) 534-3402

Click here to contact us for services

 

 

Worship Services for Special Needs

A WORSHIP SERVICE FOR THOSE CELEBRATING BEAUTIFUL AND SPIRITED CHILDREN WITH

SPECIAL NEEDS

 

Please join us for our Very Special Family Worship Service

November 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Christ children7

This is a joyous, musical and engaging communion service that lasts approximately ½ hour.

Children are celebrated and free to be themselves.

Lunch (including Gluten Free and Vegan options) will be served immediately following the November 23, 2014 service.

Hosted by

The Episcopal Church of the Atonement

(Between Broadway and Rosalie Street)

1-36 30th Street

Fair Lawn, NJ 07410

201-797-0760

Special Services the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month

click here to visit our page www.atonement-fairlawn.org

Not accessible for the physically handicapped

Electric stair chair available

 

Please RSVP and let us know your dietary restrictions.  Bettylynnschweitzer@hotmail.com OR Betty Lynn: 732-289-5198.  We will do our best to accommodate your needs.

IEP HELP

IEP meeting
It’s IEP time! Where did I put those report cards? FAPE IDEA What was that teacher’s name? LRE Should we keep him in speech? IEE Don’t get caught in a rush, wondering what to discuss, not understanding a single word they say! Call: specialneedsheader.jpg Special Needs NJ…. NOW! 973-534-3402 Our experts can help you interpret those test sores, percentages, rankings etc… But more importantly; we know the law! If you’ve ever been afraid, intimidated, feel unsure, bullied, unheard, talked down to and think your child needs a better written, more individualized IEP? Don’t wait for the last-minute. This is your child’s education! Let’s get together, so this year you feel confident, prepared, educated, and not intimidated. Our advocates are ready and waiting to serve you and your child. Not only will we meet you and your child in the comfort of your own home, but we will accompany you to the meeting at your school. We want to help educate you about the education your child has a right to receive within your home community. Negotiate and work with school professionals to ensure your child gets the best possible education that will address his/her disability “needs.” And not simply pigeon-holed into a one size fits all model of what the school thinks is representative of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Call NOW! 973-534-3402 for your FREE consult

Pathways for Exceptional Children

A number of our students have been plugging in to the Pathways for Kids programs!!

Below is their mission statement.

Click here to go to their home page

Vision and Mission

Our Vision:

To create a future for children of all abilities where they are included, valued, and empowered to redefine the world.

Our Mission:

To encourage children of all abilities to find their passions, maximize their potential, and experience the empowerment that comes from diversity.

Values:

  1. The Importance of Community and Inclusion:

    It is essential that children develop a sense of belonging and a strong foundation of value and self-worth. Pathways is devoted to helping communities gain the knowledge and understanding to appropriately include and embrace children of all abilities and provide experiences and opportunities for children with varying needs to grow, learn, and discover their passions together.

  2. All Children must be given every opportunity to realize their passions and maximize their giftedness:

    Outcomes in learning and achieving success dramatically improve when children are allowed to realize their passions and maximize their giftedness. It is our goal to help children of all abilities find their own unique genius and to learn to cultivate that same potential in those around them.

  3. Children Teaching Children:

    Pathways believes children need to realize the power of ONE to make a difference and has adopted the “children teaching children” or “peer to peer” model as one of the biggest priorities. Pathways considers the ideas and passions of children to be our most valuable resource. If a child is passionate about something and is willing to teach and share it with another child, the value given to both children is priceless. Children no matter what their ability need to be included with their peers and taught to work collaboratively to build, take ownership of, and lead the future they will inherit.

  4. Providing Intensive Early Intervention and a Continuum of Services:

    Pathways believes all children should be given the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. Those at highest risk for exclusion and failure remain children with disabilities and other more vulnerable populations. The national employment rates for people with disabilities remain at a dismal 37%. This is the worst form of exclusion is the inability to work which then causes a complete dependency on government funding and others to live. Pathways is passionate about obtaining the long-term meaningful outcomes that will give these children a life of independence, the ability to pursue the work they love, and obtain a life of dignity and fulfillment.

  5. Creating a Spirit of Collaboration, Innovation, and Leadership:

    Pathways actively seeks to build partnerships and to collaboratively invest in initiatives that are designed to produce positive and measurable outcomes aimed at helping all children to lead themselves and others toward success and redefining the world around them. We are particularly passionate about investing in programs and ideas initiated, owned, and led by children.

About “Include ME!”

The “Include ME!” program is the initial training Pathways provides to get you started with our programs in your area. It provides training for professionals, parents, students, and anyone else that wants to begin to develop a more inclusive world. “Include ME!” trains people not to just accept diversity or tolerate it but to become empowered by it! It begins by getting away from a consequence or legally based system like what we see in anti-bullying campaigns. There is nothing motivating about constantly threatening children by what they “can’t do” or the consequences of poor behavior and bullying. The program begins with “Include ME!” assemblies and/or workshops that inspire children with the steps they can take to become more inclusive. After the “Include ME!” assemblies, children volunteer to become mentors and go through the mentor training. Adults help to facilitate programs in areas that the mentors are passionate about and are designed to include children with special needs and others at high risk of being excluded. Once this is underway, the ONE to 1,000 program can begin. This program greatly expands the “Include ME!” program from the initial phase into a youth leadership model where children take genuine ownership and begin to run an entire array of programs from sports and recreation, academics, life skills, and employment training. To read more about “Include ME!” download the brochure below.

click here for the home page and more information on Pathways for Kids!