Tuesday, August 25, 2015

School, special needs, and parenting

The school year is about to start, and if your child has special needs or faces other challenges in life, there can sometimes be added worries for both parents and children about school, and all the social activities that come with the school year.

I'm very lucky that my son has a wonderful school to go to, and a class where his abilities are allowed to develop and grow. Before my son came along, I was a lot less knowledgeable and educated about  the challenges children with special needs can face in school and society. One of the biggest things I've learned is that while "labels" for various conditions do matter to some extent, each child with special needs is unique: an individual and not a label. I no longer fear the "labeling" of my child as much as I once did, mainly because I now understand that no label can ever capture or limit who he really is.

I follow Ellen Seidman's blog Love That Max, which is about her family, and her son Max who has cerebral palsy. A few years ago, Ellen compiled a wonderful list of tips titled: What to teach your children about kids with special needs.

If you have kids, and even if you don't, this is a great read.

  1. Please don't pity me
  2. Teach your kids not to feel sorry for ours
  3. Play up what kids have in common
  4. Help kids understand there are many forms of expression
  5. Know that making friends with a kid who has special needs is good for both kids
  6. Encourage your kid to say "hi"
  7. Encourage kids to keep talking
  8. Keep explanations simple
  9. Teach kids respect with your actions
  10. Help kids see that kids who can't talk still understand
  11. Kick-start the conversation
  12. Don't worry about embarrassment
I also highly recommend the following blogs, all written by parents who have kids with various special needs. If you have kids, whether they have special needs or not, and if you want to broaden and deepen your knowledge of life and the world; if you want to challenge your preconceptions about special needs parenting, and read stories that will both teach you something new and touch your heart, these are great places to visit:
  • Mama Be Good - written by Brenda who blogs and writes about (and I quote): "Parenting, Shoes, Autism, Coffee, Kids, Shoes, Unschooling, Shoes."
  • Herding cats - A wonderful blog about raising kids, including a child with special needs.
  • Along came the bird - A great blog about raising kids and being a parent.
And if you're looking for travel tips for children with special needs, they are pretty much the same as for all kids, though each family and parent will probably need to tailor the advice and tips to their special situation.

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