For Parents Advocating For a Child with Disabilities, Here’s the Golden Rule: If You Don’t Ask for It, You Won’t Get It!

I have a new piece out in New Jersey Family Magazine on advocating for your child with special needs. It starts here: My husband and I welcomed our son into the world with the calm conviction of experienced parents. Jonah was our fourth child, and we were pros at child rearing, fluent in the language of raising kids. Feeding schedule? Check. Separation anxiety? Check. Toilet training? Check. Education? Check. But Jonah isn’t typical. When he …

New Jersey Has One of the Lowest Rates of Inclusion of Special Education Students in America. A New Report Explains What We’re Doing Wrong.

A new report called “An Advocate’s Guide to Transforming Special Education” by the nonprofit group Innovate Public Schools (IPS) doesn’t mince words: students with disabilities are segregated into classrooms with low expectations, “regardless of how moderate their disability may be.” Families and advocates are often “dismissed and ignored.”Special needs children, especially those of color, are systematically relegated to lower tracks, regardless of cognitive potential, all in violation of the basic tenet of federal law that children …

Top Ten Pro-Tips for Special Needs Schools Seeking New Students

This post is by Liz Winslow, a school choice warrior and mom of three children, two of whom have special needs. Her work has previously appeared on NJLB here and here. Her most recent post, which describes Aaron’s issues, is here. So, my ex and I visited the first of several specialized schools where disturbed — but still age five — Aaron might go out-of-district today. While we were fully prepared for them to not look exactly like traditional elementary …

I Could Deal with Holland But I Got Caracas: A Special Needs Mom’s Story

This post is by Liz Winslow, a school choice warrior and mom of three children, two of whom have special needs. Her work has previously appeared on NJLB here and here. Welcome to Caracas. When my first child was diagnosed with a life-changing disability, I was devastated. And some advice I got — which I hated at the time but had come to appreciate — was to view this parenting journey as a diversion from Italy to Holland,  per …

“If You’re Not a White Boy, You’re Less Likely to Be Diagnosed with Autism”

The National Autism Coordinator of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently submitted  a report to Congress called  “Young Adults and Transitioning Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” You can wade through the whole thing here but the conclusions will come as no surprise to parents with children and young adults on the autism spectrum: our country’s system for providing support is inadequate, inequitable, fragmented, confusing, and in “acute need” of reform. Any parent …

Jared’s Got Something Special and KIPP’s ‘Pathways’ Is Helping Him Show It

Eight-year-old Jared Teel-Drayton hops into the room, hands flapping, eyes darting, smile alight. He’s been painting—his class went to the art room today—and his teacher, Farida Mallah, patiently combs through a plastic drawer for a clean tee-shirt, which he dons happily. It’s his favorite one, navy blue with the word “grit” stenciled in front, usually awarded as a prize. Jared’s got something special, and it’s not just a new tee-shirt. “Can you tuck it in?” …