Is your school obeying the law?
The Massachusetts DOE’s website has a page called “Program Quality Assurance Services.”
This lists which public school districts are up for review to see who is or is not in compliance with education requirements – including Special Education laws.
For example, in 2015 a few of the school districts up for review include:
• West Springfield
Find out when your school district was reviewed, or when their next scheduled review will take place, on the DOE’s Coordinate Program Review Page at http://bit.ly/1rLhyyX
I hope this page is a useful tool to help ensure that your child is receiving the best special education supports available in your school district.
Here We Go Again
It's hard to get out of beach and pool mode. But summer is almost over and it’s time to embrace another school and work year.
There is always lots of commotion with moving forward to this next stage of the season; IEPS, medical forms, becoming familiar with the new aides for our child, and organizing the other kids’ schedules around our special child’s particular needs.
The good news is that once everyone is settled in, we can enjoy the organization and quiet moments that come when all the planning is finally working.
And then it will be time to make our holiday lists…
Have a great school year!
Pass the National Background Check Bill
The Arc of Massachusetts has asked that everyone share this important message. In part, it reads:
“Please act on this alert for HB4125 An Act to Require National Criminal Background Checks (for Staff who work with individuals served by the Departmental of Developmental Services - DDS)
Right now only Massachusetts criminal background checks are conducted for those working with individuals served by DDS…If someone lives in Rhode Island, New Hampshire or other neighboring state we have no way of knowing if they have a record in that state or in another state from which they recently moved.
Passage of this bill is important to protect a vulnerable population from sexual or other serious abuse…"
To find out more and submit a message to your lawmaker, visit the Arc of Massachusetts National Background Check Bill page.
A Miracle for Justina
The case of Justina Pelletier is the nightmare that any special-needs parent fears.
Justina is the 15-year-old from West Hartford, Connecticut that is being held against her family’s wishes at a Boston hospital since February 2014.
There is way more to the story than can be related in this short blog. However if you visit www.justiceforjustina.com you will see her parents side of the issue and case for bringing her home. A more newsworthy view can be found by just searching Justina’s name in the internet.
No matter how you find information, it is important that as a parent you educate yourself on what a worst case scenario can look like when parents and doctors disagree.
I hope that Justina goes home to her family soon. And I hope this never happens again.
“Mom, where I am I going next?”
For most teens, an answer from a parent may be “to your room to finish your homework", or “stop texting your friends and I’ll tell you.”
However this question came from my special-needs 19-year-son. He wondered what his disability supports will be when he graduates from his out-of-district school.
I don’t know.
The DDS says no even though he was in their system since age 3, supported by diagnostic reports taller and thicker than Manhattan phone books.
The DMH says no, even though those same reports document that his OCD, ADHD, anxiety, and other co-morbid issues must be addressed by a comprehensive mental health support system.
Seems they think that the DDS should take him. Or I should look elsewhere.
And when I explore other disability organizations, they usually won’t accept someone not funded by the DDS or DMH.
No wonder so many people fall through the cracks in our system.
For any state agency legislator that may happen to read this blog, please tell me how these roadblocks are supposed to help the very people you are designated to serve?
My young adult, and many other young adults need your help. Today.
Massachusetts' Disability Events
Sensory Santa & Special Needs Holiday Events in Greater Massachusetts can be found on our Recreation Page. Please also visit our Event Submission page to learn if your holiday event can be submitted.
IEP & School wide Strategies to Prevent Bullying of Students with Disabilities: November 18, 2014, Somerville. “The Massachusetts Anti-bullying Law: IEP & Schoolwide Strategies to Prevent Bullying of Students with Disabilities”, will be presented by Johanne Pino, Massachusetts Advocates for Children. Hear about the significant changes in special education practice that are a result of the state’s new anti - bullying prevention law, focusing on both school-wide efforts to create safe and supportive school environments for students with disabilities and new statutory provisions that require IEP Teams to address bullying of students with disabilities. For more information or to reserve childcare, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-625-6600 ext. 6829 or visit the Somerville SEPAC
When the Belly is the Beast: December 4, 2014, Bristol Community College, Fall River. Explore how environmental factors, including toxic exposures and processed and nutrient-poor foods, cause a range of chronic and degenerative illnesses. Hear about organic and whole food approaches to treating and preventing conditions including autism, auto-immune disease, and Alzheimer's by healing the gut and preventing inflammation in the brain.
• Dr. Martha Herbert, pediatric neurologist and author of "The Autism Revolution: Whole Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be"
• Pamela J. Ferro, Co-founder of Hopewell Associates and director of its Autism program.
• Raman Prasad author of "Colitis & Me: A Story of Recovery", chronicling his life with crippling UC and how he ultimately restored health through diet.
Fees apply to attend this event. For more information visit the Northeast Organic Farming Organziation or contact 508-572-0816 or email@example.com
Inclusive Camps & Activities in Massachusetts for 2015: From Ayer to Boston to Plymouth, Sturbridge, Worcester and more, camps and programs to help your special child stay busy, engaged and included by enjoying movies, sports, recreation, outings and social activities. See the Camp Page for listings.
Boston Museum of Science Disability Prototype Testers: The Boston Museum of Science is seeking visitors with all disabilities to test new exhibit prototypes, explore the museum, and give feedback to help improve their accessibility.
Testing includes free admission to exhibit halls for the day and free parking in the Museum's garage. To participate and give the Museum feedback fill out their Boston Museum of Science on line form or contact 617-589-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sensory Friendly Films are now on the Recreation Page.
Find more Massachusetts Recreation on our Recreation Page
SPED Child and Teen is not responsible for any listed events' contents, or changes in content, times, dates, fees, or speakers. Please check with event host to verify details.
SPED Child and Teen does not endorse any event, listing or product on this site, and all content is for information purposes only.
Teens and Young Adults
Transition Resource Fair: November 19th, 2014, Franklin Town Hall, 7 p.m. The Franklin SEPAC's fair will feature The Franklin Public Schools, Early Intervention all the way up to Post Secondary Services, plus regional support programs such as Criterion, The Massachusetts Department of Health and Department of Developmental Services. Free and open to the public. For more information visit the Franklin SEPAC
"Transition Talks" Parent Groups: December 11th, & 18th, 2014, Seven Hills Family Support Center, Sturbridge, 6 p.m. Free and open to the public. Transition Specialist Robin Foley will discuss the special needs journey and transition for ages 14-22. Topics include student visions, post secondary opportunities, etc. For more information call 508-796-1954. For the Fitchburg Seven Hills Family Support Center call 978-632-4322
Employment in the Community - Where the jobs Are: November 11th, 7 - 9 p.m., Ashland. Presented in partnership with Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change Full Life Ahead Series. This workshop will feature an interactive discussion on employment in the community led by David Hoff from the Institute for Community Inclusion. RSVP to email@example.com or call or call 508.782.2617 or visit the Advocates Family Services Events page.
Making Things Possible - Building Blocks for Transitions Conference & Resource Expo: November 15th, 2014, Cotting School, Lexington, MA. Free. The Burr Family Conference Transition Conference at Cotting will cover:
• Agencies, Advocacy, Body Changes
• Collaborative Planning, Communication
• Financial Planning, Home & Living
• Neuro & Psych Evaluations, Social Thinking
• Employment, Technology, Yoga, and More
The resource expo will feature local organizations such as Advocates, Easter Seals, Federation for Children with Special Needs, MGH Aspire program, United Cerebral Palsy, and many more. For more information visit the Cotting Conference page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Sexuality & Adult Children with Special Needs: October - November, 2014, Fitchburg. For parents of an 18 - 33 year old adult child with special needs. Gain a deeper understanding of your child's sexuality, and how to support and facilitate the development of healthy romantic and platonic relationships for your children. A commit to all 5 weeks is required. A staffed activity will be available for your adult child to participate in while you attend the workshop. Fees apply, partial scholarships available. Register to 978-343-6662 X1010 or email email@example.com.
Special Needs College & Career Access Project (CCAP): Fall 2014, Danvers. A collaborative effort of North Shore Community College and Northeast Arc. CCAP is designed to prepare ages 18 to 26 with developmental, intellectual or learning disabilities with educational and hands-on practical experience in Horticulture, Canine and Feline Care and Arts/Entrepreneurship. Scholarships are available. For more information contact 978 624-3062 or firstname.lastname@example.org at 978-777-9135
Self Advocacy Documentary Looking for Massachusetts Youth ages 14 - 22: In collaboration with Emerson College, The Spotlight Program has an opportunity for teens and young adults ages 14-22 to participate in a self-advocacy documentary project at a reduced rate. They are currently enrolling for the Winter semester beginning January 10th. For more information visit The Spotlight Program or Families can also visit www.spotlightprogram.com for more information or contact 978-624-2310
ImprovBoston Disability Scholarship: The No Limits Media and ImprovBoston scholarship is to help a person with disabilities learn improvisational comedy. People with disabilities will perform alongside improvisers of every type. Eligibility requirements must be met:
• You must be at least eighteen 18 years old
• You must be able to engage productively in collaboration with others
• Only complete applications will be considered.
For more information contact email@example.com or visit ImproveBoston Disability Scholarship page.
Planning A Life Making the Most Out of High School: TBA in Boston., Springfield and Worcester. For parents of students with disabilities aged 14 to 21. Topics cover: Creating a VISION, Person Centered Planning, Portfolio Development, Transition Requirements of IDEA 2004, Assessments, Transition goals into the IEP, Employment & Job Development, Work Supports.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org 617.236.7210 - ext 336 or registration info at 800-331-0688 or email@example.com or visit www.fcsn.org
NEXT STEP: College Success & Independent Living program: Boston. For students, grades 9-12, who present with a social language deficit, Aspergers Syndrome, NLF, or related learning differences, and are serious about attending college after high school.
NEXT STEP gives students a chance to hone executive functioning, problem solving, and self-advocacy skills that are necessary for living with other students on a college campus. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-278-4119
Easter Seals Massachusetts - Youth Leadership Network: Boston, Worcester, New Bedford, & Springfield. For youth and young adults between the ages of 14 to 26 disabilities. The Network is a place for these individuals to increase their independence by learning how to develop a personal leadership plan, along with working to spread disability awareness and help decrease bullying through the Don’t disABILITY campaign. It is also an opportunity to build friendships and receive mentorship from others in the disability community. For more information contact email@example.com 617-226-2855
"Advocates in Motion" Social Program: This Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress program provides fun, inclusive, interactive events and fosters social relationships for teens and young adults ages 13-22. AIM participants develop leadership and self advoacy skills, form meaningful relationships with peers and build their self-confidence in an encouraging environment. AIM members meet one Sunday afternoon per month from September to May. There are a variety of social, recreational and volunteer activities throughout the year. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 781.221.0224 or visit www.mdsc.org .