Friday, April 27, 2012

Ensuring the best for our kids...

This has been one of the best and worst weeks! I had the pleasure of observing a great school for children with learning differences; with invested teachers and kids learning and growing academically. It all worked. Then, I reviewed goals from several school systems throughout the country... their goals were not well developed, their objectives not measurable, and with great confidence I can say, that there will be no progress without a well developed IEP. 

The road map to a good IEP is based on an in depth assessment that looks at each and every aspect of your child's learning style, how it relates to his diagnosis, what he loves in school and what he hates. The variance in learning guides the progress and the child's ability to close the gap on his learning disorders. The IEP must be grounded into the science of learning, the neurology of the disorder and the creativity of the team! 

I was heartbroken by the incident with the little boy with Autism in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, yet sadly I was not surprised. Our school systems need to weed out the teachers who cannot express optimism towards a child with Autism, or any other neurodevelopmental disorder. The public school systems need to promote good teaching and punish teachers who are not rising to the occasion. Many years ago, my youngest child told me "lots of teachers have a mommy voice and a kid voice," she then added, as innocently as children do, "I like their mommy voice better."

All children deserve respect, kindness and support, but exceptional children need it the most because life is more challenging, learning is harder and the world is more confusing! We all need to demand no less for our children! If you live in New Jersey, push for legislation to insure that this is guaranteed.

Read more about the story here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What An Unforgettable Conference!

This past weekend was The Focus Foundation's 2nd Annual Atypical Learner Conference and what a success it was! We cannot thank our outstanding group of speakers enough for the amazing information presented throughout the weekend. 

Dr. Andrea Gropman kicked off the conference with an impressive overview of the neuroscience behind boys with XXY and girls with XXX; a truly great way to start the conference! Next, keynote speaker, Nancy Clements, introduced everyone to the wonders of Social Thinking and her informative and entertaining presentation was a favorite among many attendees. Dr. Sprouse's presentation ensured that all attendees will now be able to identify the presenting signs of Developmental Dyspraxia in children, as well as, push for the development of targeted treatment plans and syndrome specific goals to promote function and recovery so that every child has the ability to reach their full potential!

This year we also had a breakout session with panels consisting of parents of children with varying chromosomal variations, dyslexia and dyspraxia. This was a very exciting session for many and offered time for parents to compare stories and learn from others' experiences from raising children with X & Y Chromosomal Variations to dealing with the school system and IEPs.

On Sunday, Melissa Bilash presented "Developing the Appropriate IEP without Litigation." This topic was definitely of great interest to many of the parents present. Her ability to share her experiences in creating appropriate IEPs offered many the guidance and help they needed in dealing with this very important matter. Dr. Paduch followed Melissa with an update on the early management of Klinefelter's Syndrome. His data regarding androgel and the developing bodies and brains of boys with Klinefelter's provided many attendees to take note and ensure their child gets the best and most up to date care.  Dr. Jay Giedd, of the National Institute of Mental Health, presented a plethora of information about the brain and ADHD... his MRI brain images were truly remarkable!

This weekend could not have been such a great success without all of the wonderful parents and professionals who attended and were so enthusiastic about the information presented to them! Thank you and see you next year!

Dr. Sprouse, Teresa and the girls