Help Wanted: PT Special Educator; Male; Special Ed. tutor, ABA, behavior modification mentor to work with students in Morris county. This position is ideal for a college student studying for a Special Education degree, for after school hours and weekends. Send resume to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (973) 534-3402
Executive function is a set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space.
In school, at home or at work, we use executive functioning to:
- Make plans
- Keep track of time and finish work on time
- Keep track of more than one thing at once
- Meaningfully include past knowledge in discussions
- Evaluate ideas and reflect on our work
- Change our minds and make mid-course corrections while thinking, reading and writing
- Ask for help or seek more information when we need it
- Engage in group dynamics
- Wait to speak until we’re called on
A student may have problems with executive function when he or she has trouble:
- Planning projects
- Comprehending how much time a project will take to complete
- Telling stories (verbally or in writing), struggling to communicate details in an organized, sequential manner
- Memorizing and retrieving information from memory
- Initiating activities or tasks, or generating ideas independently
- Retaining information while doing something with it, for example, remembering a phone number while dialing
What to do if you suspect you or your child is having executive functioning problems:
There are many effective strategies to help with executive function challenges:
- Take step-by-step approaches to work; rely on visual organizational aids.
- Use tools like time organizers, computers or watches with alarms.
- Prepare visual schedules and review them several times a day.
- Ask for written directions with oral instructions whenever possible.
- Plan and structure transition times and shifts in activities.
- Create checklists and “to do” lists, estimating how long tasks will take.
- Break long assignments into chunks and assign time frames for completing each chunk.
- Use visual calendars at to keep track of long-term assignments, due dates, chores and activities.
- Use management software such as the Franklin Day Planner, Palm Pilot or Lotus Organizer.
- Be sure to write the due date on top of each assignment.
Managing Space and Materials
- Organize work space.
- Minimize clutter.
- Consider having separate work areas with complete sets of supplies for different activities.
- Schedule a weekly time to clean and organize the work space.
- Make a checklist for getting through assignments. For example, a student’s checklist could include such items as: get out pencil and paper; put name on paper; put due date on paper; read directions; etc.
- Meet with a teacher or supervisor on a regular basis to review work; troubleshoot problems.
For specific help for your family member suffering from Executive functioning disorders/problems, contact Special Needs NJ (973) 534-3402
We believe that the well-informed parent is a child’s best advocate.
We are here to support parents who may need assistance in advocating for their child. We offer consultation or direct assistance to parents to help ensure that communication with school personnel results an individualized educational program that meets their child’s needs. We support a collaborative approach that empowers parents to work together with school personnel.
Our approach seeks to avoid the pitfalls of poor communication and respects disagreement.
However, if disagreements arise we can assist you in pursuing solutions, by means of consultation, or direct assistance in negotiating on your behalf.
IEP Tip: “You don’t need an advocate. An advocate is going to create problems when none actually exist and make you worry. We’re here to do what is best for your child. Just trust us. ” What do you say when a school says one or all of the above? The reason most parents hire educational advocates is because their attempts to work with the district have not been successful, when they are worried something is missing or needs to be addressed differently. Ironically, the person telling a parent they don’t need an advocate is most likely the person who led the family to seek outside help to begin with. Let’s cut to the chase: Comments like the above should never be said by a school to a parent. They should never be said during a team meeting. It’s not professional. You should refuse to participate in such conversation. “We’re here to talk about Johnny and his needs, let’s stay focused on him”. If someone approaches you outside a team meeting and says the above, tell them “Thank you for your feedback. This is a decision I’ve made for my child and (name of advocate) is helping us understand all of this. We hope you treat her as part of the team as we are all here to help Johnny”. You don’t owe them an explanation. Those strategies are easier said than done, aren’t they? Advocating for your child is hard enough. Being asked to defend your choice to hire an advocate to the school I imagine is akin to getting a root canal. Excruciatingly uncomfortable.
A good advocate won’t create problems, she will help support you to obtain your vision for your child. A good advocate will be honest and explain why things are, or maybe are not, reasonable. A good advocate will, to the extent the district is willing, collaborate with the team. She will support you by absorbing some of the stress of the process and pro-actively work to fix problems. The “biggest” barrier to a child’s success is when the parents and school lack the ability to meaningfully communicate. We are used to getting complained to by schools who are frustrated by what they view as a family’s demands. However, it’s never okay to call out someone’s profession. At a recent meeting, an administrator showboated her obvious frustration that a family brought someone (SNNJ) in to help them in front of me. If there is a work product of mine the school takes issue with, that’s fair. After all, I do ask tough questions when there is shoddy work products/service delivery involved that negatively affect a child. Insulting the advocate makes the person doing it look petty and makes the parent feel more uncomfortable.
I love my job & the families I choose to work with. I truly enjoy working with most school-based teams, but I don’t live under the illusion that districts love an advocate’s presence at a meeting or in the background. The majority of the folks I’ve worked with on the “other side of the table” are kind, competent professionals who work very hard to do what a child needs and view me as a team member and not as the enemy. The best partnerships I have with school team members are when they recognize I have the trust of the family, and that when a parent trusts someone, hard work can get done. (The districts I work with most successfully and most often also recognize I know the process well, what a kid’s unique needs indicate they require, and that I am realistic in the feedback given to parents).
The bottom line: if the district goes out of their way to tell you, you don’t need an advocate, it’s a pretty good sign you do need one.
Call us today for a free consultation: Special Needs NJ (973) 534-3402
Anatomy of a Special Needs Child
18.5% of American Children under 18 are special needs students.That doesn’t mean they aren’t smart, talented, or capable. Just that they have specific challenges that a “normal” student wouldn’t face.
There are four major types of special needs children.
1.)Physical– Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Asthma, Epilepsy, etc.
2.) Developmental–Down syndrome, autism, dyslexia, processing disorders.
3.)Behavioral/Emotional–ADD, Bipolarism, Oppositional Defiance Disorder
4.)sensory impaired–Blind, visually impaired, deaf, limited hearing.
Here’s our guide on how to identify and care for special needs children.
Is your child being treated humanely? Know your rights:
The IDEA Act (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act):
–Students with disabilities must be prepared for further education, employment, and independent living.
–If a child’s strength, endurance, or stamina cannot keep up with school activities, they can qualify for “other health impaired” special education status.
Section 504 of the rehabilitation Act:
–Prohibits schools from discriminating against children with disabilities.
–Requires schools to provide accommodations for disabled students.
–Students with impairments that substantially limit a major life activity can qualify as disabled (learning and social development deficits too).
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):
–Schools must meet the needs of children with psychiatric problems.
No Child Left Behind
–Schools must uphold achievement standards for children with disabilities.
IEP, (or Individualized Education Program) is a legally binding document spelling out what special education services your child will receive and why. Includes classification and accommodations.
Classification: One of 13 different disability classes that qualify for special education services. Including: visual impairment, speech and language impairment, auditory impairment. deaf/blind, Autism, developmental disabilities, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, Specific learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorder, traumatic brain injury, multi-sensory impairment, and serious health impairment.
Accommodations: a change in timing, presentation, formatting, setting, etc… that will allow the student to complete normal classwork.
Modification: an adjustment to an assignment that a special needs child is not expected to complete at a normal level.
Types of Special Needs
Special Physical Needs
Whether you already know, or just believe your child may have special medical needs, finding the proper medical professionals greatly enhances your ability to take care of your children.
Choosing a doctor:
Location: if your child requires regular visits, you won’t want to drive for hours to specialist.
Demeanor: you want someone non-threatening (particularly to younger children) who is understanding towards special needs accommodations.
Insurance Help: Larger practices generally have more experience with expediting insurance procedures and being your advocate.
Availability: Something to balance with quality of service. You will probably need notes for teachers, school administrators, and others, and want to have an easily accessible doctor.
Quality of service: Perhaps the most important criterion. Set up a 10-15 minute “meeting” so you can gauge the Doctor’s knowledge about your child’s conditions.
Types of Special Physical Needs
Allergies and Asthma: 1/5
Leukemia: Very rare
Muscular Dystrophy: 1/35,000
Multiple Sclerosis: 1/750
Tips for dealing with medical needs
1.) See if your child qualifies for “other health impaired” placement in special ed.
a.) Other health impaired (according to Federal Regulation) includes children who have “limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including to environmental stimuli.”
Allergies and Asthma– Are the same in children as in adults, only children have less maturity and emotional resources than adults to deal with them.
1.) Explain to children what they are allergic to.
2.) Alert school personnel as to the conditions and provide medicines.
3.) Work with school personnel to make accommodations.
a.) Substitute another activity for recess on high pollen count days.
b.) Make sure that caretakers schedule symptom inducing activities around when a child will be in the area.
c.) Tailor coursework to provide emotional and explanatory support for the child’s condition.
–Education is often interrupted during long “flare-ups” of juvenile arthritis. Here’s what you can do to promote healthy development.
1.) Establish an IEP or 504 plan with educators to ensure that your child’s rights are protected.
a.) The IDEA act (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) outlines a special needs child’s rights in education.
2.) If the students strength, endurance, or stamina is affected obtain a note from a physician to see if your child qualifies for special education under “other health impaired.”
3.) Contact the hospital or homebound coordinator for your district if your child is frequently missing large periods of school.
4.) Frequent communication between parents and teacher ensures the teacher knows the student’s current medical status and can adapt lessons accordingly.
5.) Proper ergonomics in the classroom are particularly important for children with juvenile diabetes
Leukemia–The five-year survival rate for Leukemia is 60%-80%.
Over such a prolonged period key emotional and cognitive developmental stages may be reached.
1.) Limit pain
2.) Emotional support helps with development
3.) Mental engagement is important so that recovering children don’t fall massively behind.
1.) Ensure your child is being worked with by an Assistive Technologist, Occupational Therapist, and school Psychologist.
2.) Make sure that teachers understand that fatigue, clumsy or slow movement, or slurred words are health issues, not behavioral issues.
3.) Remember your child is still a child with normal interests and dreams.
1.) Seek out an assistive technologist if impairment persists after help from an eye doctor. It’s hard to learn if you can’t see!
1.) Seek out ENT’s and assistive technologists to help your child. It’s hard to learn if you can’t hear!
Special developmental needs
Many developmental delays can be spotted in a child’s first year of life. Children develop at different rates, but these are the rough ages a child should reach certain milestones.
1.) Lift head and chest when on stomach
2.) Follow people and moving objects with eyes
3.) Grasp rattle when given to her.
1.) Reach for and grasp for objects
2.) Roll over
3.) Sit with little support
1.) Drink from cup with help
3.) Walk with help
Sensory and thinking skills
1.) Recognize bottle or breast
2.) Turn head to bright colors or sound of human voice
1.) Imitate familiar actions.
2.) Open mouth for spoon.
1.) Try to accomplish simple goals.
2.) Copy sounds and actions you make.
Language and social skills
1.) Communicate fear, hunger, or discomfort.
2.) Smile when smiled at.
1.) Smile at self in mirror.
2.) Know familiar faces.
3.) Babble. Sing-song noises.
1.) Try to “talk” with you.
2.) Understand simple commands.
3.) Show apprehension at strangers, affection to familiar adults.
Tips for dealing with Special Developmental Needs:
Autism spectrum disorder ranges from mild lack of social understanding, to non-verbal
1.) Not responding to name by 12 months.
2.) Delayed speech and language skills.
3.) Avoiding eye contact.
4.) upset with small changes in routine.
1.) Get an evaluation as early as possible.
2.) Utilize school psychologist, and occupational therapist.
3.) Create a “safe” zone where the child can be alone and relax at home.
4.) Pay attention to child’s hypersensitivity.
Dyslexia is very taxing, taking at least 5% more energy to process basic tasks. Those with dyslexia have much to offer, however, with dyslexia sufferers often being above average IQ and highly creative.
1.) Appears bright, but unable to read at grade level.
2.) Tests well orally, but not on written tests.
3.) Seems to “daydream” a lot.
1.) Read advanced material. This engages both sides of the brain.
2.) Don’t stress the misreading of “little” words (in, i’m, none, he). They will outgrow such mistakes.
3.) Discussion, discussion, discussion.
Many students with developmental delays are actually very gifted. Don’t stress the little mistakes, let them show you what they can do.
Special Behavioral/Emotional Needs
Students with behavioral/emotional needs are more than capable of learning, but their disabilities need management so they don’t distract themselves or the entire class.
–Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): 1/200
–Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD): 1/20
1.) Learn more about your students specific illness, what caused it, what type of therapy they’re attending, and so on.
2.) Learn about the student’s strengths. Pull these out. Positive reinforcement works.
3.) Set very clear behavioral rules on the entire class or family.
Support the inclusion of all types of children and celebrate their talents. Most of all, don’t forget they’re just kids.
Thank you to Masters in Special Education for this information:
Link to Masters in Education.com
SPECIAL NEEDS NJ, LLP
Services for families with “Special” needs
Presents their inaugural Seminar for parents:
The “ABC’s” of Special Education
About: This seminar is an overview for parents that have a child struggling in school that may need services and those parents that already have a classified student. Learn how to advocate for your child, what you need to know to get the best IEP, Individual Education Plan, for your child, and “What do all these letter’s mean?” Learn the definitions/descriptions of NJ’s classifications for Special Education students. Hear from a neuropsychologist, Special Educator, Advocate, and parents that have been through the process.
When: Friday November 1, 2013 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Where: 93A Spring St. Newton NJ, 0786 (next to the Red Cross, under the clock) additional parking in back lot off of Trinity St.
Registration required: FREE Call: (973)534-3402 to register
Please register by Oct. 30, 2013
Advocating For The Autistic Child
By Carly Fierro on November 27, 2012
Parents of autistic children must become advocates to ensure their children receive appropriate education and special needs services. A successful advocate researches her child’s legal rights, meets regularly with school staff, and documents all events related to her child’s education.
There is a fine line, however, between standing up for your child and his or her rights, and coming across rude and vicious. Unfortunately there will be times throughout your child’s life where he or she will be discriminated against. It’s not fair, but it happens and the best thing that you can do as a parent is represent your child in the best manner possible.
Know the Law
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) makes sure all kids with disabilities have access to the right public education — for free — that can meet their unique needs by emphasizing special education.
IDEA is important for two reasons. First, your child has a legal right to “free appropriate public education.” Second, IDEA requires schools and Departments of Education to treat every special needs child as an individual and unique case, so services offered to one child may not be available to another.
Take the time to read IDEA, or at least a well-written summary, so you know what rights and services you can expect for your child. Check local and state laws governing special needs children as well. Some states offer services over and above those required by IDEA, while others provide the bare minimum.
The Importance of the IEP
Once a year, expect to meet with your child’s teachers, special needs providers, and school administration to review and modify your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), which covers all services and accommodations the child receives for that school year. Services not included in the IEP won’t necessarily be available.
Think of the IEP as a preemptive mosquito trap, where you catch problems before they occur. Listen carefully during the meeting, ask questions and make suggestions. Only remove services from the IEP if you’re certain your child no longer needs them.
Be proactive during IEP meetings. The school may not volunteer services unless you ask for them. Ask about issues such as classroom aides, summer sessions, speech therapy, and similar services.
Forge Alliances with Teachers
The IEP is an excellent time to meet and develop working relationships with your child’s teachers. Let them know that, as a parent of an autistic child, you understand the challenges that arise when teaching a special needs kid, and you appreciate their efforts. A little praise often goes a long way.
Offer to communicate regularly with teachers about classroom issues, either by phone or through email. Teachers usually appreciate parent involvement.
Get Everything in Writing
Follow an old lawyer’s creed: if it isn’t in writing, it never happened. Keep documentation of everything involving your child’s education, including copies of her IEP, specialist visits and education assessments.
Send a written request for any meetings or changes to services, and follow up all meetings with a polite letter. Your goal is to have a clear paper trail in case you need to prove or dispute issues.
Solutions Trump Blame
It’s all too easy to have an antagonistic attitude towards school officials if they seem unwilling to help your child. Accusations and heated words, while tempting, do nothing to help your child. Seek equitable solutions for both yourself and school staff whenever possible, and remain polite no matter what.
Occasionally you will run into a few adults who are not willing to help you or your child. Instead of getting angry, remember to keep your composure and hold your head up high. The last thing you want to do is set a bad example for your child. Take the high road and your child will learn to do the same.
CONTACT Special Needs NJ, LLP today for professional help in interpreting, planning, and advocating for your child’s IEP
Five Cents’ Worth of Positive Feedback
Remind yourself to give kids more of the approval they crave by putting five pennies
in your pocket or on the window sill each day.
Use Pennies to Remember to Praise
The more attention kids get for the good things they do, the more they want to
repeat the behavior. Psychological research demonstrates that positive feedback has
a huge impact on motivating behavioral change. Yet we can easily find ourselves
focusing instead on what kids do wrong. Commit yourself to giving your kid 5 pieces
of positive feedback every day for a week, and see the difference it makes.
Here’s a useful way to remind yourself.
Start each day with 5 pennies in your righthand pocket or on one side of the window
sill. Each time you praise your kid, move a penny to the lefthand pocket or the other
side of the sill. By the end of the days, all of the pennies should move to the other
Remember that effective feedback describes the behavior, describes the situation
and states the effect.
For Easter praises, why not put some positive statements inside those hidden eggs?
Encourage Positive Behavior
Children crave attention, positive or negative. Sometimes a child may be misbehaving just to get
attention. Here are some ways to encourage positive behavior:
- Give more attention for positive behaviors than for negative behaviors (at home & at school)
- Provide choices between two acceptable options
- Provide reassuring routines and tell the child in advance if the routine will change
- Involve the child in setting limits
- Model the desired behavior
Listen and Give Your Child Your Full Attention
Help your child to identify her feelings
Keep it simple
Children will respond better to praise than to criticism. Praise teaches children to seek positive attention.
Praise the positive behavior
Use specific praise for genuine accomplishments
Praise small steps towards the desired behavior
Give praise immediately and frequently
Mix praise with unconditional love
Teachers can send a note home to tell parents about positive behaviors
For Professional Help contact Specialneedsnj@hotmail.com or call (973)534-3402
- 4 Parenting Myths: Tips on Managing Behavior Problems (psychologytoday.com)
- Improve Kids’ Behavior: Catch Them Being Good (psychcentral.com)
How to Discipline a Child: Part II
Natural and Logical Consequences
The use of natural consequences involves letting the results of behavior provide a learning experience.
When responding to inappropriate behavior a logical consequence is one that fits the behavior.
Example of Natural Consequence:
The child forgets his homework. Instead of bringing it to school, the parent allows him to experience the consequences of missing recess and/or having to do it over.
Example of Logical Consequence:
After telling your child NOT to ride her bike in the street, she does so anyway. The parent takes her bike away for a specific time period.
Allows children to take responsibility for their actions
Use consequences in combination with positive techniques
Follow through with consequence promptly
Be consistent; empty threats do not work
NOTE: These approaches cannot be used in situations where the safety of the child or another person is a concern.
Provide a Functional Communication System ~ Behavior is Communication
Without a functional way to communicate needs, wants and feelings, a child will become frustrated.
Negative behaviors can be the child’s attempt to make others aware of his needs, wants and feelings.
If a young child cannot express that he is hungry or thirsty, simple sign language may enable him to convey these basic needs
An older student who has no way to participate in class discussions is likely to act out to gain the attention of his teacher and classmates
Assistive technology may be needed by some children
Teach Replacement Behaviors ~ Provides the child with more appropriate responses
Gives the child a better, more acceptable way to behave; replaces undesirable behaviors with more acceptable ones.
Teaches the child other options
Acknowledges that the traditional telling the child to just “stop the behavior” will not be effective because the child does not know an alternative way to behave
This strategy can include providing the child with scripts for common situations
Can also include teaching the child to use visual imagery, such as a stop sign
If a child curses when angry, provide more appropriate words to use
Are you struggling with disciplining your child?
For Professional help contact Specialneedsnj@hotmail.com or call (973)534-3402
As parents one of our most difficult tasks is how to discipline our child. The goal is to find the strategy that will work for both you and your child. Remember, what works with one child may not be a good approach for another.
The word discipline means “to teach.”
Teaching children appropriate behaviors can be very challenging for parents. Teachers also struggle with inappropriate behaviors that interfere with learning. It is helpful when parents and teachers work together and share information about positive behavior interventions.
Here are some basic tips to get you started:
1. Be positive – Let your child know you love him and appreciate him. Notice appropriate behavior.
Praise and acknowledge his efforts!
2. Identify the specific behavior that needs to change.
3. Focus on only one behavior at a time.
4. Be consistent – decide on the rule, the expected behavior and the consequence or reward – then
stick to it!
5. Recognize the small steps toward progress or change.
6. Let your child know what to expect – Go over the rules and consequences with your child.
Whether the inappropriate behavior is happening at home or school it is important to figure out the
reasons for it. A Functional Behavioral Assessment or FBA, is a formal evaluation used by schools to gather
information about problem behaviors.
An FBA uses the ABC approach. This approach can also be helpful to parents.
A Antecedent (what factors led up to the behavior)
B Behavior (what is the behavior of concern and how serious is the behavior)
C Consequence (what does the child achieve with the behavior: ex: attention, avoiding a too
difficult task, removal from the peer group)
The information gathered by using this A, B, C approach can then be used to determine the reasons for the
behavior. It can also provide a foundation for developing positive ways to change the problem behavior.
For professional help; contact Specialneedsnj@hotmail.com
or call (973)534-3402
- Improve Kids’ Behavior: Catch Them Being Good (psychcentral.com)