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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Education 101

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. As you might have gathered from reading my posts, I have a son who has been diagnosed ADHD/ODD, with Anxiety Disorder, and some Post Traumatic Stress.

What I did not know, or even contemplate was the fact that he also might have an underlying Learning Disability as well.

After speaking with a representative from the Learning Disability Association of Canada (there is also an American Association) I discovered that it is quite common for children diagnosed with this disorder, and others associated with it, to have an undiagnosed learning disability as well.

Most schools know very little about ADHD/ODD, and are reluctant to take advice from 'irate parents', so if you are serious about getting the help your child needs, there are steps you can take that could possibly assist.

First, you need to have your child designated with your school. This allows for an aide to be assigned to help with his or her education needs.

If you are experiencing problems at school, it might be wise to have your child evaluated academically, using a psycho-educational assessment. Don't take anything for granted. Professionals don't always disclose the necessary resources available to you, or all the steps needed to find the answers you require. It has taken years and a lot of digging for me to unearth the processes to ensure my son gets the best possible support and education.

I thought the school I chose for my son was perfect, and that they were dedicated to helping him be successful, which they were. However, administrations change, as do staff, so you need to be well versed with the policies of the present administration, as well as the school board.

Being unfamiliar with I.E.P.s (Individual Education Plans)and I.B.P.s, (Individual Behaviour Plans) I was more than willing to go along with our school, as they accepted my suggestions, implementing them in the classroom, along with a series of steps to help my son de-stress, with the ultimate goal of full integration in the class.

As they were successful for 2 years, I was happy to stay in an advisory, when necessary, capacity. I left the writing of the I.E.Ps and I.B.Ps in the hands of the professionals, content that was one area I didn't have to worry about.

However, as I mentioned earlier, things are subject to change, and it became necessary for me to learn about Behavioural and Educational Plans, and the proper way to construct them.

The plans need to set clear, concise goals that have specified time limits, show what methods will be used to achieve them, and who is responsible for implementing them. This way, when the time limit is reached, you can evaluate the child's progress, see what methods have been successful, and make any necessary changes to reach the objectives set forth in the plan.

The time limits should be long enough to obtain the goal, yet short enough to allow assessment of not only the child's progress, but his or her performance levels.

These plans not only assesses academic achievement, but incorporates their physical and mental health as well. Without a total picture, you could be missing a vital step to ensuring your child's success.

You can get all the relevant information and more from the Learning Disability Association website in your area. If you are unsure how to contact them, just google "Learning Disability of Canada/America".

This resource can be your best friend when it comes to advocating for your child. If ever there was a one-stop-shopping center, this is it. I know I have benefited from speaking with them, and what helps me, ultimately helps my son.