Hey Special Education Teacher, How do you set boundaries this school year? When do you know when work life is getting in the way of your personal life? Or when your personal life is getting in the way while you are at work? Today I will be sharing 3 questions to ask yourself with how to set boundaries in your personal life and school for a special education and any teacher! You will learn tactical tips to lessen distractions. Also, how to be more aware and mindful when your attention is not where its supposed to be. Set up these boundary ideas as you go into the holiday break! Take Care, Michelle In this episode you'll learn: What happens after you get distracted To recognize and take time for life's precious moments Boundaries with parents and staff Resources Mentioned: EP 6: 6 Ways to Create a Great Parent-Teacher Relationship from the Beginning! Connect with Michelle Vazquez: Become an INSIDER & join the email list HERE! Join the Facebook Community, www.facebook.com/groups/steppingintospecialed Follow on Instagram www.instagram.com/steppingintospecialed Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens when a youth with an IDD turns 18? Are the parents still guardians? What happens with the youth's finances and benefits once they become an adult? Yvette Plummer with Show and Tell helps break it down in this episode so you can learn about alternatives to guardianship and what to expect when it comes to financial responsibilities. Learn more about guardianship and alternatives here.Timestamps:2:45 – What happens to guardianship rights at age 18?5:04 – Alternatives to Guardianship10:06 – How public benefits change at age 1813:56 - Reach out to Easterseals Community and Disability Services if you feel like you need more help understanding the details of SSI and SSDI.14:56 – Charge Room and Board beginning at age 1817:50 – To learn more about the “asset limit” and how to save via Colorado ABLE accounts, check out our vodcast/podcast with Mike Keglovits from College Invest!19:15 – Final Tips & Tricks from YvetteAbout this series:This multi-part series, Episodes 62-66, reviews what happens when a young adult with a developmental disability (DD) turns 18 and can you and your young adult prepare for the transition into adulthood. It can be daunting to begin that planning, but it doesn't have to be! There are plenty of resources and professionals out there to help you figure out how to navigate the educational transition plan, prepare for higher education or employment, help you get the right Home and Community-Based services, answer questions about guardianship and finances, and MUCH MORE!This work was made possible through support from Arc Thrift Stores, Autism Society of Colorado, Colorado Access, Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, Developmental Pathways, Firefly Autism, Rocky Mountain Civitan Club, and The Arc of Aurora.
Transition planning is a process to help students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) decide what they want to do after high school. Join us for this episode where Gail Lott, EdD with the Colorado Department of Education, reviews common questions about the Transition Plan to help youth, families, and professionals be better prepared!Timestamps:3:22 – Transition Plan Timeline4:09 – Purpose of a Transition Plan9:30 - IEP, 504, & Transition Plans14:35 - Advocating for a Transition Plan16:13 – Making the most of the Transition Plan ServicesAbout this series:This multi-part series, Episodes 62-66, reviews what happens when a young adult with a developmental disability (DD) turns 18 and can you and your young adult prepare for the transition into adulthood. It can be daunting to begin that planning, but it doesn't have to be! There are plenty of resources and professionals out there to help you figure out how to navigate the educational transition plan, prepare for higher education or employment, help you get the right Home and Community-Based services, answer questions about guardianship and finances, and MUCH MORE!This work was made possible through support from Arc Thrift Stores, Autism Society of Colorado, Colorado Access, Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, Developmental Pathways, Firefly Autism, Rocky Mountain Civitan Club, and The Arc of Aurora.
Is higher education an option after high school for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)? Yes! Join THINK+change and Shayna Laing with Inclusive Higher Education as we review creating pathways to college for students with IDD to foster academic growth, social development, and career advancement in this episode.Timestamps:2:08 – College Application Timeline5:38 – Traditional Path with Accommodations in Higher Ed8:45 – Utilizing an inclusive higher education program for students with IDD10:55 – Disclosing a Disability to a Higher Ed Institution14:30 – ADA Accommodations in Higher Ed18:05 – Schools that Offer the Inclusive Higher Ed program in ColoradoResource mentioned: www.thinkcollege.netAbout this series:This multi-part series, Episodes 62-66, reviews what happens when a young adult with a developmental disability (DD) turns 18 and can you and your young adult prepare for the transition into adulthood. It can be daunting to begin that planning, but it doesn't have to be! There are plenty of resources and professionals out there to help you figure out how to navigate the educational transition plan, prepare for higher education or employment, help you get the right Home and Community-Based services, answer questions about guardianship and finances, and MUCH MORE!This work was made possible through support from Arc Thrift Stores, Autism Society of Colorado, Colorado Access, Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, Developmental Pathways, Firefly Autism, Rocky Mountain Civitan Club, and The Arc of Aurora.
Let's talk about Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) for when a youth with IDD becomes an adult. Carol Meredith with The Arc Arapahoe, Douglas & Elbert Counties helps break it down in this episode so you can learn about how HCBS can help youth transitioning to adulthood and how they can get support with everyday activities like getting ready for the day, chore services, day program services, supervision and more.Timestamps:2:19 - HCBS Overview4:10 – Getting on an HCBS waiver once you become an adult8:51 – The HCBS Waiver options in Colorado13:33 - Why consider HCBS?17:58 - Living Arrangements on an HCBS WaiverResources mentioned in this episode: Colorado Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) for Children and Colorado Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver List for AdultsAbout this series:This multi-part series, Episodes 62-66, reviews what happens when a young adult with a developmental disability (DD) turns 18 and can you and your young adult prepare for the transition into adulthood. It can be daunting to begin that planning, but it doesn't have to be! There are plenty of resources and professionals out there to help you figure out how to navigate the educational transition plan, prepare for higher education or employment, help you get the right Home and Community-Based services, answer questions about guardianship and finances, and MUCH MORE!This work was made possible through support from Arc Thrift Stores, Autism Society of Colorado, Colorado Access, Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, Developmental Pathways, Firefly Autism, Rocky Mountain Civitan Club, and The Arc of Aurora.
Is employment an option after high school for youth with developmental disabilities? Yes! Join THINK+change, Serina Gilbert, and Cheryl Carver with the Youth Services Program at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Colorado as we talk about employment! DVR is in every state, and while programs and services may differ, DVR can assist individuals with disabilities to explore employment options.Timestamps:2:24 – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Overview4:12 – Pre-Employment Services for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities7:13 – How DVR works with Schools13:26 - How Services Are Provided17:18 – How Families Can Contribute to Employment ServicesAbout this series:This multi-part series, Episodes 62-66, reviews what happens when a young adult with a developmental disability (DD) turns 18 and can you and your young adult prepare for the transition into adulthood. It can be daunting to begin that planning, but it doesn't have to be! There are plenty of resources and professionals out there to help you figure out how to navigate the educational transition plan, prepare for higher education or employment, help you get the right Home and Community-Based services, answer questions about guardianship and finances, and MUCH MORE!This work was made possible through support from Arc Thrift Stores, Autism Society of Colorado, Colorado Access, Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, Developmental Pathways, Firefly Autism, Rocky Mountain Civitan Club, and The Arc of Aurora.
https://bit.ly/3K8UlDx Website https://www.stepbystepdyslexiasolutions.com/ ADHD Diet and Nutrition – Foods Your Child Can Eat and Foods to Avoid – Dyslexia Comorbidity - With Stefanie Thayerhttps://youtu.be/ZW7AJ7Mnx1oStefanie Thayer founded Live Your Life Out Loud to help guide others in simplifying health, family, faith and life! She has a background in psychology and project management, combined with a sport nutrition and health coach certification. Her desire is to help you get healthy and stay that way. You can stay up to date on all she is doing at: https://www.facebook.com/stefanie.s.thayer https://www.instagram.com/wellnesswithstef/ https://youtube.com/@liveyourlifeoutloudcoachinghttps://youtu.be/ZW7AJ7Mnx1o~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dyslexia – A Trait of Genius Forty percent of self-made millionaires in the United States are dyslexic. Thirty-five percent of entrepreneurs in the United States are dyslexic. Alexander Graham Bell, Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and Leonardo Da Vinci all had Dyslexia. I am saddened when I see kids fail in school because of an empowering thing like reading because dyslexic children struggle with reading. I believe if an environment would embrace reading, we would open up a world of opportunity for dyslexic people. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dr. Marianne Cintron is a Doctor of Education in Leadership and Administration, has two Masters Degrees and is a Dyslexia Specialist. She has twenty-three years' experience as an educator, is a speaker, an author, a You Tube and Podcast host. Dr. Cintron has over 200 hours of Orton Gillingham practicum hours with the Academy of Orton Gillingham for Practitioners and Educators (AGOPE). She tutors and speaks and enjoys training in OG. She speaks on “Dyslexia is a Trait of Genius - Unlocking the Genius of Your Dyslexic Child's Mind. And Dr. Cintron is unique in her use with classical music when she teaches reading with her Step By Step Reading program. Connect with Dr. Cintron 626-629-3024 or email@example.com Landing Page for Scheduling and Subscribing You Tube https://bit.ly/3qXAbo7 You Tube Link to Dyslexia Solutions https://bit.ly/314YLGj Podcast - Link to Dyslexia Solutions https://www.stepbystepdyslexiasolutions.com/podcast/ Amazon Store Trait of Genius https://amzn.to/33kVxCU Prisms of Brilliance https://amzn.to/3uO4zDA A Message of Hope https://amzn.to/3GI4wLN Social Media – Linked In - https://bit.ly/3LsPRIc https://www.facebook.com/mpcintron https://twitter.com/mpcintron16 https://www.instagram.com/mpcintron/ #Dyslexia #Marianne Cintron #Studentswithdyslexia https://bit.ly/3K8UlDx Website https://www.stepbystepdyslexiasolutions.com/ Support the show
https://bit.ly/3K8UlDx How to Use the Picture Walk Reading Strategy to Build Comprehension Skillshttps://youtu.be/Hjb9BKicup8It's a funny name, but picture walks are real! When you know the story, you can narrate the story by viewing pictures. Young kids don't need the whole story. They don't need all the details. Just the basics. I use Goldilocks and the Three Bears to show you how to do the picture walk. Children who are reading, can read to young siblings. Depending on the younger child's age, the child may need to learn how to do picture walks. My two year old used to read to her big brother (age 3) with picture walks. It was the cutest thing!Please like and subscribe to the channel. I hope you have the desire to purchase the Read, Write and Listen books from me as I can share my reseller discount with you. And then, with a paid subscription, you can have the training videos on how to successfully use these books. Instructions are in the back of each book, but I am writing out detailed instructions for you…with words, and more details. Finally, be aware if your child struggles with these books. Only 45% of dyslexia is genetic. Developmental dyslexia can be avoided using the Science of Reading beginning with preschoolers and kinders.Dr. Marianne Cintron earned her Doctorate in Education Leadership and Administration. She founded a nonprofit, Step By Step Dyslexia Solutions in 2018 and started the affiliate Cintron Orton - Gillingham Reading Institute in August 2022.She has recently been invited to sit on the Board for FAB (Film Advisory Board) with President Michael Conley. She actively serves in a 4th term as board member for the International Dyslexia Association. In 2021, Dr. Marianne earned several awards: Social Impact Award Finalist - Lady in Blue, Lifetime Legacy Award Nominee - National Women of Influence, 100 Women Global Award - CD Wilson Events, and Certificates of Recognition from the California State Assembly, the California State Senate, and the County of Riverside. Dyslexia Book Titles:Prisms of Brilliance: Closing the Achievement Gap and Stopping the School to Prison Pipeline. A Message of Hope: How Music Enhances Reading for Dyslexic ChildrenDyslexia – A Trait of Genius: Unlocking the Genius of Your Dyslexic Child's MindConnect with Dr. Cintron 626-629-3024 or firstname.lastname@example.org Landing Page for Scheduling and Subscribing You Tubehttps://bit.ly/3qXAbo7You Tube Link to Dyslexia Solutions https://bit.ly/314YLGjPodcast - Link to Dyslexia Solutionshttps://www.stepbystepdyslexiasolutions.com/podcast/ Amazon Store Trait of Genius https://amzn.to/33kVxCUPrisms of Brilliance https://amzn.to/3uO4zDAA Message of Hope https://amzn.to/3GI4wLN Social Media – Linked In - https://bit.ly/3LsPRIchttps://www.facebook.com/mpcintronhttps://twitter.com/mpcintron16https://www.instagram.com/mpcintron/ #Kinders #Dr Marianne Cintron #Picture Walkhttps://www.stepbystepdyslexiasolutions.com/ Support the show
Ravi and Rikki start with the latest fallout from the spectacular downfall of FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried. The hosts then turn to the historic anti-lockdown protests in China with Pulitzer-winning journalist Ian Johnson and some startling inequities in New York City's special education system. [3:37] SBF [15:08] China Protests [36:36] Inequity in Special Education [49:430 Voicemails Subscribe to our channel: https://bit.ly/3Gs5YTF Subscribe to our Substack: https://thelostdebate.substack.com/ Leave us a voicemail with your thoughts on the show! 321-200-0570 Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-lost-debate iheart: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-the-lost-debate-88330217/ Amazon Music: https://music.amazon.co.uk/podcasts/752ca262-2801-466d-9654-2024de72bd1f/the-lost-debate LOST DEBATE ON SOCIAL: Follow Lost Debate Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lostdebate/ Follow Lost Debate on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@lostdebate Follow Lost Debate on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thelostdebate
When people hear ABA, they usually think of Autism. However, social skills training is a component of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy that can help students with social skills deficits. ABA social skills training offers a set of techniques designed to strengthen an individual's social skills. Neurological, emotional, and developmental disabilities are often marked by a lack of social intuition. Most people learn social rules and conventions naturally, but they are foreign to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. Some students find it impossible to master even seemingly simple social interactions. They are identifying social cues, understanding other people's intentions, and knowing when and how to respond and interact with others in social situations are not innate abilities. Individuals often referred to as 'socially blind' lack inherent skills in interacting with others in social situations. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT) joins me today to discuss social skills rooted in ABA. Justyna Balzar is the Co-Founder & CEO of The Hangout Spot (https://www.thehangoutspotllc.com), a center that offers specialized play and social skills instruction based on Applied Behavior Analysis. They offer thoughtfully structured, experiential small-group learning through on-site programs and remote teaching. Justyna has over 15 years of experience working with learners of varying profiles between the ages of 3 and 18 across multiple settings. She received her Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certification in 2014 from the Florida Institute of Technology, her Master in Curriculum and Education in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University, and her BCBA certification in 2016. Her publications include Behavior Science of the 21st Century blog posts and articles for Autism Parenting Magazine. Driven by a passion for educating others about the wide-reaching applications of ABA, Justyna founded @Behaviorchik, an online persona intended to disseminate behavior analytic resources. She also created the @Theabaadvocacyproject, an initiative spearheaded by The Hangout Spot founders and a fellow BCBA that unifies the advocacy practices of parents and professionals using ABA. You can reach Justyna here: Justyna@thehangoutspotllc.com You can reach me here: Dana@SpecialEd.fm FLASHBACK: I've spoken with Justyna before! She and Hangout Spot Co-Founder, Meghan Cave, joined me previously to discuss the benefits of teaching social skills through the ABA lens. Check that episode out here! https://ntkwdj.libsyn.com/wanna-hangout-i-know-just-the-spot TRASCRIPT (not proofread) SUMMARY KEYWORDS child, skill, social skills, teaching, piece, social, behavior, peers, important, play, master, hangout, goal, tolerate, subjectivity, kids, developing, learner, aba, justina SPEAKERS Dana Jonson, Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), Dana Jonson 00:09 Okay, welcome back to Special Ed on special ed. I am your host Dana Jonson, thank you so much for joining me today we have a great episode ahead. I am here with Justina Balzar.Justina is a BCBA. And she's one of the cofounders of the hangout spot which we will explain all to you right after we play my disclaimer, which you all know has to go first. The information in this podcast is provided for general informational and entertainment purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction at the time you're listening. Nothing in this episode create an attorney client relationship, nor is it legal advice. Do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included and accessible through this episode without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice on particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer or service provider licensed in your state country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. Okay. Hi, Justina, thank you so much for joining me. How are you doing today? I'm doing great. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 00:59 I'm very excited to be here. Thank you for having me. Thanks for coming. I think last time we spoke you and Megan a just opened the hangout spot in the middle of a pandemic, and global closings. And I predicted that you guys would be really, really successful because we needed it. And it turns out you were and you're opening another spot. So why I have you on today is I would love to talk about your approach to social skills as a as a BCBA, as a board certified behavior analyst. And I'll have you explain a little bit about what that is. But why you're doing social skills. And I should start by saying the hangout spot is a science back Social Skills Center. So that's what you get Development Center is that social skills development center. So you guys are working on social skills, and you've just opened a new practice called the play space for younger children for ages birth to four, so I want to talk about that. But from an attorney and a parent perspective, when I go into IEP meetings, and we talk about social skills, sometimes it's a speech and language person who's providing the services, sometimes it's a school psychologist, sometimes it's a special ed teacher. And when I hear BCBA, sometimes my head goes straight to autism. And that's just my background and training. And that's not accurate. So what I would love is for you to explain, for everyone listening, from a BCBAs perspective, what's the magic that you guys do? Because we are seeing that with these students who go in and out of your program. So let's talk about social skills development from a behavioral component, and go. So I'm not first of all, I'm not surprised that the first thing that comes into your mind, just as I've encountered it, it happens to go into other practitioners minds, and either even families minds who've been exposed to Ada, that it's really very narrow in terms of that exposure and understanding of that scope. And it primarily people associated, especially in the education system with behavior intervention plans, discrete trial instruction, and just a BCBA, supporting in the consultation model in a school, which certainly is one aspect of it. And also, like you said, pigeonholed to autism, but the science of ADA is really just the science of learning and behavior, and we all behave and we are all capable of learning. Therefore, you can really teach any skill using the science of ABA. Really what it is, is a series of teaching methodologies that you can utilize right in simple layman's terms, to meet someone where they're at, and to assist them with the learning process of whatever it is they need to learn. Typically, in our world in ABA, behavior, analysts shy away from social skills. And actually, quite frankly, lots of people shy away from social skills, because they're very nuanced. And they're very hard to objectively define and narrow down and really identify what's going to be the most meaningful thing that we could teach a learner or a child, a teenager or adult, what have you, that will really impact their world in a really positive way to help them develop those reciprocal relationships. And there's a lot of curriculum out there, right on social, yes, and a lot of it is very cookie cutter. So there's many many amazing aspects to all the curriculum that's out there. However, if you're just using a standard curriculum, you're not really looking at what those individual social needs are for a particular learner. And that's the first area where we can really miss the mark because we're if we're in not teaching what is impacting a child's inability to make relationships in the day to day, and we're just pulling bits and pieces from the curriculum, it's not meaningful, it's not helping them change those behaviors to help them improve those relationships. Right? So it's a boss. And then the other area where we find that thing we have a tendency to fall short is when people just teach kids the rules of what to dothe rules of what's right. And so kids become very, very good at memorizing the rules, talking about the rules, and maybe even applying them to hypothetical scenarios, right. But then when it comes to actually doing those things in the moment, they're not able to, to utilize those skills, right, that they quote, unquote, have. And the reasoning behind that is because knowing something and talking about it, and I'm using quotes, which no one will be able to see and do something, right, actually using a skill are actually two different skill sets. So I can be a little bit of French, right, and, but I have to think about it when I'm talking it. But if I were to talk with a fluent French speaker, I get really stuck, I can theoretically tell you how to ride a skateboard. But if I were to get on a skateboard, I would probably fall and break a bone. Right? So practice is key. And what we do at the hangout spot, and what we do at the play space is we look to meet children where they are. So we identify in real life, what is that thing that's keeping them from developing those relationships? That's the skill that we're going to teach. And how do we create opportunities for them to practice that, so they get really, really good at it, right? So practice is the missing link between knowing and doing you can't say that you know how to play the piano, if you can play Mary Had a Little Lamb. But if you know how to, you know, play something more complex, you're going to really have to practice repeatedly before you get really good at that. That's called fluency. So we teach through playing games. On the surface when kids come in here, and that's our goal is for them to come and have a place where they can have fun, they can meet other peers, and have their interests passions incorporated into the learning. Because when that happens, that's where the magic happens. That's more open to working on the hard stuff. Dana Jonson 07:33 I love that you say that you bring up a couple of things that I think are really important. First, the subjectivity of it, which I I love. When I was in graduate school, we had an exercise where they played a video of a student. And we were to take the data on, I'm gonna say vocalizations, I can't remember what the piece was, let's say vocalizations. And that was a description. Right? So after it, then we were asked to each say, what was our tally, and none of us had the same tally. And the reason was, as they explained to us, we all defined vocalization in our head differently. And so we were all looking for something different. And so on that level of subjectivity, you know, I go into meetings, and I'll see in the paperwork, you know, had a meltdown. And I'm saying, what does that look like? What's a meltdown for this kid, because I've got five children, and each of them have meltdowns, and they are all different, like all of them. So what does that look like? So I love that you brought up the subjectivity, because I find that, you know, that is a problem we run into with social skills a lot in my practice, and in my world, too, because I have a child with nonverbal learning disability, that is a key piece that that I think, is really important for us to remember that even if you think about going to a friend's house for dinner that just had a different family than yours, and the food was different, or the utensils were different, or whatever it was, that was unusual for you and you had to stop and think and navigate. That's like, you know, a kid who doesn't understand social cues. That's what they're doing all the time. Right. So, Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 09:12 yeah Dana Jonson 09:12 So how do you address that subjectivity? How do you guys in the hangout spot address it? I know what the other thing was, I wanted to ask you, though, before we move on to that, sorry, was you talked about meeting the child where they are at, and that's another piece, it's so important. And I think that with social skills, a lot of time we assume a certain level of knowledge before we start teaching them, you know, so we're expecting the student to understand certain things. So how do you as a practitioner, figure out where your child is at? Because if you figure out the wrong place, then whatever you're doing isn't going to be productive. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 09:51 Right. So I think a couple of things I think the process is fluid, right? It's a process of discovery so ever you as you get to know each time as you're learning more and more about them, right, I think the most powerful way to really find out what those most impactful barriers are, that serve as future learning opportunities is really just to observe, what is the child look like in a social setting, are they moving towards the group and maybe trying to initiate but they're being disruptive or rude or unkind, right? So then they don't know how to initiate attention for appropriately, they have social motivation, because they're going up to a group, but they're not successful. So you could potentially target that is a child playing games with a set of peers. And then anytime the child falls behind, or loses, they have a huge, huge meltdown, right. And then as a result of that kids don't want to play with them anymore, then there's the barrier that can be taught around. So how to tolerate losing How to Use good sportsmanship, you can objectively define a goal around those barriers that you observe. And I think in order to make it most meaningful, what you're looking for in your observation is what are the ones that are occurring most frequently, because those are the ones that are most impactful and need to be supported around. And then you start from there, right, then you create opportunities for practice through play. Dana Jonson 11:20 So you guys just seen a lot of success with this for your three to 22. population, I think it's three to 22, because that's what the IDEA says, provides special education for students between the ages of three and up to the age of 22. And that's in under the IDEA. But I believe, and I just want to point out that even if a child has graduated from high school, if they require social skills, you guys still take them, right? You don't have to be in high school in order to get them that is just a number of sort of arbitrary, but not arbitrarily, but chosen by the law that you guys are, are in a public school. So you're not saying okay, no, you've graduated from high school, you can't come, it goes through 22. Let's talk about that younger population, that birth to four. And what led you to decide to open that separate piece, because from three or four through 22, you're mostly school age for most of that time. So I would presume that the skill sets you're learning and working on would be different than as an infant to four, I'm just guessing. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 12:28 So they're, they're more scaled up and more complex. So the reason we ended up opening the play space was really from this desire and need to support learners before they hit that school age. So research indicates that kids between the ages of birth to three to five years old, are like sponges, and they are developing lots of new connections. And their brain is just developing really quickly, their bodies are developing really quickly as they're growing. And they're really able to pick up on a lot of skills, which serves as a great opportunity to lay that foundation or lead before kids hit school age. So they have some of those foundational skills going into kindergarten, and then are have a greater chance of being more successful socially. But then also academically, when we think about the jump from from preschool to kindergarten, the expectations of sitting at a table waiting for longer periods of time, more structured, academic based demands, they increased significantly. And if a child doesn't have or hasn't met certain milestones, and doesn't have certain foundational skills, what ends up happening because they enter kindergarten, and they're not ready, maybe they don't have emotional regulation skills, maybe they don't know how to tolerate no or waiting or transitions, what have you. And that then presents itself as behavioral challenges. And when that goes when those skills go on taught for a long period of time, and that child develops that history of responding with behavior with whatever problem behavior that they're trying to communicate their needs with, it become takes longer to then undo and teach. Dana Jonson 14:28 And that's an important piece is what you're saying is because that behavior is them communicating to you. That's the important piece, because I think a lot of times as adults, we get so irritated by the behavior or, you know, frustrated with the behavior that we forget, that's their form of communication, they are behaving that way because they don't have the language to express us or maybe they have expressed it to us and we've ignored them because we don't think it's important for whatever reason, and I'm guilty of that too. You know when you your child falls and you're like, it doesn't hurt. Well, maybe it does. Yeah. Oh, like I get that, you know, coming from that as as an adult. So yeah, that can be that's got to be overwhelming. And also, I think the anxiety around those social pieces would probably be even more so at a young age, because we're really all the skills we're looking for from them at that age are social, aren't they? Man, I'm just trying to think to what everything I thought I needed to look for in my children. And I mean, at no point it too, was I wondering, I wonder if she has pre reading skills like that was not what I was talking about. I was like, does she make eye contact? If she talked to people? Does she wave does she let you know? So those are all social pieces. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 15:47 They are their social and their communication pieces. And their foundational. So if you don't have those going into school is going to be very, very difficult, right? You don't have the foundational route the groundwork, right? Dana Jonson 16:00 And sitting in your seat is a social skill, right? I mean, isn't that to a degree, if if you're in a situation where sitting in your seat is appropriate, then that would be considered a social skill? Right? Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 16:11 That's the waiting would be a social skill. Right? Dana Jonson 16:14 That's a great Oh, that's a good way to put it. Okay. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 16:16 Wait, waiting, tolerating know, is a social skill, right? When you're interacting with peers? Sometimes here's how, you no, can you handle that peers are a lot more unpredictable than adults are. Adults are more understanding they're, they're more patient, they really try to figure out what your wants and needs are peers move very, very quickly, right. So kids who don't have those foundational skills, get into an environment with peers who do and those peers are moving very quickly. And, and they're not waiting for those kids to respond, right. They're not waiting for those kids to initiate, they're just moving on right to where they can be successful. And the reality is, we're all social beings, from the moment that we're born, right? I mean, a baby cries and that cry is a form of communication right? There. They're trying to communicate, they're hungry, they're trying to communicate, they need cuddles or a diaper change, whatever that is, and, and if we, as a child develops, from birth to one to two to three, right, there's certain communicative and social markers that need to be hit. And when those aren't hit, that's when those things will compound over time. If they're not taught explicitly, every child develops at a different rate, right? Some kids learn to read by the time they're two or three, well, two might be an exaggeration. Some children learn how to read does everybody need to learn by by the time they're three? No, right? There's exceptions to every single rule. But there are basic foundational markers that are really important to hit. And if we're noticing that they're not being that, then it's really a critical time to be able to intervene and to support and the way to do that. And the way to teach that is through play. Because that's how children learn, especially at those ages, children are exploring their environment through play, and we can embed lots of opportunities for practice that way and support them and model the skills they need, and to be able to use to succeed. So it's really something we're very passionate about. Because we've seen in working in public schools, we've often seen too many kids that come into kindergarten, from preschool, and who don't have the skills aren't, don't have things like tolerating, no accepting, waiting, transitioning, and how to get a peers attention to even recognize or show interest in peers. And then they're thrown into an environment that doesn't allow them to work on that, because that environment focuses on academics, and that it gets exacerbated further and further and further. And you, you potentially, you know, have a child who's in third or fourth grade, who has behavioral challenges and misunderstood and is lacking a lot of skills. And we're racking our brains trying to do every possible evaluation under the sun to try and figure out what's going on. Dana Jonson 16:16 But and I think that's a great one, because you'll hear I'll hear, you know, well, he's a little quirky, he likes to be by himself, he likes to, you know, whatever. And then suddenly, in third grade, the child's have behavior problem. And it doesn't dawn on anyone that maybe this child was being quiet and a loner, because they couldn't navigate right social environment, and at younger ages, kids are kinder and, you know, tolerate parallel play a lot longer. I think a lot of children who are not engaging in parallel play will tolerate parallel play. So it looks like they're interacting, right so your child who's not who's parallel playing the other kid doesn't mind right, they're doing their own thing that like you, do you it looks like a social interaction. But it's, it's not a social interaction. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 20:06 Totally hear you kids have to move through the different stages not only of communication, but also play. And, and in parallel play, you need to be able to tolerate having a peer in proximity, right. But you can be able to develop those skills to get into more complex forms of play, like associative and cooperative, where you're actually commenting and interacting more directly with your peers. Dana Jonson 20:28 And I could see somebody going straight from and skipping that tolerating the peers in your space part, because the kids having behaviors, and now we're teaching them to cooperate, but we never taught them to tolerate the people in it, right, Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 20:42 they're not ready for it. Dana Jonson 20:44 So they're not there yet. So that's where I see the skip sometimes when I get involved is, you know, I see that we're working on skills that aren't going anywhere, because they're like three steps ahead of where the child might be. And we have to break it down even farther. And that's where I find the challenges typically with parents when I'm when I'm representing a client, or even with my own children, where I see the goals and objectives. And while they're more on the student, sometimes, that's always difficult, because it's like the student will do this. But again, I've clearly not had enough coffee, because I totally lost my train of thought, again. Last night, I was presenting, and I lost my train of thought twice in the middle of a sentence, and I was live. And I was just like, so that's over. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 21:32 I think I know where you're going with the thing that I see as an indication that a goal is too high for a child, particularly in IEPs, when I'm looking at social goals, is when and this is rampid. Regardless of whether or not we're talking about social goals, academic speech, right? You have, I see it everywhere. But particularly since we're on the topic of social and social goals, when I see a goal phrased as the child will master this with X number of prompts, that raises a flag to me. And the reason that that raises a flag to me is for two reasons, actually. So the one being if someone has to follow you around and provide you a verbal prompt, you have not mastered that skill, you can only demonstrate that when you have a body cueing you on what to say and when to say it, which is concerning, because that's not the definition of mastery. And then why are we then taking that skill off the child's practice list when they don't actually have it? The second concern that I have is, if we have goals that have prompting built into it, and we get that, well, they're just not going to master it out in a year. The question I have is why, because if you can't make progress on a skill in a year, to me, that indicates that the skill we're targeting is either not meaningful, or it's too high for the learner. And we should be picking something that the child can actually master with over the course of a year to attendance, and not with someone verbally prompting them or visually cueing them, right. Unless the plan is for the child to have someone following them around for the rest of their lives. That's not really successful. Dana Jonson 23:26 I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna take that little piece of what you just said and play it at all my IEP meetings now if that's okay. Now, it just sounds so simple when you say it, it that it's ridiculous, we don't follow it. But it's absolutely true. If the child cannot master this in a year with independence, how is it a goal? How is it an objective, right? Because these are supposed to be annual goals. They're short term objectives. And I do understand learning certain levels of a skill first, but I liked the way you said that, you know, if they're not ready to learn this independently, the maybe there's a smaller piece of that skill that they can get independently that maybe we're trying to teach too many skills at the same time. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 24:13 Yeah. Dana Jonson 24:14 And I go back to like, way back when when I'd be teaching students how to, like brush their teeth or something. Maybe I'm just teaching them to pick up the toothbrush. Right? That might be the only thing I'm teaching them to do at the beginning. I'm not teaching them how to put toothpaste on it, you know. So I see that I'm just I'm processing it as you're saying it because it sounds like yeah, you're right. Absolutely. If they can't wait a year, it shouldn't be an objective. Why am I even contemplating this? Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 24:41 We don't want goals that are too easy that are going to be mastered on within a month, if we can openly say well, they're not going to master this in a year to independence. Why is that even being considered? Dana Jonson 24:52 So let me ask you a question because I have a question on this. So if you have a skill, let's say brushing teeth, okay. So let's say we're brushing teeth, and we're gonna break it down to picking up the toothbrush, right? That's the first step. And then the second step is going to be picking up the toothbrush and putting it under the water. Right. So the second step is to put it under the water. What's the objective? Do you have two separate objectives? Both of which would be masters, but you're only working on a second one after you've mastered the first one? Or is there a different way to write that so that it's longer? Did that make sense? Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 25:27 Yeah. So I think I understand what you're saying, I think what you can do is have an overarching goal, and then that goal, be separated out into objectives and each objective is a step, and you have to master step one, before you move on to teaching the second objective. And the third objective, what I think is important is that we only put in the number of objectives under an overarching goal that we feel a child can master out in a year. And what that's going to look like for each child is very different, right? I can't imagine a child wouldn't be able to master out brushing their teeth in a year. If they can't, then the question is, are they practicing? Is someone showing them how to do it? A year is a really long time to master a skill of brushing teeth? Or is there something else happening perhaps physiologically, where the child's doesn't have like the ability to pinch and grasp? You know, pinch it hold a toothbrush? Right? Like that's a whole separate skill if if a pinch, or do those like motor movements, then we shouldn't even be teaching skills that require that because that's a prerequisite skill to be able to do any of that. Right. So I think it really depends on the child. But I think the biggest point is to make sure we're we're picking a goal, right and get to independence and breaking down only the steps that we're going to be working on that we feel are doable within a year, and then working on one mastering it out moving on to the next on to the next and then the whole goal is mastered. Dana Jonson 26:52 Got it. Yeah. So that I mean, because sometimes I do see that where I see goals that are maybe really or objectives that are super short term. And so they master them really fast. They do see that sometimes where pieces are broken out, but they don't necessarily make sense, because they're just random pieces of the skill as opposed to going in a specific order. What do you feel a BCBA has that say, a school psychologist or special ed teacher does not have that makes them more equipped to design this kind of program for a child? Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 27:27 The great questions, so I think potentially, as long as there's a mechanism for collecting and monitoring data, other practitioners can be trained or can learn to support learners, effectively, I think the piece that's missing often is we don't have a way of regularly taking, collecting, measuring, and analyzing data on progress. And that can really skew our ability to really understand whether a child is making progress, being able to effectively look at our teaching methodologies and whether or not those are helpful or not, and they need to change. And that's what data helps us to do. You know, from a BCBA perspective as BCBAs we have the unique ability and understanding of of behavior and different teaching strategies and to be able to enhance motivation and really break thing. Dana Jonson 28:37 It's all scientifically backed, right? It's all scientifically backed, right. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 28:43 But there's, there's an immense amount of value from a multidisciplinary collaboration. There are so many things that as BCBA, we can learn from speech pathologists and OTs and psychologists. Right, I think the bottom line is all fields would benefit from adopting database tracking right on on those, that there? Dana Jonson 29:06 Well, yeah, my first my first job teaching was at the National Center for Children is all ABA and data driven and all of that. So it's a little baffling to me when I got out of there and went into a public school. And I was like, what you guys don't all do this, like, not everybody tracks data this way. What I don't understand. So I have that background, which has been very helpful for me. But yeah, that is what you're saying is what I see as well. And one of the challenges I have when we want to do any kind of behavior, social, whatever plan with someone who's not a BCBA is if you're a BCBA, I have confidence that you know exactly how to track this behavior and track the data. If you're not, I don't know that. That's just as a professional sitting across the table. I don't I have competence. I know that you as a principal might tell me that you have a great school psychologist. And they may be, but I don't know that and there's nothing in their training that tells me that they would be good at this. Whereas with a BCBA, if you are a board certified behavior analyst is, am I saying it right? I'm getting all my letters messed up today, it's awful. But if you are a BCBA, I know you've had that training. I've know you've taught that supervision, you know that that practicum time that you have learned how to take this data, and more so than just like one class in graduate school. And so that that, to me is what the big difference is. And in Connecticut anyway, I know that if we were doing a behavior plan for a child of functional behavioral analysis beforehand, if you have autism, it has to be a BCBA. I think right there, we're talking about how important it is to have that skill set behind you. So it's not to say this, you said like a multidisciplinary program could be great with the right training and supervision. And so I get that. So I guess, gosh, you've given me so much good information. And I'm so happy you guys have now opened another look, well, where are your locations? Let's go with that. Let's Where Where are you now? Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 31:11 We have one location. We're located in Norwalk, Connecticut, right off of Exit 16 on 95. So we're very, very close to the highway, which is very convenient. And hopefully in the future, we'll we'll have some some more location, 31:27 I'm, Dana Jonson 31:27 I'm, I would really appreciate it. If you could open a spot in Danbury, that'll be very helpful. Stacey, the advocate, my office asked me to make that request of you when we were chatting. So yeah, if you could bring your magic up here. That'd be great. So on it? Well, and I think it's also important to know you guys do do assessments, you do work with school districts, you do work with parents, you work with everybody, right? Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 31:54 We here Yes, we do support. We do a lot of collaborations with schools on social, our goal is really to help kids learn not only learn to use the skills that they're working on with us here, but but more importantly than that, being able to take them and use them everywhere else. Because if they can't do that, then we haven't been successful. So you know that our generalization is our ultimate mastery criteria. Dana Jonson 32:21 generalization is good, that's important. I always say that. I'm like, Well, I'm thrilled that they're doing this properly in the resource room, but they're not going to live there forever. So where else? Are they going to do it? So I think that's great. So for people listening, who are like, Oh, my God, how have I not found the hangout spot yet? Or the play space? Where can they find it? And where can they find you? Absolutely. So they can go to our website, www dot the hangout spot llc.com. And for anyone who's interested in learning more about our intake process, or about our programs, um, you can submit an inquiry there, you can also submit an application as well. Or we can also be reached via email at Hello at anything else that llc.com or by phone, our number here is 203-354-9257. That's amazing. And I will have all of that in the show notes. So if you're driving and you weren't able to commit all that to memory, just go back and check the show notes and they will all be there. Thank you, Justina so much for joining me today. I know that you will be back at another point. But thank you, and thank you for everything you're doing for our community because we really had a hole in in our need for this, this kind of social skills development programming. And so it's been really, really great in Connecticut. So thank you. Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT), 33:45 Thank you for having me. It's it's been such a privilege to be able to work with so many incredible families. Dana Jonson 33:52 Thank you so much for joining me today. Please don't forget to follow this podcast so you don't miss any new episodes and leave a review and you have a chance. If there's anything you want to hear about or comment on. Please go to my Facebook page special ed on special ed and find me there. I'll see you next time here on special ed on special ed. Have a fabulous day. The views expressed in this episode are those of the speakers at the time of the recording do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company or even that individual today.
Today’s guest, Amy Basso, works in a school based SLP role, with a difference. Listen to her talk about working in special education in a very small interdisciplinary school within the very much bigger population of NYC – a role which has an overlap with some aspects of medical SLP work. Amy also talks about how working in an NYC district with a strong union presence affects contracts and work scheduling. Amy is a whiz on working smartly to manage SLP workloads and, in particular, using systems and technology to save time. You’ll learn some great tips on how you can do this too in this episode! Visit FreshSLP.com/podcast for this episode's show notes, a full audio transcript and more great resources at the intersection of grad school and a successful SLP career.Not a substitute for a formal SLP education or medical advice for patients/caregivers. Fresh SLP is in no way affiliated with or representing any university.
One of my favorites as Special Ed was so calm, yet so gangsta' in his stance and in his delivery within the song “I Got It Made”. Please allow me to restate that in terms we use often in this podcast series via our cornerstones: BELIEF, CONFIDENCE, PREPARATION & PERFORMANCE. Each is referenced quite a bit as he clearly speaks to his BELIEF in himself, his Creator / Our creator and his gifts. Right or wrong, True or untrue, I leave that judgment unto you…All podcast episodes and content on this platform will correlate to the following cornerstones:BeliefConfidencePreparationPerformanceI thank you for your support. Subscribe on your favorite podcast platform today!Montee Gregg Publishing Company Merchandise sales - Coach Gregory Cain's Podcast apparel, journals & more. Shop - show your support!Cain Life Coaching Services Coach Gregory Cain is accepting new life coaching clients. I can help. Request a consultation today!Buzzsprout - Launch your podcast TODAY! Today is a great day to start your podcast. Podcasting is can be easy, inexpensive & fun. Go for it!Support the show
Henry talks with Nikoletta Bennett, a primary school teacher for 20 years. She has taught in Athens, in London and in schools around Melbourne. Nikoletta has specialised in teaching students who have learning difficulties. Her passion is accomodating children to learn using their strengths. She is always available to give guidance to classroom teachers, to further assist these children in their classrooms. She is currently a Learning Services Teacher at St Michael's Grammar. She has completed a Bachelor of Education. A Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology and has completed a Graduate Certificate in Special Ed. She works wonderfully enabling children to learn using strengths, goals and in turn improves their self beliefs. She is a collaborative member of the staff and gains wonderful rapport with her students and their parents. This conversation was originally broadcast on 3SER's 97.7FM Casey Radio in November 2022. It was produced by Rob Kelly.
This is an essential episode because Social Emotional Learning is not just for students with special education needs - everyone needs social-emotional learning skills! Social-Emotional Learning, also called SEL, is an integral part of education and human development. It helps students and adults develop healthy identities, manage emotions, and feel empathy for others. SEL gives students the skills they need to build supportive relationships. Students learn the skills, attitudes, and knowledge surrounding social-emotional learning to make responsible decisions. By establishing trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation, SEL helps schools, families, and communities achieve educational equity and excellence. Through SEL, we can help address various forms of inequality and empower young people and adults to create thriving schools. It's helpful to start with a clear definition of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). A school-wide SEL program equips students of all ages with skills to achieve their own unique goals. It includes understanding and managing their emotions, nurturing positive relationships, making informed decisions, and feeling empathy. Learning SEL is critical to students' success, both in and out of the classroom. Dr. Judy Grossman joins me today to discuss what social-emotional learning is, why it is important, and why it is for all students! Dr. Grossman is the Associate Director of the Center for the Developing Child and Family at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. She is also an Adjunct Professor at NYU. Previous academic appointments include Yale School of Medicine and SUNY – Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Grossman has conducted special education policy research for the NYS and NYC Departments of Education and school districts in Fairfield County. She lectures nationally and internationally on the topics of family resilience, mental health consultation, and special education family-centered services. Dr. Grossman is an occupational therapist, public health educator and consultant, and she maintains a private practice in couples and family therapy, specializing in neurodiverse children. She is also a member of the Smart Kids with LD Board of Directors. TRANSCRIPT (not proofread) SUMMARY KEYWORDS child, parents, social emotional learning, children, feelings, piece, school, understand, kids, feel, terms, iep, regulate, grossman, special ed, episode, people, academic, learning, behavior SPEAKERS Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW, Dana Jonson Dana Jonson 00:09 Okay, welcome back to Special Ed on Special Ed, thank you so much for tuning in today. I'm very excited for today's episode, because we have Dr. Judy Grossman, who is the Associate Director of the Center for the Developing Child and Family at the Ackerman interests Institute for the family. I got it all out that time. And we're gonna talk about social emotional learning. So stay tuned, I'm going to run my disclaimer before we say a word. And then we'll jump right into it. The information in this podcast is provided for general informational and entertainment purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction at the time you're listening. Nothing in this episode creates an attorney client relationship. Nor is it legal advice, do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included and accessible through this episode without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice on particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer or service provider licensed in your state country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. Great, Dr. Grossman, thank you so much for joining me today, I was able to get out your very long title. But I would love it if you would give us a little background on you and why you are the one that I need to have teach me about social emotional learning. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 01:19 Okay, first of all, thanks for having me thrilled to be talking to the parents that are listening or whomever actually started my career as an OT. And then went into academia and did some policy research in special ed and became a family therapist. I mean, like I've had many, many different experiences, my area of focus has always been family resilience, even before we we use that term. You know, years ago, we only talked about risks and deficits. But you know, there's been a change a long time coming, and looking at strengths and resilience. And I started a project for family therapists to work, specifically with families with neurodiverse children. And that's because all my experience has taught me that there are layers to the work. So you may be a very competent family therapist, or a maybe an excellent educator and special ed. But you need the whole package. So if you're doing clinical work, that's more than the area of mental health, you have to understand the IEP and the different diagnoses. And on top of interested in family resilience, very, most of my work deals with the parents, because parents are so significant. And situations can be so stressful. And they often search for skills or strategies to help them manage their child's behavior, or even keep themselves regulated when they're getting upset. So social emotional learning, and I'd say it's a term that's been around since the 90s. There's a consortium, researchers, policymakers, educators, clinicians, everybody that's interested in evidence based practice, in terms of social emotional learning. And after the pandemic, or I shouldn't say that we are still in the pandemic, actually, right. We're not sure how it's over yet. I'm actually getting up at COVID. Right now myself. So we are, Dana Jonson 03:45 I think we're over the initial shock of the pandemic, maybe that's what we're thrilled with the initial shock. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 03:51 That's the one thing we've learned a couple of things. One is children are struggling with anxiety and depression. And for some even PTSD, this has been very challenging and continues to be very challenging for students. Second thing we learn, which I know, the past 40 plus 50, long time is that parents are so important in supporting their child's total development, but particularly the social emotional development because you're the model. You're the coach. A lot of it has to do with your own development of social emotional skills. And I think that the pandemic has raised awareness that it's so important for schools to partner with parents. Dana Jonson 04:47 Yeah. And I think that's, I mean, that's how I sort of came to it was I had an older child who was neurodiverse, who was not able to identify her own emotions and feelings. And so as a family, we sort of had to learn to talk in this way of explaining ourselves and explaining our emotions and our feelings as they were happening in sort of a way to help educate her. And what I learned was I have three of my five children are have a traumatic background, and they're adopted. And and so but what I learned through this process was, it was significantly benefiting my bio, no typical child. And I mean, I don't know that anyone in my house is neuro neurotypical, but whatever you get, the idea is that these pieces, these pieces that I was putting into place for a specific reason for a specific disability for a specific need, actually applied to everybody in the house. And that's how I started to sort of identify that and now that as you say, the pandemic brought much more awareness to the forefront. And, and I agree with you, I think it's critical that we, as parents understand our role in that. Because when you tell a child you need to be doing this, but you're not doing it yourself. That's always my favorite when parents like Well, I'm definitely getting them into therapy. And I'll say, Well, do you have a therapist, and parents will say, Well, no, I don't need one. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 06:21 So you've made a couple of really good points, then that one is, this is universal. Every child and adult will have better live success, if they have good social emotional awareness. They understand can live with our own feelings, they can begin to identify feelings and others and develop empathy. They have good relationships, and most importantly, particularly with neurodiverse children that the child can regulate. So emotional regulation, meaning, you know, that don't have these uncontrollable outbursts, but they can find ways to self soothe, and cope. And another piece of that is CO regulation. So children who aren't able to do that, the parent has to sort of be their prefrontal cortex and help them regulate. So there are a lot of different dimensions to social emotional learning. But the way that the state of the art so to speak is that there are many curriculum, and many of them are endorsed by Castle, which is this consortium for collaborative social, emotional educational learning, and their school wide. So you know, a school might be interested in paying more attention to social emotional learning, and we can talk about what the research says, and more and more schools are adopting different curriculums. So it's helpful for parents to know, you know, what is your curriculum, and social emotional learning? Dana Jonson 08:05 The why would that be important for a parent to understand the specific curriculum? Is it that the language is different depending on the curriculum? Or how does that fit into what's going on at home? Okay, Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 08:17 so it actually is less about which one, but knowing that they have one. Okay. I think that what goes on at home should complement the language that they're using in school. So there's not a disconnect, in many, many ways to do this. I mean, I often do, training people to do groups with parents and their children to learn these skills. And the earlier the better. I mean, you can, you know, start social emotional learning, with infants. Yeah. In terms of how you help them. And your narrative, your storytelling always includes failing words. So in terms of the steps in social emotional learning, the the, I would say the first step is just labeling feelings, yours, their husbands or partners, the other children in the family, and, you know, take advantage of 24/7 teachable moments. Oh, wow, we see those people there. They're having an argument. They, they look like they're so angry at each other. Are you watching a movie, when he's still kind because he keeps trying to help his friends, so forth and so on. So this is something that can be done, woven into family life. If you have a child and has difficulty labeling feelings, you become curious. And let's say you're watching your child doing homework and they're having a hard time. You can say I'm wondering if you're frustrated. I mean, you're looking frustrated to me, then how are you feeling? So you don't tell the child, how he or she is feeling. But you probe who has a question. And eventually children will be able, there'll be more in touch and be able to name how they feel. And once you have a name, there's a terminal name entertainment, that helps you feel more in control. You know, if they just have this amorphous, let's say you feel anxious, but you don't really know that that's anxiety. Right? You're uncomfortable, you might have bodily signals, and you don't know what they mean. And you might say, every night, my tummy hurts, my tummy hurts. And well, that might be the signal for that child that that means that you're worried that you're just Dana Jonson 10:54 yeah, there's there's that goal responses that it's not, I think that's an important piece, too, is to understand, especially for kids in school, when you see a child, when I see a child who visits the nurse a lot. My first thought is okay, that's anxiety. That's, you know, they're fearful of something, they're worried about something they're escaping from something like that, to me is the first sign right? That that they've removed Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 11:20 themselves, actually, they, they may want to avoid something, or escape, or they may just be overstimulated. And they don't understand that. They just know they need a break. So that's really the first step. I mean, until someone has some self awareness. And when I work with parents, I always encourage a lot of self reflection, because there's a term meta emotion. how people feel about feelings. Yeah, so so people are not comfortable with angry feelings that are not express them. Some people have a lot of trouble handling when their child seems sad. Feelings are feeling, Dana Jonson 12:08 I think that's our natural response, right? Our child is that I want you to feel better. So I'm just going to immediately try to make you feel better. And Kelly, you you feel better. And that's not a big deal. It's not upsetting. Don't worry about it. But what I'm saying is your feelings don't matter. And that's where you'll have to parent right, that's Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 12:23 dismissive, which is unethical. Because either say, your feelings don't matter, or this feeling is like a feeling that we want to talk about or notice. Dana Jonson 12:35 And I find for parents, sometimes it's hard to see when it wasn't our intent to harm a child, it's really hard to acknowledge that what we did, because they think in the back of our mind that So the worst thing we could do is harm a child. That's that's like our natural reaction is to not do that. That concept is so overwhelming, that our first response is to be like, no, no, I didn't mean that. So it didn't happen well, Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 13:01 right? That's right. But the other piece to it is harming a child is a strong word, no parent ever gets it all right all the time. So sometimes it's about the repair. So you know, if you're learning some of these skills yourself about our how to label your carrier feeling and help your child label how he or she was feeling, it's, the parent becomes more skillful. And if you recognize that you did something that retrospectively feel you didn't handle, well, you can be transparent. And say, you know, I was just thinking about what happened this morning. And I'm really sorry, because you are looking so sad, and I didn't really give you a chance to tell me more about it. Would you like to do that? And the time, I'd say yes or no, yeah, the thing is, a very important piece of social emotional learning is this self regulation. And some parents are not well regulated. And it my work, and my work includes research and clinical, academic teaching and so forth. I always start with helping the parent regulate, because if the parent gets triggered by the child's behavior, and then they get upset, and they sort of get aroused and Rabat, that's only gonna create this child's dysregulation, essentially. So no matter what the first step is for the parent, to stay calm. And I think it's very helpful for parents to be explicit about it. Like let's say, you know, you ask your child 10 times to do something, they didn't do it and you're getting annoyed and you know, you're just sort of going up the scale. You can say, you know, yeah, I'm going up the scale or I use the monitors, killing thermometers, but whatever we want to talk about. And I don't want to start yelling, you know, that's not going to help us. So I'm gonna take a minute because I know it helps me, if I take a few deep breaths. So you are you're modeling for the child that you are working on controlling your reactions. So rather than being reactive, you want to be responsive. But you're modeling that. And, you know, you have to have a strategy. One, one part is noticing when you get aroused, or the parent, being able to monitor and knowing what's the point of no return, so to speak, and at some point, forget it. They can't really talk about it in a logical way. But then you have to know what to do. And so, you know, I usually have family activities, where everybody talks about the different ways they control themselves, or calm themselves down, or cope with stress. That's a very, very important piece Dana Jonson 16:13 is a parent understanding themselves and being able to control and regulate? Yeah, and it's, it's, it's, I find almost impossible for me to identify myself, I have to be able to rely on, we have this thing, and I'm very, like, I'm loud. My hands are always going I'm all over the place. And my husband's like, super chill. And so my yelling and his yelling are two different things. I remember he wants raised his voice once, and the kids don't yell at Mommy. And he his response was she yells at me. And they said, Yeah, but that's how she talks. And it was funny for me to be like, Oh, they so differentiate between us, like how I am compared to myself, not how I am compared to him. And I just thought that was fascinating to me that they had picked up on that little bit that they they were aware, they didn't think I was yelling all the time, you know, because there has been my personality. And I just, to me, that was showing me how in tune. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 17:19 The kids are. Exactly. Kids are incredibly attuned to the parents, emotional state. And like even toddlers, you could see a toddler, if he sees the mom looking sad, go over, and you know, sort of comfort the parent. Now, they don't even really understand what they're doing. But it's, it's in the air. It's an exquisite skill that children have. And, you know, parents might try to mask it, which is hard. I mean, I'm working with a very depressed mom right now. You know, she's doing her best to function normally. But I can't imagine her children don't pick something up. Dana Jonson 18:11 Yeah. And I hear that a lot too, with parents when they either they have something major to tell their kids, whether it's a divorce, or separation or move or what have you. And they've been waiting to tell them for some reason. And I always ask them, like, did they know? Like, did they know where they have set? And, you know, a lot of the time it's like, oh, they had a sentence, or they were relieved that whatever was was said, because they knew something was coming. You know, like, they're just, I think we as adults like to pretend that we're tricking them, but we're really not. You know, we've we've trained them to tell us what we want to hear. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 18:46 Yeah. And, you know, we we want to protect them. Yes. That's just an instinct. Can always, you know, that doesn't mean that you can help them deal with, I often say anxiety is catching. You know, it might be situation where were you just a word about it? And say, you know, yeah, you know, you recognize that, you know, this is normal behavior for mommy, which is different than normal behavior for daddy. And that's fine. People are different. You know, the thing about social emotional, oh, join us. Good question. I'm sorry, I Dana Jonson 19:36 was I was muted. I was just saying I think it's important for them to be able to distinguish between personality and emotion and feeling and my oldest is neurodiverse as nonverbal learning disabilities so so it's very difficult for her to identify any of those social cues that we take for granted. You know, but so to be able to distinguish between them That's your personality, you're fiery, and you're loud versus someone who's fiery and loud as me, or mad or angry or right. however you define it, it's much more complicated than we think. And we still take it for granted. I'm curious, how do you approach families, because sometimes I run into this where families say, they just need to suck it up. They just need to get through, they need to get a tougher skin. And I've been that parent, where I said, Oh, my God, my kids are snowflakes, what is happening, but at the same time, I think about the pain that I experienced, not being able to share my emotions with somebody or not being able to identify them myself. So I'm coming from that perspective. But how do you reach a parent who maybe doesn't see that the benefit necessarily they know their kid needs it, but they're not internalizing it? Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 20:58 Well, that goes back to the research of what we're learning. So social emotional learning, which is the title that have sole users this consortium, it could be called Emotional intelligence, or emotional literacy. It's also referred to as non cognitive skills, and in our schools are all about academics, and cognitive development, language development, and achievement, which all plays into it, right. But if a child is not regulated, the child is distracted. If a child is in a stress response, if a child is feeling anxious, they're not taking in the information. They're not absorbing, and integrating what the teacher is saying. So there have been over 20 years of research, I mean, way more short term and long term studies, showing that there is a relationship between better social emotional skills and academic performance. There is relationship between social emotional skills, and relationships, and self awareness, and behavior, in school and at home. So I consider it What should I say, I never said this before the word just came into my mind, like a nest, ah, this is social emotional learning. And then you build all the academic cognitive skills. But if you're not pressing, right now, you're not really learning optimally. Dana Jonson 22:51 Yes. And I, we actually experienced that as well, one of one of my children, who, between evaluations, their IQ went up, and I'm using air quotes that you can't see right now went up 16 points. And at her age, that's not your IQ doesn't make that kind of lead BNL in that short period of time, and she had gone from an environment that was not safe to her in her mind, and had to spend not just to enter into a safer environment, she had to spend a great deal of time in that safer environment, before she became available for learning. And that's how we looked at it because I was like, there's not suddenly this, what was I, what I was thrilled about her educational environment at the time is that it was meeting those safety needs. And that was my only priority for her at the time. And the academics came, you know, like, everything went up when we only focused on making sure she felt safe. And that was our only priority. That's when she did well academically. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 24:03 Well, you're you're exactly right. And, you know, safety is. What could I say? Without that? Yeah, any of this is not going to develop. So you know, children that experience a lot of trauma. Number one need safety and trust in relationships. Another thing about you know, trauma and how it relates to this. I think we underestimate the amount of trauma people have in life. I mean, there's a lot of studies about this now from trauma informed cares, like the name of the game. It's a cat two days, it's the buzz phrase, right? But let's just say your child has ADHD, there's a separate from trauma, the extra energy that they need to pay attention to stay seated to, especially if they're have the hyperactive pace to modulate their body It is exhausting. And so even that takes away from Dana Jonson 25:05 learning. Right. And I think people forget that when kids are exhausted, they don't roll over and go to sleep, they tend to have a fit, you know, they tend to keep going in their exhausted state. They're not aware enough to rest. And I think we forget Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 25:23 that. Yeah. And also, we see it in the transition from school to home. Because, you know, the teacher will say, here's a behavior problem, and we've been doing fine, and he has some friends, you know, and then the child comes home and opens the door, and he has a temper tantrum and totally escalates. And the parents thing that's going on? I mean, is this different kids? In my family child that's in school, very common number that I hear that all the time? Dana Jonson 25:56 How do you help schools bridge that gap? How do your parents and schools how do you, you know, I have that happen a lot. Obviously, with my clients, I have my clients or children with disabilities, and a lot of the time they are holding it together to the best of their ability from morning to dismissal, and then they get home. And there's nothing left. There's, you know, emotional control, there's no making the child happy. There's no nothing like they've just been pushed over the edge. But the school is seeing a great kid that's being social and talking to friends and doing their work. And I'm in the parents are seeing a kid that's about to blow, how do we help bridge that gap? Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 26:41 Well, a couple of ideas. One is, because this is so common. One knows what you can do at home. So to be articular Babbitt and then have maybe a transition ritual with the child, because you're anticipating, and you make that obvious and you know, the ritual might be what's the most common thing you can do with the child at that moment? Is it to give them something to eat? Or is it to have them do some kind of physical, aerobic kind of activity, whatever it is, but make it over and think about, this is just what the parent can do think about creating a coming home ritual. As a therapist, when I work with families, everything is a suggestion, because we never really know what's going to work. A lot of it's trial and error. But for some families that works in terms of the school. And I've been doing this work a long time, I mean, training related service providers, because I'm also rotate training related service providers and training, special educators and changing psychologist and you know, people from different domains in this area with different perspectives. Yeah. And the, there are so many more opportunities for parents to get information that could help them. I always say, don't pass the OT what she's doing to help the child regulate in the classroom, because maybe she has some ideas for you. I mean, there's not enough transparency and communication between well, some parents and some schools do this very well. I mean, you know, I did some studies in Fairfield County, and there are some school districts, some districts, but there's some communities that do it very well. I was still my work was in New York City, and Dana Jonson 28:53 different animal in New York City. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 28:56 And so, sometimes there's absolutely no communication and cancer or our have a right to information. And they would benefit a great deal because they want other ideas. Are there strategies? Is there something that's working in school because there's a behavior plan seemed to work in schools, that's something we should try it at home? Dana Jonson 29:23 Right. And from a, you know, from a specialist attorney perspective, I would also look at that as you know, parent training from a school perspective. Another thing that I often recommend for parents is evaluations. And if they think that they are seeing a completely different child than their school district, and they're not able to bridge that gap, that either bringing in the private therapists that they're working with to give their input or collaborating with the school to get an outside evaluation, maybe somebody who isn't in school because of people in school aren't seeing But the parents are staying and the parents aren't seeing what school is seeing the maybe we need somebody completely separate, to come in and tell us where all these pieces connect. And I find that to sometimes be the hardest thing. And once we can make that connection, and everyone can see how all those pieces work together and how home is impacting school and vice versa, then we can start putting pieces into place. How would you advise parents or teachers who think you know, we have a gap, we need to bridge bridge this gap? Where can we get the information we need? Who should they be going to for that assessment or Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 30:40 instruction? Well, you're talking about quite a few different things. So that's probably, so let's see if I can answer it in a way that's helpful. Schools are mandated to every child has an IEP to decide on placement and services to enhance their academic performance. That's as a threatened. I'm suggesting academic performances is not as narrow a lane, as they say, I did special ed policy research for a decade. And, you know, there's such variability in terms of a school district partnering and believing in strength base, partnering with parents in understanding what the parents concerns are, what their priorities are, as opposed to, you know, let's look at the IEP and look at the various specifics skill. Now, sorry, think about all the trial, right. So parents have a right to request a meeting, if a child has an IEP, parents have a right to have the child evaluated, if they feel there's a problem. Usually it comes from the school, suggesting to the parent, however, I know, parents instinct, lets them know something's not quite right. And so they need the validation. They may feel for years. I just think there's something that he he's not getting. And then grade three, you still can't read. He's very frustrated. And he has a lot outburst in the parent knew, right and we are diagnosing earlier and earlier or diagnosing. I mean now, where it is approved to diagnose children as young as four with ADHD, which was not the case before, but I know into a preschool and look in the classroom and identify two to three children that are neuro diverse. And yeah, I'm a preventionist. I mean, my doctorates and a couple of Cal, but I'm all about prevention. And if a child has a neurobiological disability, you really can do prevention work in terms of his emotional life, and not feeling I'm not good enough. I'm a bad boy. You know, I hear those things from children all the time, and they're devastating for parents. Dana Jonson 33:30 Yeah. But I think we don't realize too, that by calling a child a good boy, indicates to the other children, then they are bad. Like, I think they're little pieces of language that we we've become very careless with our language, I think. And I think that is part of our social emotional problem. Because when you're careless with your language, you're sending messages that maybe you didn't intend to send. And, and I think it's in my lifetime, that we've actually as a society started to acknowledge that kids have feelings. You know, I know, when I was little that was at the forefront of the conversation, you know, and even my mom talks about when she was pregnant, there was only one patient. Yeah, it was the mom. Right. So it started right from there. So, you know, I think that we are definitely coming into a new understanding even though these ideas and concepts and knowledge have been around forever. I think as a society, we have not been taking it seriously. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 34:31 Well, I think you're absolutely right. The power of language. Good, bad, you know, really, you want to describe behavior, you know, Oh, you did you finish that assignment very well. And you know, that was great because you're being a good student or whatever. You you talk about the behavior. I had an experience in 1971, which gives A little bit of indication of how long I've been in the parenting field. And we were doing a prevention program in Spanish Harlem with little kids. And everything was about the children know that colors, they know, shapes, and it was all conquer cognitive and language. And I have worked in mental health. And so this was a research project that really funded until I started saying to the parents, what do you like about your child? I'm telling you, they struggled with answers. So this piece of recognizing someone's emotional life and how much that impacts performance and relationships. I mean, even I do a lot of work and Headstart programs, and 1965, the purpose of Headstart was to help children develop social competence. It was an academic readiness. Because if you think about right, you know, what do you need to be a successful adult? Well, you may not need algebra, as much as getting along with your co workers are having a decent round. Dana Jonson 36:18 Yes. And I had that conversation, an IEP meeting the other day for a kid who's super smart. And I thought, yeah, he is. But he also can't make eye contact. If he doesn't like how you look, he will tell you like, there are things that are not acceptable in society that this child does. And regardless of the cognitive abilities, they won't be successful. And that is what we're looking at when you talk about education being much more global than academics. And it is, and that's something that I remind IP teams of all the time, you know, for a middle school, we're talking about a middle schooler, and this kid does not have any friends, that is not typical. And that is going to be more important to that student than anything else. So if we're not taking seriously what kids take seriously, then we're not acknowledging their feelings, their thoughts, what's going on in their lives. And I mean, they're human too, right? They this is their brains are developing to what they're going to be as adults, now's the best time for them to learn how to do all that stuff. I just don't believe that kids have to be in pain to learn what makes it hard to learn. Yes, I think we have that, right. Like if somebody if a kid is enjoying their class, there's this question like, are they actually learning anything? They seem like they're having too much fun? You know, we have to think that's sort of a weird thing. Well, thank you, I so appreciate all of this information. I think it's so important for families and schools to understand that this this social emotional learning piece, and you did touch on it, but it's also a little different than emotional IQ, or those pieces like how will you know yourself. It's more about social emotional learning, it builds, these things can be learned skill develop, to Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 38:11 be modeled back to be practiced. I think the good takeaway for whoever's listening to this is becoming more comfortable with emotional coaching. And that's a term comes from John Gottman, which really means no matter what's going on, you connect emotionally with the child first. So you say, you know, I say you're really angry because you're raising your voice, and I get it, because your sister keeps taking your toys. So you're validating how the child feels, no matter how they feel a feeling is the feeling needs to be respected. So before you say, but don't hit your sister. First, say, you know, label of feeling validated. If you don't really understand if you can't make the connection say, but what what's going on? Tell me what I don't understand why you're so frustrated. And then you can give the couldn't give guidance, you can make a demand, you can make a request. It just means that the child feels understood, and they will listen to you. And this goes for all relationships. Dana Jonson 39:36 It takes them off the defensive. Yeah, Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 39:39 I mean, everybody wants to feel understood. And Oh, Mommy gets it. Yes. And, you know, mommy's that. I should. I can't hit her. Okay. That doesn't mean it's not going to hit her. It means that he has to substitute right a different action for demonstrating has Question for just sister. Dana Jonson 40:02 I love that the way you phrase that it's it's about finding a different way to express it. Right? You're identifying. I see you feel that way I get it. That's valid. But doing that when you feel that way is not how we do it. When you feel that way, you've got to do something different. Let's figure out what that something different is. And yeah, so it's looking at what's, what's the outcome? I've said that to you before I do want the child to feel bad about themselves? Or do you want to change the behavior, which is the goal? And thinking of it that way? Because I think sometimes we feel like that's character building as an adult, right. Going through those tough things and toughing it out. But, you know, wouldn't it be better to have the tools to get through it rather than have it out? I'm not too proud to use, though. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 41:01 It's complex, but it is Dana Jonson 41:03 it is. So So Dr. Grossman, tell me if somebody is listening to this, and they're saying, Oh, my gosh, you speak my truth. You're the only person who gets me and I need to talk to Dr. Grossman, how are they going to find you, and reach out to you and find your world, Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 41:18 I am only practicing on Zoom. Now. Since the pandemic, I gave up my office in the city and I had to have an office here. I'm taking select cases, because I also teach and so forth and so on. But I can be reached at Judy.Grossman928@gmail.com Dana Jonson 41:43 Great. And I will have that information in the show notes along with the other other links to some things that we've discussed during this episode. And I can't thank you enough it really this is such an important a hot topic. And I came across it because I was I attended a presentation that you gave and and I think that was well attended as well. I really think that social emotional learning is on the swing. Thank God in our community in our on our society. So thank you so much for all the work you do, and for sharing this information with parents. Judy Grossman, PhD, MSW 42:16 Oh, my pleasure. My pleasure. I'm happy to do it. Dana Jonson 42:20 Thank you so much for joining me today. Please don't forget to follow this podcast so you don't miss any new episodes and leave a review and you have a chance. If there's anything you want to hear about or comment on. Please go to my Facebook page special ed on special ed and find me there. I'll see you next time here on special ed on special ed. Have a fabulous day. The views expressed in this episode are those of the speaker's at the time of the recording and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company or even that individual today.
an SELtoday.org Presentation: A GREAT PROGRAM FOR PRE-K & SPECIAL ED : CREATIVE SOUNDPLAY AND SEL Hayes Greenfield developed Creative Sound Play and has introduced it into schools across the country and will be a presenter at NAEYC. He works with The National Head Start Association as well. This podcast will be archived at ace-ed.org, our home website
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This week, Amy welcomes Dr. Tish Gentile, DHSc, MPH to the show! Dr. Tish is an ADHD advocate and mentor and has worked in healthcare for over 20 years. She was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age, and now as an adult, she shares her story and experiences in hopes of helping others and stopping the stigma. Having been placed in special education classes early on in school, Dr. Tish had a strong desire to prove to people they were wrong about her. From overcoming imposter syndrome and attending college, to giving herself the grace to fail while completing her Doctorate of Health Science, Dr. Tish is a shining example of turning powerlessness into power. Connect with Dr. Tish Gentile: https://linktr.ee/Dr.Truly_Tish Hosted by Amy Liz Harrison Buy Amy's Books: https://amzn.to/3ys8nuv Shop the Eternally Awkward 80's Store: https://bit.ly/3EGMM46 http://amylizharrison.com/ Subscribe on Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3Lgxy8F Subscribe on Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3vHHHoi
Life throws many curveballs and at times people will have to work with what they know and have to get by. For educators, it's another ball game, and public school educators today are facing a lot of challenges, from budget cuts, low or stagnant salaries, and a pandemic. That also means the stakes are even higher for leadership at these schools, and principals have to be committed and dedicated because their jobs are not exactly easy, per The 19th. Principals have to make strong commitments in order to find success in their jobs and knowing their purpose to achieve that comes with a lot of knowledge of self. But where does the will to do it come from? In the latest episode of “Change Starts Here” podcast, Dustin Odham talked with Linda Cliatt-Wayman, a former principal of the Philadelphia public school system and author, about her own journey in the education field, becoming a principal, and the plans she had to execute to get there. The pair also discussed … Wayman's path in education, from poverty, being a Special Ed teacher, to becoming principal How Wayman ensured her teachers met her expectations as principal The relationship the principal should have with their teachers and students “I had to decide to make sure that I focused on making kids' dreams come true; that every child has a dream, and every child should dream,” Wayman said. Linda Cliatt-Wayman is an author, educator, and former principal in the Philadelphia public school system. She is also a speaker and a mentor.
In this Halloween special episode, Lev and Derek discover the story of one of the early 20th Century's most notorious and deranged murderers (Ed Gein) and look into one of the most disturbing and suspicious Haunted House attractions in history (McKamey Manor). Now in Video Podcast format Support us on Patreon Visit our Instagram Or our Twitter Hosts: Lev & Derek https://linktr.ee/Lev_Myskin https://linktr.ee/ThatEffnGuy Artist: Sarah Chey https://www.fiverr.com/sarahchey Circus Man by Jeris (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/VJ_Memes/37243 Ft: A.M. mews by MommaLuv SKyTower --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/historysgreatestidiots/support
This is one of those episodes I love to experience because I get to discuss a topic about which I know little. Miyah Sundermeyer was diagnosed as a person who happens to be autistic. She received her diagnosis at age 11. As with many of us who happen to be persons with disabilities, the immediate reaction of medical experts and others was that Miyah could not grow up to accomplish anything. Well, she is currently working on her PHD. You will hear about her life as a person on the autistic spectrum among other things about the spectrum. Miyah works for George State helping to raise awareness concerning autism. By any standards, she is successful, growing and she is making a difference. About the Guest: Miyah Sundermeyer is a Minnesota native and spent the first 21 years prior to moving to Atlanta in 2003. In 2010, she earned her associate's degree in psychology from Georgia Perimeter College before transferring her credits top Georgia State University in where she earned her bachelor's in psychology. She was hired at Georgia State at the Center for Leadership in Disability where she has helped gather information on autism resources across GA as well as many other roles. All the while, working to raise Autism Awareness and Acceptance through her podcast “Hello World with Miyah and public speaking. About the Host: Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog. Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards. https://michaelhingson.com https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/ https://twitter.com/mhingson https://www.youtube.com/user/mhingson https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhingson/ accessiBe Links https://accessibe.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/accessiBe https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/ Thanks for listening! Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below! Subscribe to the podcast If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app. Leave us an Apple Podcasts review Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. Transcription Notes Michael Hingson 00:00 Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I'm Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that's a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we're happy to meet you and to have you here with us. Michael Hingson 01:20 Welcome to another episode of unstoppable mindset. Glad to have you wherever you are. And I want to introduce you to Miyah Sundermeyer , who is our guest this week. Miyah has all sorts of interesting things that we get to discuss. She does a lot addressing the concept of autism. And we're going to find out why as well as other things. And she has asked me some questions about September 11 2001. And I'm curious to learn about her interest in that as well. So we'll get there. Anyway. Miyah, welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you? Miyah Sundermeyer 01:55 And the words of my hero and network Dr. Temple Grandin? It's really great to be here. Michael Hingson 02:02 I have I have heard her and we're glad to have you here. Tell me a little bit about maybe your early life, your childhood and some of that stuff. Let's start. Let's start at the beginning, as Lewis Carroll would say, oh, yeah, Miyah Sundermeyer 02:14 now you're making me think of the sound of music. Let's go. Michael Hingson 02:19 There you go. So we'll start with dough. Miyah Sundermeyer 02:24 And so anyway, I don't want to dry dive off topic too much. But anyway, Mr. Hingson. So my early childhood, I was born, when I was born, as it was my understanding that I was first of all stuck in the womb, and then they got me out. I had swallowed a great deal of placenta. And so there caused some a neck that caused anoxia that caused the brain damage. And so my mom and I looked at each other they when they looked at the doctor, and he spanked the fluid out of me. And so I nearly died at childbirth. But the doctors saved my life. And then what? Well, and then I started to develop according to my late aunt, I mean, she died in 2019. I lived with her for a while and she and I had a mother and daughter relationship. But that was in my 20s. At that was in most of my 20s. But when she would come and meet with my parents, and she'd meet with me, she said that other people in the room would try to talk to me, and they thought that I was deaf. So and then as I began to develop into a toddler, my mom noticed that I was staring into space. I wasn't interested in toys. And she also noticed that I would script waiting, I would copy lines from movies and TV shows and commercials. And she specifically remembers the Burger King commercial, where I said, where the old lady says, Where's the beef? Michael Hingson 03:53 Where's the beef? Yeah. Miyah Sundermeyer 03:55 And so my mom caught that caught me, say, where's the beef? And I do recall she said that, I think should they were outside grilling outside of a house that we were renting at the time. And I just ran upstairs and I blurted it out and my mom thought it was funny. I went where's the beef. And so that was the sign right there. And then my mom had started to wonder as to whether or not I was somewhere on the autism spectrum. But keep in mind, this was back in the 80s. And back then autism was looked at very differently. And this was even before that movie Rain Man, which by the way, is not my favorite film. Michael Hingson 04:36 Understand. So he did a good job of acting, but I understand what you're saying. Miyah Sundermeyer 04:41 Yeah, well, I just didn't like the idea that they were putting autism into a box. Yeah. And, you know, they just, it was just one person on the spectrum. And I mean, he was, I mean, Raymond wasn't a real character, but it's my understanding that he was based on another individual and spectrum who was known as a savant. And the thing is, the thing is there's studies suggesting that there's only 1% of the autistic population, that even suggests that you would have the Savant type syndrome. So, Michael Hingson 05:14 anyway, so go ahead and continue. So you, you really weren't like Rain Man, which is understandable. Miyah Sundermeyer 05:23 No, no, it's my understanding. According to my parents, I was two years old. I just thought it was a normal kid back when I was two. But, you know, I just, I just, I got in trouble a lot with with some of our babysitters, because I was just so hyper. And nobody understood that. At the same time, my mom took me to a series of doctors. And I didn't even think there was anything wrong with me. I thought that it was a normal routine. And I thought that every child went through that. I remember also going to a special preschool, and the special preschool, they had IQ testing. And they had me play with special blocks. But at the same time, when they would observe me one on one, I'd want to play with the blocks, but then the specialists but I was grabbed my fingers and stopped me from putting the blocks together. And I hated that. I just, I didn't know why. Michael Hingson 06:26 Why, why was that, that they stopped you from putting the blocks together? Miyah Sundermeyer 06:29 Well, they were using a special, I think they were trying to run tests on me think they were doing IQ type tests and things like that. And so I could, so I didn't understand that what they were doing was they were running some tests on me to test my IQ. And they were also trying to figure out why it was Piper at the same time. They couldn't figure out what was wrong with the autistic traits. Even though back then my mom tried talking to the doctors about actually our family doctors, you know what, I think my daughter might have autism. And they laughed at her because because autism back in the 80s was looked at like Rain Man, and was also looked at, as if everyone on the spectrum was just very, very proud. Even though, even though it was coming out that Dr. Temple Grandin, I mean, she, I mean, by the 80s, she was already beginning to share her story in meetings and conferences across America, and eventually the part of the world. So there's just nobody was making a connection. Michael Hingson 07:37 So when did they finally decide that that autism was a part of your life? Miyah Sundermeyer 07:43 That wasn't until I was 11, I was first diagnosed with ADHD, and I was placed on medication before that. And then I was continuing to go to the doctors, but they didn't officially diagnosed me as an autistic, or a person on the spectrum until I was 11 years old. And back then they preferred it to me as PDD NOS or which was pervasive developmental delays, hyphen, none other specified. That helps, yeah, and back then they referred to me as a woman with high functioning autism are a female with high functioning autism, which is rare. So and then I was placed into special education for the rest of my, the rest of my high school from sixth grade all the way up to 12th grade. And, you know, that's just that was a big mess. Let me tell you how so well, first of all, it started with I hated studying, I hated sitting still and doing homework, I wanted to goof off all the time. And I think which is normal for any kid. Every day, every night, my mom would struggle to get me to sit down and do my homework. And I would sit and have a fit because I hated the studying. And then on top of all that I I would fail at my grades. I mean, I would fail at my exams, because I wasn't wasn't studious. But then they put me in a special education. And I had, we had all the IQ tests, and they just basically told my mom don't waste any time with her. She'll never amount to anything. So Michael Hingson 09:23 I mentioned before we started recording that you could go hear one of my speeches, which talks in great detail about September 11 than the fact is that part of that speech, discusses that went and was discovered that I was blinded about four months, the doctor said that my parents should put me in a home because no blind child could ever grow up and amount to anything. So we're not alone in that, are we? Miyah Sundermeyer 09:50 No, we're not. And it's just amazing what these teach these doctors and these special education teachers. I don't know where they get these ideas from I don't know where or they get this idea that just because everyone's disabled, it doesn't mean they're going to fit into a box according to the DSM manuals. Michael Hingson 10:08 Well, the, the fact is that no matter what they choose to believe or not, they are still reflections of society. And unfortunately, people with disabilities are still not really included, understood, or really educated about in a lot of the professions is slowly getting better. But even back in the 80s, much less back in the 1950s, when I was born and grew up, it still was, and to a large degree, today still is a problem. So we we deal with it. So tell me a little bit about the autism spectrum. I don't know a lot about that. And I don't know how many of our listeners do Can you give us a little bit of an insight as to what it is, where you fit on it and how that whole process works. Miyah Sundermeyer 10:59 So the autism spectrum is very, very broad. If you have people on the spectrum, like myself, who can articulate we can dress ourselves, we can hold down jobs, we can go to college, we can get married. And I mean, me, I'm in a relationship right now. And you know, I have my own place. And I've got a bachelor's degree and getting ready to go back at some point and get my doctorate, I'm planning on developmental psychology. But you also have other people on the spectrum that can talk. But they have other challenges. I mean, I don't like to say, the functioning label, we don't like to say that we don't say, high functioning, low functioning, if people on the Hill, you know, we're a little more moderate, and they can talk. But socially and emotionally, their brain doesn't develop as quickly. I mean, I had some challenges on my own, and that my brain didn't start developing until I was much older. And for them, some of them actually develop the social skills of a child or social skills of a child or up to the level of a teenager. And yes, they can dress themselves, but they have very poor social skills. And then they have other challenges, like some of them have underlying conditions. Some of them have cerebral palsy, but it doesn't mean like, they're not limited from everything, they just have to work around their, their challenges or their disabilities. And some of them have to have coaching and mentoring. And, you know, they can, I mean, they can do it, but some of them need more, more coaching and mentoring. I mean, I still needed coaching and mentoring like everybody else. And then you have other people on the spectrum, the more the severe end, they can't articulate it all. And they refer to them as nonverbal. Or some other self advocates refer to them as people who don't use formal language. I mean, they can talk but they use hollow phrases, meaning that they say one word phrases, like, like, they'll like, they'll say something like, oh, or Oh, are the, they'll just quote a line from a TV show. And then there are other people on the spectrum that just cannot articulate at all, they cannot use the one word phrases, and then some of them, they just, they can't dress themselves, they can't be themselves. Some of those people ended up in group homes and those situations, I mean, it's not that they're fully broken, it's just that they can't take care of themselves. But for them, they would have to use a communicative device or use some sort of a sign language and that they have to have the extra help. But actually, what actually what they have a brain, actually, they're very, very intelligent. But they have you have to unlock that brain. And you have to teach them how to type because they have, they have thoughts like everyone else. And then you have people on the spectrum that have severe sensory input, meaning that they can't sit stay on certain sounds and they can't stand certain colors or they can't stand certain smells. Some of them have the cannot control their bodies, they cannot control their body movements. And then some of them they just, they just they cannot they cannot use the toilet by themselves. So it really ranges and Michael Hingson 14:34 several years ago, I delivered a speech somewhere and I don't recall exactly was I think it was some sort of association of nurses and there was also someone else who spoke who was on the autism spectrum. And she said at the beginning in describing herself, that she tended to react to loud sounds and about 10 minutes into the speech. For some reason the microphone own started giving feedback. Something was too loud or whatever. And she reacted to that was a pretty for me graphic illustration and helped me understand part of of the whole process. But she she said up front that she tended to react to loud sounds and it was just the way it was. Miyah Sundermeyer 15:21 Yeah. So by the way was this woman was this woman Dr. Temple Grandin say No, it wasn't Michael Hingson 15:27 Temple Grandin, I have heard her speak also. But this wasn't Temple Grandin. This was with somebody else, and I can't remember who it was. Miyah Sundermeyer 15:37 So why No, there was a Donna Williams from Australia, she had severe sensory disorders for temple said she could not stand up, she could not stand looking at fluorescent light bulbs. Actually, there's some people on the spectrum that have was it visual inputs, that I can't remember how it temporally phrased it. But according to one of her book, I think it was the way I see it, I read it in thinking in pictures that you walk under some of the fluorescent bulbs. And according to the way the brain processes information, the lights will flicker like a strobe light. So people on the spectrum that cannot stand that. And there are people on the spectrum that cannot even handle LED lights. And for I'm not one of those people. For me. I don't like micro microphone input either. I just I hate it. And then it's funny, you mentioned temple and we're talking about sensory input, she was doing an interview and she kept imitating the sound of, of a microphone input. And it hurt my ears every time she did it. Like I thought to myself temple stop doing that. Michael Hingson 16:53 So this person, as I said, reacted when the squealing of the feedback happened. And it took her about a minute or a minute and a half to recover and be able to continue. They dealt with the issue of feedback. And the rest of the speech was fine. But it it makes sense that different people react in different ways. And that's, of course, what the whole idea of innocence, the spectrum is about. It's very difficult to sit there and say, people fit in one box and that you are somewhere on the spectrum. And somebody else might be at the same place on the spectrum as you but it doesn't mean that they necessarily react the same way you do. Miyah Sundermeyer 17:37 Yeah, there's also speculation out there. That's why it's called. That's why you have neurodivergent because there's a saying that no two snowflakes are alike, right. And there's also another saying out there that goes up. Just because you meet one autistic, that means that you meet one autistic. And I mean, Dr. Temple and I have very, very different types of disabilities. For her, she cannot stand the feeling of stretchy clothes. And I agree with that on her. But you cannot walk in front of her while she is giving a talk. And actually I blogged for future horizons. And I've had a chance to go to some of her talks there put on by future horizons. I kept getting up to use the bathroom. And this was just before the pandemic. And you know, I kept walking and then temple called me out in front of everyone. She goes, you really don't need to be texting. Because I was sitting there tweeting about the event. And I thought I'm talking to you talking to me. And she goes, No, you walked out of here twice. And then she also said don't worry, you'll thank me later. And then she brought up one of her own life memories of a of a POS that slammed down a container of deodorant and I said you always do and she goes, Do you need to sit back? And I'm sorry? She said, Do you need to go sit in the back? And I just kept on talking. I just she just kept on talking and what were you doing anyway? And then I explained to her, Well, why don't you just explain to her what I was doing? Why it was nice. I'm not texting, I'm tweeting. I'm promoting your event and I told her what I do. And she goes, Well, what did you say? So in the first place, and then me I said temple temple I was waiting for you to get done talking. So but yeah, I've had her on my podcast a couple times. And I mean, I've known her since 2014. And I've presented alongside her before so Michael Hingson 19:36 we were at the same event but we didn't get actually to meet. She spoke over lunch and I was near the back of the room just coincidentally so we never did really get a chance to but I was hoping to have an opportunity to do that. But she had to leave right away so we didn't get to do it, unfortunately. Miyah Sundermeyer 19:53 Well, she's very, very nice and I think you too would hit it off. I'd love to meet her. I She would be a great guest on your show. Michael Hingson 20:02 Well, we'd love to explore that. And if you can help us make contact, we'd love to have her on. I mean, she's a person who is extremely well known. Would would love to meet her in person. And I don't even I can probably go back and research. Where was that? I heard her. Very fascinating speaker. Needless to say, Miyah Sundermeyer 20:23 yeah. She's so funny, too. I mean, she just ranted. It's like she's randomly funny, too. Michael Hingson 20:30 Yeah. Well, and and that's okay. People are as they are. So you describing the whole idea of autism? And I realize they're not related. But how does autism and the way people function and behave different? Or how does it compare with, say, people with Down syndrome? Miyah Sundermeyer 20:52 Well, for a person with Down syndrome, I don't really know much about it. I don't know much about what Down Syndrome does. But for Down syndrome, it is genetic, and that I believe that autism is genetic, too. But for Down syndrome, you have the extra chromosome, as far as I know. But I also understand that people who are downs, also have other medical conditions that are underlying, and it's my understanding that people who have Down Syndrome don't live very long as their lifespans are shorter. And I suspect as they get older, they deal with issues such as specific types of Alzheimer's disease. And so I think most of the people who are Down's and then they've died in their 30s. Michael Hingson 21:48 I wonder about the the the intelligence level or the intelligence differences, because I know that clearly, people with autism, as you pointed out, can be extremely intelligent, it isn't really a lack of intelligence in any way. I don't know enough about Down syndrome either. To understand that, Miyah Sundermeyer 22:05 well, there are, but there, there are advocacy group movements right now for people who are downs. In fact, there's a whole movement in the college setting called inclusive post secondary education, that allows people with Down's people who are downs that the DSM manual would refer to as an intellectual disability. And you know, for an autistic, I prefer it as I have a developmental disability, yes. But for a person with Down syndrome, they're considered to have intellectual disabilities, but they have specific curriculums now with Inclusive post secondary education. And they, they let the individuals take special class, regular college classes and be with their peers. And right at the moment, they're trying to go from just the individuals audit, auditing classes to taking college courses. But they're also trying to get them out into the world and get them into internships, where they get to do things that their normal peers do. And they're also doing other types of programs for people on the spectrum. In college settings, too. They're trying to come up with a special accommodations, because there's a large number of people on the spectrum right now that have been struggling with college because of accommodation issues, or executive functioning issues. And myself included, because I'm getting ready to I'm getting ready to go back to take some Postback classes this fall, and I'm looking for accommodations because I want I want some internships and I want to get into research and I want to build up some skill sets in that area and learn how to talk with my professors. Michael Hingson 23:53 Well, Han, you are clearly an intelligent individual who knows what they need to have in the way of accommodations. And clearly, as we understand all being from the community of persons with disabilities, reasonable accommodations are appropriate. So is autism considered an intellectual disability in any way? Miyah Sundermeyer 24:16 No, not that I know of. I mean, usually, you usually if you had an intellectual disability, there would probably be a dual diagnosis, you probably have someone on the spectrum, but they would also have a diagnosis if they had fetal alcohol syndrome combined with autism. Or they would have Down syndrome, which would be the intellectual disabilities and then autism, which would be the developmental disabilities. So it just really depends on how the child develops in the womb. Michael Hingson 24:47 So you, I think, have talked a little bit about the concept of raising awareness of autism and being autistic as opposed to acceptance. Tell me about If you would, Miyah Sundermeyer 25:01 well, actually, I believe in standing right in the middle, I believe in except in raising autism awareness and acceptance, because I think that they're both important. And I do not believe that raising awareness through organizations like Autism Speaks, and OT, and it was at the Autism Society of America, I do not believe that. That's the best way to educate people. I just think that, that way to raise awareness and acceptance are just way too big. I just think that that awareness should be more at the community level. I mean, it starts in our homeowners associations, it starts in our town halls, and it starts in our schools. It starts with our parents. And it can start by having little townhall meetings or little meetings through your homeowners association. And it starts with community building and connecting with each other. That's where the awareness starts. And then you have the acceptance part, again, at the community level, where you have families and you have individuals and you have you have employers that work in the community, that that that could also teach with Teach the individual social skills and soft skills and work skills and get these individuals employed. Because right now, what we have is just way too big. And right now there's a lot of misunderstanding about autism. And because of that we have individuals out there that are 90% either unemployed or underemployed. Michael Hingson 26:43 That's true across all disabilities to a very large degree. I know for many years, we who happen to be blind have felt that the unemployment rate among unplayable blind people is in the 70% Roughly range. And it isn't because we can't work. It's because people think we can't work. And I suspect that it's the same for you. Miyah Sundermeyer 27:03 Yeah, because a lot of people think that we don't, because we're autistic, they think that we don't understand something. Michael Hingson 27:11 Yeah. And that's not necessarily true at all. Well, I'm curious about something if I, if I might, and that is that we have heard over the past several years, parents talk about not vaccinating their children because they might become autistic or that autism is caused by vaccinations and so on. And that there's been a great increase in spike in autism because of vaccinations and so on. Where do you fit into that? Miyah Sundermeyer 27:41 So, again, I was already I already started to share showing symptoms of autism when I was developing as an infant. Because again, when I was young, my family thought that I was deaf, when it was really part of the autism, because I was probably as a baby, I was hyper, probably very hyper focused on some color, or hyper focused on something in the room as my eyesight was developing. And so I probably wasn't even paying attention to my late aunt Lois. So there's that. But as far as the vaccination goes, I do not think that that's autism at all. I think that that there's some sort of a disorder that mimics autism, but it's not autism, like look at lions disease. And I'm not saying that there's lions disease in the vaccinations, but lions disease mimics autism, I think that they could also be some sort of an allergic reaction that causes damage to the brain and somehow mimics autism, but I don't think that's autism. Or maybe they were already autistic. But perhaps there was a Mercury, there was something in the vaccinations that caused some sort of allergic reaction. And that probably aggravated I mean, I don't know, I haven't done the research. Yeah. Just off the top of my head. So I don't know. Well, the Michael Hingson 29:06 other thing that comes to mind is that maybe the vaccinations don't have anything to do with it at all. It isn't now we are doing a much better job of diagnosing autism, and that in fact, that is caused a lot of the increase in the number of people who are diagnosed with having autism. Miyah Sundermeyer 29:27 Yeah, that's another really good speculation. I think that one's pretty good, too. It's just that I know that Dr. Andrew, was it. Andrew Wakefield is the one that claims to have caught the that had discovered that there was mercury in the vaccinations. But his theory since since got ruled out, and I believe he was caught with plagiarism. I'm not sure. It's not good. Yeah. So I mean, his theory was ruled out. The thing is, they're people that are still believing his theories and they're still fighting back. Wow, Michael Hingson 30:05 it's too bad that, that there tends to be a lot of that. And unfortunately, we also try to find things to blame one thing or another on when we plain just don't know enough to really understand we don't have all the answers yet. That's what science is about. And that's why it's also an evolving process. Yeah. Miyah Sundermeyer 30:27 And science is a slow process, you know, you know, it's funny, you know, there's, you look at the media, and they're, they put all this information out there, like green tea makes you healthier. And you know, then you look, and then you look at back at those short articles, or green tea makes you sleep better. And then you click on the, on the online articles to your local paper. And then you find out that, that there's that there are other research papers that were much different than what the media have put it out there to be said, Michael Hingson 31:06 yeah, there are a lot of misconceptions that are put out by people all over the place who don't really understand. And unfortunately, a lot of it comes from the media. But we live in a society today where basically everything gets dumped into the world, for people to see. And there are always people who believe it. And so the result is that a lot of things get spread that maybe it would be better to wait and see. Exactly. We hear about climate change today. And there are a huge number of people who just don't believe it, or it's the natural scheme of things, and there's nothing we can do about it. But a lot of people who just plain don't believe in the idea of climate change. There's way too much evidence that says that it really is something that maybe we do have some control over and that greenhouse gas emissions should be addressed. And we should deal with some of those things. Miyah Sundermeyer 32:06 Yeah. And then there's situations where you have wildfires. I know that I understand that people can still be conservative and be careful. But I heard that isn't out there in California, there's some areas that get dry. And sometimes you have these brush fires and these forest fires that are caused by heat lightning, because the ground is so dry in California, is that true? Oh, it's Michael Hingson 32:29 absolutely true. There are there any number of things that cause the wildfires out here, there are also in reality, a number of them that are caused by power lines that touch something and ignite a spark. And we're not doing enough fast enough to upgrade the infrastructure. But yeah, there is what he lightning can do. It is very dry. And so it's not magic to imagine that some of the fires can be created by the some of these things. And that's probably been true all along. But now, we want to find other ways to blame things rather than looking at the issues and how do we address them? Yeah, exact autism and autism is the same thing. Is it caused by something we do? I don't know that I've seen evidence of that. Is blindness caused by something we do? Well, some some people who have become blind, certainly became blind because of medical issues. Premature babies were given oxygen, pure oxygen environments and their retinas tended to malformed. And it took a while for medical science to recognize that too much oxygen might not be a good thing after all. So it's, again an evolutionary process. Miyah Sundermeyer 33:51 Yeah, well, you know, we were, you know, I'm a big Little House on the Prairie fan. And for years, Laura's sister Laura Ingalls Wilder sister, Mary Ingalls. And I'm not just talking about the TV show, ladies and gentlemen, talking about the real historical figure Mary eagles are so first they thought she had gotten she ended up becoming blind, because she had scarlet fever. But then they discovered later on that there was some other disease in their eyes, and it just caused her eyesight to dim and then she lost it completely. And she was blind the rest of her life. Yeah. So and then there was Helen Keller, I think she saw at one point and then she became what was it blind, deaf and mute? Michael Hingson 34:36 Correct? Yeah. But clearly had a lot of intelligence and learn to function in the world in which she lived and and hopefully helped a lot of other people grow. How to many people quote Helen Keller, but they don't really go back and intellectually understand that because of of who she was and what she did. Those quotes are meaningful and ought to be taken to heart. And it doesn't mean that we're less capable. It means that we do things in a different way. Have you ever heard? Have you ever heard people use the term differently abled? Miyah Sundermeyer 35:17 No, I haven't. But that would make sense. But I've used the term human detour system because I was tired of the word disabled. So I decided to call it the human detour system, by learning how to focus on your abilities, and really building on those strengths and working around the things that you can never do, which, which are your disabilities, because that way you don't let the you don't let your disability steal your life and let that ruin your joy. So Michael Hingson 35:46 well. And the reason I asked the question is, I personally don't value the concept of, quote, differently abled and have quotation because I don't think that we're differently abled, we may do things in a different way. But hey, there are lots of sighted people who do things differently because they're left handed does that make them differently abled, it only means that there may use some alternatives to what most people do. And the same if you're blind or have any other kind of disability. And I agree with you, I don't like the term disability. But I think that the community overall has tried to address that by saying you don't call people disabled people. You call them persons with disabilities. Now, for my part, I believe society in general, every single person on this planet has a disability. And people have heard me say this on the podcast. But I believe that sighted people have the disability that they're like dependent. And Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb, to allow people to mostly cover up and ignore their disability of being like dependent until the time that there's a power failure. And then they have to run through the flashlights and the candles, but it doesn't change the fact that they have a disability. Miyah Sundermeyer 36:58 No, it doesn't. I mean, sure, it doesn't change the fact I mean, just because I live on my own, I take the bus everywhere, it doesn't change the fact that I have a disability, you're right, I have my moments where things get too overwhelming. And I just for an autistic, sometimes things get to be too overwhelming. Like there are people there are people on the spectrum today that are scared to disclose the fact that they're autistic, because there are people that are scared to accept us. And there are people on the spectrum that like to do something called masking, which is a form of trying to blend in so people don't bully us. People don't judge us like other people on the spectrum that will love. They won't fit, they won't to stamp meaning they won't rock back and forth. They won't fidget when they're out in society. And so each day, they will go out and try to pretend to be normal, and just basically blend in like a chameleon. And then by the time they get home, they are mentally and physically exhausted. And over time that burnout builds up. Yes. So and Michael Hingson 38:08 I think there are a lot of people with various disabilities who probably somewhat work the same way. Or they just plain resent the disability. And it oftentimes takes a long time, if at all that people recognize it's nothing wrong with being different. There's nothing wrong with having this so called disability. And I agree with you, I wish there were a better term. But it is the term that we have. And society is great at changing definitions. I mean, look at diversity. We should be included in diversity, but we're not because that is anyone with a disability. The conversation tends not to include us they talk about race and gender and sexual orientation. Disabilities generally aren't included. Miyah Sundermeyer 38:56 Yeah, yeah. And it's just like, people don't understand that, you know, they, they think that we're whining. And we're not, we're saying, Hey, we're disabilities are part of diversity, too. Michael Hingson 39:09 Yeah. And so it's important that people start to recognize that it's okay. Now, I and I mentioned speeches that I given that we have on the podcast, if you listen to the second show, on our podcast, you will hear me deliver a speech that I love to call moving from diversity to inclusion, because I won't accept that you can be partially inclusive, either you are inclusive, or you're not. And if you're inclusive, then you need to, and you must include disabilities otherwise you're not inclusive. Miyah Sundermeyer 39:42 Yeah, exactly. So when did you start your podcast Michael Hingson 39:46 started at last September, actually. So we've done 38 shows so far, we were given a we actually made Editor's Choice for podcasts magazine in February of 2022 total Surprise, but excited by that. That's awesome. So yes, it's kind of exciting. You mentioned September 11. What is your interest in what did you bring up the concept of September 11? Miyah Sundermeyer 40:12 Well, I just want to I read that you're a survivor? Oh, yeah, you're the first person I have talked to that has actually been in those buildings. I mean, actually, I take that back. I have friends, I have friends up in the DC area. And they didn't see the Pentagon get blown up. But they said that they were on their way to work. And everything shut down. And because the the Metro in DC was shut down, they spent three hours walking home. Well, I wanted to talk to you about your experiences, because you're the first person I have met, that that was actually in those attacks and 911 what you know, is a part of my life, just like it's a part of everyone's life. Michael Hingson 40:59 And how did you how did you react to September 11? What What was it like for you? Miyah Sundermeyer 41:04 So 911 For me, it was very interesting. And I remember I was I was staying at a hospital with a friend and she was a teenager, it was a teenage pregnancy. And she was a girl I grew up with. And so I was in the hospital supporting her and her mom with a new baby. And the baby, the baby's father was there. And I remember getting up the next morning, and I was planning on moving to the same area that my friend and her boyfriend and her mom were and they were going to help they were going to start helping me the next day as well as the kids settled in with that new baby. But anyway, I went downstairs, I had breakfast, and I was waiting for the gift shop to open when a few nurses came in. And they started talking about somebody trying to take over America. And I said what's going on? And one of the nurses kind of brushed me off she went, then she walked away. And I said, Did I just hear you say that someone's trying to take over America. And I heard well, then the Pentagon just got bombs. And at first I blew it off. And I walked out of the cafeteria and I went over to the gift shop which was not open. And I looked and there was a waiting area by the the emergency room. And I walked over, I walked over there and I saw smoke on TV and I said what's going on? And someone said, Bob, and then I heard there was a plane that slammed into the World Trade Centers. And so I sat there trying to take in the same and I was watching as a both of the Twin Towers were on fire. It was just a very unrealistic situation. And, of course, I was so zoned out by it, that I completely. I completely missed the south tower collapse. And I thought I thought what's going on, I just thought there was a lot of smoke. And then someone said that the cell tower has collapsed. That's why you're seeing all the smoke. And then all of a sudden I saw one tower Tandy standing, that was the North Tower. And I first thought, well, at least there's one tower left. And then I was able to go to the gift shop and buy and buy that present for my friend and go back upstairs. But they were just turning on the radio. And I just hopped back in the elevator and I thought, yeah, I think the SEC, yeah, I think the North Tower was going to fall. So I went upstairs, told my friend turn on the TV. And as I was, as I was turning on the TV, there, you know, there was this, there was the North Tower falling. And I remember just I remember being very, I remember feeling very sick after that. I mean, I almost threw up when I saw the second one fall Michael Hingson 43:56 so much less, much less the Pentagon, but of course I will I don't know actually did they? Did they show much on the news about the Pentagon? Because when I heard about it, I spoke I had been speaking with my wife after both towers fell. So of course the Pentagon was a different thing. But I don't know how much they actually showed us the Pentagon on the news. Miyah Sundermeyer 44:18 Oh, they went back and forth. But I just remember seeing more of the footage of the World Trade Centers than I remember everybody in the hospital. I mean, they were trying to get my friend out of the hospital that everybody. Everybody was focused on the attacks, even when everybody was at the hospital working. Michael Hingson 44:39 Yeah, everyone, of course, got focused on this because it's something that we had never experienced before. Yeah. And it became a, needless to say, a very intense thing. And I agree with most people, you'll always remember where you were on September 11. I was in the eighth grade. Read when President Kennedy was shot, it's the same sort of thing, because I remember that I was in my whole class was taking a test in our Constitution and government class in the eighth grade. And Mr. Brown was reading me the questions quietly while everyone else was taking the written tests. And of course, my job was to answer them. And my seventh grade teacher, Mr. Ren Zullo, came in and just quietly spoke to Mr. Brown. And I heard it that President Kennedy was just shot, turn the TV on. And of course, it wasn't long than before he died, the flags went to half staff, and everyone was sent home. So when there are major events like that, yeah, we do remember where we are. And then the issue is, how do we deal with them? And that's what ultimately is, is what we have to discuss regularly and think about is, how do we deal with events like this when they occur? Miyah Sundermeyer 46:04 Yeah. So me when I saw the World Trade Centers fall, it was very hard for me, you know, when they fell, because it was hard for me to even imagine that there were people in there when they fell. And so I thought, I thought too, that maybe everybody had gotten out, but they did. Michael Hingson 46:20 Yeah, they didn't. The people. And by the way, mostly that was the people who were above the impact points of the airplanes. I think about 90%, as I heard about it from a police officer, 90% of the people we lost were above where the planes hit. So there were very few people, relatively speaking, who were below who didn't make it out. But it doesn't matter. There were still people who didn't. And we should remember and honor those people always. Miyah Sundermeyer 46:49 Yeah, I remember seeing video footage on the news, if they were family members that were in denial, this isn't there. They were showing pictures of their loved ones. This is my husband is missing. And you know, just seeing just seeing the reaction of them. You know, you know, that whole grief process? Can you find my loved ones, please? Can you find my loved ones? Michael Hingson 47:13 So one of my stories of September 11, is that two weeks later? Was it two weeks? I think it was I was in the city meeting with someone. And my wife called and said that she had just gotten a call from someone who was looking for me. And the way the phone call went was that when my wife answered, the guy asked if this was the hingson residence, and of course, she said yes. And he said, Well, I'm I'm trying to find Michael Hinkson. Is this where he lives? And she said, Yes. And he was very uncomfortable. And he said, Well, is Is he okay? And she said, Well, yes. Why are you asking? It turns out that he worked for 9x, which is, of course, now part of Verizon. And he had been on the pile, which it was back then that is the the, the remains of the towers, they were looking for bodies and looking for people and so on. And he found a plaque with my name on it. He took it home, he polished it up. And then he started trying to find me on any of the lists. wasn't on any of the the list of people who'd passed at least as far as they knew, as far as he knew. Anyway, somehow he eventually tracked us down. And so while I was in the city, I did meet him and he gave me the plaque and so on, and we got a chance to meet and visit. But I can almost well I can understand people saying, well, would you help me find my loved one because at the at least at the beginning, and for some time, it wasn't necessarily very clear who totally survived and didn't survive. Really? Did Miyah Sundermeyer 49:13 they ever find anybody alive under the rubble, not after Michael Hingson 49:17 the first day or two. But there were a couple of people who were, for example, in the stairwell of one of the towers, who, if you will rode the stairwell down, there was I think, a police officer. And there was a woman that I believe a day or two days later, they were digging through and eventually I think she yelled and they were able to pull her out. So there were a couple. So it's one of those kinds of events where you just never know. And that's why people do a lot of searching after events like this because you don't know who might be surviving and who might not be surviving. Miyah Sundermeyer 49:59 Yeah, So you were mentioning that 911 wasn't as just walking down the stairs, trying to get out wasn't as scary for you? Michael Hingson 50:07 Well, for me, and again, this is something we've talked about, but I'll, I'll I'll answer your question. I spent a lot of time, once I was working in the World Trade Center, exploring it, I was the Mid Atlantic region sales manager for a computer company. So it was my job to run an office to run our facility in New York. And my position was to do that I needed to make sure that I knew everything I could about where things were around the World Trade Center, how to get from place to place, what were the emergency evacuation procedures, what were the fire safety procedures, and so on. And I spent a lot of time over weeks learning that which really created a mindset for me, that told me that I knew what to do in an emergency. And so as a result, when it happened, that mindset kicked in. We're actually now working on a book to talk about that. Because what I've realized as a public speaker who's been traveling and speaking about September 11, now for 20 plus years, what I've not done is begun to teach people, how they can learn to not let fear as I call it, blind them, but rather use fear as a powerful tool to help and control their fears. So it's something that we're working toward. And I think that that is that same fear is the same sort of thing that all of us as persons with disabilities face from so many people who are just afraid, or why don't want to end up like them. In one sense, I think at some level, they realize disabilities is an equal opportunity, contributor to people's lives, and they could become a person with a disability in some way. I know. And, and the problem is that, so if you do, do you have the strength? Or will you find that you have the strength to learn to do things in a different way? And that's what people are so uncomfortable about? Miyah Sundermeyer 52:17 Yeah, now had I had I been in the towers that day, I probably would, if I wasn't, that wasn't super high up, like at the top, like, looking out, I think, if I would have seen the scene, the South Tower on fire, I wouldn't, you know, I would have seen the explosion, I would have been gone, I would have ran down those stairs, and I would have gotten out of there. Michael Hingson 52:38 Sure. Running wouldn't necessarily have worked because the stairs were pretty crowded. And in fact, when people started to panic on the stairs, we worked to, to try to keep them quiet, or at least to calm them down. To recognize that we all were in this together, we're all going to work to get out together. And a number of us had those kinds of things that we had to work on during the trip down. For me when the plane hit, we were 18 floors below where the plane hit and tower one. So I was on the 78th floor, but no one near me physically in the building at all, no one on our side of the building knew what happened. Because the plane hit on the other side of the building 18 floors above us. So if I had known an aircraft hit the building, I think I can say it wouldn't have made a difference, because I still knew that we had to use the skills and knowledge that we had to get out. But I love information. There were a couple of times that people could have told us. One was when firefighters were coming up. And then when we got down to the bottom, we met someone from the FBI and in both cases, they didn't want to talk about what happened and I can understand that they don't know me they don't know what would throw somebody into panic. But again, my situation would be different than yours. And you you might even just because of autism be more prone to panic or not. I don't know. But you know that's Well that's Miyah Sundermeyer 54:08 no for me it would have been fight or flight. Yeah, so But So how long did it take you to get down the stairs was I read? How long did it take you to get down the stairs with your coworker? Michael Hingson 54:20 Well from the time the plane hit until we got outside it was an hour. Miyah Sundermeyer 54:25 So it took you an hour to get down. Wow. Yep, I know. So read that. The the sprinkler systems were going off down the stairwells as well. Michael Hingson 54:36 They're probably later on there were the sprinkler systems were on at the bottom when we got got there. But when we were going down the stairs the sprinklers weren't on where we were. And I don't know I assume that there were sprinklers in the stairs. But this I don't know whether there were but the sprinkler systems at the bottom of the stairwell were on there. He formed a barrier between the exit to the stairwell and the lobby of the World Trade Center towers. And you can imagine why that was they wanted to make sure that if fire broke out in the lobby, it wouldn't get into the stairwell. Or if it did get into the stairwell in the air currents took it down, that the fire wouldn't get out into the lobby. So there was a goodly amount of water that was falling from the sprinklers. Miyah Sundermeyer 55:26 Yeah. And then, you know, sounds like you got out, Nick time to? Michael Hingson 55:30 Well, I got out from tower one at 945. So we had a little bit of time to get away. But at the same time, we ended up very close to tower to when it collapsed. So we were about 100 yards away. So we ended up having to face it. Miyah Sundermeyer 55:47 You had to face all that, from what I read you the face all the dust, what do you do to cover your faces? Michael Hingson 55:52 Nothing for a little while, but then somebody was passing out some masks later on. And we got some. Miyah Sundermeyer 55:57 Yep. And how long did it take before you got out of that area out of Ground Zero? Michael Hingson 56:03 Probably by the time we really got up to Canal Street, or in that area, which was a little bit away from ground zero. It was about 1115 or 1130. I think by the time we got there, and then then later we got further up north. Yeah. Well, you know, the thing is that we all react differently to different situations. But we tend to have a lot more power to be able to deal with things, if we truly try to know. And my point is, I wasn't going to rely on people who had signs or red signs. I needed to know what to do. And I will always take input, but I needed to know what to do. And that created a much more firm conviction in my mind that there wasn't a need to be afraid. And I did use a lot of input from both guide dog Roselle at the time, and from the comments of other people that gave me more information going down the stairs. And I think that's something that no matter who we are, those are the kinds of things that we need to do. Miyah Sundermeyer 57:16 Yeah. Well, I'm glad you got out of there safely. I mean, what, like I said, I'm really glad that you didn't end up caught up in the towers fell. Michael Hingson 57:25 Yeah, me. Me too. Well, I'm glad that you are, are doing well. And you're going off to get your PhD, huh? Yeah, well, Miyah Sundermeyer 57:33 right now I'm going I mean, I was planning on going to school back during 911. I just didn't know how I was going to do undergrad back at 19. I had just advocated to get out of special ed. And I was not going to do another transition program. Because I didn't like how the special education teachers were telling me that I needed to do this directions, all because of the DSM and telling me that everything at every dream I wanted was unrealistic. And so they kept shooting it down. And so they tried to put me under a conservatorship or they tried to get my parents to and my parents didn't agree with that. So they told me I could pretty much call the shots. And so at the end of that school year 2001, I just said, Hey, I'm getting out of here, I'm going to find a way to go to college. So but I, I mean, I tend to to go back a few times and take some learning support classes, after doing what they call is the compass exam, which is it's an interest exam for you that you can take a two year school, versus the, the AC T or the SCT, which they steered me away from. And so I went, I went that route instead ay ay, ay, I did the two year education first over a five years, from 23 to 28. And then I transferred my credits over to Georgia State. And I went off and on, off and on. And then I reached I finally got my Bachelor's in 2020. And luckily, I was able to graduate outside on my football field due to COVID, which was a big dream of mine. But Michael Hingson 59:15 it's good for you. Miyah Sundermeyer 59:17 But now I'm getting ready to take some Postback classes. And I want to I need to be talking to advisors, anybody I can because I'm fascinated and I have a background that just most of my classes seem to seem to geared towards developmental type psychology and psychology is my baby. So that's what I want to get my doctorate in, is developmental psychology and I want to go into research and I'd also like to teach so Michael Hingson 59:44 I, and I don't say this lightly, but I'll bet you'll be good at it. You're clearly very articulate, you know what you want to do, and that's as good as it gets. Miyah Sundermeyer 59:53 Yep, yep. But, but along the way, I mean, because I didn't have along the way at my undergrad. I didn't have mathematical background, I didn't really have much of an academic background because I was in Special Ed and I hated studying. So when I moved to Atlanta from Minnesota at the age of 20, at the age of 21, my aunt told me that, okay, do you want to flip burgers the rest of your life? Or do you want to go back to school? So about so nearly 20 years ago, I moved down here and started learning how to do math. So math is one of my favorite subjects. Nobody understands why. Well, I spent a lot of time getting exposed to it. That's why Michael Hingson 1:00:34 it doesn't matter. It is. And that's, that's the big issue. But yeah, you do have an explanation for it. So that's pretty cool. Well, Maya, we have been talking for now a little bit over an hour. So I am going to suggest that what we ought to do is to keep in touch. And when you have more adventures about your education talked about, we should get you to come back on the podcast again. Miyah Sundermeyer 1:00:55 Yep, I will come back and talk about my education, especially as I talked about my progress for that. And then I really need to have temple back on the show. However, I really like to see her in person again, I miss seeing temple. So Michael Hingson 1:01:11 well, if you talk with her, see if she would love to chat and explore coming on unstoppable mindset. All right, well, thank Miyah Sundermeyer 1:01:18 you much. Well, I Michael Hingson 1:01:19 appreciate it. And if people want to reach out to you, is there a way that they can contact you and you have a website or anything or whatever? Miyah Sundermeyer 1:01:27 Yeah. Well, so I'm a podcast host myself that said that. Yeah. And I'm currently on a podcast tour. And you are number four on the tour. So I've HelloWorld with Miyah, and that's helloworldwithMiyah. podbean.com. That's Hello, world with Miyah dot pod bean.com. Michael Hingson 1:01:45 Hello, world with miyah dot pod bean.com. Okay, Miyah Sundermeyer 1:01:50 yeah. And I have two applications. I am calling for proposals. I'm always looking for guests to be on the show. And I am also on a podcast tour right now. So if you know anyone that has any slots that are open, I would love to be on your show. So Michael Hingson 1:02:07 great. Well, we can introduce you to people and make some of that happen. Miyah Sundermeyer 1:02:11 All right. Well, thank you so much. Michael Hingson 1:02:13 Well, thank you. And I appreciate everyone who is listening to this today. Miyah is certainly one of those people that I want to grow up to be like, I can just say that. Miyah Sundermeyer 1:02:27 But whoever for two years, I have a young face, but I'm about 40 now. Michael Hingson 1:02:31 There you go. Well, I want to thank you again. And thank you all for listening. If you'd like to reach out to me, we'd love to hear your thoughts about the episode. You can email me at Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessibe A C C E S S I B E .com. You can also go to our podcast page, which is www dot Michael hingson .com slash podcast Michael Hingson is M I C H A E L H I N G S O N. And if you go to Michael hingson.com/podcast. Or if you're listening to this at some other location, please give us a five star rating. We appreciate the ratings. And I hope that you'll give us a five star one for this episode. So again, thank you all for listening. Wherever you are in Miyah, thank you for listening. Are you all you listen to thank you for being here. Miyah Sundermeyer 1:03:21 All right, thank you much. Michael Hingson 1:03:22 Thank you. Michael Hingson 1:03:28 You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you'll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you're on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you're there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.
INTERPRETING COVID 19's IMPACT ON SPECIAL ED AND EARLY CHILDHOOD ED Professor Susan Shapiro from Touro School of Education on her new book. Everything we do is at Ace-ed.org including all podcast archival
[iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/24802530/height/100/width//thumbnail/yes/render-playlist/no/theme/custom/tdest_id/2148560/custom-color/61ce70" height="100" width="100%" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] A Due Process Hearing is just one of the dispute resolution options available to parents of children with special education needs. But what is a Due Process Hearing? In special education, Due Process Hearings are not often fully adjudicated, because the issues are resolved through some form of settlement. In fact, I'm pretty sure special education is the only civil right we negotiate away. For those fully adjudicated, parents rarely win. The school has significantly more resources (from their administrative staff to their on call attorney). Parents simply don't have the same legal, financial, and emotional ability to pursue and complete a full due process hearing. And that is why it is so exciting when a parent wins!! Today, we look at due process hearings through the lens of one specific case in Connecticut in which the Parents prevailed. Meredith Braxton is a special education attorney in private practice in Greenwich, CT (bio below), who recently prevailed in an interesting due process hearing right here in Connecticut. We discuss the process, the facts, and the final decision as we break down this special education due process hearing. Meredith C. Braxton, Esq., has been practicing law for 32 years, with a primary focus on special education for 20 years. After spending time in general and business litigation in "big law" in New York City and two smaller Connecticut firms, Meredith started a solo practice and began representing students and parents in their efforts to enforce their civil rights by having their children identified, securing appropriate services, and enforcing their rights to appropriate placements, whether via PPT, negotiation, an administrative due process hearing, or appeal to the federal courts. Her office is in Greenwich. Meredith is also a partner in a companion practice with her colleague Liz Hook (Braxton Hook) to represent families in New York in special education matters and individuals in both Connecticut and New York in education-related civil rights and tort cases as well as employment matters. The full decision can be found here. You can find Meredith's contact info here. FLASHBACK: If you are curious about other dispute resolution options, you can check out the episodes What's the Deal with Mediation, State Complaints, and Special Ed 101! Check out this episode! TRANSCRIPT (not proofread) SUMMARY KEYWORDSwitnesses, hearing, decision, officer, felt, parents, child, school district, case, board, argument, student, attorney, people, meredith, thought, footnotes, understand, works, remedy SPEAKERS Meredith Braxton, Esq., Dana Jonson Dana Jonson 00:08 All right. Welcome back to Special Ed on special ed. Thank you for coming back and joining me today. Today I am meeting with Meredith Braxton one of my favorite Special Ed attorneys from Connecticut. Hello, Meredith. Thank you for joining me. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 00:21 Good morning. Dana Jonson 00:22 Good morning, we're going to discuss a case in which Meredith prevailed and discuss the components of a due process hearing, or decision, or pleading or all of that, through this one case, in which Meredith prevailed. But before we say one word, I'm gonna play my disclaimer for you all. The information in this podcast is provided for general informational and entertainment purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction at the time you're listening. Nothing in this episode, create an attorney client relationship, nor is it legal advice, do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included and accessible through this episode without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice on particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer or service provider licensed in your state country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. All right, Meredith. First of all, congratulations. This is awesome. You're welcome. This is a 54 page decision. There are four issues at the beginning that you raised 176 findings of fact, about 36 conclusions of law. And at the very end, there are nine orders. So that's a little overwhelming. And this is a final decision and order. And I'm a lawyer, and I was so excited when I got this when we all heard that you had prevailed, and we got to read it. And even I'm overwhelmed with 54 pages. So I want to start by, I want to read the actual issues that are listed in the decision. And then I want you to sort of tell us how we got here, if that works. Okay, so the first of the four issues in the final decision in order are, has the board denied the student a free appropriate education or a faith for the previous two years by habitually failing to record the PPT decision in prior written notice? We're going to come back to that one, too. Does the current IEP and placement deny the student faith? Three, should the hearing officer place the student in a residential therapeutic school for students with CP or cerebral palsy? And if necessary, order the board to hire an educational consultant to identify a placement for the student? And for is the student entitled to compensatory education, which would be education to make up for education missed? So those are some pretty loaded issues. Why don't you take us back to the beginning and tell us what happened. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 02:54 First of all, this client is an amazing kid. And I actually spoke to her recently, she's really happy at man's two right now. So great, really thrilled. So I'm really glad we got there, I was actually brought in after the kiss was pretty well set up. There was a lay advocate involved who did a really good job, got some amazing ies, you know, independent educational evaluations from I mean, some of the most qualified people I have ever run across, they were really, super, she also has a super medical team, you know, all of whom, even though some of them were out of state, they weren't totally willing to testify, you know, and give me not very much time, but some time to educate the hearing officer about the student's conditions. Dana Jonson 03:46 And that's an important component is that there's a difference between what is a medical responsibility and an educational responsibility. And as you and I know, a lot of times those responsibilities overlap, correct, making it incredibly difficult to get anyone to provide. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 04:03 Yes, yes, but these medical providers were very well able to connect what was going on with her medically to what was going on with her educationally. So that's amazing. They were really, really helpful. But when this case first came to me, I wanted to file for due process, but I was always until the very end, I was always really concerned about the remedy, right? Because you don't know which hearing officer you're going to get. And if you're not able to put specific remedy out there you just don't know where that hearing officer is going to go with it. So we have not found a placement for this student yet. She's very difficult to place because she has you know, high cognition, but her physical disabilities are profound and urgent Communication Difficulties are profound. So there's just not a lot of places, you know, for that profile. Dana Jonson 05:06 And that's an important piece to understanding what you want. Because we run into that problem a lot with families where they know something's wrong, they know it's not working, but they don't know what will work or what they do want. And that makes it really, really hard for us. Because and I explained this to clients a lot. You could go through a due process, hearing, and win on every single issue, and not get the remedy you wanted, right. And I think the example I use is, you could go into a hearing, asking for an out of district placement, go through the entire hearing, and have the hearing officer say, you are right, the school didn't do anything they should have done. But I think that school can create a program. So I'm going to order them to do that instead of residential, and now you've gone through the entire expense of winning a hearing. Right, and you're not getting any remedy. So that is a very concerning component that I don't think people Meredith Braxton, Esq. 06:05 realize, and I really wasn't willing, you know, I advised my client that I just didn't feel comfortable filing until we had better direction there. So but as time went on, first of all, she was able to eke out a little money to find an ad consultant. And this ad consultant was really great. He was wonderful to work with. And I couldn't stand it anymore. I felt like Greenwich was torturing this, like literally torturing this kid, because, you know, I was on the back end of every email, and phone call, and what they were doing to I couldn't take it anymore. I really just I couldn't take it anymore. So I was like, Okay, we just have to file we have to get this hearing going. And hopefully, by the time we get to the end of the hearing, we will have a remedy in mind and we won't have a placement. We almost got there. Not quite but you know, it turned out okay. But that was a little bit of a, you know, risk that we took, but what was going on was so unacceptable, that that you know, as a moral proposition. Dana Jonson 07:17 Right. Right. And I think that's where school districts don't realize they really messed up is when they one of us off? Yeah, is you know, when one of us is even in the grand scheme of everything we've seen and experienced if we get off, we're like a dog with a bone. Yeah. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 07:34 Yeah. Dana Jonson 07:36 Don't do this. Don't get out of my way. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 07:37 Yeah, yeah. That's how we sort of got to filing the various issues that wound up being presented. Actually, we didn't even really address the faith based on not recording PVT decisions appropriately, even though they did not I was gonna ask Dana Jonson 07:55 you about that. Because now in the in the new IEP, which I've yet to see, in case you're wondering, every school district I'm dealing with is like, yeah, we'll deal with that later. I gotta get back to school right now. So talk to me after Christmas. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 08:11 What I'm what I'm hearing from them is it's taking them six hours to fill out the new form exactly this new Dana Jonson 08:17 convenient form that was going to take less time. But there's no prior written notice in it now. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 08:23 But I thought the prior written notice was supposed to be a separate document, but I have a separate one here. Dana Jonson 08:27 But we haven't seen any documents yet. So I think that this is a really interesting point about the prior written notice. Because what that means in that issue, for those who don't understand is that decisions were made in the IEP meeting that need to be documented in the IEP, because they were either accepted or refused. And when a school does, Meredith Braxton, Esq. 08:51 the more the even more important piece of that is they're supposed to record why they did right. Or important part and the data they relied on to get there, right, which is usually how you can point out how freakin absurd their decision was. Right? Exactly. Because Dana Jonson 09:09 this is my favorite is on I had one where they made the decision based on grades and performance. And the child had modified work and modified grades. So it was like, Well, wait a second. understand all of this. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 09:26 My favorite is where they deny, like a residential placement. And they say it's based on the independent evaluation, you gave them that recommended residential place. Dana Jonson 09:36 Fabulous. Yeah. So it's based on that because we read it. And that's how we read it. And we rejected all of it. Yeah. So actually, that leads me to my next question, which is, you know, after you read the issues, and the piece on why the hearing officer has jurisdiction, we get to your 176 findings of fact. And so the findings of fact, are sort of the meat and potatoes, is that right of the Meredith Braxton, Esq. 10:03 of the you don't you don't get to conclusions of law without those findings of fact, they're the Dana Jonson 10:08 evaluation of your due process demand, right? findings of fact are what you base everything else on. So how does the hearing officer determine what the findings of fact, are? Like? Do you provide those in your brief or your due process demand? Or how does the hearing officer come to determine which facts are actual facts? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 10:29 So the post hearing brief is, is always proposed findings and facts and conclusions of law. And, you know, I can track through this decision the places where he definitely adopted, you know, what I wrote in my brief, but there's a lot of it where he had his own thing going and this particular hearing officer, who unfortunately has been picked off by virtue Moses, since then, he listened so carefully works for birch and Moses now, yeah, they hired him right after his case. Dana Jonson 11:00 Sorry, I can't help but laugh. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 11:01 I know. It's so upsetting. Speaking of absurd, yeah. Anyway, so he listened really carefully to all the witnesses and clearly was focusing on their credibility. And I could tell I was landing the punches, you know, as I was going on, and he was getting them. And the one that was really telling was, you know, there's a principle in examining witnesses for trial lawyers where, you know, if you've got a hospital, first of all, he did go with the school district employees who I called, on my case, were hostile witnesses who I was allowed to ask leading questions. Great. So a lot of our hearing officers won't go there. And it makes it harder, because you have to do direct examination with non leading questions, right, anyway. Dana Jonson 11:52 Right, I mean, that's getting a little in the weeds. But for parents who don't understand that, as attorneys, when we examine a witness, we are bound by certain restrictions, we can't just ask them anything, we can't just suddenly blurt out stuff, right. Like, we have to have a foundation, we have to lead them to a certain place, we have to have demonstrated certain things and have specific items and evidence. And there's a process and if you don't go through the process, you don't get your information across. So one of the ways in which we ask questions is, we ask leading questions all the time in our day, across the day, and you're not allowed to do that, unless they're, especially with your children, especially with your children, right, we're trained to write to ask leading witness. And that's why children shouldn't be witnesses, because you can lead them. So we really have to be cautious about that. And so then it depends on the hearing officer as to what they will allow, and they have a significant amount of leeway in what they will allow or not allow. So it sounds like this hearing officer was really focused on understanding the issues Meredith Braxton, Esq. 12:58 he really was. So one of the principles for examining witnesses from the other side, is, if you land your point, you don't go on to ask like the ultimate question, because then that clues them in that they just messed up, and they will go back and they'll fix it. You instead use that nugget in your argument later on. So that's how we roll I got one of the school district witnesses to say that she made all the decisions in the PPTs. And so I'm sliding away from that, because I'm like, hopefully, like guaranteed, and, of course, returning picked up on Dana Jonson 13:35 that. But whatever. That's kind of a mess. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 13:38 I'm going on, going on to the next thing. And the hearing officer goes, whoa, whoa, whoa. And then he starts questioning her and she doesn't fix it. She doubles down on it. And then I'm cross her attorney tried to save her and she didn't go for it. So she basically got predetermination. That's amazing lack of parental participation. So the hearing officer in this case, he really listened. And he was sort of going through issues in his own head clearly the whole thing about you know, in his findings of fact, in his conclusions of law, he talked a lot about how the school district had the wrong primary disability for this child and that how it drove an inappropriate IEP. Now you and I know that's actually true. Most of the time, if you have the wrong primary disability, it does, to some extent derive. You know, services. Absolutely. Schools always say is no, we give whatever services are needed, no matter what the primary handicap is, blah, blah, blah. I felt like that was just a loser of an argument for me like when I didn't want to spend a lot of time on. I had so many other issues that I thought were really compelling and really important, and that would win the case. It was funny because he kept bringing it up. During the hearing, and I was like, Yeah, you know, and I didn't really press it with witnesses, but he did. You know, he would ask witnesses his own questions, Dana Jonson 15:09 and I find that fascinating about hearings is that the hearing officer can and will just stop everything and be like, I have some follow ups. I need you to clarify that. Yeah. I love it when we hear a hearing officer ask questions, because all that says is, oh, they're listening. Yeah, do get it because not all hearing officers really do get it. Not all of them have been doing what we do our whole lives. And we have to not only explain to them the process, the law but the disability. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 15:35 Right, right. And this one is very low incidence. So it's particularly difficult to convey what it's like, like I said, we had a, especially her physiatrist was really great at describing what it was like to be, I'm allowed to use her name, she doesn't care. Okay. So you know what it was like to be Sydney. And that really got to the hearing officer. So did the videotapes of what was going on on the bus ride. Wow, I thought, did you get those? Well, they're an educational record. They're a four year record. And I was like a dog with a bone. And I did when I filed, I also served an Administrative Code document request. And so at the very beginning of the hearing, when you're sort of like, what housekeeping items do you have, I'm like, I'm asking for these documents. And these videos, they haven't given them to me, I can't do this hearing without it, and I got him to order them to be given to me. So I find Dana Jonson 16:36 that I don't always get everything in a FERPA request. There's never I get everything. Shocking, really. It's shocking, really, but and in my FERPA request, I have a laundry list of things I would like included, and then I just hope I get most of it. You know, videos, and particularly bus videos, I think have to be the hardest things to obtain. That's just my experience. It's just a lot of red tape to get your hands on those videos. So that is huge. Yeah. So you provide your findings of fact, the board attorney is going to provide there's right. So what the hearing officer chooses is going to be based on the testimony. Right. Right. And so that's your point in your testimony is to demonstrate what actually happened, right, I presume you had good witnesses and parents for this? Because I know for me, anytime I contemplate whether this is something that would go to due process or not. The first thing I think of is Who are my witnesses? Yeah. And my first thought is can either parent be witness, and that sometimes makes the decision? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 17:49 You know? Yes, I had one due process where, I mean, the hearing officer literally hated my client. And he was difficult. He was a difficult person. He was a difficult person, like, I liked him. But you know, I'm weird. But she ruled for us anyway. And I was a little I mean, she even dropped a footnote about how she didn't believe that I love that. Yeah, yeah. So it's very important. The parent is very important. Sometimes, like, in this case, I had the parent, but as a backup, I also had her sister who had quit her job to help Sydney, you know, during COVID, and was, I mean, had basically been in her life the whole time. So it was very, sort of a corroborating witnesses if I needed it. Or it could be the primary witness about what was happening during remote instruction, and stuff like that. So yeah, Dana Jonson 18:45 and I see you guys had 11 witnesses, and the board only called to it looks like, Meredith Braxton, Esq. 18:50 Yeah, cuz I called all her witnesses on my case. Dana Jonson 18:54 You called them all first, so that you could get that done with Meredith Braxton, Esq. 18:56 in this, you know, in this particular school district, I find that the attorney, if you do this, if you if you call her witnesses on your case, and she often hasn't glommed on to what your their themes are, and doesn't really prepare her witnesses. Well got it. Well, I can tell my stories through them. And they're the people I had first, and the hearing officer had a little issue with it. He was like, aren't you gonna call them? And I'm like, Oh, get there? Dana Jonson 19:27 Yeah, well, because mom's usually number one, right? Yeah, I don't like doing like that. Well, good. That's, that's great. You should talk to my lawyer about that, because she was working really, really hard to figure out how to not put me because for all of those parents out there who've heard you wouldn't be a good witness and make and took it personally and felt bad. I was informed I would be a horrible witness. So I'm an attorney who does this every day. So you know, don't feel bad about it. So you called everyone that you needed for your case and the hearing officer allowed you to treat the school personnel as if they were hostile. So that is huge. You know, it sounds like we got a really great hearing officer and then a board firm just snatched them up immediately. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 20:12 It did save money, how that works about that Dana Jonson 20:16 money how that works. I wanted to touch on the timeframe to because you filed on October 12, in 2021. And your briefs were due in March 28 2022. And that is actually only five months, I was actually thinking for a hearing that went through so many witnesses that you would conclude this and only five months, I was kind of impressed. And to tell Meredith Braxton, Esq. 20:43 you the truth, this included a month or two of me foot drag. Oh, wow. Because I was I was foot dragging. Because we didn't have that placement. Right. I was like, you know, Brenton, come on. So I delayed things a little bit. And then I decided I gotta go, Yeah, this has got to get going. Right, the hearing officer made it really clear that he was feeling pressure from the State Bureau of Special Education, to move these hearings along faster. You know, they're getting very concerned about their timeline issues as they should, as they can. Absolutely. He assured me and I felt with, you know, after we'd been going at this a little bit, I felt like I could believe him about this, that I could always just refer to an exhibit, and he would read it. And I felt like he would read. Okay, so some hearing officers, you really have to have every single bit like presented orally to them, or they focus on it. But in this case, I felt like I could rely on him to read the exhibits that were admitted. I sped through some of this stuff. Yeah, I mean, the medical people, I probably had a an average 30 to 45 minutes with them, half of which I seated to the other side. Right, wow. Yeah. And so I was like, bang, bang, but I had one day when I had like six witnesses, I blew through six witnesses, that's insane. I then laid down on the floor of my office and made it like an IV of vodka, but it was intense. But it made the hearing officer very happy, they do appreciate it. And I kind of liked it, because I was able to get all the really important stuff in and then the other side was kind of limited and what they could do with it. You know, they were also limited. The you know, in the end, I kind of liked it, even though I ordinarily would, Dana Jonson 22:43 yes. Where are you for this matter? It worked for this matter for this hearing Meredith Braxton, Esq. 22:47 officer, you know, so much depends on the hearing officer get and what their style Dana Jonson 22:53 is. Yeah. And I hear that a lot from parents, do you have experience with this district? Do you have experience with this lawyer? And all of those things do matter. But I feel like the experience matters more in knowing how to shift because all those players change all the time. And I've had evaluators where I felt like I could just leave the room and they'd be fine. And then the next tvip meeting, I go to them, I'm like, Who is this pot person? Like what did they do to my evaluators? So you just never know, there's a lot up in the air, Meredith Braxton, Esq. 23:26 you don't know. And that's what I try to convey to my clients about due process. It's a high risk situation, because you don't know which hearing officer you're gonna get. You don't know what pressures they have on them, because they are getting pressure from above, you don't really know how the evidence is going to come in. You don't know whether some of the board people who you think are charlatans are going to come across as believable. You don't know if you're going to be able to get in every document that you think you need to get in. I got a lot out of those board witnesses that have they been better prepared and probably would not have. Yeah, and that Dana Jonson 24:03 preparation is big. I mean, the prep is big for your clients, too. I remember a colleague telling me I mean, when you're talking about how is someone going to present colleague was telling me they had a client and the school had really messed up. But this was an exceptionally wealthy client who came across as exceptionally wealthy when she walked in a room. And so she was asked to dial it down. So she walked in to the hearing and her kids dinner, blue jeans and a T shirt and no jewelry. And the board almost dropped dead. Really, because they were relying on this person to walk in and look like an extremely wealthy person and present the way she normally does and hoping that that in and of itself would sway the hearing officer. But then she walked in and they're their philosophy has gotten now a good attorney doesn't rely on just that. Right. But to your point, people can present as anything when they walk in that door. Yeah, and they can Say anything. So, like if you if you have someone on the line on the stand and they are flat out lying. What do you do? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 25:08 Well, I mean, it depends on whether I have documentary evidence that I can confront them with that shows they're flat out lying. If this is where a lot of times you do want to have at least partial transcripts of various meetings and recordings. So they can't claim they said something other than what they did. And it's a problem, because in my experience, almost I would say 95% of board, witnesses lie under oath. Yep. And have no problem with it. Yeah. Dana Jonson 25:38 And it's shocking, sometimes to parents. Right. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 25:41 And absolutely, I mean, honestly, when I first started practicing law, many, many, many moons ago, I was shocked, I assumed that everyone who was put under oath would tell the truth. And then I learned that actually a minority and people put under oath will tell the truth. It's not just in special education. Yeah, just board witnesses. It's pretty rampant, Dana Jonson 26:04 pretty rampant. And it's I do think that people take it have a different level of respect, being under oath. I do believe that, as a rule, and I do think that that anxiety is heightened in the person when they are lying under oath versus just in a school meeting, I, I absolutely can see that I can see the change in their body language from lying in the IEP meeting to lying on the stand. They're way more uncomfortable. But that's another reason why I like going to the IEP meetings, because they may be more comfortable there. But you do get a sense of who you can trip up and who you can't. And if the school has bad witness, you make sure they know that. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 26:43 Also, I prefer due process hearings to be in person, because if you've got that body language going on the other side, you can start drilling into it. And sort of push them. Yes. completely out of their comfort zone. Dana Jonson 26:58 Yes. And that's more difficult on the screen. Oh, it's Meredith Braxton, Esq. 27:01 impossible. Dana Jonson 27:02 Have you done any hearings on the screen? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 27:04 Well, this one was completely virtual, Dana Jonson 27:06 Oh, this one was virtual? I don't think I realized that maybe I must have I mean, maybe just because it's so normal now that I didn't think of it. So that must have been really hard, then I didn't even realize this was virtual. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 27:18 Yeah. It was very hard. That's really hard. Dana Jonson 27:21 Amazing. Your experiences you would still prefer in person, right? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 27:26 Yeah, for that very reason. Just looking through the screen at someone, you can't hold their eyes, you can't sort of judge their expression. You can't figure out how to destroy them. You can't pick Dana Jonson 27:42 them apart to the degree that you would like to. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 27:47 So bad, you know, so you're when you're a litigator, you just have to admit that you have a dysfunctional personality. Right? Yes. So that's why we do this, right? Yes, exactly. We got paid for being like completely not the social norm. So Dana Jonson 28:01 I always say that I do that I'm a lawyer, because I think this way, I don't think this way, because I'm a lawyer isn't the only place that that I fit in. So let's talk a little bit about the remedies. Because from the remedy in the decision, it doesn't look like you ever found that one place, did you? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 28:20 Well, no, we found it afterwards. So may Institute was one of the ones that our ED consultant found that he thought was the leading candidate. Ironically, also, the neuropsychologist who did an independent evaluation had put that out as a recommendation as well. So I was able to direct the hearing officer to an email from him saying, you know, this would be a good place. And also ironically, that particular neuro psychologist, I just, you know, I wasn't in love with his evaluation. And I was very concerned about him as a witness, because I've actually seen him under oath before. And so I elected not to call him interesting. Yeah, Dana Jonson 29:03 that's a risk. Huge risk, right? Like, because, I mean, at first thing you're gonna hear from any attorney is you want to go to a hearing, you need an expert. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 29:12 Yeah. Well, so but we had all these other experts. And but that's usually the one that we want, right? It's the neuro Psych. Fortunately, he had spoken to that entire medical team, and incorporated what they said in evaluation itself. And then all of those medical experts wrote follow up letters saying we agree with that neuro psychologist, this is what she means. So I called every one of those medical experts got it. And that's how I got it. I mean, and this is what happens in a due process hearing like, I had him on my witness list, in case I had to I had to put them on. As things develop, you have to make decisions about what you're going to do and what's the whole in your case, you know, then I was like one of the holes My case is, what's the remedy? And I don't usually call Educational Consultants, but I did with this one. Also, because he's got lots of bonus CDs, right? He's, he's run a therapeutic school. He's been, you know, he's Dana Jonson 30:15 got credentials that you can defend. Yeah, I love that. When I get stuff from parents who say, you know, this is the expert. And I'm like, well, they don't have any credentials. No one's ever heard of them. They're in a different country. I don't know that I'm going to get anyone on board. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 30:32 He worked really hard for this placement. I mean, yeah. Beyond what he ever has to do with anyone. I was on a low fee. On this case, he did a low fee on this case. So we've sort of felt like, Okay, Dana Jonson 30:45 we're gonna do we're in it together. Yeah. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 30:47 And, and one of the things we got as a remedy was that he got paid his full fee. Dana Jonson 30:54 Oh, good. Yeah. So that's what I was going to ask you about was the remedies, because one of the remedies is when you win a hearing is that you're entitled to your legal fees? Right. So what I'm curious about is when you submit that legal fees Bill, what is that going to look like after 11 witnesses and five months? It was Meredith Braxton, Esq. 31:15 close to 100,000. It was like 98,000. Dana Jonson 31:19 There were a few things in terms of parents listening to this just passed out. Yeah. But Meredith Braxton, Esq. 31:26 that's what I tell my my clients, it's between 50 and 100,000, for average due process. Yeah. And on top of that, you may have to be paying experts. And that's not reimbursable. Dana Jonson 31:37 Right. So you're not going to get back and that I can't risk, you know, but right, we can always risk our fees, right? Because we can try and get them back. So that does put give you more skin in the game, I guess. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 31:49 I mean, they pushed back on a couple of things. One of them is definitely legitimate. I put it in there and hope it would just slip by but it didn't, you know? And then there were a couple that were like, arguable. Right? Right. So I just rolled over on that, because I'd rather get it paid. Right. So I want to be reimbursed 92,000? Dana Jonson 32:11 Well, and I mean, you know, say it's the only civil rights that we negotiate. So parents are always negotiating way their rights. And we as attorneys are always negotiating away our fees. Yeah, we do nothing on the parents side, but negotiate against ourselves from from the beginning. I don't know of very many of any attorneys who have gone through a full hearing and actually received their full BS, they just don't I also find it when when sometimes I hear people say, Oh, well, litigation fees are so much more than, like, we're never seen. No calm down. Take it down a notch. Uh, yeah, I found the remedies really interesting because one remedy said to find the placement and a consultant is ordered. If you can't find a placement, so the the hearing officer did order that consultant as well, correct? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 33:02 Absolutely. But and the thing with may Institute is they are not going to accept anyone unless they're fully funded, right? Because it's a very expensive place. Yes. So the day this decision came out, the ad consultant got on the phone with them with two words fully funded. And within a week, we had an acceptance, but they had to do a little bit of hiring to bring her on, started right after labor. Dana Jonson 33:27 Right. And I think that's important too, for parents to understand that not a replacement is ready to take your child that day. There usually an acceptance usually means that they can prepare to do that. So if you come, they will then start preparing. They're not going to staff for a student who's not there yet. That's very typical, then that's great. So now is this child going to be there for too long this is placed there Meredith Braxton, Esq. 33:53 now. Yeah. So as their stereo slave foot and everything else? I don't see them after that horrendous decision. Yes, coming back and saying no, you're ready to come back to Greenwich, right. Dana Jonson 34:04 And school districts have done that they have a year after a hearing decision said, Well, we gave it a year, and now they're all ready and everything's back together. But you have that hearing decision under your belt. And that is something you can pull out and use. And it would be foolish to do that, at this stage. And particularly given given how many fights are going on between parents and school districts at you know, there was a time where fighting every hearing decision was worth their time and energy. I don't think it is anymore. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 34:34 But then so there was a significant amount of time between when the decision came out and when she was able to go, you know, in the meantime, he ordered remedies for while she was still in the British school system. And I actually had to get down this state's throat to get them to enforce this decision. Really, I did what happened. They were ordered to have an aide in the home for 30 minutes before the ride to school to help the mom get her ready, and they just didn't do it. And I had to go to the state. And they eventually got to st Greenwich Get your act together, you know, and do it and they finally did. And it made a huge difference. Then she was supposed to have a medical taxi instead of the bus that was so torturous for her never got that I was on the state's case, like every two days. And Greenwich kept giving them a spreadsheet showing all the contacts they made to try to arrange a medical taxi. And I was like, this is just baloney. I mean, I'm literally there was one point where they were like, Okay, well, the legal director Mike McCann and Mary Jean Shugborough, who, unfortunately, was the person assigned to the enforcement part of this. The retired. She's retired, isn't she? Yeah, except she's still a part time consultant for some things. I'm like, Why did you assign us to a part time retired consultant? You know, it's Dana Jonson 36:04 pretty significant. Yeah. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 36:05 So at one point, they were like, well, we're gonna be on the phone with graduates about this on Monday. And we'll let you know. And I'm like, I want to be on that phone call. But I'm on vacation. And they're like, I'm like, do it on Friday, when I'm not on vacation. Oh, well, we can talk to Friday, and then we'll talk to them on Monday. I'm like, No, I will just be on this call during my vacation. So I'm hiking in Maine and losing a signal every three seconds, and I am yelling my butt off. And my husband's like, Oh, my God. And I like I keep losing the signal dialing back in angrily, and on top. So because anyway, never got the medical text, even though I'm, I'm busting a gut. Then on top of that in between, yeah, when I started getting down on their case, and this phone call, they had finally posted this decision, you know, I got it by email. But then they post all of their decisions, right? And the decisions are written. So there's no identifying information the student has called student parents called parents, etc. But it identifies the witnesses, aside from the parent, and the school district and all that, while they put this one on, and they've blacked out everything that would identify the school district or the school district witnesses. And I was like, Okay, so while I'm on the phone screaming, I'm like, who did this? Which one of you did this? You know, what are you doing? They're like, Oh, we thought it might be too specific. And you know, have identifying information. I'm like, you know, if that was your concern, you would have called me or the parent to ask if we had a problem with it, but you didn't. So it seems to me that you were just trying to not embarrass Greenwich, which should be completely embarrassed about how they treat Dana Jonson 37:54 my dogs going nuts. No, that's exactly what I was gonna say. Which is that, you know, that seems like protecting the district. Were? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 38:03 Absolutely, yeah. In the meantime, I had gotten a written consent from my clients saying you can put it up on redacted and I was like, I have that. And they put it up on redacted after that. But, you know, Dana Jonson 38:14 I've seen that before, though, that the school district personnel and school are redacted. Is that a thing? No. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 38:20 If you look on every single other decision, there's not a single redaction. Not one. So who decided to do that? Mary Jean Chabot, she admitted? Did she say why? Because she was afraid it would identify the child's that's a lie. I think so. Dana Jonson 38:43 I feel like that's a lie. But that sounds interesting. Well, you know, and it really is frustrating, because I always feel like when people say, Oh, but these poor teachers, and you know, it's not really there. I feel like I'm with you on that. And I feel as a former teacher and a former administrator, admittedly, I spent about 10 minutes in each role, but I didn't have a problem being honest in the meeting. Now, that was me. Perhaps I didn't have as much at risk as some people by doing that. And I respect and understand that. But I go nuts. When parents say, well, the teacher told me this, but they won't say it in the meeting. And I always say, well, then I don't trust that teacher. No, I just don't, it's great. You're getting inside Intel. But how do you know? They aren't turning around and saying the same thing to the district about you? Exactly. You know, and they're protecting their butts. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 39:39 Yeah. If they're not willing to say it in the meeting, it's useless. It's absolutely Dana Jonson 39:42 useless. You can see it when people are scripted. In the meetings, you can tell. And I you know, look, it's not my intention to embarrass anyone. But if you have made a conscious decision to toe the party line, then you are making a conscious decision to take the consequences of that action, Meredith Braxton, Esq. 40:06 this child's speech and language pathologist basically said that she agreed to include oral motor goals to help Sydney learn how to talk, which she could do, right. Basically, as a favor. Dana Jonson 40:22 Oh, it's an accommodation to the parent. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 40:24 Yeah, cuz she wanted to talk. But you know, she didn't really need it for accessing the general education. Oh, Dana Jonson 40:29 why do you need language for that narrative? I know, I'm sorry, I just get flip. I can't stop myself. I love that when it's an act as an accommodation. I'm Meredith Braxton, Esq. 40:38 gonna call out that I'm gonna call it call that speech pathologist out on that? Yep. You know, Dana Jonson 40:44 accommodation is what the child needs. And you know if that I found that frustrating during the pandemic, too, when people were like, well, I don't want to be on tape or on screen or what have you. And I do understand that there is something to being under a micro microscope and people taking things out of context. We've all had that happen to us at some point on the internet, right? Or in a text, something has been taken in the wrong tone. And I just feel like, Haven't we all been using the internet long enough that we should know that. And you know, that tone gets lost and things get lost in translation. But knowing what happens, and being able to reflect on that and make changes that that's important if we're not willing to do that. And that's where I feel like we are right now in schools. I feel like no one's willing to reflect. Yeah, because everyone's so afraid, even more so than before, to look back and say, Yeah, we messed up. And I understand because there are legal ramifications to saying that, so I get why they're not announcing it to the world. Yeah. But maybe their inside voice like in the back of their head, maybe could say, We screwed up, and we gotta fix this. You know, Meredith Braxton, Esq. 41:58 honestly, I find that the better board attorneys manage that, right? Yes, by having a good relationship with you giving you a call saying, can we talk about some solutions? Right? It doesn't have to be an explicit, we messed up, it can be willing to make it better. Right? Right. Good board attorneys. manage that. Dana Jonson 42:19 Right. And some board attorneys, you know, when when the parent calls you, I'll say, you know, what, I know, we can get X, Y and Z, which will help bring everyone back to the table and and start the conversation over. And then there are some board attorneys where I have to say, look, I hate to tell you this, but we're going to start off fighting, because that's where you are. And that's unfair to it depends on who represents your district as to what kind of what access you will have to that due process, and whether you will be able to fight them or not. And not every parent has access to us. No, you know, and I was just talking to Christine Lai on my last episode about self in the special legal fund and how they've allowed for so much access for parents afforded us I've you know, regardless, look at this, this is a like I said, it's, you had 11 witnesses, it took five months, this took up a significant amount of your time, most of which you were not paid for at the time. Like that's something else people have to realize we get paid when we work, right. Like I'm not on a salary over here with fabulous benefits. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 43:26 What we eat what we kill, as they say, exactly, we Dana Jonson 43:29 eat what we kill. Yes. I Meredith Braxton, Esq. 43:30 mean, I had restricted cash flow for a few months there because it took time, Dana Jonson 43:35 it takes a tremendous amount of time for us to have even one full blown. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 43:40 If I win, I'll be fine. If I know, I'm gonna be second run for a little bit, you know? Dana Jonson 43:45 Exactly. So I mean, yeah, I mean, it's tough all the way around, and you have to have the bandwidth to do it. And you have to not be afraid of creating bad law because you have to look at if I lose this. Yeah, the way that I have asked this question, if I lose it, what will that do to other families? Exactly. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 44:04 And this decision, I felt like I got more good law out of this, than expected. So tell Dana Jonson 44:10 us what you think the main takeaways are that you got from this this decision that you think are solidified that are helpful for parents? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 44:18 Well, the blasting of how the school district treated COVID and learning during COVID? Yes, and the failure to implement the IEP at all, really during COVID. And he runs through that was he on the legal side, the support for you were supposed to do what you needed to do and you didn't do it that leads to combat. So I thought that was good. I thought the way he treated the requirement for residential placement when there were mixed issues of because here we had mental health issues, but also medical issues. But those medical issues were very much intertwined with ability to be educated. Yeah, right. So the way he merged those things In talking about the requirement for a residential placement and the board's duty for that residential placement, I thought that was very helpful. Yeah. So those, those were the two takeaways that I really enjoy. Dana Jonson 45:15 Now, those are great. And those were great for the rest of us. Thank you. Here. I say, the combat peace to the combat peace is great. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 45:24 Yeah. So that was good, because he talked about how you don't need to have gross violation to get combat if you're not in a aged out situation. Right. And he kind of blasted the whole equities argument, which I was like, I didn't even understand the board's argument. I'm like, this isn't the unilateral placement case. Right. That's third prong about the equities. Right. Yes. So but he turned that around to Well, maybe it's, you know, relevant to combat? Well, and Dana Jonson 45:56 that's I mean, to explain to parents who don't understand really what we're talking about. No, no, it's good. It's good. Because what what that means is there are specific arguments we have to meet. So the first question I have to ask is, did the school district provide an appropriate program? And if the answer to that is yes, then nothing else matters, right? So there are different prongs of these different arguments. And some of them get to the point of equity. And this one doesn't. So it was unclear where he was going when he went down that road. But what he was doing was taking that equity argument and, and putting it towards compensatory education and saying that, for these reasons, this child does require compensatory education, which is meant to bring the child back up to where they would have been had they had that service. So that's an that's a big win, especially post COVID. Where that's a lot of the arguments is whether it's compensatory or not. So that's, that's a tough argument. And so that was a great win for parents. Yeah. And the last thing I want to ask you about, though, is the quotes throughout the decision, because I started reading and I thought was this a quote from the transcript? So at the beginning of every section, the hearing officer wrote a little quote, and the chapter and pages that it was from so I put that into my trusty Google search, and discovered that he was quoting Helen Keller throughout the whole thing. Can you talk a little about Meredith Braxton, Esq. 47:24 could have looked at the footnotes, or I could Dana Jonson 47:27 have looked at the footnotes that would have required this dense dyslexic woman to look at every footnote in this 54 Page decision. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 47:37 Okay. We won't do that to you. He basically took the I guess it was the autobiography of Helen Keller, and took various clubs, this kid touched his heart. And she's touched mine as well. She wants to start a school for kids with disabilities. She's she's just, she's an amazing kid, right? Before she went to me. I went and had dinner with her. And she finally had the new communication device that had actually been recommended and like managed never did. Wow. And we sat and had a really long, pretty fluent conversation about how do we get to the point where she gets to go to May? What was the hearing? Like? Who did I call? What did they say? You know, do I have to go back to Greenwich public schools for like three days to the school they have before I go to make? No you don't, I can see her really doing something in the world. Her physiatrist testified very clearly that he expects big things from her. And the hearing officer clearly felt that this child had a lot of potential and could make some change in the world. I think putting in those quotes helped bring it to like, we need to liberate this kid from her, the confines of her body, right? And let her be the person she can be. So I just about cried when I was reading through the decision with those quotes sprinkled throughout. I talked to a board lawyer afterwards. And she was like, Oh, that was quite a decision, like, I guess was just like, you know, the quotes from having Helen Keller were a little bit of overkill on like, this is run through your veins, Dana Jonson 49:22 right? And by the way, not if you were there, if you were there. These fit in perfectly. And I did I mean I did read a couple of footnotes narrative, but I liked how he he did talk about while this student is not deaf and blind, they are bound by these disabilities in a way that we can't comprehend. And that it wasn't until, you know Helen Keller, somebody taught her how to communicate that she was able to share herself with the world and that those comparisons he felt applied to this student as well. And I think that just added to the impact of those quotes. And you're right, you could tell that this was a very emotional matter. And this is one of those matters where you read through it and you think, well, it's a slam dunk, right? You read this and you're like, of course, you're gonna win. But that just simply isn't how special education works, you know, Meredith Braxton, Esq. 50:31 and back to what we were talking about at the beginning, you can win, and the remedy can wind up being useless. Dana Jonson 50:39 Exactly. So there's a lot of risks, but it's decisions like this, that are the reason why we continue to do it, and move forward. And also, make sure that your attorney moving forward and a hearing has the experience and background necessary to and resources. You know, if you don't have experience, you can get experience, right, you can learn, you can get experience, you can get mentored, you can do all those things. But you can't pretend you know what you don't know. Right. And it's important to make sure that your attorney does practice special education law, that is their primary, that they are not doing something else, and are not distracted by other laws that may conflict with the ID EA, which people don't realize there are a lot of educational rules and laws that actually conflict with the ID EA. So if you're more familiar with those than the IDA, then you may not be giving the right advice. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 51:44 It's ironic that a lot of that was passed in order to be parent friendly, and increase parental participation in the education of disabled kids is so non parent friendly. Dana Jonson 51:56 It's not parent friendly. It's not free to access. No. Because if you want to access it, you need an attorney or an advocate. And those are not free. Just think about the professional development that parents do just to understand how to talk to their attorneys. I mean, to their sorry, to their school districts, you know, like, just to get the vocabulary to advocate for their child, they spend a tremendous amount of money on professional development and all of those pieces. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 52:24 So back up for a second. The other thing I thought this decision was Brown was LRE least restrictive environment. Dana Jonson 52:31 Oh, yes. Talk about LRE for a second. So Meredith Braxton, Esq. 52:34 least restrictive environment means that your disabled children are supposed to be educated to the maximum extent possible with non disabled kids. My argument here was because they were screwing up so much. And they really did not include her appropriately in general education things. She was isolated from her peers. And it's even as much as like the chair they were using, they were having her in a wheelchair in her classroom, which separated her and put her on a different level than her peers. And the physical therapist, do Dana Jonson 53:07 you mean physically, like height wise? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 53:10 Yeah, so she's not even at the table, right. And they were like, you know, the IES were like, You need to get this kind of chair and play her here. So that she's with her peers. And they never did any of that. It was stuff like that. And then she would have total meltdowns, especially Shan Maxon, or whatever, and be removed from the classroom because of her meltdowns, and then be removed to go to the bathroom and spend all sorts of time on there. The general education setting for her was more restrictive than one that was designed for kids with similar disabilities. And he went for that argument, which I really appreciate it. Dana Jonson 53:51 And that's an amazing argument. And I I make it all the time. It's, like all my philosophical, yeah, argument of what's least restrictive, right. And I had a student once who were arguing over Villa Maria. And in the public school, the student had to be in the sub substantially separate room all day, including lunch, including everything, but at Villa Maria, they could roam the halls, they could have lunch with Meredith Braxton, Esq. 54:16 their peers. And from my perspective, that is absolutely and Hillary argument in favor of Bill Murray. Yeah, Dana Jonson 54:22 exactly. Exactly. You know, and so, you know, fortunately, that didn't have to go to a hearing at that point in time, because I don't know where that would have landed. But I do think we are getting closer to understanding that that may be a more a less restrictive environment for that student. It looks restrictive to us, Meredith Braxton, Esq. 54:41 but if they have no peers to relate to, right, exactly, and they're not being educated with the same materials, you know, if they're sitting in the general education classroom, everyone else is working on, you know, XYZ, but they're working on a different on a different level on a different skill on their own little worksheet. with their pero right here, that's not the least restrictive environment for that child. Now, they're being they're other, they're separated. Dana Jonson 55:08 Right? They're substantially separate from everybody else, even if you physically sit them in the room and kids do not learn independence through osmosis. No, it's not by sitting near typically developing children that you become typically developing. The goal is to become independent. Right? And what does this child need to become independent? And sometimes what a child needs to become independent is more children like them? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 55:36 Right. Right. So I thought that his ruling on that issue was helpful for this argument. Dana Jonson 55:43 Yes, yes. That's very helpful for this argument, because it gives us a little something with some meat on it. Yeah, too. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 55:51 When I when I was bringing it up, you could see him going like, that's an interesting point. Dana Jonson 55:57 Yeah. And now I really hate for to Moses for taking him out of the hearing officer, Bill. I'm hotline. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 56:07 He was he was previously I think he was in a judge advocate corps. Okay. He was a Jag. Um, you could tell you know, he have plenty of litigation experience. Right. Okay. So he was it was sort of easy that way for me, because my litigation arguments like right in a place where he understood them. Dana Jonson 56:28 Right. That was good, good. Friend, now he's gone. And so this is the this is his swan song, which we will have framed up in many offices around Connecticut. This was incredibly helpful narrative. And thank you so much for coming on. And talking to me about it. I really, I don't think parents really understand everything that goes into due process. They just here fight the school district, I will put the link to your decision in my show notes. So anyone who wants to geek out like the one right? Yes, the unredacted one, so you can see everybody's name and all the footnotes. And she could just click on them and they pop up. So I'll put the link to that there. But if someone's listening, and they're like, Wow, I need to hire Meredith clearly, because she's the only attorney who who can understand me and my child. How do they reach you? How do they find you? Meredith Braxton, Esq. 57:25 Well, it would be great if I had a website, but I just haven't over the last 20 years have the time to put Yeah, really Dana Jonson 57:30 had a need. Hmm. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 57:33 Really? I'm gonna do it soon. No, I swear. Dana Jonson 57:36 Okay, I got I have a good name for you. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 57:40 I've had it in process for a long time. You can look me up on the internet, probably. I don't know some I'll put a link to how you can find this. Sometimes when you put in Meredith Braxton. There's some Meredith Braxton some like soap opera or something. Dana Jonson 57:54 Awesome. So you show up in the soap opera star? Yeah, I think that's great. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 57:58 No, it's the name of a character. Dana Jonson 58:03 Even better. All right, I will put a link to Meredith in the in the show notes as well. If you feel you must reach out to Meredith and find her. And thank you so much, Meredith, for coming on and talking to us and talking about your case. And thank you for taking it all the way. Because I think that that is not easy for any of us to do. And Meredith Braxton, Esq. 58:22 you know, I had not had a case go all the way in like two years. So I was also sort of chomping at the bit. Yeah, because I am a litigator at heart. And I like to go to hearing occasionally. And I was like it was sort of killing me. So I was happy to bring it all the way and I got a few more going into the can this week, then. I think at least one will my gold way. Dana Jonson 58:49 That will be amazing. Yeah. Well, thank you. And that, that it makes a huge difference for the rest of us. And it definitely helps. helps all of us. You know, when Meredith Braxton, Esq. 58:58 we talk he's, I was about as pleased as one could be with that decision. It's amazing, even better than I had hoped. Dana Jonson 59:05 And that's amazing. And the family must've just been beside themselves. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 59:10 You know, and Sydney. She's, she's happy as a clam of May. Dana Jonson 59:14 I'm so happy and validation. Yeah, it wasn't her right that. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 59:20 Yeah. Oh, but she always knew that. Dana Jonson 59:22 Yeah, she she's smarter than they are. Meredith Braxton, Esq. 59:24 She is. She really is. Dana Jonson 59:27 That's often the problem. Well, thank you so much. Meredith. Thank you so much for joining me today. Please don't forget to follow this podcast so you don't miss any new episodes and leave a review and you have a chance. If there's anything you want to hear about or comment on. Please go to my Facebook page special ed on special ed and find me there. I'll see you next time here on special ed on special ed. Have a fabulous day. The views expressed in this episode are those of the speaker's at the time of the recording and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company or even that individual today.
Hey Special Ed Teacher, Are you confused about how to set up your small groups? Do you know where to start? Are you having trouble grouping your students? Today you will learn 5 steps to structuring your small groups! Teaching small groups are necessary to give access to the curriculum or to help students reach their IEP (Individualized Education Plan) goals. Our students have eligibilities that may impact learning their academics. Small groups will give them the opportunity to learn the way they need to learn. Take Care, Michelle In this episode you'll learn: Where to start first with creating your groups What to analyze to form the groups A step-by-step system and process to get your groups started now! ****Contact me to grab a FREE SPED Teacher Mentor call! I'll be able to personalize a plan with you for your students to achieve their IEP goals! I only have 3 spots available for this ONE time offer!! Contact me at email@example.com Connect with Michelle Vazquez: Become an INSIDER & join the email list! https://mailchi.mp/a7b98ae89995/stepping-into-special-education Join the Facebook Community, www.facebook.com/groups/steppingintospecialed Follow on Instagram www.instagram.com/steppingintospecialed Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Be enough for yourself first. The rest of the world can wait." On today's episode, Abby and Margot welcome their next guest: Christy Parisi. Christy is a single Mom, Special Ed. Teacher, blogger, and part time emo pop/punk singer. She shares about her journey with anxiety, depression, and OCD and how they coexist and interact with each other. The Warriors learn about Christy's experiences with abuse in childhood, where she learned that in order to express her opinions she must do so near a locked door to keep safe. Christy talks about being overly analytical and the ways she navigates obsessive thoughts and behaviors as well as bouts of depression. She highlights the incredible skills she's gained and details how she shows up for herself, her son, and community with what she calls a “team effort” of strategies and supportive tools. Strategies such as regular therapy, medication, mindfulness practices, meditation, morning routines, and so much more. Christy is dedicated to maintaining a warm, and loving home for her family, and offers the Warriors so many tangible tips for loving life, being open minded, and going with the flow. Shop Anxiety Warriors Podcast Merch at: https://anxietywarriorspodcast.threadless.com/ https://www.instagram.com/anxietywarriorspodcast/ --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/anxiety-warriors/message
Jim Florentine & Don Jamieson just released Terrorizing Telemarketers Volume 7! Available wherever you get your comedy albums! Jim & Don along with Eddie Trunk might be best known together as the co-hosts of That Metal Show on VH1 and VH1 Classic. Jim also was the voice of Special Ed on Comedy Central's Crank Yankers. Don currently hosts "That Jamieson Show" on Anthony Cumia's Compound Media Network.
I work for Stealth Monitoring which acquired Eyewitness Surveillance. I am a Rock Star Inside Sales Representative for Stealth Monitoring. I started my career as a Research Assistant in Washington DC for a think tank called JF Coates and assisted writing two books for them. I also sold robots for schools, Special Ed reading and programs for teaching social skills to school districts and private institutions. I enjoy going on cruising, swimming, and teaching English to new immigrants. Contact Suzanne: Website LinkedIn
A key component to public education is that it should be FREE! This includes special education. But what if you can't get the special education your child is entitled to? What happens when your school says "no" to you? There are no special education police to force schools to comply or even just tell them they are wrong. Usually, the only way to enforce your rights is to hire back up - an private service provider, non-legal special education advocate, or special education attorney. Being able to hire a special education advocate or attorney, however, is as much a privilege as being able to "evacuate" on a moment's notice. It sounds easy, but it's not easy and it's not free. Especially post(ish)-pandemic, most families do not have the funds required to hire the professional help they need to access their child's "free" rights. Christine Lai is the parent of a child with special education needs who had to fight her school district to get what her child was entitled to. Christine has experienced first hand the strain this puts on already struggling families. That is why Christine founded the Special Education Legal Fund, or SELF. SELF provides grants to parents of children with disabilities to help fund the professional advocacy families need. The grants SELF provides can provide payment towards legal services, a year of non-legal advocacy, or a combination thereof. Today Christine meets with me to discuss why and how families seek out SELF grants, trends in family needs, and the successes they have seen with this program. Maybe you need a SELF organization near you! Want to seek out Christine? You can find her here: https://spedlegalfund.org/ You can always message me at Dana@SpecialEd.fm FLASHBACK: Christine has joined us before! You can check out our last episode together here Transcripts are added shortly after episode is published and can be found at SpecialEd.fm TRANSCRIPT (not proofread) SUMMARY KEYWORDS parents, pandemic, special education, families, attorney, child, school districts, people, support, school, process, absolutely, clients, special ed, advocate, years, law, kids, advocacy, evaluations SPEAKERS Christine Lai, Dana Jonson Dana Jonson 00:08 Today I'm here with Christine Lai. I'm so excited. Thank you for coming back. And joining me at special ed on special ed Christine Lai is the director and founder of the special education legal fund, which I will explain in just a second. Hi, Christine. Thanks for joining me. Hi, Christine Lai 00:24 Dana. I'm so happy to be back. Dana Jonson 00:26 I know I love having you here. Let me play my disclaimer, and then we'll get started. Let's do it. The information in this podcast is provided for general informational and entertainment purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction at the time you're listening. Nothing in this episode, create an attorney client relationship, nor is it legal advice, do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in or accessible through this episode without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice on particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer or service provider license in your state country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. So Christine, first, let me explain to people what special legal fund is, I should probably maybe you could do that. Because your background, you're not like a special ed teacher or you don't provide services, right? Christine Lai 01:04 No, I mean, we are, you know, as we've spoken about in the in the past, we are a Grants making organization, we provide grants to families in need, who have children in the special education process. We provide grants to people who need an attorney, we provide grants to families who need an advocate. And we also provide, you know, some informational resources through our parent webinar series, for parents that are just, you know, really dipping their toe in the process and, or are fully immersed in the process and are just trying to figure out, you know, what the next step is, you know, so that's basically what we do, you know, we were founded in 2018, to provide those resources, the grants, the knowledge, the support, since that time, you know, this is our fifth grant cycle this year. And we have been so blessed with the support of attorneys like Dana to have provided grants of over $550,000, to, you know, almost 200 families in 60 school districts across Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York. And that's been a real blessing for us, we've been really thrilled, because those grants, you know, in total, in that time, have yielded over six and a half million dollars in educational improvements for those families, whether you're talking about better support, better evaluations, out placements, transportation, compensatory education, all of those things kind of roll into that big number, we've been really, really pleased to be able to provide that support for families. Dana Jonson 02:33 And we are we in the advocacy world are thrilled that you can provide that support to families, because one of the things I hate about what I do is that families have to have money to access me. And I can apologize for making a living. And I you know, I'm not going to, but I do recognize that that is a pretty strong barrier. And I think that your program allows a lot of us to give help to parents that we otherwise wouldn't have, wouldn't have access to us. And that's a little bit of what I wanted to talk about with you. Because you're dealing with families who don't have the funds don't have the resources. And oftentimes those families don't even know getting an advocate or an attorney is an option. I know sometimes people call my office and we say you should call self and go that process. But as a rule, people don't usually call you and say I'm calling because I can't afford you and I want information. Although when they do I do still talk to them and give them information. So I'm okay with those phone calls. I don't turn those phone calls away. But I was curious. And we've been through a lot since 2018. What kind of trends do you see with families who can't obtain lawyers because I I'm finding post pandemic and I don't think we're post pandemic, but you know what I mean? Yeah, pose the pandemic closures. Yeah, we're seeing that school districts don't have the resources to handle anybody. Yeah. And I'm finding that it's even harder for parents to get anything without some form of representation or support. No, that's 04:06 absolutely right. We as an organization, the support we provide is to families who are below 300% of the federal minimum poverty line, it was important for us to have a little bit of a range in the families that we support, because I realized that you know, for families that are very, very under resourced, there are other resources that exist, you know, like legal aid or, you know, sliding scale advocacy services or whatever. I know that you don't have to be below the poverty line, to not be able to afford an attorney. You know, that is absolutely, you know, 100% the case, this Fund was established for those families who were maxing out their credit cards, really taking their 401k down, you know, like those families are sort of the core of the group that we envisioned when we started the fund. This doesn't really answer your question. Your question is, yeah, have you seen have we seeing changes in the families. And since it's since the pandemic, since we reopened for the pandemic, I mean, the most significant change that we saw, after the pandemic, after, you know, and I want to say this, going back to like October of 2020, we didn't really know what was going on was going to go in New. And I remember that first month, we had had a virtual fundraiser, we weren't sure, if we were still going to be alive. You know, it was a very, you know, sort of difficult time, you know, in the nonprofit world, and obviously, in all worlds, and we had been running before the closure, you know, maybe five or six applications a month, we had traditionally given three grants per month. So, in a good in any given month, you know, we'd see four applications, we'd decline one, we'd see five, we declined to in October of 20 2015, right off the bat 15 1617. And that was kind of when I knew that this had been a real game changer, not only for the education world, the world in general, but specifically for these families. Because what I was seeing, we're not just, you know, and I don't mean to say just this, that's not what I meant to say. But prior to the payment pandemic, we would see a child who had been in the special education system for years was 14 and couldn't read, you know, very, very dire situation, post pandemic, we would see that same child, but that child would have then also been hospitalized one, two or three times, and then dealing with a crippling anxiety and depression and all of the other kind of ancillary comorbidities that come with, yeah, the predominant learning disorder, and the inability of the school to support that learning disorder. So that's really what we saw as the main difference. The other difference that we saw was as as as to your point, the schools are not able to support what they were able to support four years ago. You know, a few years ago, we would say I'd have a family come and they'd say we'd look we're looking for an outplacement, and I'd say, Okay, why don't you go back and get an IEE? You know, you just had your triennial, you just had an evaluation, go to ask the district for an IE get an independent, neuro Psych. And then after you've gotten that, come back to me, and we will go through this process. And you can go through the outplacement and they would be like, right, and they would go and do that. And they would come back to me and the process would proceed. Now. I don't know of any school district that's like, yeah, here's your IE, you know, go ahead. Yeah. Yeah, fighting everything. And that is, that is a real change that we've had to deal with over the last, you know, especially the last couple of years is when that's Dana Jonson 07:40 yeah, that's what we're seeing too. And, and the I II, for anyone listening who doesn't know, we just I just talked about that my last episode is an independent educational evaluation. And for any matter to move forward, you know, the whole IEP, 07:54 it is the linchpin, it is so Lynch is the linchpin, nothing happens without it, you know, exactly. It's like the roadmap, you know, Dana Jonson 08:03 everything from the from everything stems from the event. And as you said, you know, parents have a right to ask for it. They don't have an automatic right to get it. Yes, that's right. And I am finding that school districts who historically would have always granted it 08:23 exact are now fighting them. Exactly. And that's as well. Yeah. And it's not, because it's the you know, as you know, yeah. It's like one of the most important protections that parents have, yeah, process, it is a second opinion, it is so important. And, and if Dana Jonson 08:41 the school is not, if the school is seeing one child, and the family is seeing another child, how are you going, if reconcile is gonna evaluate that child, but that child is behaving differently in school than they are at home? You know, it's not giving you the information that you need. Absolutely. To program. And, you know, and we also see, and I say this all the time post pandemic, every case in our office is mental health and or reading. Yeah, those are both that's, that's, that's exactly. That's what one stem from the other? Yeah, you know, and, and so those evaluations are critical. And we are finding them. I'm a little worried for special education, because I'm finding them being ignored more and more and more, you know, we get the ice in the school district looks at it and says, This is all great new information that we already had were already addressing. Right, right. And you know, it's not successful. Do you find that when parents come to you? Are they coming to you having like, exhausted all their options, or are they coming to you because they don't understand or know what their options 09:52 are? It's a combination. I would say that the number one reason for a family or parent Come to us is if they feel that trust has been broken with the with the school, it doesn't have to do it can have happened over the course of eight or nine years, you can have happened over the course of eight or nine months. But really the common link is that broken faith is that broken trust. And, and that's really I mean, I could see that in a, in a parent of a four year old, and a parent of a 14 year old, same exact situation. And the knowledge of the system, on the parent level, you know, can vary a lot in that. But that isn't really the driving force of what brings a parent to call us. What it really is, is they feel like trust is broken, and they have nowhere else to go. Dana Jonson 10:48 Yeah, that is a very hard thing to fix. That is really is a very difficult thing to fix. And one of the things that I find does fix that are outside evaluations. And that's, it's really hard to get right now. It is really hard. I 11:04 mean, for years, you know, I couldn't drive by my son's elementary school, I would take a different road, you know, because there were so much, you know, anxiety. So, yeah, in that, in that situation, it was really difficult. So I get it, you know, and it seems, you know, counterintuitive for me to say, collaboration is really, you know, sort of the name of the game. But, you know, for most of these families, you know, I mean, I look at a lot of families, and I say to them, you know, you are going to be in the special education system for what, 15 years, 16 years, you know, however old your child is, you know, versus, you know, 18 or 22, or when you see them coming out, you know, that is a long time, you know, you have to think about really long, really long time, you have to think about the long game, you know, and sometimes the long game is not served in the long run by being very combative. It's served by, you know, sort of getting the right advice and figuring out what your goal is, and whether it's realistic, and whether it is like within the scope of the law. You know, lots of times people want things that are not in the scope of the law, you know, I mean, that's yes, you know, that's definitely something. And it's a different issue, figuring that all out, it's not necessarily in your best interest to blow up your relationship with the school, when your kid is seven, you know, to get another decade, you definitely Dana Jonson 12:29 have to think long and hard before you make that decision. And that's a really good point. Because I say that to parents all the time is you have the right to privately educate your child any way you want. But if you want something from the public school district, if you want them to pay for any of it, if you want them involved in any way, shape or form, there's a process we there's a process. That's absolutely right, broken process, but it's the only one we've got, 12:55 I mean, I'm not gonna call it a crime, but it is, you know, a shame that, you know, this is a civil right, you know, special education is a civil right. But it is a right, that requires resources, in many cases, to enforce, you know, the enforcement of this is 100% on the parents, which is not fair, despite all of you know, the protections that are built in the law, that is just the way that it plays out sometimes. So, you're right, it's 100% of process, you know, my 16 year old, went to the DMV yesterday, and was not able to take his driver's test, because we did not have a certificate from the driver school saying they had completed Driver's Ed. And they were like, boom, it's done, we've, you know, we've closed this out, can't take the test today. And that's a little bit like the special education process, you know, it's, that process has to be followed, you know, step by step by step by step by step, you have to get in that line and get another line and get the other line and nobody at the DMV is going to tell you how to do it. Right. And you better have all your, like ducks in a row before you get there. It's a difficult process. And parents a lot of times struggle with that, you know, with with having to have all that together, it requires a lot, a lot. Dana Jonson 14:06 It takes a lot of energy, first of all, just in general. And then if you don't know exactly what you're looking for what's important, then you don't know what to document or Right. Right. And, you know, it's funny, because a lot of times people assume that hiring a lawyer will make things worse, like right off the bat. Right. And sometimes they do sometimes and sometimes in a way that it has to, you know, like you're not getting anywhere. So yes, it's going to be a little bit aggressive. But the other piece is we are personally invested. Yeah, we I look at it and I say they're not following the process. And so I go to the other attorney and I say your client is not doing what they're supposed to do. And if it's a decent other attorney, you know, they might not say to me, you're right, they screwed up. In fact, they definitely won't say that. But they will likely go back to their client and say You guys gotta clean this up. Yeah, You need to fix it. Yeah. And that's I mean, a lot, not all board attorney, some are some there are some out there that will fight just for the sake of fighting for, you know, where I have to tell my client, I can tell you right now they're going to fight us at every step of the way. But as a rule, you know, when attorneys get involved, sometimes things get resolved very quickly. Yeah. 15:21 Because there's a clarity and a structure that is applied to the process. And also, you know, I mean, it doesn't matter how, like, good you are, you know, as a parent advocate, or, or even if you're an attorney yourself, it is your child. So, that element of worry of care of emotion that can distort the way that you react, you know, you know, I mean, I had an attorney, kick, Dana Jonson 15:50 my PPTs. And my husband was in agreement. So like, that's a whole different issue. 15:55 No, I mean, it's, you know, it's, it's really, so I mean, I Dana Jonson 15:58 can't be objective when it's your kid, no, you can't, I mean, just can, 16:02 you can't, and I do think though, you know, kind of getting back to your original thought, it's very difficult. If, you know, you don't know the process, it's very difficult if you don't know what to do, or what to ask, the first thing that I tell because I get a call every day from someone, not necessarily a self client, but someone who's kind of, you know, not unsure and doesn't know what's going on, and what should I do, and you know, and the first thing I always tell them to do, is to make a timeline of what has transpired with your child, it can be on a notebook, it can be in your iPhone notes, you can get super, you know, OCD and do an Excel spreadsheet, whatever. But you need to write down in a chronological order, with the years with the dates, what exactly happened, and when. And if you have backing, you know, documentation of that incident, if there was a communication, all of that should be in there, too. And once you can look at that was I mean, I don't think that anyone should go to talk to a professional attorney or advocate without doing that first, that's the first thing that they should do. Because you cannot have a coherent conversation with a professional without having done that. That's the first thing when clients hire, I've failed that both times. I mean, I've failed to do that. Just you know, in general, like when I, when I'm granted and billing parents what to do not following my back and doing it myself now. But yeah, no, but that's the first thing we do. And we work with our clients to create that timeline and attach any documents that are related to it, because it's astounding. Well, I Dana Jonson 17:38 mean, we've all heard them all, I don't know, if we have it there, these studies were four people observe the same car crash, and they see different of course, different thing, of course, and that's just a real thing, you know, so it's so critical, to have that documentation to keep yourself, you know, to keep it for yourself, so that you don't get out of control, too. Because sometimes we just get so as parents, it's our children. 18:01 Yeah. And there's also when you look at a list like that, and you and you look at, like, the experience that your child has had, you know, or not had, or whatever it is you're looking at, it's always important to remember that sometimes stuff is bad, but it isn't illegal. Sometimes things have happened, and they're bad. But yeah, like, no law has been broken, you know. So, you know, doing that allows you to kind of like really just get organized about you know about the process. And the other thing I always tell parents, you know, I used to do a little workshop of this is to create a binder of your documents, take your three inch, three ring binder, punch holes in it, get a set of subject dividers, and divide and put everything in the binder, label it with the year and have all the stuff in there. Because you know, if you go to a meeting, or you know, or have a Zoom meeting or whatever, and you don't have everything in front of you, you're definitely going to feel, you know, and this is regardless of whether you have an attorney or an advocate or not, you're definitely going to feel like out of place and out of control. Dana Jonson 19:04 If you were part of it, is they somebody at that table? Has your file in front of them? Absolutely. So somebody at that table can access anything in your file and pull it out for just 19:16 at any time. Yeah, anytime at any time. And there's nothing worse than sitting there. And thinking, you know, like, where's that document and not being able to find it? Or, you know, alternatively being in the meeting and saying, you know, oh, this thing that happened in you know, last fall, rather than saying, Charlie, on September 15 said this, you know, yeah, which statement is more powerful, you know, the first one or the second, you know, so all of these things, anything that you that a parent can do to make and this is like this is before you even start going on the internet and Googling things about special education and gray boxes and stuff like that. It's like you know, half of the game is Figuring out where you are, and getting organized. And then, at that point, you know, there are great resources online, there are great training resources that parents can use. But sometimes you can do all those things. And you're still not. You're still stuck. Yeah. Where an attorney or an advocate can be a lifesaver in the process? Dana Jonson 20:22 Well, yeah, I mean, knowing the law, unfortunately, isn't enough that that helps you know, enough to be dangerous. Yeah, absolutely. Because what parents don't understand in the law is that there's a lot interpreted through cases through hearings. Yeah, case law. And, you know, if you aren't familiar with that, then your version of what's appropriate may not be the courts version of what's appropriate, fighting the wrong thing. And I've, I've had that happen, where parents are like, here, I've got the smoking gun, and they start explaining something to me that is so irrelevant, and has nothing to do with special ed. But then something they say, I'll be like, wait, wait, let's ask about that. You know, and it's something else that they didn't think was important. And I think, you know, going back to whether parents have the understanding, or the knowledge, I mean, self does a great job to providing those of those workshops, I mean, the virtual revolution, webinars, thank you. That's what I was looking for the virtual webinars, I redo everything virtually now. So it gets confusing, you know, on educating parents, and I do you think that those, though, I always tell parents, though, online, anything, support groups, workshops, so helpful, so supportive, take it all with a grain of salt. 21:41 It's not, as we say, in our disclaimer, a replacement for the advice of a qualified special education attorney, it just has a specific one on one about knotted, it is it is not a replacement for that, you know, you can ask all the questions that you want in the online forum, and make your question as specific as possible. But it is not the same thing. And that is challenging it that is very challenging and difficult for families. I mean, I think that, you know, I mean, for my specific cohort of families, you know, my specific cohort of families is an under resourced population, this is a population that, you know, does not have the funds readily available to hire an advocate or an attorney. This is a population that by and large, doesn't have the, you know, the the time resources to be online googling things, and going to parent trainings and stuff like that. And this is very often a, you know, a population where English is not the primary language, where, aside from English not being the primary language, which makes it difficult to advocate the understanding of this system, that is the United States and the United States education system, that understanding is not there, you know, putting aside the special education, you know, piece of it, I had a call with a parent recently. And she had been going back and forth with her school district for quite some time. It was like four or five years, I don't remember exactly. And she finally out of a sense of frustration called the State Department of Education. And they said, you know, have you heard of this thing called Special Education? And she had not, no one at any point? Oh, my God, you know, she's a first generation immigrant. English is her second language. And no one at any point in the five years previous to that had thought to say to her, what about special education? You know, does your child need special education, and until she called the State Department of Education, and they told her, and then they instructed her, you know, good on them, of you know, exactly what she had to do to make a referral and to get into the system. But because this is a system that is, you know, unique to the United States, and it's very likely that if you emigrated from China or Namibia or you know, whatever. Exactly, with a vastly different legal system, with a vastly different structure, you wouldn't know education system, you wouldn't know that this is even a thing that you can ask for. Dana Jonson 24:10 And then add to that, that even different districts handle different things differently. You can't guarantee that you're gonna walk into a school and have it go one way, right. I think it's really important that people understand that our most vulnerable population really needs money to access their rights. That's absolutely right. And, you know, I get frustrated because it's also the only civil rights we negotiate. It is absolutely, you know, it's the only civil rights that we say, okay, you were supposed to do this, but I'll settle for that. Right. And we do it all the time. And so that's very frustrating to see but also, as you know, as an attorney, it's hard because we also, it is a civil right. I mean, it is hard Do you charge for your time? Yeah, I do, I do it, 25:03 all of you, every single person that practices this field of law, doing it, because they want to make millions, because obviously, you will be doing something else. If that were the case, you all do this, you know, I mean, very similar to the reason that that I got into this, most of you, attorneys and advocates, the ones that I know, have entered this field, because you've been touched in some way by this process, whether it be as a, you know, school administrator in your, you know, on your, you know, on your end, or as a special, I think you were a special ed teacher, as well. And, and, you know, about a variety of kids with disabilities got a variety of kids with disabilities. And exactly, so most of the attorneys, you know, and I try to, you know, say that to my clients when we have this conversation, or maybe I don't say it enough, is, you know, I'm always very frank about what my experience it has been, and why I do this, and why this is something that, you know, is very important to me, it's also equally as important to almost every attorney and advocate that I know, that feels that this is a civil right, that they're that it is a civil right, and that they've been touched by it in some way. Dana Jonson 26:15 Yeah, well, and that's why organizations like the special legal fund are so important, because as you said, there is a category of people who don't qualify for some of the free advocacy that's out there, but can't afford the advocacy they need. And it is a barrier, and it is something I wish we could make more accessible to parents, which is why I do this podcast is why I absolutely speak it's why we all answer the phone even when someone starts with I can't afford to pay you. Yeah. You know. So it's interesting to me, though, to see that you're kind of seeing the same things we are as far as you know, with your, the clientele coming to you. Right. So versus the clientele that comes to me first, we're seeing a lot of the same things. And I think that goes to disabilities don't discriminate? 27:05 No, they do not, they absolutely don't. And we've in the last couple of years, a lot of things have bubbled up to the surface, because of the pandemic, if I if I could think about, like, what the, the aggregate impact of that pandemic has been on my families, it's like a lot of kids were kind of getting by, they had a, you know, a modest amount of support, they were kind of eking it out on a daily basis. And then the pandemic came, and what was sufficient, in a quote unquote, normal environment became very insufficient, in that pandemic postponed very fast, and very fast. And then all kinds of other you know, comorbidities, as we say, started to pop up, you know, maybe they had been maybe the anxiety had been managed, maybe the depression, had, you know, not been debilitating, all of these kinds of things that come because you are not successful in an environment, right began to rear their ugly heads. So instead of seeing a child with one, you know, predominant issue, you're seeing a child where, you know, they have a predominant learning disability, but they also have significant case of school refusal, because of the anxiety and depression that has developed over the last 18 months. Yes, I get it. It's all brand new, you know, it's like an iceberg. You know, it's another part of the iceberg that's peeking above the surface or barrier. Dana Jonson 28:31 It's just another barrier. 28:33 Yeah, exactly. Dana Jonson 28:34 Yeah. And I think that it is, you know, you're right, that schools aren't, that's something I would like to see as a change is is more mandatory education to parents. On some level? Absolutely. A lot of my clients are attorneys even. Yeah, no. And actually, sometimes attorneys are the easier clients because they know they don't understand it. Like, right, so they're like, do they do this? Yeah, they're like, you know, yeah, you know, I'm not gonna do it over to you. So yeah, exactly. So sometimes they're actually the easier clients. It is hard when it's something you think you understand. And you think that, you know, and there are no special ed police. So no one's going to the school telling them what to do, unless you do something. Yeah. You know, and that's, that's really it. You're the gatekeepers. Parents are the gatekeepers, they are the only people who can hold schools accountable. What I don't understand is why school districts spend so much money fighting parents when they should be spending their money lobbying to be better funded. That's that's that's 29:37 educating parents at a very early level. Yeah. You know, like I spoke a little bit earlier about broken trust. And what happens, you know, with families is, you know, they go to you like the case of this family, you know, this mother that I recently spoke to, you know, so you go to your school and you say, I think my child's having difficulty and Maybe you do this at pickup, or maybe you do this, like, you know, outside of the classroom? Or maybe you happen to run into them when you're doing lunch duty, or whatever it is, you have that conversation that teachers like, oh, yeah, you know, let me look into it, I, you know, haven't noticed that, but you know, maybe I'll look into it or whatever. And then they forget, or they don't move forward with that request. And it's not because the teacher doesn't care. It's because in a lot of cases, the teachers managing 25 children, and the request was not made, the way that it has to be made in order to Dana Jonson 30:30 move forward. Right? It wasn't made in a way that triggered an obligation Exactly. 30:35 And then the parent does that three or four times gets no response. And then they're angry, because they feel like they've made this request three, four or five times, and that the school is not listening. Well, the school is not listening, because the request wasn't made in a way that triggers a response. One of the first things I say is like, like you need to stop having conversations in the hallway, everything you do, should be asked, don't text, anybody Don't you know, everything you should do, even if you have a conversation in the hallway, go back and send an email summarizing what you said, in the hallway to all the relevant people. But, you know, but that's not well understood. You know, none of that is well understood, because parents, broadly speaking, feel that schools are their friends, and they want them to be their friends, they want to look at the school as another person that cares about their child, when what the school is, is an institution, it can be, and you have to do things in a specific way, in order to get the response that you need. When the communication piece breaks down, because the parents not doesn't know how to ask, and the school isn't responding. That's where I see a lot of like, you know, I mean, there's there's a lot of headway that can be made there. You know, I Dana Jonson 31:48 agree. And that's clarifying something. Yeah. I mean, that's something that I will see. Is this all broke down over miscommunication? Absolutely. Now, and that's exactly 31:57 now one person feels they've been lied to. And the other part, you know it, right. Yeah. And then you then it's like, how do you get back from that? Dana Jonson 32:04 Right? Or, you know, like, if you look at perspectives from teachers and parents, you know, I've had parents that say to me, Well, you know, they never give me data unless I asked, and the teachers perspective is, but I give them the data every time they ask, they're 32:17 right, right, exactly. Dana Jonson 32:19 The problem? Is the problem. Yeah, the ask is what's missing? Right, the parents would like you to give them the data without the masking. So that has not been expressed clearly. And I do hear that a lot from parents when they call me they're like, but that should be clear. And yes, it should be. But it isn't. And it just doesn't trigger the responsibilities. And, yeah, I mean, that I would love to see 32:43 better and better parent training at an earlier level, better understanding of like, a parents, you know, a parent, a child's rights, better screening at a younger age, you know, most of the stuff that we see where a kid has been in the system, you know, for four or five years, and it's not making progress and reading or whatever, it's like, better screening at age like, you know, five, six, yes, would have made huge differences in the outcome, rather than what it devolves to. Dana Jonson 33:15 Well, and it's often more expensive to not provide services, because 100% of the time, oh, hard. Yeah, I mean, it's, it's more expensive to not do that. Because if you can get things done early. And the problem we're having schools didn't do a lot during the pandemic, very few schools even met their minimal obligations during the pandemic. And so we have a lot of that left over. 33:39 If you have a kid that can't read at the age of 12, and they have to be outplays, to a school that costs $100,000 a year, like you have not saved anything. And if you manage the school, to push that child off to graduation without producing a functional reader, guess what, you've pushed the cost of that on to society, because a person that can't read and is functionally like not able to read and use mathematics cannot have a productive life, or job. And then you're talking about like, crime, and you know, and the things and what keeps up his yacht. Exactly. And they Dana Jonson 34:17 need to be supported by somebody and exactly a healthy problem that needs to be paid for by somebody by somebody. That's all coming out of our taxes. And, you know, that's a lot. They were disservice to at a very young age. And, and, you know, we're, we're seeing a lot more come out since the pandemic and just going back to something you said earlier, which was about people seeing the reading and stuff like that. I've had a lot of parents call me who genuinely felt like Special Ed was just a money stuck, and then saw the issues in their children. Yeah. And we're like, I and they were at home looking at their play. Exactly. Yeah, because You know, I know for me, I got through high school dyslexia I got through high school without reading a book, and nobody knew. So, you know, because I had all these clues, if you'd put me at home, in my bedroom to work on a laptop, I would not have had any of those clues. And, you know, I would have fallen apart. So that's what happened to a lot of kids. And, you know, I've had parents, it's just an interesting because when the pandemic started, and people were saying, but our kids aren't getting educated, there was part of me that felt like, yep, that's how we feel. 35:29 Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. Our kids have never been educated. Right, exactly. And, you know, it's like, whatever gaps, you know, like, I'm like, the pandemic learning gap. It's like, whatever gaps existed for our kids, before the pandemic are worse now by a factor of like, five. And yes, there's a learning gap. But the learning gap is greater, and more severe, and much more difficult to overcome. For kids who are in special education, before the pandemic, and after? Dana Jonson 36:01 Well, there's some windows for skills. So some kids at a certain age won't learn the skill. Yeah, so we missed the window. For kids who say, Aren't diagnosed with autism until they're 14. Yeah, you know, you've missed 36:14 a significant window. Because, you know, the early years are when the brain is most plastic and most able to change to grow and to, you know, and to accept, you know, new behaviors and new conditions and all that other kind of thing. And that's what we missed. For a lot of kids, a lot of those kids were at home, you know, not turning on the computer screen now. And not, not at all, you know, and not getting services and not or not even being identified, you know that right? Dana Jonson 36:45 Oh, that was that was big to the big one. Yeah. Well, I think it sucks that we've gotten to a place where for people to access their civil rights, they have to have an attorney at least an education, or an advocate of some sort. And I'm, I don't see it getting necessarily better. But I do love that we have organizations like self out there to help parents. So if somebody's listening to this, and they were like, Oh, my god, that's amazing. I need to give a huge donation to Sal, how would they find you, 37:16 they should visit our website, which is www dot SPE D legal fund.org. And they can make a donation on the website, you can also visit our website, if you are a parent, that that is in need of support. Our webinars are online, and our application process is accessible online now. So if you are interested in, you know, starting the application process for either an advocacy grant or legal assistance grant, you visit our website, you you know, find the page, I think it's I think it's apply now, I mean, I used to be programs, but now it's so it's pretty direct, and then you start the process that way, you know, we review cases on a monthly basis, all of the applications, you know, the application deadline is the 15th of each month, we interview every client by the 22nd. And we render a decision by the end of the month for each family throughout the academic year. So that's kind of the the way the you know, the system as it is for us works. Dana Jonson 38:14 It's amazing. And it really has made a difference in a lot of people's lives. And if you're out there, and you're a motivated parent, and you want to help other parents and put together a fund like this in your state, please call Christine and Oh, absolutely, I'll leave you how to get I'm 38:27 happy to tell the story of my throwing spaghetti against the wall. Because that's what it was. But absolutely, because it is an it is definitely a need in every state, every state is different. But what every state has in common is that children are slipping through the cracks. And that is what you know, self is meant to do is really, I can't change, you know, the system. I'm not smart enough to rethink you know, what is exactly wrong with the special education system as it is today. But what self does is it, you know, helps to catch families that are slipping through those cracks. That's really the mission as a whole. Dana Jonson 39:05 That's amazing. And I think you guys are pretty successful. So thank you so much for everything. And 39:12 I love this podcast. I will come back anytime. Thanks. Thanks for having Dana Jonson 39:16 me. I'm having you. So I know you'll be back. Yeah. 39:21 Absolutely fantastic. And happy to talk about anything and everything. But yeah, it's been great. And thanks for having me today. Dana Jonson 39:29 Thank you so much for joining me today. Please don't forget to follow this podcast so you don't miss any new episodes and leave a review and you have a chance. If there's anything you want to hear about or comment on. Please go to my Facebook page special ed on special ed and find me there. I'll see you next time here on special ed on special ed. Have a fabulous day. The views expressed in this episode are those of the speaker's at the time of the recording and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency organization, employer or company or even that individual today.
Episode SummaryIn this episode, we meet Patty Braendel, a special education teacher who is an adoptive mom, a birth mom, and also a foster mom. We hear about her journey to parenthood with all its ups and downs and learn how her experiences as a parent have helped her work in special education. For the visually-minded who prefer to listen and read, watch the transcript video here: https://youtu.be/6gINmxyiQ5oResourcesFoster the FamilyFlorida Department of Children and FamiliesEmpowered to ConnectFind and Follow PattyEmail Patty: email@example.comFind and Follow Carole and Wisdom Sharedhttps://www.caroleblueweiss.com/Follow me and send me a message on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caroleblueweissFollow me and send me a message on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carole-blueweiss-pt-dpt-23970279/Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carole_blueweiss/