Organizing Your Paperwork

Summertime brings a perfect opportunity to get your child’s paperwork organized.  We have two forms that we use when organizing files.  You can download them here:

unit-1-cs  and following-units-2-cs

We recommend having an organizational system that works well with your style.  One typical system is to purchase a large 3-ring binder and insert the papers in order.  Make sure you have a tab for school communication and print your e-mails and document your phone conversations with your child’s school.  Christina has a 31 tote bag and keeps file folders organized by current IEPs, evaluations, and all pertinent documentation.  It’s easy to carry to a meeting and can quickly find the folder needed on a moment’s notice.

We have found a terrific resource in organizing your child’s paperwork from the Understood website.  You can find it here https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/ieps/how-to-organize-your-childs-iep-binder?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=understoodorg

You can also find resources through our Pinterest page here https://www.pinterest.com/confidentsoluti/boards/

Remember, all special education paperwork will be accompanied with its own DEC5. If you would like to refresh your knowledge each type of form, you can look through our archives on past posts or send us an e-mail with your question! We love connecting with you and helping in any way we are able!

Happy Summer!

With Gratitude,

Christina and Wendy

 

 

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The Power of Empowerment

We’ve previously talked about what type of advocate we are.  Assume Positive Intent.  We  have sat on all sides of the “EC table”. Please Don’t Say “It Will Be Okay” We both are parents of children with special needs, we both have worked in the school system as EC coordinators, special education teachers, regular education teachers, speech/language therapist, and Dean of Students.  We know the EC paperwork, the laws, school, state, and federal policies.  We have sat as advocates for families, teaching them about the paperwork, EC processes, and where to find information.  So why tell you all of this?

We want you to know that all of this has been creating what type of advocate we are. We believe in collaboration with other professionals.  We have yet to find one person who knows everything regarding EC.  We have experienced how important it is to ask questions, be involved, and listen carefully to how and what people say.  We believe in empowering families to be advocates for their children. We want to teach and encourage parents first.  We will coach you, guide you, teach you what we know so you are knowledgable and ready to communicate with your child’s school.  We want to help bridge any gaps between a school and a family.  We believe in the focus being on the child.  This is what we always come back to.  What does the child need? How can we help? How can the parents help? How can the school help?  After empowering the family, if you need additional support from us, we’re there.  We can sit as advocates for your child at meetings and help bridge those gaps where needed.  We also try to have open communication and collaboration first.

Advocate-noun. One that supports or promotes the interests of another.

Empower-verb. To enable or permit.

Mindful-adjective. Attentive and aware.

We support the interest of the child by empowering families first.  We are attentive and aware of the way we communicate with schools, families, and other professionals.

empowerment

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Conference

We wanted to share an opportunity that is coming up on March 13th in Greensboro.   We are both attending this conference to keep ourselves updated  on information  to better serve as advocates.  Please check out this amazing day training here http://www.wrightslaw.com/speak/17.03.nc.htm

Let us know if you’re going and we’ll catch up with you there!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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Registration Is Now Open

Please click here for the registration form registration-for-winter-sessions-2017

Registration for our next sessions of Mindful Thinking for Social Expectations classes is now open. To register, please fill out the registration form above and e-mail it to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.  We are offering three different sessions, each with a specific focus.  We believe that empowering the parent/guardian is equally important in teaching social skills to a child.  Please plan on staying for the parent session of your child’s class to learn what your child is learning and how to help your child at home.  Teacher letters will be handed out during each parent class for you to share with your child’s teacher.  The letters help connect what your child is learning to his/her school environment.  All classes are held at 9700 Research Drive, Suite 132, Charlotte, NC 28262 and the total cost for a six-week session is $200.00. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us!   You may be interested in reading about who could benefit from a social skills class here Who Benefits From Social Skills Classes?

The three different sessions we will be offering are detailed below:

1. Perspective-This six week group of classes will focus on your child learning how to gauge their responses to peers, understanding that people have a perspective that is different from their own and how to navigate conversations and social interactions using this knowledge. It is important that your child has self-awareness of their current social interactions and has a desire to learn new skills. This class will meet every Sunday beginning January 8th-February 12th.  K-2 group meets 1:00-2:00 and 3rd-5th graders meet 2:00-3:00.  

 

2.  Play-This six week group of classes will focus on how to be a part of a group.  Your child will learn how to let peers know they are actively listening, how to observe other children to understand”hidden rules”, and how play unfolds. This class will meet every Sunday beginning January 8th-February 12th.  K-2 group meets 3:30-4:30 and 3rd-5th graders meet 4:30-5:30.  

 

3. Self-Awareness, Self-Monitoring, and Self-Control-This six week group of classes focuses on children and parents gaining knowledge and practical skills on how to recognize which stage they are currently in to make a shift in a behavior.  They will learn how to set a personal goal and and will gain useful tools to help them achieve that goal.  This six week class will meet every Tuesday beginning January 10th-Feburary 14th. This elementary aged group is designed for students 1st-5th and will meet 4:15-5:15.  

 

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Upcoming events 

 

 

Teaching Our Children to Be Includers

We have all read the beautiful story about a middle school child who walks into the lunchroom to sit by another student who is alone.  Maybe the child sitting alone has a disability, maybe not.  Maybe that child has unique quirks that are difficult to understand.  Maybe that child has a difficult home life or is battling an inner war we know nothing about.  Maybe not.  Maybe that child is just in need of a friend.

We grow up in categories and are lumped into groups….regular education, special education, speech delay, gifted and talented.  These groups stick with children for most of their school life. During a time of trying to figure out who they are, they are given titles to identify themselves. They look around for peers with a similar title and try to fit in.

We are firm believers that all children have gifts. There are children who can walk into a room and make everyone feel happy and wanted. Others can make a seed sprout into a plant with just dirt and water. While there are other children who understand math quickly or are talented in music. With the proper guidance, each of these kids will grow into happy, healthy adults. We must teach our children how to accept each other. The math whiz can be great friends with the farmer. Or they can decide not to be friends, but still recognize the importance of the other’s gift. No matter the gifts your child has, we need to model for and teach to our children how to accept each other for exactly who they are. We need to teach our children that their gifts are special and unique to them, but it does not take away from someone else’s gift. We are showing our children that there is enough for all of us; enough love, kindness, and happiness. Once we know this and teach it to our children they will begin to embrace who they are without labels. Some of these children will cross the barrier and sit with the kid who is sitting alone. These kids will continue to inspire all of us to be more compassionate.

 

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Flyer for Upcoming Holiday Session

Mindful Thinking for Social Expectations

Confident Solutions, LLC

We empower children, families, and schools through mindful connections.

For some students, obtaining and utilizing good social skills does not come naturally. They move through their environment having a difficult time communicating and understanding more than just direct language-based interactions. For example, good social skills include sharing space with others and learning to regulate one’s behavior to other peoples’ thoughts or expectations. For some students, these skills need to be taught.

We are offering a 4-week session beginning on November 13th. This session will focus on teaching techniques that will help reduce stress around the holidays and will provide tools to use based on the Social Thinking curriculum. Parents and caregivers will learn how to shift their thoughts and vocabulary while helping their child at home.

Your child does not need a diagnosis to attend. This class is designed for any child needing to learn how to “think” about thinking as well as understand more about the complex social world in which we live. While times of movement will be available, students must be able to sit in a room with a small group for one hour.

Parents will meet in a separate room and are required to attend each session so true integration can occur at home. We are also offering a corresponding sibling class during this time. To register, please visit Registration for Holiday Session  or email us confidentsolutions7@gmail.com

Groups are separated depending on age/grade. Group sizes will be kept small with no more than four to five children in each group.

Dates for the classes:

November 13th, November 20th, December 4th, December 11th

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We look forward to seeing you on November 13th!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

Guest Blogger on Mindful Meditation

We are fortunate to have a guest blogger provide information about the importance of mindful meditation.  Maria Hartemann will be teaching a short mindful meditation  at the December 4th social skills classes.  If you would like more information about the classes or how to register, please click here Registration for Holiday Session

 

There are countless studies these days that laud the benefits of meditation. From medical (lowering your blood pressure), to educational (increasing your ability to focus), meditation is now being acknowledged and recommended by experts in various fields.

When I first started meditating, one of the most significant differences that I noticed was the fact that I was finally able to calm my “monkey mind” and fall asleep at night in under an hour! That had been a serious issue for me for as along as I can remember (even as a child!). I was a night owl, not because I found myself to have an incredibly sharp mind in the late hours, but rather because I couldn’t seem to gain control over my thoughts! A night owl by default, I guess you would say. However, with continued practice, that hour became forty-five minutes, then thirty minutes, and down and down. These days, unless I have a pressing issue on my mind, I am usually asleep within ten minutes of hitting the pillow.

As if this wasn’t enough of a reason, I also have experimented with using meditation or conscious calming of my mind, to lower my blood pressure. Always one for conducting a good experiment, I have tested the “meditation can lower your blood pressure” theory in 2 ways. The first was at the doctor’s office. I can’t say that I love going to the doctor, so when I go, I must admit that I am not my most peaceful/best self. I get nervous and my blood pressure has been elevated on occasion during the initial exam. After having one questionable reading, I used a few breathing and centering techniques that are a part of my meditation practice. When they took my blood pressure a second time (yes, it was alarmingly high the first and warranted another reading), they were shocked to see how different the second reading was! To the point where the nurse asked if I had been nervous when I first came in 🙂 Ummmm, yes. The other method that I used to try quite often, was to go to the pharmacy area and use their armband to test myself. I would sit down, not nervous, just a regular person, take my blood pressure and then take it again while using centering and breathing. Even a slight decrease was consistent. Try it! It’s actually quite amazing.

Check out some of these links and see how schools have integrated “mindfulness” or meditation into their school days.

https://www.edutopia.org/stw-student-stress-meditation

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/01/should-schools-teach-kids-to-meditate/283229/ (this one is long and does talk about meditation/mindfulness in conjunction with yoga, but it has some great insights).

http://www.mindfulschools.org/about-mindfulness/research/

Meditation/mindfulness, whether it’s 3 breaths a day or 30 minutes a day, can be beneficial to you no matter your age. I look forward to meeting you at the December 4th social skills class to help teach you and your child how to do quick mindful meditations in any setting.

Maria Hartemann

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Friday’s Inspiration

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

My Child’s Team Doesn’t Agree on a Decision-Now What?

First, never forget you are part of your child’s team. Who Is On Your Child’s Team? When you walk into an IEP meeting about your child, it may not always feel that way. Sometimes, it may seem like everyone else on the team has had conversations about their expectations for the meeting and you are feeling less than confident in your knowledge. If a draft IEP was created for your child, those prior conversations are very necessary. The only problem is that often, the parent is left out of these conversations. As the meeting progresses, you realize that you wanted a service, or goal, or accommodation that others on the team did not. In an ideal world, everyone on the team would give input and a consensus would be reached. A consensus is when, after hearing all of the information, everyone re-adjusts what they think is best for the child and everyone comes to an agreement.  Please know there are people and places where this occurs. Where every adult puts their agenda to the side and really considers what is best for the child. However, more often, parents call us letting us know that a decision was made and they feel they had no input. We have even heard parents say that the other members of the team skipped entire sections of discussing their child’s IEP. If a decision was made with you in the meeting and you do not agree with it, you have several options.

Advocacy- If you know you are walking into a situation and you feel like you will not be heard or that you will not understand the lingo, bring an advocate. Someone who can listen to what is being said and help you navigate the meeting. This person should never make your decisions for you, but instead guides you and explains in parent friendly language what is being said.

Facilitated IEP- You can request a third, neutral party come to an IEP meeting. The school will fill out paperwork and submit it the state. A new IEP meeting will be scheduled and the facilitator will make sure the child is considered and not adult agendas. http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/dispute-resolution/facilitation

Formal Written Complaint- You have the right to file a formal written complaint with the Department of Public Instruction. They will notify the school that you have done so. The investigator will encourage the school to come to a signed agreement with you. They will also conduct an investigation of all your complaints. The investigator will review all documentation regarding the complaint, hold interviews with those involved  and could do a site visit. If the school is found non-compliant, a corrective action plan will be established. The school will be required to follow the corrective action plan or could face further sanctions. http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/dispute-resolution/formal-written-complaints

Mediation- Anyone on the team can request mediation. A mediator will be assigned and will work to make sure everyone feels heard. They will work towards a written agreement on which everyone agrees. This is an informal meeting where everyone has the chance to be heard regarding the child’s education. http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/dispute-resolution/mediation

Due Process-You also have the right to file Due Process. This will initiate a hearing based on your complaints and the resolution you would like to see. Both sides will be allowed to present evidence to an administrative law judge. More details, including a time line can be found here  http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/dispute-resolution/due-process-hearings

If you do not agree with a decision being made and you decide to move forward with any of the formal due process options (mediation, formal written complaint, or due process) “stay put” is invoked. This means the decisions made prior to the point of complaint must be followed. For example, if the Team decided to change your child’s placement from regular education to a separate setting, and you disagreed and started a formal due process, then your child’s placement will continue to be “regular” education.

As you consider which approach is best for your child’s education, always try to keep the lines of communication open with your child’s school. The first avenue recommended is to have an open and honest discussion with your child’s educators. Sometimes, just feeling heard and hearing their thoughts and opinions is all that is necessary.  If you feel like you are not comfortable with the lingo, we recommend hiring an advocate to help you navigate the meeting.  We also recommend the book, “From Emotions to Advocacy” https://www.amazon.com/Wrightslaw-Emotions-Advocacy-Education-Survival/dp/1892320096/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476899427&sr=8-1&keywords=from+emotions+to+advocacy

With Gratitude,

Wendy and Christina