Posts Tagged ‘delays and disabilities’

Oh to be understood!

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

child learning to readHelping a child with attention or learning problems is a feat that most parents find intensely challenging. You may know that your child is bright, yet she can’t seem to keep up with her peers at school and is becoming increasingly difficult to manage at home.

Children with disabilities have a hard time expressing their frustrations, as they don’t fully understand what they should be doing. As a parent, you have expectations for your child, but you don’t see what they see. You can’t fully grasp their struggle.

In order to help your child, you first need to have an accurate idea of what she is experiencing. By getting in her shoes, even for a little while, you will develop an appreciation for her struggles, and have a starting point from which to start your journey of setting up interventions.

What if you could see what your child sees?

I’d like to introduce you to a novel web based resource for parents of children with learning or attention issues, called (appropriately) Understood. Developed by a team of professionals from the National Center for Learning Disabilities along with lots of input from parents, they created a digital resource that can show you what your child is “seeing.”

The section entitled “Through your child’s eyes” has simulations to help you understand your child’s struggles with organization, attention, reading, writing or math. Once you can see what your child sees, and feel what she feels, it will help you to find patience when you thought you had none, and find energy to create an appropriate program for her.

When my daughter first went to a school that specialized in teaching children with learning disabilities, one of the exercises the parents had to do was similar to one on this website. Even though it took place many years ago, I remember it to this day. It was eye opening and mind boggling. We parents had NO IDEA our kids were seeing the world the way they were, and were faced with such a huge mountain to climb every day. Many of us felt guilty – we simply did not know the pain our kids were in every day. But, how could we have known? Until we were shown exactly how our kids were struggling, we did not truly understand. Life changed for me after that day. I had a different perspective and attitude about my daughter’s disability, not to mention a newly discovered abundance of patience that I did not know I possessed.

The simulations on Understood will help you to see the world through your child’s eyes, so that you can develop patience, empathy and most importantly an action plan specific to your child’s needs.

For other posts in this series, see the Table of Contents.

Sibling visits to the NICU can be helpful

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Sibling visits baby in NICUPrematurity affects everyone, including siblings. When older children have a sister or brother in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) they sense their parents’ concern and worry, and their lives are thrown off balance. Siblings of a preemies go through their own NICU journey of sorts – from experiencing anxiety, worry and frustration to happiness and joy. However, there are some steps you can take to help your older children through the ups and downs of the NICU experience.

If your baby is in the NICU, it may be possible for your other children to visit. Ask the head nurse of the NICU if the hospital allows this and if your preemie is strong enough for the visit. Often, seeing their baby brother or sister in the NICU helps older children understand what is happening and to realize why mom and dad are not home as much. Even a short visit can help put the situation into perspective. Visiting can also make siblings feel like they are a part of the journey and that they are helping out.

But, NICUs can seem scary to children, and seeing a tiny baby hooked up to monitors and tubes can be terrifying. Here are ideas (some from the Preemies book) to help make the visit successful. In all cases, get the permission of the NICU staff first:

• Have your older children send in a toy or drawing ahead of the visit, and display it prominently near your preemie’s bed. When your children arrive, they will see their presence and will feel an immediate connection.

• Describe your baby’s condition to your children before the visit. Perhaps show them a doll that is about the size of your preemie, so they are not too surprised when they see their tiny sibling.

• If it is possible, allow your children to touch the baby. Touch helps to establish a bond. Of course, the NICU nurse will tell you if this will be allowed or not, depending on your baby’s current medical condition.

• Ask if your children can talk, read a book, or sing a song to the baby (softly). It will give them the feeling of doing something positive to help.

• Ask if your hospital has a NICU Family Support Program. The March of Dimes partners with many hospitals in the United States. Such programs comfort and support families, including siblings. Some hospitals also have a corner where siblings can play as they wait while their parents visit. They may even meet other siblings in this play space, and be able to share their feelings with other kids who understand what they are experiencing.

There is no doubt about it – having a baby in the NICU is a difficult journey for the whole family. Hopefully, short visits will help your other children to understand, feel included and “help out”, which will in turn, lessen the mystery of having a little brother or sister in the NICU.

Additional information and support for families with babies in the NICU can be found at Share Your Story, the March of Dimes online community for NICU families. Also, see this blog post for helpful info on a father’s role in the NICU.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. View the Table of Contents of all posts in the series. We welcome your comments and input.

If you have questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Updated June 2017.

New Year’s resolutions – good or bad for kids with special needs?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

celebrationI have never been one to commit to a New Year’s resolution, in part because I would feel badly if I did not follow through and achieve my goal. Most of the time, my resolution was such an unobtainable goal that I set myself up for failure. Sound familiar?

Kids with special needs all too often face immense challenges and have to try and try again to reach goals that their peers seem to attain with ease. As a parent, it becomes very important to carefully pick and choose goals and to try to make sure your child is not facing undue hardship or repeated failure. As with any struggle, a little bit of a challenge is good – it spurs you to move onward and provides a huge sense of relief and pride when you reach your goal. But, too much struggle can bring exhaustion of body, mind and spirit, which will not help your little one in the long run.

As a parent of a child with special needs, it is important to set goals and have aspirations for your child. But it is essential that the goals are reasonable. There is no sense in whittling away at your child’s confidence by setting a bar too high and then having to deal with the negative self-image your child experiences if the goal is not achieved.

As you settle into the mindset of New Year’s resolutions, think of goals that are measurable and achievable. Perhaps set three small goals instead of one big goal. Or, let your child decide what he would like to focus on (if he is old enough to decide). For example, it could be that riding a tricycle is something he really wants to be able to do and will work on that goal for a few minutes every day with your assistance and praise. Or, it could be that dressing himself is something you really want to see your child master, so you may focus on one aspect of that task at a time (such as putting on socks, or pants), and gradually adding on other aspects of dressing as each small part is mastered.

Whatever the goal, break it down into smaller chunks, so that each week you can celebrate progress. A sticker chart can work wonders to help your little one see how far he has come. Just be sure to be consistent and celebrate each step as he inches closer to his goal. You can never do too many happy dances!

So, go easy on yourself and your little one as you glide into 2015. I wish you and your family many happy moments, continued progress and much success.

 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – How to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view a Table of Contents of prior posts.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Resilience. When struggles can be a good thing.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

crystal ballWouldn’t you love to have a crystal ball that could show you what your child will be like when he is an adult? Would his disability define him? Would he overcome it to succeed and realize his dreams?

Last week I met several graduates of the school my daughter attended when she was a young girl. This school is specifically for children with diagnosed learning disabilities. Graduates returned to talk to parents of current students about life after school – their struggles and their triumphs. The audience was inspired by their resilience and impressed by what they overcame to be successful. Throughout the years, I have attended many programs like this one, and met countless other graduates. The positive messages that resonated from all of the graduates were that they learned valuable lessons from struggling with learning disabilities. Those lessons served them well, as they learned how to be resilient.

Resilience.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, resilience is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change; the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.” The ability to keep trying to succeed despite repeated failures exemplifies resilience. Getting back up after being knocked down – getting back on that horse – is resilience. The adults at this program told stories of struggles during childhood that brought tears to my eyes, but now their courage, confidence and sense of self was plainly evident. One panelist said he would not trade in his learning disability for anything. It taught him important lessons in his life; it made him stronger.

Resilience.

All the panelists mentioned that they initially did not know how to learn, study, or organize themselves due to their learning disabilities. They gradually acquired strategies and went on to be successful in high school, college and many even went to graduate schools. For example, there was a doctor, real estate developer and investment banker on the panel. They recounted their battles learning to read, write, count, add or divide. Yet when they went to high school and college, they had such good study habits and academic discipline that they did not struggle in ways that their peers did. One panelist recounted how her medical school classmate would “fall apart” when he got a “C” on an exam, while she knew enough to know that that one exam did not define her future; she would just pick up and keep on going.

Resilience.

This was the theme over and over again. Kids with learning disabilities work harder than those without disabilities to reach the same level of achievement. They learn early on that they may fail but if they keep on trying, they will also succeed. Often they need to be creative and use another road to get to their destination. They learn how to shift gears, ask for help, and advocate for themselves. This stick-to-it-ness helps them in all of their challenges or struggles later in life.

Resilience.

If your little one is struggling with disabilities now, know that there are many “success stories” out there. There are countless individuals who have learned to overcome their challenges and figure out a way to reach their potential. Your child may not go through the front door – but the side or back doors may still get him where he wants to be.

And, picking up a little resilience along the way will be the unexpected icing on the cake to help with the future hiccups of life.

 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also see a Table of Contents of prior posts, here.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

The special language of special needs

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

kayak without a paddleIf you have a child with special needs, you have no doubt heard tons of words, initials or acronyms that you did not understand. You may have had to stop and ask for clarification or a definition. Or, even worse, you did not ask and were lost as the conversation zoomed on and you kept trying to make sense of it all.

The world of special needs, including delays, disabilities, early intervention and special education, has its own language. The sooner you familiarize yourself with the many acronyms, the easier it will be to navigate your child’s world and be an effective advocate. Without this info, it is like being in a boat (or a kayak) without a paddle.

Just to drive my point home, here is an analogy. Would you ever take an upper level language class without first taking the introductory course? Would you take Algebra II without first taking basic math? Would you take your driver’s test without looking at the manual first? You’d be lost (or at least I would be), and nothing would make sense to you. This is why you need to get the basics down, especially before you go into meetings that pertain to your baby or child’s intervention services.

Help is here

Here is my blog post with tons of acronyms to use as a cheat sheet. It is appropriately called Learning the Lingo.

Next, you can find many more on the CPIR website, where the NICHCY materials have migrated. Their Alphabet Soup has an exhaustive list of words with their meanings.

Lastly, Words and terms – a whole new world breaks out the terms pertaining to early intervention and then for special education.

So check them out, click on the highlighted terms to learn more, and print out the acronym sheet for your reference. You’ll be glad to have this info in one tidy place. Then, when the conversations turn to IFSPs or LREs, you will know exactly what everyone is talking about. Soon, you’ll be paddling upstream with confidence!

 

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also see a Table of Contents of prior posts, here.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Table of Contents for the Delays and Disabilities series

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

If you are new to this series, or if you want to catch up on posts you may have missed, this is a good way to see all the posts. They are grouped by topic to help you navigate your way.

Table of Contents

Why this blog series?
A new blog series is here

How to get early intervention and special education services
Babies and toddlers:

Understanding Preemie cues

Understanding developmental milestones and delays

Vocabulary at age 2 may predict kindergarten success

Preemies- adjusted age and delays

Here’s a tool to monitor your child’s physical development

Early intervention for babies and toddlers

From NICU to EI services

What is an IFSP?

Guest post from the CDC on early intervention

Don’t delay with delays

How does your state define developmental delay?

Kids ages 3 and older:

Prematurity, disabilities and special education

Turning 3 – the leap from early intervention to special ed

Early intervention and special ed for children ages 3 and older

What is an IEP?

What are related services?

IEP or 504 – that is the question!

IEP reviews in April

IEPs on TV

April is IEP month

IEP season is here

What is Prior Written Notice or “PWN?”

IEPs and LREs – the nitty gritty

An easy way to find resources for kids with special needs

Summer programs for kids with special needs

Delays, disabilities and the law

Learning the lingo

Words and terms – a whole new world

Changing a program for a child with special needs

What is peer-reviewed research?

Keeping track of your child’s records

How to get your child’s records organized

The special language of special needs

Happy 25th Anniversary ADA

Good-bye NICHCY. Hello CPIR.

Pediatric medical specialties

Getting to know your NICU healthcare team

What are pediatric specialties?

Finding pediatric specialists

What is a developmental behavioral pediatrician?

What is a child psychologist?

How to find a specialist for a birth defect or rare disease

Therapies and Treatments

What is physical therapy or “PT”?

Physical therapy – can it help your preemie?

What is occupational therapy, or “OT”?

What is speech therapy?

Respiratory therapists help babies and families breathe easier

Pragmatics – helping your child learn the rules of social language

What are hippotherapy and therapeutic riding (THR)?

What are recreation services?

Kids with challenges zoom on souped up kiddie cars

Sensory issues

Light and sound in the NICU

Sensory difficulties in children

Everyday tips for dealing with sensory special kids

Help for sensory issues

Changing seasons can be tough for a child with sensory issues

Fireworks are not fun for kids with sensitive hearing

Fourth of July – fabulous or frightful for kids with special needs?

Sensory friendly malls

Halloween ideas for kids with food allergies or sensory challenges

Heavy backpacks hurt- Here’s how to lighten the load

Understanding the diagnosis – in preemies and babies with special needs

Preemies and asthma – how to help your child

RDS and BPD – breathing problems in preemies

Pneumonia and preemies

Brain bleeds in premature babies

An allergy or a cold – learn how to tell the difference

Preemies and hearing loss

Hearing loss in babies

Did you hear me? What is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?

Learning differences, disabilities and disorders – are they all the same?

What are learning disabilities (LDs)?

LDs – What they ARE and are NOT

What is dyslexia?

What is dyscalculia?

What is dysgraphia?

What is dyspraxia?

Prematurity, learning disabilities and ADHD

Understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities

Oh to be understood! Learn what your child with LD experiences

Parenting your child with a heart defect

Preemies as adults – are their health problems due to prematurity?

Helping babies with FASD

Talking to your child about his medical condition

How knowing your family health history may help your baby

Tracking birth defects helps states help you

Thalidomide and Dr. Frances Kelsey

Coping – day in and day out

Staying positive in the NICU

How to cope when your baby is in the NICU

Skin to skin contact helps your baby AND you

When can your baby go home from the hospital?

NICU parents can develop PTSD due to stress and trauma

Caring for yourself as you care for your preemie

Recognizing families who care for preemies 

The NICU dad – Superman has nothing on him!

Do you know your baby’s different cries?

Breastfeeding a baby with a cleft lip or palate

Parenting your child with a heart defect

Medication mistakes are common

It’s good – no, great – to read to your baby

Avoiding and handling tantrums

More resources for handling meltdowns

Positive reinforcement – the power of one M&M’s® candy

Positive reinforcement – fortune cookie advice

Caring for your sick baby (understanding signs of illness and learning when to call the doctor)

Flu can be serious for kids with special needs

Flu is dangerous for certain people

Shingles, kids and pregnant women – know the facts

Can sleep affect your child with special needs? Or you?

Research shows a consistent bedtime routine can help your child sleep

A social skills tip for kids with special needs

Apps for math LD and other disabilities

There’s an app for that (for kids with learning challenges)

Knowing your family health history  may help your baby

Getting through transitions, holidays, vacations and disasters

A transition tip

Bracing for the holidays

Spending holidays in the NICU

Holidays and your child with special needs – tips for the NICU, visiting Santa, dinners and traveling

Taking Thanksgiving in stride

Holidays 🙂 or 🙁

Visiting Santa is do-able for kids with special needs

Toys glorious toys! (for kids with special needs)

New Year’s Resolutions – good or bad for kids with special needs?

Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! (an inspirational holiday poem)

Adjusting to life after the holidays

Getting back in the swing (after a holiday)

Camps and vacations

How to find camps for children with special needs

Tips for family travel when your child has special needs

Vacationing with your child with special needs

Accommodations help vacationers with special needs

Re-entry: life after vacation

Back to school

Kids with special needs head back to school

Summer to September

From summer to school – the big transition

Back to school is hard on kids and PARENTS!

Shopping for toys for kids with special needs

Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs

Surviving and thriving – Your child with special needs, your other children, and YOU

Stop. Rest. Relax…Repeat.

Getting guilt-free time off – what worked for one mom

Special moms need special care

Caring for the caretaker – put on your oxygen mask

Caring for yourself as you care for your preemie

Caring for the siblings of a child with special needs

Having a baby in the NICU can be stressful for siblings

Sibling visits to the NICU can be helpful

Do siblings of children with disabilities need help?

Fathers help mold their children’s future

Avoid a tragedy – learn safe sleep strategies

Laughter helps your body, mind and mood

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Resilience. When struggles can be a good thing.

Have you found your child’s passion?

Brace yourself: the ShareUnion message

Living with loss

What’s Happening

World Birth Defects Day gets the word out

First ever World Birth Defects Day

You can also see all of the blog posts by clicking on Help for Your Child under “Categories” on the menu. Scroll down to read the blog posts in reverse chronological order. If you have comments or questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We welcome your input!

 

One year anniversary of this series!

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

one-year-oldIt is hard to believe that a year has gone by since the Delays and Disabilities – How to get help for your child blog series began. Due to the response of readers on News Moms Need as well as Facebook and Share Your Story, this series has evolved into a weekly column where parents of children with special needs can find critical info and tips. Topics have ranged from how to get early intervention or special education services, to discussions of pediatric medical specialties, to how you and your child can survive and thrive in a variety of settings.

If you are new to the series, or just wish to read posts that you may have missed, here is a table of contents that recaps the past year’s blog posts.

Table of Contents

Why this series?

A new blog series is here

How to get Early Intervention and Special Education services

Understanding developmental milestones and delays
How does your state define “developmental delay?”
Getting early intervention services for babies and toddlers
What is an IFSP?
Turning 3 – the leap from early intervention to special ed
Getting services for children ages 3+ (special education)
What is an IEP?
IEPs and LREs- the nitty gritty
IEP or 504 – that is the question
April is IEP month – how to develop a good IEP
Who qualifies for summer programs or extended school year services (ESY)?

Delays, disabilities and the law – what you need to know

Delays, disabilities and the law
Learning the lingo (common terms and phrases)
Words and terms – a whole new world – list of acronyms
Changing a program for a child with special needs
Keeping track of your child’s records
What is “peer-reviewed” research and is it important to your child?
What is Prior Written Notice or “PWN”? How can it help your child?

Surviving and thriving – Your child with special needs, your other children, and you

Flu can be serious for children with special needs
An easy way to find resources for kids with special needs
Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs
Caring for the caretaker – put on your oxygen mask
Do siblings of children with disabilities need help?
Caring for the siblings of a child with special needs
Vacationing with your child with special needs
Re-entry: life after vacation
A transition tip (help for kids who have trouble with change)
Summer to September – tips to survive the transition
Bracing for the holidays – survival and enjoyment tips
Shopping for toys for kids with special needs
Sensory friendly malls
Let it go! Let it go! Let it go!
Adjusting to life after the holidays
Can sleep affect your child with special needs…or you?

Pediatric medical specialties

What are pediatric specialties?
Finding pediatric specialists
What is a developmental behavioral pediatrician?
What is a pediatric neurologist?
What is a child psychologist?

Different kinds of therapies

What are related services? (includes different therapies)
What is speech therapy?
What is physical therapy or PT?
What is occupational therapy or OT?
What are recreation services?
What are hippotherapy and therapeutic riding (THR)?

Understanding the diagnosis

Did you hear me? The child with an auditory processing disorder

What’s happening in the rest of the world?

International focus on kids with disabilities

What’s on your mind?

Please feel free to drop us a line (AskUs@marchofdimes.org) and tell us what you would like to see in this series. I would like to write about topics that are of concern or interest to you.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” under Categories on the right side, to view all of the blog posts to date. Just keep scrolling down to see the entire archived list.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

celebration1May 2014 be a year of good health and happiness to everyone.

We look forward to continuing the series on Delays and Disabilities – How to get help for your child, next week.

Delays and disabilities series – a recap

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

babiesHere is a list of all blog posts to date with links, grouped by topic. You can go back and see what pertains to you and get caught up. This post should help you to make sense of this series which started in January 2013 and appears on News Moms Need every Wednesday.

Intro – Why this series? How it will help you

A new blog series is here 

First things first – Is your child’s development on track?

Developmental milestones and delays 

Getting help for free  – the evaluation

Early intervention for babies and toddlers 

Early intervention for children ages 3 and older 

Figuring out the language of special needs

Learning the lingo

Words and terms – a whole new world 

Delays, disabilities and the law 

Navigating the early intervention and special education systems

What is an IFSP? (for kids from birth to age 3)

What is an IEP? (for kids ages 3 and up)

IEP or 504 – that is the question 

April is IEP month 

IEPs and LREs – the nitty gritty 

What is Prior Written Notice or “PWN”?

Keeping track of your child’s records –useful tips

An easy way to find resources for kids with special needs

Different diagnoses (there will be more diagnoses added to this part of the blog in the coming weeks)

Did you hear me?  The child with auditory processing problems

Different kinds of therapies

What are Related Services? 

What is Speech Therapy?

What is Physical Therapy or PT?

What is Occupational Therapy or OT? 

What are Recreation Services?

What are Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding (THR)?

Summers, vacations and transitions

Vacationing with a child with special needs 

Re-entry: life after vacation 

A transition tip – how to help your child go from activity to activity, or place to place

Parenting suggestions and caring for YOU

Caring for the caretaker – put on your oxygen mask  

Emergencies – Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs 

Delays and disabilities worldwide

International focus on children with disabilities 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What are Recreation Services?

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

kids-playing-with-a-ballRecreation Services (also known as Therapeutic Recreation, Rec Therapy or “RT”) involves the use of activities to help treat a variety of challenges (physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and leisure). For children with delays or disabilities, recreation therapy focuses on the non-academic, recreational activities in your child’s life.  The end goal is for your child to become more comfortable when participating in recreational activities with his friends or classmates. The added bonus is usually a boost in self confidence, which we all know can have an enormous impact on your child’s life.

What are examples of recreation services activities?

Rec therapy can focus on his hobbies, sports or games. They can take place in school or at a community center, indoors or outdoors, or at another place appropriate for your child’s needs. Some school systems even have arrangements for children to receive therapy at local park programs.

What else can RT include?

Your child may need to learn how to “warm up” before playing a game, or conversely he may need to learn how to channel his energy as he plays. He may need help in navigating his body in space as he plays a sport, or need assistance in learning how to wind down and relax.  Maybe a sudden injury makes it necessary for him to learn how to adapt to his disabling condition. Special adaptive recreation equipment may be necessary to help your child participate in a particular leisure activity.

The therapist may incorporate all sorts of games, sports, dance, creative movement, music, and artistic endeavors such as crafts and acting into your child’s program.  Since RT is so pleasurable for your child, he may have an easier time participating and making progress. I know this was the case for my daughter. At first, I could not for the life of me understand how it was therapy – she was having such a good time!  She got to pick two classroom “buddies” to go with her, and they played all sorts of games in the gym and on the playground. This encouraged her to use her language with her friends and become more comfortable with the rules of games involving balls, running, etc. Over time, I saw definite improvements and watched her gain confidence and improve her skills.

There are lots of facets to RT. For more information on how RT might be helpful for your child, see this excellent summary.

What should you do if you think your child could benefit from recreation services?

RT is one of the services a child may receive as part of related services. Like all related services, RT services needs to be based on your child’s individual needs as identified by his evaluation results. If your child is already receiving special education services, mention RT at your next IEP team meeting, or request an IEP meeting. Discuss your concerns with the team, and see if an assessment would be helpful. (Remember, parents are members of the team, and your child can be too, once he is old enough to participate.)

After an RT evaluation and discussion of your child’s individual needs, if the IEP team decides that RT should be included in your child’s program, specific goals are then added to your child’s IEP.  The therapist will begin working with your child either individually or in small groups. Remember, as part of related services, parents and educators may be given training on the effects of recreation therapy on your child’s education. This is so important! It ensures that skills are not taught in a vacuum, but are able to be “transferred” from one place to another (the playing field, school, home, etc.).

If your child does not currently have an IEP and you feel he could benefit from RT, see my prior posts on how to have your child evaluated for free if he is under 3 years of age or age 3 or older.

Who provides RT?

As in many other therapeutic fields, recreation therapists are college graduates who receive a credential after taking certain courses and passing tests.  The organization that certifies recreation therapists is NCTRC, the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation.

Bottom Line

Your child’s non-academic or leisure activities are a very important part of his life. But often a child with delays or disabilities struggles with these activities. Isn’t it great to know that RT exists and is a part of the related services that can be provided to children who qualify?  Every little bit of help…helps.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It appears every Wednesday, and was started on January 16, 2013. Feel free to go back to look at prior posts as the series builds on itself. As always, we welcome your comments and input.