Tomorrow Is Too Long to Wait for Inclusion

Holiday Travel Checklist for Parents of Children with Special Needs


By Sara Bell

The holiday season is the busiest time of year on the roads and in the skies, with travelers trekking long distances to spend quality time with family and friends. There are many things that can go wrong for the ordinary traveler, ranging from delayed flights to lost luggage, annoying fellow passengers, and more.

It’s no surprise, then, that traveling with a child with special needs can place even the calmest, coolest, most collected parent on edge. This checklist will help you be prepared for any holiday travel frustration that might come your way.

Preparation Makes All the Difference

Many children with special needs have trouble with changes in routine, crowds, loud noises, confined spaces, and similar environmental conditions – all of which are common when traveling. Some parents of children with special needs suggest showing your child videos of travelers going through airport security, creating a book that discusses the sights, sounds, and experience of traveling, or even conducting a complete run-through in the airport or bus terminal. Knowing what to expect can help your child feel calmer and less anxious when travel day arrives.

Make It an Adventure.

Certainly, the hustle and bustle of a long travel day can be overwhelming for children with special needs. But presenting it as a day of adventure can make it more fun for them. For example, a good friend of mine has a son who is on the autism spectrum and she was recently telling me that she got aLuke Skywalker costumefor him to travel in over Thanksgiving. At the airport and on the plane, he pretended they were on a mission to save Princess Leia. His mom told me that being Luke Skywalker gave him a confidence boost which helped him manage his anxiety during the parts of the trip that were hardest for him—for example, waiting in the noisy airport terminal.

Consider Dietary Restrictions

Does your child have dietary restrictions that make it difficult to find suitable options at restaurants?

Packing safe snacks is critical, but this can pose challenges when traveling by air. Call ahead and discuss your child’s specific dietary requirements with the airline ahead of time. If possible, make arrangements to take your own or have meals specially prepared. Pack snacks in see-through bags or containers to make it easier to get through security.

Pack All the Essentials in Your Carry-On Bags

Because you never know what delays or circumstances you might encounter, packing a carry-on bagis essential for a seamless trip. Your carry-on bag should contain a change of clothes, any medications your child may need (enough for several days), documentation from your child’s physician, copies of prescriptions, and any personal items that help your child cope if they have sensory issues.

And of course, a laptop or tablet are always great to have on hand. For example, my friend’s son isa math and science whiz. She told me she gave him her laptop on their Thanksgiving return trip and told him she’d love to have his help planning out their holiday decorations. She asked him to figure up how many lights they’d need for their tree, how many grandma would need for her tree, and so on and shared an online calculator with him so that he could check his work. It proved to be a great way to keep him occupied.

Plan Breaks to Allow Your Child to Recharge or Burn Energy

Long days spent surrounded by unfamiliar people or strapped in an unfamiliar seat for extended periods of time can be overwhelming for any child. Plan adequate breaks to allow your child to burn off energy or simply to get a reprieve from the chaotic travel schedule whenever possible. Once you’ve checked in at the airport and gone through security, for instance, allow your child to play to expend any excess energy before he’ll have to spend several hours seated in a confined space. Be sure to take along travel-friendly activities that can help occupy your child’s hands and mind during long road trips or flights.

The fact is that traveling during the holiday season is stressful for almost everyone. But it doesn’t have to be more stressful for your family because you’re traveling with a child who has special needs. Planning ahead and preparing your child for what to expect can help ease anxieties and make no obstacle insurmountable this holiday season.

Photo Credit: David D/Flickr

Sara Bell grew up in a family of teachers—her dad has taught high school for 30 years and her mom is a university professor. At EducatorLabs, she puts the lessons they instilled in her about the importance of curiosity and learning to great use. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading, writing, and knitting.

4 Ways Parents of Children with Special Needs Can Prepare for a Natural Disaster

4 Ways Parents of Children with Special Needs Can Prepare for a Natural Disaster

By Sara Bell

From 1994 to 2013, natural disasters killed 1.35 million people. While not all natural disasters can be predicted, the best way to protect yourself and your family is to prepare for the worst ahead of time. For parents of children with special needs, this is especially true. Knowing how to take swift action is the best way to ensure their safety in any natural disaster.

Here are a few ways parents of children with special needs can prepare.

Prepare an emergency kit. Pack an emergency kit, which includes clothes, bottled water, etc., for each member of the family. As notes for a child with special needs, you’ll want to be sure to pack medicines and other needed medical supplies, wheelchair batteries, food for service animals, and any other regularly used items that won’t be readily available in the aftermath of the disaster.

Practice your getaway plan. Some natural disasters may require that you and your family leave your home and take shelter elsewhere. As this guide on wildfire safety notes, it’s best that people with disabilities practice their evacuation plans ahead of time to ensure they can get to safety as quickly as possible. If your child has mobility issues, you may even want to designate an alternate route for getting out of the home, in case your planned path is blocked.

Pinpoint the safest areas of your home. Depending on the natural disaster, different areas of your home will be the best places for you and your family to ride out the event. Make sure you find places in your home that can accommodate your child with special needs. In its guide on disaster preparedness, the Red Cross offers advice on what people with disabilities can do to protect themselves in different kinds of natural disasters. For example, in an earthquake, you’ll want to be sure your child can get under a sturdy piece of furniture. If that isn’t possible and your child is in a wheelchair, lock their wheels and cover their head with a hard object. In a tornado, the Red Cross recommends getting yourself and your child to the “lowest floor or below-ground area of your home.”

Fill out an emergency form. Of course, some natural disasters strike with little warning. It’s possible that when trouble arrives your child will be at school or you’ll be at work and someone else will be in charge of getting your child to safety. These tips on preparing for an emergency recommend filling out an emergency information form on your child. Keep this form with your child’s belongings at all times so that their caregivers or emergency responders will know what medications they need, who their doctors are, and how to reach you as quickly as possible.

Natural disasters are scary for everyone who experiences them. But when you’re a prepared parent, you can help ensure your family is safe from harm.

Sara Bell grew up in a family of teachers—her dad has taught high school for 30 years and her mom is a university professor. At EducatorLabs, she puts the lessons they instilled in her about the importance of curiosity and learning to great use. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading, writing, and knitting.

15 Things I’ve Learned in 15 Years as a Special Education Teacher

15 Things I’ve Learned in 15 Years as a Special Education Teacher

As a special education teacher, you’ve chosen a two-for-one career. Like every educator, you have state and federal requirements to meet and document, but in your other role as the Individualized Education Program (IEP) manager, you guide one-of-a-kind students toward their individual goals. There is no doubt you’re in for a challenge in this dual role, and it will keep you on your feet.  I’ve learned to save time and energy where I don’t need to spend it so I can use it where it really counts.

In my fifteen years as a special educator, I’ve learned an infinite number of lessons. I know you don’t have fifteen years to read an article, though!  So, here are the 15 most important tools and tips that will help you make it through the day, the school year, and even your next IEP meeting.

  1. Find the right tools – Given your many responsibilities, your survival depends on organization and efficiency. The right tools can shave hours from your workday. My favorites improve both communication and follow-through. They include Google Calendar, Gmail with Boomerang, 3×3 stickies, manila folders, and a small file cabinet.
  1. Use a note-taking template – Documentation is critical, but you can easy to overlook it. Pre-filled templates save time when you’re collecting data. Start with your students’ names, add their benchmarks/goals, leave space for the date, and include a “What Happened” column. Coding your entries will speed your data-mining later. Example: A for academic, B for behavior, C for conversation.
  1. Learn the lingo – Special education abounds with acronyms. But more important is the way you think and talk about your students and families and how they think and talk about themselves. Whether you use person-first language, identity-first language, or something else, be aware of your language. Learn the lingo your students and their families use, and be thoughtful of your own terminology.
  1. Adopt asset-based thinking (ABT) – Some people call this looking on the bright side, but this takes another step into acting on it. Leadership expert Dan Rockwell says that “ABT is more than pie-in-the-sky pretending. It’s a decision to identify and maximize what’s good, right, powerful, and effective.” This frees up more of your think-time for creative problem solving. And I promise, you’ll sleep better at night, too!
  1. Celebrate the small wins – Let’s face it—typical instruction and typical results don’t always fit your students. You have to look for incremental changes and see how they can add up to truly monumental growth. Remember Lao Tzu’s saying: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” There are few places you’ll experience this truth more than your special education classroom.
  1. All behavior tells a story – Ask yourself what a student is communicating though a behavior. Immediately, you’ll see a change in how you listen to students, and better listening translates to better teaching. Instead of trying to change or eliminate a behavior, stop and listen to the story being told through it or the message hiding in it. You may be surprised by what you find.
  1. Feed the wolf you want to grow – You make more decisions each day than most people on the planet. This includes opportunities to decide which behavior to ignore and which warrants attention. Feed the one you want to grow. If a behavior isn’t causing harm to self or others, try ignoring it. Yes, it’s awkward at first, but doing so will save you valuable relationship capital in the long run.
  1. You haven’t known me long enough to be this mad at me – When you receive anger and criticism, you might want to quit. Don’t. Instead, ask yourself if you know this person well enough for them to be so angered by your opinion. The answer is likely no, you haven’t, which means there’s more to their problem than whatever you did or didn’t do. When you realize it’s not your fault, it will be easier shed the negativity and keep going.
  1. Assume good intentions – All the best strategies in the world don’t work if you get too caught up in special education politics. Assuming good intentions helps you “focus on the issue… [and] take [a]different perspective when it comes to conflict.” Practice looking at things from someone else’s perspective. You’ll see that it helps the dynamic and flow of your next interaction with that person.
  1. Parents are people too – Special education is uniquely litigious. Even with your best intentions, relationships can still break down. To survive these heart-breaking moments, remind yourself that parents are people, too. Look for areas of commonality when you seem to clash with a parent. Here’s one: They love their children and want the best for them, just like you do.
  1. Conflict resolution (CR) is a necessary skill… learn it! – You already know about assuming good intentions, depersonalizing, and finding common ground, but don’t stop there! The field of conflict resolution offers you a treasure trove of resources to help navigate your job in special education. Here’s a list of CR blogs to get you started.
  1. Practice self-care – No matter how much you love caring for others, don’t leave yourself out. Given your important role, you cannot afford to do your job if you aren’t able to do it well. Part of taking care of your students means paying attention to yourself, too.
  1. You’re a teacher, not a savior – Remember the proverb about giving a man a fish? It’s directed at you. If they’re to develop their own abilities, the children in your class need an excellent instructor, not a knight in shining armor. Concentrate your efforts on teaching, and you’ll honor your students and their families. After all, learning is the reason they come to you each day.
  1. Build trust One key to career success is building trust with those you serve. In special education, this is easier said than done. However, there are many tools at your disposal. Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain is one of them. It’s a great place to start to learn about trusting relationships, why they matter, and how you can create them with dependent learners.
  1. Nurture your team, carefully – Your job is largely about collaboration. Be it the core IEP team or a cadre of support professionals, these are your Make sure the relationships work for you. As you do with students, nurture the positive interactions between team members and try to ignore the rest. This will help you to build the team and make for a more successful year.

For more from Dawn Addis find her blogging and tweeting to inspire at and @daddiseducator.

Do you have any tips to add? Tell us about them in the comments section below!

Photo Credit: Ana_Cotta/Flickr

Dawn Addis_Head ShotDawn Addis is a passionate, fifteen-year educator, with a masters in Special Education. She has taught elementary, middle, and high school. Currently, Dawn is a district-level Teacher on Special Assignment for English Learner and Intervention programs. Dawn’s mission is to share the delight of lifelong learning with students of all ages. Finding her posting and pinning to inspire at and on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Watch How This Art Show Gave A Different Perspective On Abilities

Special Needs or Special Talents?

Watch how this art show changed the perspectives of its attendees about the differences between special needs and special talents.

From You Tube:

Emirates NBD invited people in the UAE to a special art exhibition called ‘Perspectives’ showcasing exclusively curated work created by upcoming artists. We conducted a live auction in conjunction with Auction House, where patrons could own those works of art. We then gave them the opportunity to meet the talented artists. And the surprise they experienced was something they were not expecting.

100% of the proceeds went to Manzil – an NGO for special needs children in the UAE. To know more about Manzil, please call +971 6 534 7663.

Special Needs or Special Talents?

An Overlooked Resource – People with Disabilities

An abstract close-up photograph of a brightly coloured fabric with swirls.

Sometimes in the search for resources to help best educate students with disabilities one resource goes overlooked, other people with disabilities! Doctors give their opinions. Therapists whether physical, occupational, speech, or another kind recommend resources. Parents un-doubly perform their own research and bring up their results with the aforementioned professionals.

All that proves great but I feel to exert an even more comprehensive effort try reaching out to other people with disabilities. Living with a disability inherently gives a perspective no degree or training program can teach. A perspective rooted in real life experiences, valuable experiences to learn from. What worked in the person’s educational career? What didn’t and how do we learn from those mistakes to avoid making them again with the current generation?

When I started writing my memoir Off Balanced I aimed to empower current students with cerebral palsy (CP). Growing up I saw my cerebral palsy negatively, feeling embarrassed about standing out and frustrated by my inability to blend in. During my college years my viewpoint rotated 180 degrees. I came to embrace my disability and see the positives. Off Balanced hoped to let current teenagers quicken their journey to embrace their disabilities.

Now during the writing process feedback on my manuscript led me to realize anyone in the current teen’s life albeit a teacher, parent, or peer could also find the read useful. In fact I recently enjoyed an engaging email conversation with a father of a 14-year old with cerebral palsy. Off Balanced left the father shedding tears because he saw many similarities between my story and his son’s.

Throughout our email conversation I offered my best advice. Unfortunately, logic only extends so far. As I stated in one email message, “That’s part of the problem with teenagers. You can have the best advice but sometimes they only accept it once they learn by experience.”

This provides an example demonstrating the limits one person’s story’s resourcefulness provides. Thankfully though, I am armed with a varied network. I encouraged the father to join the weekly cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow I co-host every Wednesday at 8pm ET with Reaching for the Stars Foundation’s Student Ambassador Blake Henry.

Our #CPChatNow community contains a diverse group including current high school students with cerebral palsy, current college students with CP, and young professionals with cerebral palsy. With Wednesday, March 25th National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day we decided we wanted to do something special for the chat that day. We want you the educator, special needs parent, or caregiver to join us and ask us any questions. Allow us to become your resource.

While our collective expertise lay with cerebral palsy, we will do our best to answer all questions. To join in follow these steps:

1. Sign into Twitter a few minutes before 8pm ET on Wednesday, March 25th.

2. Search Twitter for “#CPChatNow.” Make sure you switch the search results from “Top” to “All.”

3. Ask away! Make sure to include “#CPChatNow” in your tweet too.

For anyone without Twitter interested in participating, leave your questions on the CPChatNow Facebook Fan Page. I do a weekly recap for each chat on my own blog and will include all answers to Facebook questions in the recap so you can read the answers. I look forward to your questions!

Photo Credit: Philippa Willitts/Flickr

Cerebral Palsy Day Twitter Chat

Allow us to become your resource.

4 Strategies for Parenting Children with Special Needs in a Digital World

parenting special needs

It seems that everywhere we turn, there is another article written about children and their use of social media. Conversations swirl about what we, as parents, should or shouldn’t let our children do and see. It’s challenging, to be sure, and we worry about our kids. We worry about what seems to be their inability to sustain real conversations. We worry about their use of correct grammar, spelling and punctuation in a world that increasingly recognizes texts and tweets as valid forms of communication. And we worry that this digital world is not preparing our children to have significant and lasting social relationships.

To complicate matters further, most parents are “digital immigrants” (people who were born before the existence and/or widespread adoption of digital technologies) raising “digital natives” (people who have known such technologies since birth). Many of us are doing our best to immerse ourselves in the online world so that we can guide our children through its complexities; but we are learning as we go, and the world continues to change rapidly.

So what happens when you add a child’s learning issues or disabilities into this mix?

 A fifteen-year-old young man with Aspergers syndrome shared with me that Facebook helped him to improve his social skills. This platform eliminated the challenges that he faces in trying to read facial expressions or body language and it gives him the time needed to think through an appropriate response. (Interesting, this is the exact reason why he does NOT like the fast pace of Twitter.) Facebook allows him to engage at his own pace, reducing his anxiety and enabling him to enjoy the benefits of social relationships, a challenging arena for many children and teens with autism spectrum disorders.  

It’s fascinating to consider that the very tools which we worry will interfere with our children’s ability to develop interpersonal relationships may, in fact, help those who otherwise struggle in conventional social settings. There are many other advantages, too. However, we must be prepared to guide our children’s use of social media thoughtfully and intentionally.

1. Diligently monitor content

All children need supervision; no matter their age, no matter their need. I learned some great advice from a veteran teacher: “This is middle school. You may think your children are ready to be independent, but they need you now more than ever. Resist the urge to let them go.” This applies all the more to social media. Know where your kids are, who they are interacting with and do not be afraid to connect with them in these same spaces. You are still the parent. You are not spying.  It is your responsibility to watch your children.

2.  Make your children aware of dangers

Talk to your children about online predators. Talk to them about online bullying.  Open the lines of communication. Encourage them to talk to you about anything suspicious they encounter and do not be afraid to cut them off if you notice something inappropriate. You are still the parent. It is your responsibility to watch your children.

3.  Set limits

Even if these tools help your child to socialize and/or build relationships, it is not healthy to spend hours upon hours a day staring at a screen.  Just as you might limit the amount of television your child watches or the amount of video games he or she plays, you should also establish limits on the use of social media. It’s ok, you are still the parent.

4. Trust your gut

You know your child best. If something feels off, it probably is.  Trust your instincts and don’t second-guess yourself. You have to decide if an online presence is safe and beneficial for your child. And you have to decide when it ceases to be. You are your child’s greatest advocate and it is your responsibility to guide, support and teach your child to advocate for him or herself.  If social media can help, use it.  If not, avoid it. You are still the parent.

Photo Credit: Paul Walsh

Do you have any suggestions to this list? Tell us about them in the comments section below!

Dancing Backwards And In Heels: Parenting A Special Needs Child

dancingBy Debbie

It is hard being a parent of a special needs child. Read Debbie’s account of feeling under the microscope and at the same time being on a pedestal. A version of this article was originally published at Fumbling About In The Dark.

“And then there’s Adult Protective Services,” the school nurse said. “Crazy, huh?”

Crazy, huh. I restrained myself from asking her, “Do you realize what you are saying?” I don’t think that, unlike previous remarks, this was calculated. I think she was acknowledging that she was just one overzealous mandated reporter in a system that rewards such behavior at the expense of parents like me. She also mentioned that other school nurses would be worse than her. If they are, then those of us with special needs kids are in deep trouble.

Parenting is never easy. There’s always things that come up that one would never expect in a million years. You love your children, but sometimes you want to disavow any knowledge of them. “That kid? Never saw her before.”

Parenting a special needs kid, however, is, to borrow a pro feminist slogan, “dancing backwards and in heels.”. A parent with a special needs kid is being scrutinized in a way that a parent of a “normal” child can neither begin to imagine nor be willing to put up with.

From the moment Kid O entered the world, I’ve been subjected to the worst kind of scrutiny. Because she was a preemie who weighed only 3 lbs, 10 oz, her birth was reported to the Department of Public Health. I was terrified when a nurse showed up. She was nice about it, but I understood the implication. Underweight premature babies were assumed to be given birth to by mothers who were poor, ignorant, and who hadn’t sought out prenatal care, and, in a word: neglectful.

One day, as I was getting ready to take Kid O on the train to see my folks, two public health nurses, a man and a woman, practically barged through my door. The man would not take “no” for an answer. I uttered utter a mild protest, stating that the regular public health nurse had told me that she would be the only one coming around. He told me that that nurse was on vacation. Even though I knew I had rights, I was afraid to say “no.” Much to my shame and horror, he insisted I hand over Kid O for a surprise inspection. I watched, speechless, as he took her over to her bassinet and undid her diaper. It was only after that that I had the wherewithal to call the Department of Public Health and canceled subsequent visits.

My neighbor, who had had a near perfect homebirth and a nice, large, full term baby, brought by literature on pre-eclampsia because she felt I needed to take responsibility for Kid O’s prematurity. She was smug in her knowledge that her expensive birthing class had produced nothing but perfect births and perfect babies. She was certain she was a far superior mother, so imagine her surprise when she couldn’t console Kid O one morning Months later she apologized to me because one couple in her birthing class had a child with CP, and were being forced out of their condo on account of the baby’s screaming.

Now, granted, it’s damned uncomfortable listening to someone whose only means of communicating distress is to go all primal. Imagine how it impacts the parents of such a being. There are times when I still get so rattled that I feel like a shooting gallery duck.

Babies can be fussy. They are wet. They cry. They are tired. They cry. They are hungry. They cry. Ordinarily if you put a baby in their carseat, they will fall asleep. Same thing if you put them in their stroller.

Kid O had such a disorganized nervous system that these tried and true methods did just the opposite. Put her in her carseat and she would cry hysterically to the point of throwing up all over herself. That didn’t stop until she was around four.

People assume that if someone requires help with toileting or feeding or dressing that they are physically weak. Kid O is not without her ways of resisting something she does not want. Just because she doesn’t have a lot of muscle mass, doesn’t mean that being kicked by her wouldn’t hurt. The girl packs a mean mule kick.

Some mornings it takes two of us to get her into her wheelchair. One to bend her legs and keep her from extending her hips, and the other to strap her in. There have been times when I have had to deal with Kid O turning herself into a human board. Eventually I would prevail, but not without an average of twenty minutes of cajoling and heavy lifting, which would leave me gasping for air.
To a casual observer, it probably looks like Kid O is screaming because her mother is abusing her. .Instead, I am being abused by people who, over the years, have jumped to painfully wrong conclusions including an allegation of sexual abuse

I don’t begrudge women their perfect children. I just always wanted the same thing. And, barring that, at least not to be thought of as if I were some criminal. Unfortunately, my circumstances are not that unusual. I have read of instances of special needs children removed from their parents simply because these people are flawed human beings. For some reason people think they can raise Kid O better than my husband and I can. I had one woman start a whisper campaign against us. Why? Because on the morning she came over, we were feeding our daughters *gasp* toast and jelly and not a full breakfast. And so it goes.

People have no idea how difficult it can be to guide a special needs child to adulthood. They have no idea how incredibly stressful it can be. They contact DCFS without considering how unnecessary and how hurtful it can be.

The last time DCFS was called out, we hired an attorney to join us at a meeting at Kid O’s school. My husband made a point of mentioning my high blood pressure. The teaching staff received his meta message loud and clear, “If anything happens to my wife…” I was grateful for his protectiveness. I could see Kid O’s teaching team shift from being on the offense to realizing what harm they could cause. Do people not consider how devastated Kid O would be if she were removed from the two people who love her and understand her better than anyone in the world?

When I am not being considered a criminal, I am being placed on a pedestal. When I fall from that pedestal, people become incredibly disillusioned with me. Neither place is comfortable. I have never asked for people to worship me. Respect and compassion would go a long way to acknowledging me and other parents of special needs children. We are neither sinners nor saints. We are just people who happen to face enormous challenges every day. And, hopefully, with a tremendous amount of grace.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth

You can follow Debbie on Twitter @MissShuganah.

Is Greece An Inclusive Country?

Flag of Greece

By Christos Zervas

Life can be challenging sometimes. Raising a child with special needs can be a bet against the odds. The question of raising a child with special needs in a county other than the United States brings up concerns about that society’s tolerance and state’s protection. What about Greece?

It seems that Greece has a solid legislation in its arsenal. From 1973, when the first 43 special secondary schools were established, until the latest “Special education and training people with disabilities or special educational needs” law of 2008, brave steps towards inclusion have been taken. The compulsory nature of “Special education and Training” (EAE) as an integral part of obligatory and free education, was fully adopted. Furthermore, the state has committed itself that all citizens with any kind of disability will have equal opportunities for full-time complicity in the society. Moreover, it promises a chance for independent living, financial and economic self-sufficiency and staking their claims for inclusive education.

In general, Greece’s policy (and legislation) follows the straw of the European continent. It is true that Greece has ratified the international declarations of UNICEF, UNESCO and WHO. Nevertheless, essays from UNICEF and UNESCO are showing crystal clear the major problems at implementation. UNICEF points out a variety of weaknesses about the present policy around the country. To begin with, it discusses the low level of projected funds. It states that the child protection allowance is up to only 88 Euros ($120 USD) every two months for each child. In addition, the annual lump sum for the family is not in any case over 600 Euros ($820 USD) and never confirmed for its proper use, due to inadequately staffed social services. Another example is that families face specific problems in fostering and protection of their children. If the parents are mentally ill, the mentioned policies are omitted.

On the other hand, Greek society is considered quite stiff towards families of children with special needs, even nowadays. Greeks do not feel comfortable yet with anything that seems unknown. There have been some efforts from the government and media in the opposite direction, but still most people are reluctant. Children with sensory disabilities are a good example.

Deaf pupils in Greece are trying to be identified and associated with only each other. They know that without the Greek Sign Language they cannot communicate. In reality, few people are trained to use this language. Therefore, these children make their own separate and small community. They have their own culture. Even some parents need an interpreter to understand their children. How disheartening is that?

As far as learning disabilities, a story from a small county city of Greece shows exactly what was described above: A family had a son who had a severe type of dyslexia. It affected him as if he had an intellectual disability. Anyone could see and understand he had many challenges. The parents knew it as well, but the advice received from the local society forced the father to send his son to a typical kindergarten which was not equipped to handle his learning differences. Some of the family’s relatives tried to explain to the father what a better alternative for his son would be, but he ignored them. Only when the teachers insisted too much, the student went to a “special needs” kindergarten. The teachers were well aware that the student was bullied by his peers. The little boy was totally brushed aside. He was not given the opportunity to participate in any activity.

Theoretically, Greece should be able to provide a lot for children with special needs. Nevertheless, the reality is different. The economic crisis in Greece has had a major impact on the sector. The biggest psychological public hospital of Athens, named “Aiginiteio”, remained without psychologists. All of them were fired because of the low budget momentum, which is offered to hospitals. Now, it functions only with volunteer work. Greece can achieve great things. If only the legislation could be implemented…

Christos Zeras

Chris Zervas

“It seems that education was chosen for me. After an accident during my studies in the Sport Science & Physical Education Department of Athens, I had to abandon both my professional career as a volleyball player and the faculty. Nevertheless, my orientation did not really change. Obtaining a degree specialized in educational psychology, currently I am a master programme student in University of Oslo. My field is special needs education, whilst my master thesis topic concerns art therapy. Throughout these years, being an editor was my most refreshing hobby! I am keen on expressing my opinion and getting feedback upon my articles. Therefore, my personal mail is always available:

The 5 W’s of Special Ed: Why Special Education Treatment Is A Right

The 5W's Of Special Education

The 5 ‘W’s of special ed

Or, why special needs treatment is a right.



Of households with children
23% Have a special needs child
77% do not.[1]

Make that a lot of people…

That’s 11.2 million children with the following disabilities:[1]

In the Following Categories:

1.) Physical– Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Asthma, Epilepsy, etc.
2.) Developmental–Down syndrome, Autism, Dyslexia, Processing Disorders.
3.) Behavioral/Emotional–ADD, Bipolarism, Oppositional Defiance Disorder
4.) Sensory impaired–Blind, Visually Impaired, Deaf, Limited Hearing.
5.) Other health impaired–A child whose strength, endurance, or stamina cannot keep up with school activities.

Deserving equal opportunity

Requiring the following treatments:[1]
76% Prescription Meds
42.1% Extra Services
31.8% Emotional, Behavioral, Developmental therapies
23.5% A limitation in what the child can achieve
21.5% Physical, Occupational, or Speech therapies

With most special needs children included in normal classroom activities, just with a few accommodations.
38.5% Daily activities moderately affected some of the time[1]
27.1%Daily Activities consistently affected a great deal
34.4% Daily Activities never affected

When everyone needs help. WHEN THEY’RE CHILDREN.

Identifying Developmental Delays is KEY:
Check for:
Motor skills
Sensory and Thinking Skills
Language and Social Skills
At 3,6,12,and 24 months

Early detection and intervention is A MUST because:
Lesser deviation from normal child behavior
Brain Plasticity is greater when younger

Diagnosis: Doctors, Psychologists, Teachers, School Nurses, Therapists

[% health providers who notified parents as to their child’s condition]
7.9% Psychiatrist
8.7% Multidisciplinary Team
12.4% Neurologist
14.7% Developmental or Specialist Pediatrician
18.3% Other Health provider
18.5% Psychologist/school psychologist
19.5% Generalist

Essentially: School, specialists, support groups, conferences, consultations, therapists.

1.) (1776)Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
2.) (1973)Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act:
–Prohibits schools from discriminating against children with disabilities.
–Requires schools to provide accommodations for disabled students.
–Students with impairments that substantially limit a major life activity can qualify as disabled (learning and social development deficits too).
3.) (1990)The IDEA Act (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act):
–Students with disabilities must be prepared for further education, employment, and independent living.
–If a child’s strength, endurance, or stamina cannot keep up with school activities, they can qualify for “other health impaired” special education status.
4.) (1990)Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA):
–Schools must meet the needs of children with psychiatric problems.

We all have certain inalienable rights, help represent your child, even if they’re different.



This infographic was originally posted at and republished with permission.

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