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Parents and educators know that children with special needs have gifts and talents. It’s just a matter of guiding them to unleash their full potential, and making sure that parents and teachers have the right information, tools, and support to help the children flourish.
On this brand new episode of Family Comes First “Parents Know Best,” we meet with Christian and Terrie Killoran. Christian and Terrie have a son, Aiden who has Down syndrome. On the show, they will share with us the story of their son, Aiden, and their battle with the school district to allow Aiden to continue his education at the school—the normal path for him.
Aiden had been attending elementary school, and his parents were planning to send him to middle school in the same district; however, that school does not have a program for children with special needs and will not accept him. This means that Aiden will have to attend a school in a neighboring community, one separate from his classmates and siblings. The larger issue they discuss is his future success within his community. As parents, they want Aiden to flourish in his community by getting a job once he graduates, developing relationships with people in his community, and being successful as a contributing member of society. They fear if he attends school outside of his community, he will not have these opportunities.
During this show, we also Skype with Sara Hart Weir, the Executive Director at the National Down Syndrome Society. Sara explains, “…people with Down syndrome can live long, healthy lives when they are given the extra support, when they’re able to go to an inclusive school, like what we’re pushing for Aiden, and they’re able to work in the community, go to post-secondary education and pursue their own hopes, dreams and aspirations, just like everyone else.”
Elizabeth Einhart, a special education teacher with a masters degree in special education, joins us to give the educators perspective, having the knowledge of what is necessary to educate children with special needs. Elizabeth clarifies how in an integrated class setting, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) help provide some additional support to bridge the education of a student with special needs to the general curriculum. She also expresses that the purpose of an integrated classroom setting is to expose the children to real-life experiences and teach them about compassion and kindness.
Adrienne Arkontaky, a special needs attorney with the Cuddy Law Firm, provides further insights and clarification on these issues discussed during the show. Adrienne explains, “The responsibility of the school district is to provide a free, appropriate, public education at no cost to the families, and what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act says is that the school districts must provide an education in the least-restrictive environment and to the greatest extent possible in a community school.”
Every child is unique. Parents need to be engaged and proactive to ensure their child with special needs is afforded every opportunity to realize their full potential.
Tune in to Telecare on Monday, September 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm to watch this brand new episode. In case you miss it, each episode also airs on Wednesdays at 9:30 am & 10:30 pm and Thursdays at 1:30 pm.
We invite you to watch and be inspired! Family Comes First™ airs exclusively on Telecare TV – Cablevision Channels 29 and 137; Time Warner Channels 106 (Manhattan) and 471 (Queens); or Verizon FiOS TV Channel 296.