My children both have unique and special learning needs, and figuring out what is best for them has taken all of us down a difficult, but worthwhile, path. It even led to homeschooling my daughter!
I call myself a Warrior Mama, and on today's episode, I invited a fellow Warrior Mama (and professional organizer) on to talk about what that looks like, and the tools that helped both of us navigate this journey.
Monique is a fellow adoptive mom of six kids between the ages of 7 and 13. Read that again--six kids in six years!
As Monique talks about in the episode, a few of her children have special learning needs.
So when we sat down, we asked ourselves what was and was not helpful along this journey, and what advice we would pass along to other Warrior Mamas.
Children with Special Needs and Education
We talk about how almost every parent deals with asthma, ADHD, and/or allergies. In many cases, that means they will require special services from their school in order to access a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
Basically, your child's strengths and needs are assessed and diagnosed, then appropriate accommodations and modifications are put in place and recorded on a legally binding document, either called a 504 or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
This is overwhelming. For you, for me, for Monique, for everyone! No matter how much you know about IEPs and accommodations, when it's your own child, it's a lot.
And there is a LOT of paper.
What to do with all that paperwork
Because I love paper, and I've walked this path myself, it seemed only fitting to create a product to serve both purposes.
When you walk into an IEP meeting with a binder, you instantly command respect from the other members in that meeting. The administrator, educator, interventionist, psychologist, and whoever else might be in that room with you will respond to that collection of papers. You know your stuff, and you aren't here to play.
I have even counseled parents to bring a blank binder into those meetings.
Now, you can bring a binder that actually contains your child's pertinent medical, psychological, and educational information, which will undoubtedly result in a more productive meeting.
The Warrior Mama Binder gives you confidence and makes you appear more legitimate in your opinions. While you know what's right for your child just because you're the parent, documentation can prove it.
I think my child needs an IEP, but they don't have one. What now?
When I wrote How ADHD Affects Home Organization, I was writing from a place of understanding. Although I don't have ADHD, I certainly know what it's like to live with (and love) someone who does.
If you believe your child has a disability of any kind that is affecting their education, you can approach the school with a typed and signed letter requesting a formal assessment to see if services are needed.
It's important to know what your child's symptoms are and how that affects them, and advocate to get those needs met. (The binder helps you do that)
In podcast episode 73, I talked about the challenges of organizing special needs children. All of that rings true when trying to organize their education, too.
What I know about this situation is that it can be isolating. There isn't a lot of compassion toward "invisible" disabilities that look like behavior problems. I want to change that, and I think it starts with this binder.
The Warrior Mama Binder
There's no manual for parenting, but now, there is a binder. The Warrior Mama binder has a playbook, a workbook, and extra slash pockets that can go right into your Sunday Basket.
You get a physical 2" deluxe binder, just like the rest of our binders, packed with full color worksheets that will steer you in the right direction when advocating for your child.
There's plenty of room to include printouts too, for everything from your diagnoses and prescriptions to notes and descriptions of symptoms.
What makes this binder different, though, is that it includes two sets of slash pockets for your Sunday Basket, so that you can make managing your child's education a part of your weekly routine.
Whether you are a Warrior Mama or know someone who is, I hope you'll love this binder and the peace of mind it can bring for those parenting or supporting children with special learning needs.