January 30, 2012
by Terry Date
Two moms meeting about once a month for 10 years have helped Swampscott parents find critical information on how to help their kids with special needs.
Now that the Swampscott Special Education Parent Advisory Council's Kirsten Fagone and Jenn Nisbet have children who are older, the moms are looking for help from parents of younger children with special needs.
"To keep it going," Jenn said.
The commitment would be about two hours a month, said the moms, who will remain on the council.
The Swampscott council points parents to Websites such as wrightslaw.com, which offers information in easy-to-understand language about special education advocacy and law.
The council also presents speakers and workshops for parents with special needs children. The latest presentation is Tuesday night.
On Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. at the high school in Room B208, the council, in partnership with the Swampscott library, will present a workshop by Dr. David Stember: Childhood Anxiety: A Parent’s Guide to Headaches, Tummy Aches, and Monsters in the Closet.
The council, Kirsten and Jenn, have an established network in the school district and out of town.
The council is a state-mandated group that networks online with parent advisory councils in other towns.
In a sphere where knowledge is power, accurate information is empowering, the moms said.
Gaining that information can be a challenge in and of itself. Many parents of younger children are consumed with the day-to-day responsibilities of raising their kids and do not know where to find information on changes in the law or new criteria for special programs, the moms said.
The challenges might be autism, anxiety or dyslexia, and the parents may be frustrated over a school denying an individual education program for a child or the parent may be in denial that a child has special needs.
In either instance, they can learn more about their rights and their children's needs through the council's presentations, writings and conversation.
The council also hosts a fundraiser and awards scholarships and has donated to local parks.
The council presented a well received puppet show — whose characters had special needs — knowledgeable speakers including Susan Senator on autism and Dr. Edward Hallowell on ADHD
Early intervention and special programs make a big difference, the parents said
They've seen it in their children's lives and those of other children.
A huge difference, the parents said.
They want the help to continue.
For information on the council visit its webpage or on facebook.
The council's email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Swampscott Special Ed Council Seeks Reinforcements" SwampscottPatch.com