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Featured Posts

Spooky Fun: No-Carve Pumpkins

Spooky Fun: No-Carve Pumpkins

Ready to decorate for Halloween? The kids will love helping with these DIY no-carve pumpkin projects that minimize mess and maximize fun! Thank you to Deborah at www.SuperMoms360.com for sharing her i . . .

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DIY Funko POP! Costume

DIY Funko POP! Costume

Looking for a creative Halloween costume to accommodate a stroller or wheelchair? Have fun designing and making a Funko POP! costume. Use everyday clothing to create a POP! character that fits your . . .

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7 Tips to Overcome Fear of the Dark

7 Tips to Overcome Fear of the Dark

Avoid ideas like "monster spray" which only affirm in a child's mind that monsters are real and need to be "sprayed away."  - Berkley James, pediatric sleep consultant  Fear of the dark i . . .

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Things to Do in Julian

Things to Do in Julian

Family Fun in Julian The beauty of historic Julian (a gold mining town just 60 miles northeast of San Diego) is that many attractions are within walking distance of each other. It’s the perfect fami . . .

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San Diego Robotics Programs for Kids

San Diego Robotics Programs for Kids

Discover STEM in Youth Robotics Many parents encourage kids to pursue STEM-related careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and youth robotics programs offer one such option. Along with l . . .

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Art with Alyssa: Skull Craft for Dia de los Muertos

Art with Alyssa: Skull Craft for Dia de los Muertos

Create a beautiful calavera (skull, in English) to celebrate Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Traditionally, skulls are created out of sugar or clay, elaborately decorated and place . . .

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Your child with special needs is entitled to a free and appropriate education.

Today, 1 in 50 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe. Some children with autism struggle to learn to count to 20 by the age of 5. 

Parents of children with autism and other special needs may feel helpless when confronted with the prospect of educating their child. In addition to coming to terms with the fact that their child is different, parents are faced with the prospect of learning a completely foreign set of terms and the different theories of what is the best way to handle their child. Just dipping a toe into the educational waters unleashes a flood of acronyms: LRE, OT, TSA, APE, IEP, IDEA, LAS and more. What does it all mean?

Even though state and federal law—the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA)—provides that children with disabilities are entitled to a “free appropriate public education,” deciding what is the best placement for a child with autism is almost impossible for parents to do alone.

The choice of a child’s placement is a decision parents and school district specialists should arrive at together after a thorough series of evaluations performed by the school district, and if necessary, private consultants as well through the IEP process. This meeting can be called at any time by parents or school districts and is the vehicle through which a child’s educational needs are assessed and decisions about placement and services are made.

No matter if an IEP results in the ideal placement for a child, or if it’s a decision reached through mediation, placement is only the beginning of an even longer journey. When districts and parents understand their respective roles and the tremendous opportunities created when they enter into a true partnership, phenomenal outcomes can be achieved for children—even those with the most severe disabilities—when there is a foundation of trust, respect and full disclosure.  


To learn how collaborative therapies can your child thrive, read Collaboration Plays A Key Role In Supporting A Child's Therapy Needs from our January 2014 issue.



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Areva Martin is a nationally recognized children and women’s rights advocate and autism spokesperson. She is the founder and President of Special Needs Network, Inc., a nonprofit organization created specifically to raise awareness of issues that impact individuals with autism and related disabilities living in under-served and marginalized communities.

Published: February 2014




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  • Flourishing Families

    Flourishing Families

    Resources for Families with Special Needs

    Flourishing Families is the Parent Resource Guide for Children with Special Needs that contains over 950 resources in San Diego County. Read informative articles that offer help and encouragement to families with special needs. Sign up to receive our bi-monthly eNewsletter, keeping you connected to current and relevant information in the community. Ready to get out of the house? When you join our online community, you'll also discover fun family-friendly activities and events.

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