By Gregg Davis
Exceptional Children Teacher
Sedge Garden Elementary School
All parents walk a common path: they experience the joys and frustrations of helping their children develop into healthy, productive adults who have maximized their potential. For parents of children with special needs, the path can be a little different. The joys of parenting are no less but the challenges of helping their children develop can often be tougher and more complex.
Because of that, the teachers of Exceptional Children (EC) at Sedge Garden Elementary School held their first Parent Night on Thursday, May 25. The brain child of first-year EC teacher Zane Gibson, the program focused on two areas — helping children become more independent and helping parents locate community resources that provide support and developmental programs. Dinner and daycare were provided by the school staff so that parents could attend the program. Community resource providers, ranging from sports teams to educational programs to dentists who provide services to special needs children set up booths in the school cafeteria and talked to any interested parents.
Like all children, EC students are often more independent at school than at home. The school system’s Autism Team gave a presentation showing parents how their children use picture schedules at school to manage their day. The same approach can apply at home and the Autism Team provided parents with schedules that they took to use with their children. The rest of the program was a parent round-table discussion moderated by parents with exceptional children. Through years of trial and error, the parent moderators have developed a list of community services and advice for how to best access them.
An extra benefit to those parents in attendance was the opportunity to talk about common experiences and share common problems. As one of the parent moderators put it, “Just remember, you are not alone.”