Review of A Parents’ Guide To Special Education In New York City And The Metropolitan Area
A Parents’ Guide To Special Education In New York City And The Metropolitan Area
by Laurie DuBos and Jana Fromer
Published by Teachers College Press, NY, May 2006: 208 pp.
Few experiences are as overwhelming for parents of special needs children as negotiating the complex and often confusing world of special education.
Ideally, parents would have the benefit of a friend or family member who’s been through this process and can act as their mentor, answering questions, identifying resources, and offering reassurance.
For those—admittedly, probably most parents of special needs children—who don’t have that kind of helpful tutor in their corner, this book is probably the best substitute.
“Entering the world of special education is very stressful for most families,” write the authors, who bring to this important resource both academic credentials and the hands-on immersion of a parent. “Finding a ‘label’ that best describes and identifies your child can be an unwelcome and difficult experience. This is the point when families begin the process that separates them from the ‘typical’ educational process. Instead of listing all of your child’s abilities, you begin to categorize your child’s disabilities. As agonizing as this is, it is done with the best of intentions, in order to get a school placement or the services your child needs.”
The authors offer a gentle, step-by-step guide to everything from the initial evaluation and diagnostic process (including an explanation of the various acronyms involved) to describing parents’ rights throughout the process. They also include profiles of various schools throughout the metropolitan area that provide programs for specific conditions. As parents of special needs children quickly learn, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach; a child who is autistic needs a very different learning environment than one who has attention deficit disorder, or is visually disabled.
By breaking down the process into manageable components, the authors make it possible for parents to absorb the information and make the best-informed decision for their child. Especially valuable is a table (pp. 26-27) that charts the various classifications, and defines them. As the authors explain, “Having your child classified as a student with a disability is never an easy process; however, if you understand the criteria by which your child is being evaluated, you will be better able to discuss the options for your child and state a case for one classification over another in your meeting with the CSE [Committee on Special Education].”
This is an important tool for any parent of a special needs child that should alleviate anxieties and help make the way easier.#