Parents Educate Themselves to Advocate for Their Children
June 22, 2017 by Michelle Reynard
Parents Educate Themselves
When a child is struggling, parents can sometimes feel as isolated as their children. As parents, we all want to help in every way we can. And so, we become experts in education. As parents, we educate ourselves. Individually, we learn how to navigate public, private and home-school assistance. We find the best possible programs for interventions. Often, we spend so much time focused on our children’s education that we forget we need support as well.
Books as Guides and a Comfort
Recognizing a child learns differently than expected or has challenges beyond one’s knowledge can be a difficult and lengthy process. Even when symptoms are identified quickly or family members have concerns about a potential issue, further understanding is often needed to respond to every day obstacles and successes or make decisions about interventions and support. Often families attribute a book with speaking to them about their child in a way that helped interpret specific behaviors. While every situation is unique, a number of titles have been repeatedly mentioned by Gemm parents over the years and credited with helping them navigate this important journey, often providing clarity, hope, or reassurance.
The books most often mentioned by our families are:
For Auditory Processing
Like Sound Through Water: A Mother’s Journey Through Auditory Processing Disorder by Karen J. Foley
At age 3, Ms. Foley’s son, Ben, could not yet talk and had difficulty understanding when spoken to. This memoir describes a mother’s determination to help her child communicate. It details her search for an accurate diagnosis among misinformation and the enlightening results of her efforts.
When the Brain Can’t Hear: Unraveling the Mystery of Auditory Processing Disorder by Teri James Bellis, P.H. D.
Dr. Bellis is a highly respected audiologist who grew up with a deaf sibling. She experienced cognitive problems later in life after a car accident. Among them was a change in the way her brain processed auditory information. This led Dr. Bellis to further explore auditory processing challenges. Her book details what APD looks like at infancy, childhood, and adulthood as well as how it is diagnosed and treated.
The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge, M. D.
This book explores the roots of neuroplasticity, its potential, and the experiences of individuals who have benefited from an understanding of this science. The author also details Fast ForWord and its relationship to neuroplasticity
Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
The birth of Mary Sheedy’s son marked the beginning of a new understanding for this parent educator. The word more seemed to best describe how markedly her son’s behaviors and disposition differed from peers. This book offers insight on how to interpret and respond to these challenges in order to foster success.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida
This book, written by a 13 year old Japanese boy with Autism, was translated into English by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell, parents of a child with autism. It includes his explanations for behaviors commonly associated with autism, such as repetition, raised volume, or becoming extremely upset over mistakes. However, it also shares the author’s perspective on the challenges that accompany autism and how that ultimately shapes his perception of the world.
Autistic Logistics: A Parents’ Guide to Tackling Bedtime, Toilet Training, Tantrums, Hitting, and Other Every Day Challenges by Kate C. Wilde
Autistic Logistics addresses the daily challenges that many children with autism and their parents, teachers, caregivers or other professionals face. It offers understanding, step-by-step instructions, and solutions to help support their needs and goals.
Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz
Written by the co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, this book examines how dyslexia occurs and the significant impact of early diagnosis and effective treatment. It also offers ways parents can aid their children in developing phonemic awareness to become fluent readers.
The titles listed above are all examples of texts our parents credit with helping them understand their child’s challenges.
Social Media and Offline Parent Groups Provide Support
There are many other options for support. Social media sites such as Facebook and Google+ offer public ad private parent groups. These groups offer a unique space for parents to share their collective concerns. Consequently, they learn from others who have walked in their shoes. Many communities have local organizations where parents and teachers can meet to discuss educational issues. Some even work to enhance the education laws within their states like Decoding Dyslexia, a parent-led grassroots organization.
At Gemm, we offer our parents Gemm Family – a space to discuss all things education, including our programs. Furthermore, we encourage them to share helpful resources with interested parents and community members, including book or documentary titles that left them inspired. Just as it is important for students to feel supported, parents need reminders this journey is not a solitary one. While our goal, as always, is to inform, not endorse any one product or theory in this blog, we do hope its contents help foster a sense of community. The specific needs of every child may be unique, but our need as parents to support them is one and the same.
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