Tag

Asperger’s/Autism Network

How to Advocate for Your Child

By | NESCA Notes 2019

By: Reva Tankle, Ph.D.
Pediatric Neuropsychologist

The Federation for Children with Special Needs in Boston offers a Parent Consultant Training course several times every year. I have been privileged to teach this group about Neuropsychological Assessment and the IEP Process for the past 15 years. While many people take this course to become Parent Advocates as a profession, it is just as common that the participants are trying to figure out how to best advocate for their own children.

The process always starts with a concern. Parents request an initial evaluation from either the school or a private clinician because they have a concern about their child’s development. They are looking to understand their child’s challenges, obtain a definitive diagnosis and most importantly develop a treatment plan that will ensure their child’s positive trajectory into the future. What I have learned from the many participants in this course is that they are hungry for information about what they should be doing for their children.

It is encouraging that there are so many resources available for parents to help them with some of these concerns. However, the sheer amount of information can also be overwhelming, as it can be hard to know where to start. And it is important that parents get started right away, as we know there is a great advantage in early diagnosis and intervention; especially when autism is suspected. But where does one start?

  • Assessment/Diagnosis
  • Education
  • Parent Support
  • Advocacy

If you suspect your child may be on the autism spectrum, organizations such as AANE, The Asperger/Autism Network, and Autism Speaks can help you find diagnosticians in your area. Your child’s pediatrician may also be knowledgeable about local referral sources for assessment for suspected learning or developmental issues. Finally, word of mouth referrals from those who have previously navigated the process on behalf of their own child is often another great resource to rely on.

Once there is a diagnosis, parents should educate themselves as much as possible about the needs of their child and the options available. Organizations such as AANE and Autism Speaks can provide a lot of the information parents need at this often stressful time if their child has autism. Of particular benefit, Autism Speaks offers a “100 Day Kit for the Newly Diagnosed Family of Young Children.” This step-by-step guide helps parents feel more in control and confident about how and where to start this journey.

For language-based learning disabilities, parents may find needed resources through organizations such as Decoding Dyslexia or the International Dyslexia Association. Whatever diagnosis a parent is facing on behalf of their child, there are resources to provide the education that is needed.

The internet provides so many resources to parents, which is both a blessing and a curse. How can a parent sort through it all and establish priorities? How do they avoid becoming overwhelmed? Parent Support Groups! It may seem like an overly simple solution, but the benefits of sharing with others who have gone through what you are going through are immeasurable. And not feeling like you are in this alone will give you the confidence to keep going.

Armed with a diagnosis as well as education and support, a parent is ready to advocate as needed. Organizations like the Federation for Children with Special Needs are there to help throughout the advocacy journey. Finally, a strong partnership between the child’s parents and school district is critical to ensure that the district understands the individual child, their unique needs and to know that they will work to provide the appropriate educational opportunities for the child.

It may not be an easy journey to embark on, but know there are wonderful resources out there to help make things smoother.

About the Author

Combining her experience and training in both pediatric neuropsychology and educational advocacy, Dr. Reva Tankle has particular expertise in working with families who are navigating the IEP process. Having participated in numerous team meetings over the years, Dr. Tankle is especially knowledgeable about the many ways that schools can support and accommodate students with special learning needs, information that she clearly communicates in her evaluation reports and in team meetings, if needed. She also has a great deal of experience in articulating the reasons that a student may need a program outside of the public school.

Dr. Tankle evaluates students with ADHD, learning disabilities, high functioning autism spectrum disorders, and neurological conditions, as well as children with complex profiles that are not easily captured by a single diagnostic category.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Reva Tankle in Plainville, MA, or any of our expert neuropsychologists, please complete our online intake form

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

25 Miles of Inspiration

By | NESCA Notes 2018

 

By: Nancy Roosa, PsyD
Pediatric Neuropsychologist, NESCA

Last Saturday, I found myself – as part of Team NESCA- at the starting line for a bike ride, waiting apprehensively for my turn to start, carefully balancing my bike between my legs, stretching my legs and checking my tires.  I was a bit nervous, because I’m not an experienced or competitive bike rider.  But this was not a race: it was the 28th annual Rodman Ride for Kids, one of the most congenial, supportive athletic events you can imagine and my apprehension soon faded among the general high spirits of riders and volunteers around me.  Team NESCA’s turn soon came and we took off, surrounded by about 1,500 other joyful riders.

The joy of the day was primarily because all of us riders had a shared goal – to raise money for programs that benefit at-risk children across Massachusetts.  Team NESCA took to the road to support one of our favorite local nonprofits: Asperger’s/Autism Network (AANE), which provides a wide variety of educational, outreach and supportive programs for individuals and families affected by autism. For more information about AANE please see their website.  https://www.aane.org/.

The Rodman Ride is unique.  Instead of being run by and for one large entity, the Rodman for Kids charity serves as the organizational powerhouse behind the ride, allowing even small nonprofits to participate in a major fundraiser.  About 45 small nonprofits, like AANE, take advantage of the fact that the Rodman for Kids charity does all the organizational legwork: setting up a website for fundraising, identifying and marking the course, and enlisting an army of volunteers to make the race happen.  Any social service agency that supports at-risk children in Massachusetts can participate.  There is no fee; in fact, the Rodman organization adds 3% to any dollars raised. Over the years, the Rodman Ride has raised about $144 million dollars!

 

Stephanie Monaghan-Blout and Nancy Roosa

 

One fun part of the day was reading the jerseys of all the other riders and feeling uplifted just by seeing how many organizations are working to support at-risk children in our state.  At this time, when so much of the daily news is disheartening, it was inspiring to be surrounded by thousands of people who are putting time and energy into supporting vulnerable children.  Beyond the riders, over 500 other companies sponsor the volunteer activities that support the ride.  We rode with a friend who was riding for Trinity Foundation, and were surrounded by many riders from Mass Mentoring and Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Our cheerful announcer, who kept us all organized at the starting line, introduced various groups and invited them to speak about their efforts.  Did you know there is a nonprofit group called Above the Clouds, which takes children with disabilities on plane rides?  Who knew?

Team NESCA was thrilled to be part of the day; we, along with about 20 other riders for AANE, helped AANE raise over $56,000 to support their programming for the coming year.

And we had fun.  It was a beautiful ride, with perfect weather, through the mostly flat streets around Foxborough and Lake Massapoag.  There were volunteers ringing cowbells and shouting directions and encouragement anytime we had to make a turn.  The water stops had piles of snacks – from bananas to chocolate energy bars – and a DJ pumping out bouncy songs.  There was breakfast and coffee at the beginning and a great barbeque lunch and beer at the end.

All in all, it was so inspiring to join with so many other people who are committed to helping at-risk youth.  I’ll be buying my next car at Rodman Ford.  In the meantime, who’s up for riding with Team NESCA and AANE next year?

 

 

About the Author:
Roosa

Nancy Roosa, PsyD has been engaged in providing neuropsychological evaluations for children since 1997. She enjoys working with a range of children, particularly those with autism spectrum disorders, as well as children with attentional issues, executive function deficits, anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, or other social, emotional or behavioral problems. Dr. Roosa’s evaluations are highly-individualized and comprehensive, integrating data obtained from a wide range of standardized assessment tools with information gained from history, input from parents, teachers and providers, and important observations gleaned from interacting with the child. Her approach to testing is playful and supportive. Her evaluations are particularly useful for children with complex profiles and those whose presentations do not fit neatly into any one diagnostic box.

 

To book a consultation with Dr. Roosa or one of our many other expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate “Consultation” and your preferred clinician in the referral line.

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.