Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Show 21: Lessons 5 & 6

Click here to download Show #21

In this show, we talk about the next 2 lessons in maximizing your child's cognitive development: Help children find what excites them ,even if it doesn't excite you and Encouraging Children to take Sensible Intellectual Risks. We want our kids to be excited about something, or anything at all- but often, they can glom onto things we don;t really enjoy, whether it's a sport you were never good at, or an instrument that sets your nerves on edge. Sometimes being a supportive parent means letting kids explore these things, even if they aren't your cup of tea. Lesson Six encourages you to help your child take risks- try new things, experiment, stretch themselves, but at the same time, not setting them up for failure. Kids who are self- confident are much more likely to take risks in the classroom, like answering questions even when they aren't 100% positive of the answer, and become okay with being both right and wrong. This is part of raising resilient children, as advocated by Dr. Robert Brooks- raising children with the ability to bounce back from bad situations and get right back in there to face the next challenge.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Show 20- an inside look at Special Education

Show # 20: An Inside Look At Special Education

At Podcamp Boston, I met Courtney Rau. She is the Special Education Department Chair at a Massachussetts school district. We got a chance to sit down and talk about special education, and how the school handles both the education of the child and the management and education of the parents. This was a wonderful interview, that gives you an idea of how schools see parents for a change. Maybe if we can all understand where each other is coming from, we can begin to make these meetings more productive, but I doubt they will ever lose their emotional component, since we will always be talking about our kids.

We spoke about issues you rarely hear about- how schools view advocates; how they sometimes dread talking to us; and how, in the end, it really is all about the child, and everyone does want to see the kids succeed. This should be mandatory listening for every parent before their IEP meetings.

I also met alot of great podcasters at Podcamp, including Mark Blevis, who produces a great podcast with his wife called Just One More Book, looking at chidlren's books you might have missed at your local bookstore. I've also been in contact with Mike from the "Kids Wife Work Life" podcast- another wonderful parenting and family podcast you should check out!

Today's song is the terrific You Don't Need an iPod performed by Uncle Seth. In case anyone wants to know a bit more about podcasting, this is probably the best and most entertaining "commercial" available. Available on the Podsafe Music Network.

Please email us with comments at LDpodcast@gmail.com, or give us a call at (206) 666-2343! We want to hear from you!
Click here to listen or download Show #20

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, September 15, 2006

Show #19 Interview with Dr. Mike Patrick Jr from Pediacast

Click here to download Show # 19

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Dr.Michael Patrick Jr. Dr. Mike is a practicing pediatrician and podcaster, and we sat down and spoke about many things, including discovering developmental delays, the difficulty in balancing parent worry with doctor experience, referrals to developmental experts, and whether pediatricians should treat ADHD. Dr. Mike is the parent of two wonderful children, including a son with ADHD. I think you'll find this interview informative and fun, as we get to look at parents from a doctor's point of view.
As always, we encourage feedback! Our voicemail line is (206) 666-2343, and our email is ldpodcast@gmail.com.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Podcamp Redux

Podcamp was simply amazing. I finally got my act together and submitted the audio I recorded for David Berlind's Gear Talk and the Podcast Format panel. I created another page on my website, www.ldpodcast.com, to host the audio for these and the other recordings made, for those that are interested.
As I continue to process all the information I gained and the contacts I made over the weekend, I continually come back to this thought-
It is rare in life to meet people that you feel an instant connection and friendship with- this is an uncommon experience. The weird thing about Podcamp, is these intense connections were happening by the minute. It was overwhelming, and I left feeling like this experience needs to be replicated, as much as possible, elsewhere. It is too good to let go.

I met people like Julian Smith from In Over Your Head and Eric Skiff from FeltUp TV and the Alternative Music Show. Julian looks like a rock star, and from the viewpoint of a suburban mom, someone way too hip for me to hang with. But he is not only one of the world's nicest guys, he is so freaking smart! If he ever gives up the music biz, he could rocket to the head of almost any business venture, large or small. He is just plain smart. Julian plays a lot of hip hop, which I thought was just not my thing. But then I took off my blinders and listened to the last show. The music challenged my pre-conceptions about hip-hop, and I am now subscribing to the show, just to see what happens next. Julian's show is not for the tween set, but older kids and college students will love him. Give a listen- you might love it, too.

Eric is rather soft spoken and friendly. He is such a sweet guy. When I got home, I listened to the Alternative Music Show, and they play terrific stuff- definitely worth your time. The music is more acoustically based, and easier for those of us who have just left our 30's to digest. Eric's videos on Felt up TV are terrific- check out the one about firefox!

The bottom line here is that I met many new people in podcamp, and many people I would have never crossed paths with in my regular day to day life. I am passionate about what I am doing with this podcast, but there are times I also feel like just another suburban mom, no one very important or worth paying attention to. The other podcasters out there were supportive and genuinely excited about what I am doing, and it's really refueled my batteries and helped me believe anyone can make a difference. With this blog and podcast, I hope I am helping you and your family- I know talking about the things I care about certainly helps me!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pod Camp Boston

What can I say about one of the best experiences I have ever had?

To say Podcamp was awesome does not even begin to do it justice. It is hard to articulate clearly how important this experience was on so many different levels. Let's start off in categories to try to do Podcamp justice.

1. Podcasters. Podcasting is still relatively young. While the number of podcasters may be over one million, it seems like a small circle of friends. But the people involved are passionate, warm, wonderful people. I've long held the opinion that grown-up life is really just like high school, only on a larger scale. So are podcasters the indie music/club kids group, or the science geeks, or the business school types? Are they the popular and cool kids waiting to take over the world? Who are podcasters? They are often all of the above, in one package. But even the stars of podcasting, like CC Chapman, and the guys from Rocketboom have a naturalness about them. As my husband would say, they are the real deal.
Is this because podcasting ultimately involves sitting in a room, often by yourself, talking to invisible people you hope will listen? When people actually tell us they love what we do, it is flattering and unexpected. Is it because the people who do listen to our podcasts are choosing us out of the whole vast array of webspace and content and are spending their valuable time listening to us and our opinions?

Podcasting, like blogging, the chat rooms, myspace, and other virtual social networks feels like forming new friendships, in a way TV broadcasts or traditional radio does not. I do not feel that I could call up my local NPR station, for example, and invite the host to dinner, and not get hauled off to Belleview as a stalker. The stars of podcasting, in contrast, are not inaccessible. They want to get to know you, and are truly flattered by your admiration and attention. They want to help you, and you can help them in return. It's all about networking and spreading the gospel of podcasting, and changing the world in small but meaningful ways.

In podcasting, though, there is an accessibility and openness that made me feel perfectly comfortable meeting all these new people, even though I was in a city several hundreds of miles away from home, alone. The T was down, so I got in the car with three guys I had just met, and we went to dinner, at a great place with at least a hundred other podcasters, sat down and talked. I gladly bought a round of drinks. I would have gladly done more.

We live in a world where we don't often talk to strangers. We scare our kids, for good reason, not to disclose anything personal about yourself online. We all have heard stories about people getting into virtual relationships that end up destroying their real world relationships with partners, family, etc. Women worry about their personal safety, online and in reality, keeping us in prisons of fear of our own making. As we sit in our homes, typing away online, we are becoming more and more isolated from forming those relationships and friendships that will enrich our lives the most.

I almost didn't go to podcamp. There were family obligations to negotiate, and I had to decide whether driving 12 hours in a 48 hour period to attended a conference for the same number of hours would be worth it. Getting there was not as easy as going to the grocery store, and would require effort and making it a priority. It was worth EVERY second.

Podcamp felt like going to camp and making new friends. Some friends, I had a virtual realtionship with ahead of time. Others, I can't wait to talk to again, and meet after just meeting in passing at podcamp. I would gladly have this lot of new friends over to the house- the virtual world has become a real life world in a very meaningful, important way. Podcamp was like a huge dinner party. There were great conversations happening everywhere. People with similar interests were connected, pointed out to one another, and like a great ameoba, grew, separated, and rejoined, continuing the conversation.

There were the podcasting masters, offering advice on formats and solving technical problems. People shared what they knew and what worked for them like a study group, solving problems together, not like a doctor cornered for a medical opinion at a cocktail party.

There were people wanting to be heard by millions, and others just as happy to find a few like souls who liked their ideas in the cosmos. It was wonderful to know that even the niche people , like me, were interesting and could find ways to be found more easily with just a little effort.

This was the first podcamp. I know it won't be the last. I hope it takes off like a virus and spreads everywhere. Don't miss a chance to go if you get one. While podcasting is young, get involved. It probably won't be able to stay this close knit, personal, and friendly forever. I certainly hope it does, though.

Technorati Profile

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Show # 18- Melody's back! - All About IEP's

Click here to download Show # 18

The kids are finally back in school, and we can podcast to our heart's content! Melody and I sit down and discuss what you need to know to be prepared for a Individualized education Plan (IEP) meeting. All IEP's are legal documents and have legal consequences - They are contracts, plain and simple!

To be prepared for your IEP, one of the first places to go is Wright's Law. Peter Wright is an attorney and has a great website that can help walk you through the complicated legal stuff you need to know about IEP's. You can also go to the US Department of Education website, but this information is either in pamphlet language or legalese, and not alot in between.

IEP's have three basic parts: a. The Child's present level of functioning and achievement, including any classroom accommodations and assistive technology used (alphasmarts, aides, etc.); b. The Annual measurable goals the child is expected to achieve with the special education services provided, and c. The services to be provided to the child to meet the annual goals, including when, where and frequency of the services offerred.

Every Goal on an IEP should meet the SMART standard: Goals need to be specific, measurable, use action words, be realistic and relevant, and be time related- ie. this goal shall be completed in 3 months time, etc.

Remember, you need to understand the basic facts of your child's situation, including the results and implications of any testing or evaluations; You need to form a chain of evidence, or a paper trail of medical records, report cards, evaluations, IEP's, correspondance with the school district, and the like. We suggest keeping this information in a three ring binder or at very least all together, and bring it to any IEP meeting, so you have records right there when you need them. Create a time line of events, to keep track of what happened when, including any form letters signed, received, and copies of any correspondance you've had with the school.

You need to understand some basic statistics. There is a good primer on the Wirght's Law website about understanding how tests are scored and what the results mean; we'll talk about this in a future podcast as well.

Consider also going to an IEP meeting with at least one other person- a spouse, or an advocate- someone who can also listen and talk to you about the meeting afterwards, take notes, and possibly be unbiased about what went on. IEP meetings can be emotionally intense, and having a friend or advocate with you can be very helpful.

Remember to email us at ldpodcast@gmail.com. The first 2 people to write reviews in iTunes and send me their addresses will receive an LD Podcast mug or Tshirt from Cafe Press. Call our listener line at (206) 666-2343 and leave feedback- I'll play it on a future show!

Todays's songs are Internet Girl by the Gorskys and Walk in London by Null Device, both available on the Podsafe Music Network, at music.podshow.com.

AND-I am going to Podcamp this weekend! I will tell you all about this unique opportunity to hook up with some of my favorite podcasters next week!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Show # 17

Click here to download Show #17

First of all, I'm Going To Podcamp!!!!!

I am so excited!
This next weekend, a huge number of podcasters are getting together at a conference in Boston- for all of those podcasters and listeners on the East Coast, unable to go to the Portable Media Expo in California, this is going to be Big! Driving up from PA, I'll be singing Podsafe Tunes in the car, and anxious to meet people I've listened to or developed an email relationship with over the past few months in person!

For Show 17, It's hopefully the last lonely solo show I'll do for awhile. Melody will be here for our next show all about IEP's, and we have other exciting guests coming up soon!

In this last show of the summer, I talk about Lesson 4 of the ten lessons to maximize your child's cognitive development, Help teach your childthat it's more important to learn what questions to ask, and how to ask themthan it is that they learn what they answers are. In a nutshell, this means that children need to learn to be critical thinkers in order to be good learners. Teaching our children to ask questions, and look for creative ways to solve a problem, research answers, and think about alternative answers is ultimately more important than any one "right" answer to a question.

The second half of the show is devoted to the economics of education, and why following where the money is going tells you alot about what is happening in education today. Between the investment parents are making in supplementental materials and tutoring services, the US is spending $1.5 billion in supplemental education alone, not counting the additional $3.2 billion spent in primary and secondary school tuition. The educational toy market is approaching $3 Billion dollars a year as well. Why?

Well, education is the last "sure bet" to later economic success. It used to be that you could get a good job, with benefits and a pension with only a high school diploma. In 1979, a man with a highschool diploma could earn $600 per week, while the same man, in adjusted dollars, could only earn $400 a week in 2002 with the same level of education. (US Department of Labor Statistics data , See www.bls.gov) In contrast, a man with a college diploma on average earned $900 weekly in 1979, but $1100 in 2002. This means while the high school graduate's earning power fell, the premium paid to a college graduate grew by 18% in the same time frame.
Education is the last great equalizer, and has the power to make the american dream come true for many. It's a surer bet than seeking fame and fortune in the entertainment or sports industries, and has more long-term payoffs.

So simple economics tell us that the investment in education, just like a business invests in research and development, has a long term payoff for our children. This is the reason why we are willing to spend so much money of education, and the reason why some children are denied services in public schools- it all comes down to the economics, and that it costs alot more to educate children with learning and developmental disabilities than it does to educate a child in a regular classroom, giving school districts, always strapped for cash, every incentive they need to be stingy with handing out services to kids. the most in need receive, where the kids on the margin, most likely to benefit from short-term interventions and then perhaps grow out of the special ed system, are left to fend for themselves.

It's contradictory, but perhaps the new changes in the IDEA regulations will fix this problem. I can only hope!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Home Update

Here it is, Labor Day weekend already! Where did the summer go?

The kids start back to school on Tuesday, meaning that new shows will be easier to produce, and I have an exciting list of guests and topics upcoming.
This past week, I spoke with Paige and Gretchen of Mommycast and we recorded a show together! This will be posted as part of their World Education Summit, and will be cross-posted on the LD Podcast feed! I am so excited!
I spoke with Paige and Gretchen about what are the first steps you need to take once a diagnosis is in hand to find services. This is not a straight-forward and easy question to answer because:

1. If a public school did the testing, then they pretty much automatically decice what services you are eligible for, and tend to make placements, although you as a aprent are certainly entitled to ask for other services- the testing determines placement.

2. If you had outside testing done, the school can or cannot accept the results, and may want to do additional testing themselves. Then, this information is used to determine placement for services.

In private schools, very little extra help and services are offerred. This means finding private services, which can be both challenging and expensive. In a future show, I will have Michelle Jones, an occupational therapist who works with children and runs a handwriting group, talk about how the doctor-insurance-school triangle works, and how you can make it work for you.

What services are usually available?

This varies district to district, but every child is enetiled, under the IDEA to a free and appropriate public education, meaning that the education given must "work" for the child and let them move successfully from grade to grade. (Now, remember, successfully is not defined as "A's" or even "B's" in all subjects, but just passing each course.)
Typical services might be occupational therapy for children needing help with coordination, handwriting, or other issues that are effecting their classroom performance. Speech therapy is provided for children needing help with articulation, prosidy or other forms of speech and expressive language issues.
Children might get pull-out help, or spend part of their day in a special classroom, sometimes called a resource room, where they get more individualized attention to work on their areas of need in a much smaller group setting. Sessions might even be one on one, but that is often unusual.
Some children, with more intense needs, may qualify to have an aide with them in the regular classroom, to help them with communication, keeping behavior in check, and otherwise help them on an individual basis within a larger classroom setting.
Which services a child receives depends alot on what your child needs, and what you, as a parent, specifically ask for. Before any meeting for an IEP or looking for classroom accomodations for your child, you should have a checklist of things you think your child needs, such as:
1. Specific extra help in one or more areas (therapy, classroom support, etc.)
2. Extra time on tests or for assignments as needed
3. Ability to complete assignments in alternate format, ie,. typing rather than handwritten, or even orally, if acceptable to the teacher.
4. Think about the unusual, and what may unfairly penalize your child.

For example, James has bad handwriting. For standardized testing, he has a formal accommodation for a scribe, where he writes the essay, and then it is re-written by the scribe to it is legible, and he is not down-graded for his handwriting. They do not yet have accommodations so he can type the standard essays, but perhaps in the future. In the meantime, this accommodation also holds for the classroom, although in practice, it really is not needed, since many of the "in class" assignments allow the use of word processing programs.

Some children with similar handwriting issues use portable keyboards, like Alphasmarts, where they can type almost all of their assignments and take notes with the keyboard in the classroom. Often these are provided at no cost by the school district. When I tried the Alphasmart approach with James's 5th grade teacher, and even offerred to provide one so the school district did not have to spend the money, they insisted that it really wasn't necessary most of the time, and that the scribe accommodation was adequate. 95% of the time, it worked out great.

Don't forget to email us at ldpodcast@gmail.com or call the comment line at (206) 666-2343