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Lori Burnshire
Lori Burnshire has been a Parent Information Specialist for Families Together, Inc. for eight years. She is also the parent of three teenage boys. Her 14 year old son Peytn happens to have autism, a developmental disability which affects social interaction, communication and behavior . Lori provides workshops and technical assistance regarding special education services and resources to families that include a son or daughter with a disability. You may contact Lori at (316) 945-7747.
Family Living
2006-08-01 11:46:00
Children with disabilities
Many times when a child has a disability, it is difficult to see the child as a general education student.  We must remember as our children who have disabilities go to school; they are general education students who just happen to receive special education services.  School for all students is friends, recess, lunch, homework, academics, sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities.  The school year is the perfect time to foster friendships and build peer relationships, which will help enable children who have disabilities to succeed throughout life.
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), special education is “specially designed instruction” whose purpose is to address the unique needs of the child that result from the disability, and to “ensure access of the child to the general curriculum.”  The term “general curriculum” can be thought of as the overall plan for instruction adopted by a school or school system.  Its purpose is to guide instructional activities and provide consistency of expectations, content, methods and outcomes, according to the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. 
Your first step to helping your child succeed as a “general education” student is to ask for a copy of your child’s grade level general curriculum (available on some districts websites), a list of any special projects or activities such as science projects or school clubs and a copy of the student/parent handbook.  Next, have everyone who knows your child (including the child when appropriate) make a list of the child’s strengths and interests.  What is it that she really likes to do?  Don’t miss the little things such as giving hugs, smiling, watching a favorite TV show, caring for animals; everything is important.  Next, what do you see as your child’s needs?  Do they need assistance with writing, communication skills or even making friends?  This is where the specially designed instruction/special education supports and services are vital to insuring your child succeeds in the general curriculum.
IDEA 2004 states the Individual Education Program (IEP) must contain measurable annual goals ... to enable the child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum.  Which brings us to our next step:  match the grade-level curriculum to the abilities and interests of your child.  By taking the focus off the disability and focusing on your child’s abilities, you enable a “special education student” to become a student who needs special education supports and services to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum.
For tips on accessing the general curriculum or to view “A Guide to the Kansas Curricular Standards” visit our website: http://www.familiestogetherinc.org/
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