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Carol Broadbent, parent of twin four-year-old girls
Lori Hoffman, grandmother to a boy with learning problems
Karen Goodwin, mother of a son with learning difficulties
Stephanie Vrsnik, Community and Development Director, Nevada PEP
Robin Kincaid, Training Director, Nevada PEP
BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- Parenting ordinary children can be tough enough but special needs children are something else. Teachers and schools often cannot find exactly what they need. Programs like Nevada PEP can often help.
It’s a statewide parent-training organization, PEP Training Director Robin Kincaid says. Most of all, PEP helps families find ways to communicate and collaborate with schools.
Children with special needs or disabilities do create problems that need individual solutions. Carol Broadbent’s twins, for example, suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. That has left them with significant developmental delays and behavioral problems. “Every day’s battle with stuff,” Broadbent said.
Just getting them into school was problematic and they felt abandoned once Nevada Early Intervention finished providing the initial help. Broadbent and her husband just read a lot but felt they were “just kind of stuck.” The girls’ aggressive behavior made it difficult to find a pre-school that would take them. By the same token, the pre-K school program has helped them. It is a special education class of eight students with a teacher and two aides.
“They’ll always struggle. I know that,” says Broadbent. But, she added, she was happy PEP was able to help her.
Lori Hoffman’s grandson was born with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, a condition, which required he be born at 35 weeks because of tumors on his kidneys. Numerous surgeries followed to reduce an abnormally large tongue, correct growth abnormalities and deal with intestinal problems. He struggled in school and was finally diagnosed as having a “written expression disorder,” said Hoffman.
“He would just sit there and not do his work. You could ask him and he could tell you everything but he would not write at all, he just wouldn’t do it,” she said. After three years of struggling with this problem, counselors from PEP were able to work with Hoffman to get her son an iPad. Using that at summer school has allowed him to catch up with grade level work.
The first place to begin is the the “individual education program” or IEP. That program is individualized to the special education needs of each child, said Stephanie Vrsnik, Community and Development Director of Nevada PEP. All special education students must have an IEP, she added. Nevada PEP offers parents clinics and special training in what they need to know to make sure their IEP is working.