Curious Incident Podcast Episode #3 - Getting a Parent's Perspective
You can listen to our discussion on your favorite podcast player or watch the video. Below is a summary of the podcast along with the entire podcast transcript.
The Curious Incident Podcast: Episode 3: Getting a Parent's Perspective
You can listen to the episode here;
About this episode:
Rachel is the parent of three children with unique learning needs and is our first ever client on this podcast. The Law Offices of Adam Dayan has represented Rachel and her children for approximately the last 10 years. Rachel is very familiar with the process of dealing with her children's school district and advocating on her children's behalf. On this episode, Rachel speaks with NYC Special Education Attorney Adam Dayan about dealing with dyslexia from childhood, overcoming her own challenges, and using her experiences to be a tireless advocate for her children to make sure they receive the supports and services they need to grow and succeed.
If you have questions that were not covered in the podcast or need guidance about how you should move forward, please contact the Law Office of Adam Dayan at 646-866-7157 to discuss your particular circumstances.
About the Law Offices of Adam Dayan
Adam Dayan Esq. is a New York special needs attorney. Established in 2009, the Law Offices of Adam Dayan has had the primary purpose of making sure children with special needs receive a quality education and long-term financial security.
Curious Incident Transcript - Episode #3 Getting a Parent's Perspective
Speaker 1: This is Curious Incident, a podcast for special needs families and your window into the world of special education. Parenting can be challenging and we want to make it easier by providing you with the resources you need to best help your child. Let's delve deep into the world of special education with your host, Adam Dayan.
Adam Dayan: I [00:00:30] am very excited to present my first ever client on this podcast. Today I am speaking with Rachel. We're keeping it anonymous for the privacy of Rachel's children. My law firm has represented Rachel and her children for approximately the last 10 years. Hard to believe that it's been that long. Rachel is very familiar with the process of dealing with her children's school district and advocating on her children's behalf. [00:01:00] Rachel, I'm so glad you're here to share your story with our listeners.
Rachel: Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.
Adam Dayan: So let's get started. What makes you an authority on the subject of special education?
Rachel: I don't think I'm an authority, I wouldn't call myself an authority, but I definitely have a lot of experience. First, my own personal experience, I'm dyslexic, and as a child, I needed to go to a special ed school. And now as a parent, I have two [00:01:30] children who needed special ed schools, and one child who needed services to remain in the school that they're in and to get support that he needs.
Adam Dayan: I definitely want to hear about your experience as a child and about your children's experiences. Before we jump into that, tell me what motivated you to come on the podcast and share your story.
Rachel: What motivated me is I get calls all [00:02:00] the time from parents, people asking me why I made the decision that I have for my children. I know personally what a hard decision it is to decide to take your child out of a school that they're happy in, maybe they're in a school that is part of a community, they have a lot of friends, so that decision is never easy. And also I think the process is a little daunting, it's hard to know where to begin. When you start to notice [00:02:30] your child struggling, again, what are the first steps to take? Should I just wait it out? Maybe things will correct itself. So I know how hard the process can be and how hard the decision is. And if my story can help any families or any parents, I am really happy to share.
Adam Dayan: That's great. And I'm sure our listeners are going to appreciate that. So let's talk about where your story begins. You mentioned having dyslexia, you mentioned needing [00:03:00] to go to a special education school. Can you say more about that?
Rachel: Sure. So it's going back 30 years. I don't want to age myself, but yeah, going back 30 years, I was in a Yeshiva at the time. Things were very different then, no one really knew much about learning disabilities or dyslexia, kids just stayed in their school environment. So I guess I was about eight years old, I really was struggling to learn to [00:03:30] read, my parents tried everything. I had tutors up the wazoo. At one point, they even left me back in hopes that that would help, and really, I still just couldn't progress, and my self-esteem plummeted. My parents will always say, as a child, I was very outgoing, and once school started to be progressively harder, they just noticed such a change in self-esteem, I just wasn't [00:04:00] the same kid.
Adam Dayan: Can we define dyslexia sure from your perspective, the way you experience it because every child or student I know, experience it in a different way. So how did you experience dyslexia? How do you experience dyslexia?
Rachel: I think dyslexia is really a processing disorder, like a language processing in specific. So for me again, I think what alerted my parents was more the reading, but again, there was so [00:04:30] many other things that I had trouble with, expressive language, receptive language, even just sitting still in my seat. I guess I did have an attention piece to it. I probably realize it more now and as I was getting older, but I think for me with reading, I remember no matter how much I tried before I got to special ed, I just couldn't decode and I [00:05:00] couldn't break up those words. And I have a memory of... I was in resource room at the time and the teacher was telling me, "You're not looking at the page. You're not looking at the page, look at the page."
But what I was doing was like trying to guess words because that was a strategy, like a coping strategy that I learned so I would see a TH and I would say there, and it obviously wasn't the right word, so I think that-
Adam Dayan: It must have been so upsetting, looking at the page.
Rachel: Yeah. I know, [00:05:30] it was. And I was looking harder at the page probably and like just praying, I would look at the page and just pray that the letters came together to form words. And I would look at my classmates and I would say, "How are they doing this?"
Adam Dayan: And what did the page look like to you? You're looking at it, you're trying to decode, decipher what the words, what does it look like to you?
Rachel: I always say it's hard for me to explain how it looks like to me because I don't [00:06:00] know how it looks like to you anyway.
Adam Dayan: I never looked at it that way.
Rachel: I would definitely mix up those Bs and Ds a lot. There were a lot of reversals, tracking was hard, from one sentence to the next, I would skip a sentence in between sometimes, there was a lot of going back, "Oh, I skipped a word, so definitely look." Till this day, by the way, movies with subtitles, very difficult just to read at that pace. But [00:06:30] I learned to cope and I learned the strategies that I needed.
Adam Dayan: So you're having these reading difficulties, you are getting tutoring after school and eventually you transitioned to a special ed school, but what's your last memory before you transitioned?
Rachel: My last memory was actually a very pivotal moment in my life. So it was after I had gotten left back, I had to repeat the second grade. When my parents [00:07:00] said I was going to repeat the second grade, part of me was so happy because I said to myself, "Wow, now I get to be the smartest one in my class," because I really had this belief that I was dumb. And so I thought, "Okay, they'll leave me back and everything will be solved." But the next year was not any easier. And on the last day of school, my teacher was giving out an award to every student in the class for excellence in something. And [00:07:30] I was sitting like any kid, I was so excited to go and receive my award and she was calling all the names. And suddenly, the names just stopped and I didn't get an award because at eight years old, I was undeserving.
And I remember fighting back those tears so hard. And when I went home, I just broke down to my mom. And I think that was really the moment where my parents said, "This is enough. We have to look for something [00:08:00] different, completely different." And at the time nobody left the Yeshivas in my community and it was not even heard of to go to a special ed school, but they made a very courageous decision that really changed my life.
Adam Dayan: So heartbreaking. You're left back, you think you're going to be at the top of the class and then you aren't and you just devastated. I guess the silver lining is, it sounds like it was the final straw that prompted [00:08:30] your transition to a special education school. Am I right?
Adam Dayan: So what grade were you in when you started at the special education school?
Rachel: I was third grade because I had repeated second grade in my old school.
Adam Dayan: So you transitioned to a special education school and what's that experience like?
Rachel: I remember really on day one, I couldn't even believe that this was school. [00:09:00] Before I got there, I would spend the day so anxious and so nervous. I would do everything in my power, if they were going around the room reading, I would time it so that when it would be my turn, I would start coughing, sneezing, going to sharpen my pencil. And now, fast forward when I was in my new school, I couldn't wait. I just felt like the world was opened up to me and I was with students who learned like [00:09:30] I did. And I also saw how bright those students were and just the confidence that I gained alone was everything. And I just remember starting to love to learn and really believing that I could learn. Again, I was just so surprised.
Adam Dayan: I need to focus in on that aspect, the anxiety and nervousness that you used to feel and then the confidence that you gained when you [00:10:00] moved to this new school, because there are people out there who have this perception that if you're bright and you're doing relatively well academically, then the rest shouldn't matter from an educational standpoint, that the anxiety is student is feel alien shouldn't matter or the social challenges shouldn't matter. And as a legal practitioner, I always have to correct that misperception and point out that this is all part of the puzzle. And so there's the academics, there's [00:10:30] the social, and of course, there's the emotional and behavioral. So tell me what that was like for you to be able to go from that place of anxiety and nervousness to a place of confidence and feel like you could learn.
Rachel: I think that without the nervousness and without the anxiety, it just enabled me to learn. And again, because I knew I was getting the right tools and the teachers were speaking in a language that suddenly I could understand, and it [00:11:00] was just so much of that one-on-one support, I felt supported, I wasn't able to learn like in the other environment. And again, the anxiety plays a huge role in that and not feeling confident plays a huge role in that. I think I spend most of the day before, just again, trying to get through. And that's not a way that I believe a student could learn. And I see more now as a mom how important [00:11:30] the social and emotional piece is when trying to have a successful learner.
Adam Dayan: I agree. And if those needs aren't being met, it becomes a distraction and a burden.
Rachel: Totally, totally.
Adam Dayan: Paint the picture a little bit more. You mentioned you're getting one-to-one instruction now. What other supports or services are you benefiting from now that you're in an appropriate school?
Rachel: The class size obviously made a huge [00:12:00] difference, I went from a class of 30 kids to nine. I was getting, again that one-on-one support, the reading program was tailor made to be able to teach me and everything was broken down. Sometimes ad nauseam, I'm not going to lie. And sometimes it's a lot of repetition, a lot of scaffolding, a lot of things were broken down [00:12:30] every step of the way so that things would be routine and things would be automatic. And again, just having that time also, whereas in my old school, reading was a 20-minute period. When I had more time to focus on the things that I really needed help with, it also made a huge difference.
Adam Dayan: So talk more about that. What difference did it make for your educational growth and development?
Rachel: When I think back to my special ed days, [00:13:00] I think the biggest benefit to me again, was the confidence piece, was having people who believed in me, who said, "Rachel, you are so bright and you can really do it." And then seeing the results. So before I got to special ed, I would try and try and try, and I just didn't see any results, I was still struggling. So all of a sudden, now, I was able to [00:13:30] see, "Wow, my hard work is paying off." And I think that made a really big difference for me to be able to see results, tangible results. I was jumping grade levels in reading, jumping grade levels in math within one year. So I think seeing those tangible results really made a huge difference.
Adam Dayan: It's reinforcing. You're putting in the work and the effort and you're seeing positive results.
Adam Dayan: Did everyone in this school have dyslexia, all the students?
Rachel: [00:14:00] The school I went to was very specific for language-based learning disabilities. I don't know if all the children had dyslexia per se, but definitely some element of a language processing language-based learning disability
Adam Dayan: After experiencing the reading challenges that you've talked about, what did it feel like for [00:14:30] you to learn to read?
Rachel: All of a sudden, I remember my first book that I really just loved, I think I had a lot to prove, I had a lot to prove to the world, but when I was able to read, I think it was Sarah, Plain and Tall was one of my first books that I really read independently, and it was a chapter book. Just the pride I felt. And [00:15:00] then I would start to pick up books on my own. And again, it was not always easy and reading never became super easy for me, and it took me longer, but I was able to do it. Then at one point I wanted to be a writer because I loved reading books so much and telling stories and reading stories.
And then for a while I decided I want to write and I focused so much on my writing and I had a teacher [00:15:30] who really was life changing and she really encouraged me to write a lot. And that was a way that I was really able to express myself and my thoughts. And then we would sit in the class and we would get to read our stories out loud. And I think that was just so motivating for me, that I was finally being heard after so long of just trying to disappear into the back of the classroom and all of a sudden, I was the one with my hand outstretched [00:16:00] for most of the day, jumping out of my seat, couldn't wait to answer the teacher's questions, couldn't wait to read my stories out loud. It was a whole new world.
Adam Dayan: That's amazing. I have goosebumps right now. That's really amazing. When you were a child, did your parents receive any guidance from a special education [00:16:30] attorney or advocate?
Rachel: They did not. I guess we weren't as informed back then. They paid out of pocket and it was a huge expense at the time for them, but they knew they were doing the right thing for me. And I'm so eternally grateful that they did. And it was a big sacrifice for them, but it paid off.
Adam Dayan: Sure did. [00:17:00] So fast forwarding from when you were a child, can you discuss your experience as a parent advocating on your children's behalf?
Rachel: Sure. I was definitely able to use a lot of my personal experiences to be able to help my children. A lot of it is genetic so I wasn't surprised necessarily when I noticed my kids starting [00:17:30] to have difficulties. But with my first child, and again, as a new parent, it was a hard process to start. And I think also I had to rely a lot on the school and what they were seeing in the classroom versus what I would see at home, because sometimes that picture is so completely different. And when he was really young and in the stages of early intervention, [00:18:00] I didn't think there was any issues whatsoever until it was brought to my attention.
Adam Dayan: Also, as you were speaking, you mentioned the process being hard to start. So tell me a little bit more about that. What was daunting in the beginning of starting the process?
Rachel: What was daunting is I had my experience as a child, but my parents didn't really go through any of these procedures [00:18:30] that I go, that I have gone through now with you. So IEPs, well, we got evaluations back then, but an IEP and all these other things was totally new with, for me, and just learning how to deal with the district was totally new for me. And I'm so happy that I found you guys because you really led me through the whole process. But before I did, I went into [00:19:00] things blindly. When my son first had his evaluation, I looked at the evaluation, I was like, "They can't possibly be talking about my kid."
Adam Dayan: And that was the other piece I was going to pick up on, the difference between what you were seeing at home and what teachers were reporting from the classroom. Can you say more about that?
Rachel: Sure. My oldest son was very bright and at home, he was so verbal and [00:19:30] so expressive. And to me, again, he's my first kid, he blew me away and even today, he's still blowing me away. But in the classroom, the teachers would say he doesn't really speak, he's not really able to follow class instruction, he needs so much redirecting, even just to sit in a circle time, he's always off in his own world. [00:20:00] And again, at home, he was my only kid, he had all our attention so I didn't notice those kinds of issues at home.
Adam Dayan: So what's the takeaway lesson from that when you reflect on 10 years, and how it was in the beginning and the differences that you just discussed. What's the takeaway lesson for parents who are listening?
Rachel: I [00:20:30] think it's very important. I know sometimes parents can be a little combative when they hear things from a teacher, from the school, your child needs services, sometimes we like, "Ugh." We roll our eyes and say, "Why does every kid today need services? When we were growing up, we never needed services and everyone turned out okay." So listen, we all have that feeling sometimes, but I'm so happy that I was really open to [00:21:00] getting the feedback that the school was giving me about each of my children, because also starting early and really getting them those early intervention services, having an IEP from the start really made things easier. But when they needed more services later on, at least I had a reference to say, "Look, my kid from the beginning of their schooling, that my children from the start benefited from [00:21:30] services."
Adam Dayan: I think that's such an important one. And I hope that this podcast will help parents understand what resources are out there, who they can listen to for that kind of insight, but certainly, the classroom teacher, what they're seeing in the classroom. And I think if it's diverging from what you're seeing at home, as you said, be open-minded and take in that information. So you described one of your children. Can you describe your other children?
Rachel: Yes. My other [00:22:00] two children, my middle child, my second son, actually I should say, from when he was young, I also noticed also for him, which was different than my older son, I noticed a lot more language issues. He had a hard time expressing himself, word retrieval was very hard for him. He would confuse things. He still actually confuses things. He comes home still, he's 12 years old, he'll come home and say, "What's for lunch?" When he means dinner. [00:22:30] Those cute things, but in all seriousness, from when he was young, I just noticed again, the expressive language difficulties. And then as he got older and he started with reading, that was a red flag for me, decoding was very hard.
Remembering those sight words were really hard, and the fluency again. With him, [00:23:00] it wasn't so cut and dry, I kept thinking whether he needed a special ed school or if with the services within his school, he would be able to do well. And it came to a point where I asked myself, "Do I want my child to get by or do I want him to succeed?" And I think that I answered my own question, I didn't want my child [00:23:30] just to get by. And I noticed that he was just getting by and I noticed the self-esteem starting to diminish. He was such a hard working kid, in the first grade, he wouldn't even get up for recess until he was finished all his work.
And then by third grade, he was all of a sudden checked out because like I said, for myself earlier, when you don't see the results when you're working so, so hard [00:24:00] and you're not seeing the results, you give up.
Adam Dayan: And I was going to say, my experience is not your experience, obviously I'm coming at this from a very different standpoint, but in my experience, that spirals and parents who don't nip it in the bud, if the child is just getting by and struggling with anxiety and social and emotional and nothing is done, it spirals [00:24:30] and it gets exponentially worse. And like you said, I've seen clients who just from what their parents tell me, what the teachers say, "Check out," they give up on learning and on themselves.
Rachel: Yes. And so I definitely saw that that started to happen, and again, he wasn't even totally at the bottom of his class, but I knew, first of all, he's a really bright kid and [00:25:00] where he was academically, didn't measure up to his intelligence and that is always a telltale sign of having a learning disability and needing something more.
Adam Dayan: Absolutely. And your third child?
Rachel: And my third child, by the time I got to my third kid-
Adam Dayan: Were an expert.
Rachel: Yeah. I was an expert, but I didn't wait. She was in kindergarten [00:25:30] and her teachers would tell me that she had a really hard time following along in class. They would give a group lesson and she was totally lost. And the teacher would have to come over after and reexplain the whole lesson> When they had like choice time, she didn't know what was being asked of her. Math, she could not understand what they were asking her. They would say, " What's one and one?" And she would say 11 because [00:26:00] the one and the one are next to each other.
So just the language of math was so difficult for her and just following the last routines. And so with her, I made the decision, again, every time I made a decision for my children, I struggled with it. I couldn't sleep at night, "Should I try first grade? Maybe things will be different. Am I giving her enough of a chance? [00:26:30] If I pull her out now, will she ever be able to reenter Yeshiva?" For me and for my family, having a Hebrew education I guess was important. So I knew once I pulled her out, she wouldn't have that. So again, all these thoughts, all these doubts, all these questions, but I didn't want to wait on her because what I learned, I think, through the process is when your kid has a language-based learning disability, it's never going to change. And [00:27:00] Band-Aids are just Band-Aids and no matter how much support I would try to give her within the school that she was, it would just get her by and not really give her the tools that she would need to be remediated and to succeed.
Adam Dayan: Yeah. So many considerations.
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Adam Dayan: For purposes of the rest of our conversation, let's focus on one of your children, which child would you like to focus on?
Rachel: [00:28:00] I guess let's focus on child number three.
Adam Dayan: I guess you talked about this a bit, when you first noticed that there was a concern, you mentioned it was kindergarten and you were debating whether to keep her where she was for the first grade, how did the issues come to your attention? Was it one specific incident or a series of concerns?
Rachel: It was a series of concerns. I relied [00:28:30] a lot on her classroom teacher. The school that she was, it's an unbelievable school and very supportive. And they really know my children, they really understand my children. So I really relied heavily on their advice. And their advice to me was, "She can stay here and she'll be okay, but she will be more successful if she leaves and if she gets the right placement." [00:29:00] And so at that point, I did a neuropsych evaluation and I get guess everything that I thought was the case kind of was or was.
Adam Dayan: What was that experience like for you, by the way, the neuropsych evaluation? Episode one talks about that, but I'm sure people would love to hear from your standpoint.
Rachel: I had a great evaluator, and again, now I have a 10-year relationship with her. So she [00:29:30] made the process pretty easy and smooth, but again, first of all, it's a major expense on families. So that's always a consideration about when to get it done, should I wait? And also sometimes when we read these evaluations, there's certain things that the evaluations, sometimes they can be hard to read, hard to understand [00:30:00] the language of them. So it's very important to have a professional really walk you through it and really try to understand the language of it and really break it down so that you can understand it.
Adam Dayan: Sure, absolutely. Anything else that you wanted to share about what you were noticing about your child?
Rachel: I noticed also the self-esteem and confidence. So it affected her socially because [00:30:30] she's such a bright girl, but her ability to express herself was difficult. And so she loves other children and I saw her retreating back a little because she wasn't able to keep up in a conversation. So it definitely affected her socially, and that was also something that was concerning to me.
Adam Dayan: Okay. [00:31:00] We may have touched on this a little bit, but I'd like to hear what steps you took to secure the help she needed. Were you able to get the supports and services that she needed? Tell us more about that.
Rachel: First I called you. So you're always my first phone call. So yes, I was able to get her the support she needed. We go through the process of the IEP meeting, they recommended [00:31:30] a placement that we felt was not the right placement for her, and we put her in a private special ed school. And we thank God, we've been able to get reimbursed year after year so far, which has been really helpful considering now I have two kids in special ed.
Adam Dayan: Do you have any anecdotes you can share to make that journey a little bit more concrete [00:32:00] for our listeners, something that you remember from going through that process, maybe trying to identify the school or dealing with the new school initially, or anything about that placement process that you think would be helpful for our listeners to hear?
Rachel: I relied a lot also on talking to other parents, parents that were in the school I was looking at, doing my due diligence and going [00:32:30] to see other schools as well.
Adam Dayan: And that's so important to speak with other people who are going through the same thing, get some feedback, get some thoughts, get some experiences under your belt so that you have an easier time navigating.
Rachel: Yeah. That was definitely really helpful for me. And again, relying on you guys to just walk me through the process. There's so much that needs to take [00:33:00] place to, again, secure yourself. Again, it's a huge financial burden. So without you, this wouldn't really be possible for two children.
Adam Dayan: You've mentioned IEP meetings, you've been to your fair share of IEP meetings, right?
Rachel: I had one today. It's really becoming like my part-time job, I was going to say.
Adam Dayan: I think it might be helpful for parents to be able to picture what happens [00:33:30] at one of these IEP meetings or school district meetings. So how would you describe it to someone who's unfamiliar?
Rachel: Sure. I'll just say as a side note, one of the best things that came out of the pandemic was that now we got to do this on the phone, we don't have to show up, which is really nice, because I was always... And I'll just say, I finally nailed 10 years later, I'm not nervous, and I could do it with my eyes closed, it became like scripted for me, but I [00:34:00] always a nervous wreck going into those meetings. Am I going to say the wrong thing? Am I going to do the wrong thing? Are they going to take away services? But you guys I'll say, you guys do such a great job of really prepping the parents, you walk me through it. So now I'm really confident.
Basically the way an IEP meeting works is you go, you have a representative from your school, usually like the school psychologist and your child's teacher, [00:34:30] and then the district has usually also a psychologist, and another special educator there. And so first, the teacher speaks really on your behalf about your child's progress in the academics, reading, math, writing, and you get to chime in and say [00:35:00] if you agree with the teacher's analysis. And then after hearing how your child's doing, the department will make a recommendation about what kind of placement would match your child needs.
And then you get to say whether you think that that's an adequate placement or not, and will it meet your child's needs? Obviously, in my case, the placements that the district have [00:35:30] made have never been adequate.
Adam Dayan: What difference do you think it makes to have professionals on your side with you at the IEP meeting? I'm talking about the school representative or classroom teacher, I'm talking about the neuropsychologist. [00:36:00] To have those people with you, whether in person or on the phone or whatever, what difference do you think that makes?
Rachel: Makes a huge difference. I'll say, I think my first IEP meeting before I called you initially, I didn't have anyone with me. I just went to the meeting blindly and I agreed on IESP that definitely wouldn't have met my child's needs. [00:36:30] And I had to go to you and then say, "Wait, wait, I need another meeting." So it's definitely helpful, because again, you can agree to things you don't even know you're agreeing to just because you think you don't have another option and that there isn't another option. They'll tell you, "Well, we can't do anymore." And you sign that piece of paper and say, "Okay, I guess this is it." But you can't stop advocating for your child [00:37:00] and you have to secure the services that your child needs.
Adam Dayan: I'll just say that you're not the only person to have gone into an IEP meeting and thought that you had to agree with the district. There are so many parents out there who don't know they have a choice in the matter. And so they sign and later they say, "You mean I had a choice, I didn't have to sign or I didn't have to agree?" And I think that's a really [00:37:30] important point, I'm glad you bring it up, because parents are an equal member of this team. Another thing that not everyone is aware of, the parents constitute part of the team and they have a say in the matter. And if they don't agree with the district's recommendations, they can say so and they can reject those recommendations.
Adam Dayan: When we've spoken about the difference that it's made in your child's life to be in the right placement, in an appropriate [00:38:00] replacement, you've said that it's changed their world. I think you mentioned earlier, similar language for yourself, it changed your world. And you've told me in the past regarding your daughter, that when she started at the school she's in, she commented that, "They teach me in a way that I understand." Can you just unpack that a little bit, give some context and say more about it?
Rachel: Yes. So at six years old, she [00:38:30] was able to really put it in a language that I wouldn't be able to. She said, "They teach me slower so that I can understand more." And I couldn't put it better myself. And then she was like, "When I grow up, I want to be a teacher here at this school because they helped me so much and I want to help children when I grow up." So she really appreciates it and she [00:39:00] really understands what she's getting, which is really great as a parent to see. Again, as a parent, we want nothing more than for our children to be happy, to feel confident, to feel successful. And that's what I see.
Adam Dayan: That's amazing. It's not an easy process dealing with your school district, some parents may perceive it as requiring too much time and resources. What drives you to [00:39:30] keep making the effort?
Rachel: What drives me is, again, I'm seeing the results. And with two children who really needed a special ed school, the price tag is huge. And just to know that I can get that money back and get them the services that they need, it was obviously very motivating. [00:40:00] And again, since we've had so much success in the past and the process has become a little more automatic for me, it motivates me to keep moving forward. And again, just seeing my children, seeing that they feel successful, seeing that I've been able to give them what they need, I see the results, again my pocket and I see my kids, they feel successful. And I see the rate [00:40:30] at which they're learning and the rate of the progress that they're making is really remarkable.
And I see how confident they are versus when we first started. It's affected them socially as well, they're confident with their peers, they've made so many new friends, and it affects every area of life, even the home life. Whereas homework used to be torture in the past, they come home, they know what they have to do, [00:41:00] and they do it and they feel good about themselves. And again, it's impacted every area of our life for the better.
Adam Dayan: Amazing. What effects has the pandemic had on your child's education?
Rachel: The pandemic hasn't been easy for any child, and of course, my children definitely were affected. Because they go to a school [00:41:30] that has such a small student to teacher ratio, they were able to provide a Zoom education far superior to anywhere else. So again, not the same, definitely not the same, but the instruction that they received over Zoom kept them all on level. And I was actually very surprised at what they were able to do. And again, my hat is off to every teacher [00:42:00] out there because you guys are really superheroes, what you guys were able to do in that time was really, really remarkable.
Adam Dayan: I'll echo that, my hat is off as well. Thank you teachers for your wonderful work. What do you want other parents whose children are struggling educationally to know? Let's start with dos and don'ts.
Rachel: Like I said earlier, definitely be open to hearing how your child [00:42:30] is doing in school because the teachers in the school are a huge resource. Try, and it's never easy, but as soon as you can get your child services, don't delay. Again, if your child has a language-based learning disability, that doesn't just disappear, it's always there. And again, not every child needs a special ed school. I have one son who was [00:43:00] able to do really well in the school that he was in with extra support and extra services. And that was really great for him. And so again, just remembering that every child is different and every child's needs are different.
And I guess as a parent also, be kind to yourself and know that this is a hard process and there is a lot of support out there. Talk to your friends, talk to other parents that have been there. [00:43:30] And again, listen to your children as well, because my kids were very tuned into what was going on. And talk to your kids as well, because when you have those conversations, they're so insightful. And again, talk to them about what it means to have a learning disability. I wish as a kid I understood better.
Adam Dayan: How? How do you approach conversation with your kid?
Rachel: Let me just say, when my parents [00:44:00] realized, and they did have those conversations with me, they were great. I think, just talk to your children about what it means to have a learning disability, and that it has no reflection on their intelligence. And again, when I was a kid, I loved hearing Albert Einstein and Tom Cruise at the time, that all these people, all these really famous, amazing people also were dyslexic. So I think definitely include your kids in the conversation and [00:44:30] give them the information they need so that they don't feel dumb and that they don't feel that they won't be able to succeed down the line.
And that you are doing everything. And I think kids also want to know that you are doing everything to advocate for them, and that you are doing everything in your power to make them successful.
Adam Dayan: I imagine there are parents out there who would be interested in having those types of conversations, but maybe don't know where to begin, and I think you just gave some great pointers on where to begin. [00:45:00] Do you have any encouraging words to parents who are going through this process and worrying about their children?
Rachel: First of all, I'll say, as a parent, we never stop worrying about our kids, we're always going to worry, but I can tell you from my personal experience, and I don't say this to brag at all, I was a kid who couldn't read and then ended up in an Ivy League school. And I think what I learned was that [00:45:30] having a learning disability means that you learn how to work harder. Like when I was in school and most kids could study for an hour and that was enough, I had to study for maybe three hours. And when I had to read a chapter, it probably took me double the amount of time, but because I had to put in so much more effort and because I had to always work harder and because I needed [00:46:00] to rely a lot on supports, it gave me tools that I had for the rest of my life.
And that is something that really is immeasurable. And I think you will see that with your own children, kids with learning disabilities have to work harder and that's something that's going to stay with them for the rest of their lives. And that work ethic will really be a real advantage for them, [00:46:30] which I feel.
Adam Dayan: I have so much to say in response, I don't even know how to articulate it. I can testify to the fact that you're an amazing person, you've become an amazing person. From an educational standpoint, you're a success story to have started with the challenges that you've described and to have gone on to achieve what have, I think is amazing. It's [00:47:00] I know going to be inspiring and encouraging to families in your situation, to kids with dyslexia who are maybe despairing and doubting themselves, and not yet aware that there's light at the end of the tunnel if they get the right supports and services.
So I really am so thankful that you've come here to share your story and talk about your [00:47:30] experiences, because I think there's so much here and I know that our listeners are going to feel the same. Before we conclude, are there any resources that were helpful to you as you were navigating this process that you would like to recommend to other parents who are going through the same process?
Rachel: The best resources are getting advice from people who've been there. Again, I speak to families [00:48:00] all the time. I'm so happy to give my advice, share my story, because I know that people who I've reached out to were so helpful for me. The school was definitely, again, I am blessed that my children were in such a supportive school because they really guided me throughout the whole process. And obviously, your [00:48:30] team has always been there guiding me, my neuropsychologist, again, when it came to what was the right placement for my school, she was there and made awesome recommendations. And I think that's it in terms of what I can recommend.
Adam Dayan: Okay. So I think we're at the end. I want to thank you so much for coming on the podcast. [00:49:00] You're an amazing person, you're an amazing advocate for your kids. I really appreciate your coming to share your story, and thank you so much.
Rachel: Thank you for having me. My pleasure.
Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to Curious Incident, a podcast for special needs families. Don't forget to subscribe for a new episode every month. For more resources and helpful information, check out our blog at dayanlawfirm. [00:49:30] com.
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