Lately, I find myself realizing at all sorts of odd times just how having a son with special needs has affected our whole family. Tucking my 8-year-old daughter into bed last night, she asked how her 6-year-old brother was and I said, “Awesome. He’s still in his pajamas and settling down.” My daughter responded, “Yay! No stripping tonight,” as if it was the most normal thing in the world to say.
Last week, a kind grocery store cashier asked me how things were going with the baby. I did a double take, but then found myself just smiling and saying “Fine” when she held up the Gerber rice cereal box. I’m long past the point of trying to explain that I still serve baby cereal to my son for breakfast because it is one of the few foods he will eat.
Some time after the diagnosis, you begin to realize that things in your family will forever be different from “normal.” I’m not convinced there is a normal anymore, but I guarantee we aren’t it. And yet, every time my son gives me a kiss and flashes that winning smile, I know how deeply blessed we are to have him in our lives.
As an educator and a writer, being a parent of a student with special needs has changed my perspective on many things. Most importantly, I’ve realized how much I appreciate the educators who accept the oddities of our family without judgment and who go out of their way to make life and communication a little easier. Most parents can ask their children how school went that day or who they are having trouble with at school. When your child is nonverbal, that question goes unanswered unless your child is fluent in another form of communication.
When creating curriculum for students who are nonverbal, thinking about how we can better help teachers communicate with parents is essential. That’s why I was so passionate about making sure we included the School-Home Connections Book in Environmental Print Series. This reproducible book with take-home activities provides a short summary of every one of the 160 lessons in the curriculum, allowing parents to get a sense of what their children are learning. It also includes short reinforcement activities parents can do at home to help generalize the learning.
Lately, we’ve heard from our customers that, to facilitate parent communication even more, they need the School-Home Connections and parent letters in Spanish. And thanks to one of our wonderful editors who is bilingual, we are making that happen. Downloadable PDFs of the parent letters for PCI Reading Program and Environmental Print Series, along with the School-Home Connections Book from Environmental Print Series, are available now on our website.
From this parent to all of you working with students with special needs, many, many thanks for your expertise, caring, and understanding.
Jill’s responsibilities include managing the development of proprietary reading curriculums, training customers on PCI’s reading curriculums and other proprietary products, conceptualizing new products, writing sales and marketing literature related to the reading curriculums, staying current on reading and other educational research, overseeing the research conducted on PCI’s products, and staying current on federal and state legislation related to education.
Prior to her career with PCI Education, she was a national reading consultant and a seventh grade reading teacher. In 1999, she was named Teacher of the Year for San Antonio ISD and won the Trinity Prize for Teaching. Haney earned a BA with honors and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Trinity University in San Antonio. She has additional graduate reading hours from University of Texas San Antonio.