Check out this month’s resources to help you explore your community this fall! Be part of a cool fashion design project, join an amateur radio club, or celebrate the new season with a harvest festival. And of course, we also have tips for parents who are sending their kids off to yet another school year!
Autism-Friendly Broadway in Boston
The first autism-friendly performance by Broadway in Boston — none other than The Lion King! — will be on Saturday, October 11th, at 2 pm (http://www.autismspeaks.org/lionking). This performance won’t include any strobe lights focused on the audience and will keep sounds lower in volume and intensity. In addition, the lobby will include quiet spaces and activity areas for families, and trained staff and volunteers will be available to provide help and support whenever needed. Tickets will be sold at reduced prices — buy them now!
HAM Radio Club
Love radio? Love technology? The Irving K. Zola Center for Persons with Disabilities is looking for participants to join their Ham (Amateur) Radio Club. If you’re a licensed Ham Radio operator or want to learn more about ham radio, attend their meeting at 11:30am-2:00 pm on September 20th! Light lunch will be provided. To learn more, contact Club Director Bob Drukman at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 617-277-5131.
MIT Open Style Lab
What’s better than fashion, technology, or accessibility? All three combined! MIT’s Open Style Lab seeks 10-15 people with disabilities who are interested in working as project clients with MIT engineering students to create a new piece of assistive technology that will improve their access and quality of life. Open Style Lab’s projects have included an iPhone app for detecting clothing colors and patterns to help a blind person dress independently, binoculars for birdwatching that are accessible without the use of hands, and new clothing designs that incorporate the use of prosthetics. Check out their website here (http://courses.csail.mit.edu/PPAT/fall2014/index.html). To learn more, contact Grace Teo at email@example.com.
Family Harvest Festival
Clear your schedules on September 27th for some family-friendly fun! Enjoy live music, hay rides, arts and crafts, and face painting courtesy of Northeast Arc’s Autism Support Center. The Festival will be at 12-3pm at Endicott Park on 57 Forest Street in Danvers. There’s no fee for attendance, although the Autism Support Center will happily accept donations. For more information, call 978-777-9135 or visit http://ne-arc.org/ai1ec_event/2nd-annual-family-harvest-festival/?instance_id=975.
Get your adrenaline pumping at Brooklyn Boulder’s Adaptive Climbing Group in Somerville! They offer outdoor and indoor climbing sessions specifically for those with disabilities (http://www.adaptiveclimbinggroup.org/). Check out their Thursday and Sunday sessions at Brooklyn Boulders, or join their indoor and outdoor adaptive climbing clinic sessions throughout the tri-state area!
Know Your Rights
After a glorious summer of fun and adventures, its time to gear up for another school year! If you are a parent or student, you know that the transition back to school after a lengthy vacation is never easy. Families of children with disabilities must work even harder to ensure that the child’s experience is positive and rewarding. So many parents, whether new to the system or experienced, are unaware of specific rights to which they and their child are entitled under the law. Taking a moment to review these policies will ensure that the transition process is as smooth as possible and can be the key to a school year they’ll never forget!
First, remember that Massachusetts allows for parents to choose where their child is placed. This resource (http://www.doe.mass.edu/finance/schoolchoice/choice_guide.html) provides valuable information related to your rights regarding school choice. Once you have examined placement, it is important to consider how your child is performing. Here are some techniques to get you started (http://www.ncld.org/parents-child-disabilities/ld-testing/if-you-suspect-child-has-learning-disability).
It is useful to be aware of the differences between IDEA (which covers the IEP) and Section 504 (which covers the 504 plan for classroom accommodations). This chart (http://www.ncld.org/disability-advocacy/learn-ld-laws/adaaa-section-504/section-504-idea-comparison-chart) thoroughly illustrates similarities and differences in each piece of legislation.
If your child is enrolled in a program for students with specific needs, it is important that you constantly monitor his or her performance. You are your child’s strongest advocate – information you provide to school administrators can directly impact the child’s future. Do not be afraid to speak up for the rights of yourself and your child! Being aware of special education law can pave the way to yet another challenging school year filled with excitement and fun.
Want to make a difference? Aaron’s Presents, whose mission is “inspiring kids to give of themselves for the good of the world,” gives the opportunity for any child in 8th grade and below to apply for a grant to carry out a project that benefits others. If won, the grant will provide up to $500 in materials and services. Learn more at www.aaronspresents.org.
Autism Updates: A Workshop for Families
The Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and Care.com are holding a FREE Community Education program on Wednesday, September 17th at 5:30-7:00pm. The workshop will cover the clinical, legal and financial aspects of caring for a child with autism. Families have the opportunity to learn about iPad apps for language and learning, special needs and long-term legal planning. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.