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Vol. XXV
No. 6

In This Issue

Joey’s World Previous Page Next Page
by Faith Berens, Dianne Craft, & Betty Statnick
- disclaimer -
Frequently Asked Questions

When parents realize that one of their children is struggling with learning, many thoughts may come to mind. Here are a few of the questions we have received, along with our answers.

HSLDA/Michelle Thoburn

Do gifted children fall under the “special needs” category? And do you have any resources or recommendations for gifted students?

Faith Berens: Yes, students who are gifted are considered “special needs.” Gifted children learn and process information differently and tend to look at things from a unique perspective. It is important for you, as a parent-teacher, to help your child realize his unique gifts and talents and help him come to understand that it is okay to be different.

Over the last decade, increasing attention has been given to high-ability students who also are struggling with school, seem unmotivated or lazy, and/or have learning disabilities. These learning disabled gifted and talented students, or “twice-exceptional students,” need remediation activities. Parents should be aware that it is not uncommon for gifted children to have “learning glitches,” such as problems with visual-motor processes. Gifted/learning disabled students need a program that is challenging and yet also provides structure and strategies to accommodate weaknesses. At the same time, they also require opportunities to promote their own individual strengths and superior abilities. When a child’s talents are identified and nurtured, there should be an increased willingness on the part of the student to put forth more effort and to complete tasks.

Gifted students are often highly creative, innovative in their thinking (outside the box), and enjoy exploring and brainstorming. They can also become easily bored! They are frequently good at self-educating, due to their motivation and curiosity, as well as their interest-driven desire to know more and go deeper with learning. For these reasons, it will be important to locate appropriate educational resources that will not only meet your child’s level of interest, but also challenge and stimulate him. The challenge in homeschooling this type of learner is to help your child remain enthusiastic about his areas of study or interests and to keep him motivated to use his unique talents and strengths!

To access a resource list for gifted and twice exceptional students, visit our website and click on the Resources tab. Then scroll down to the “gifted” heading.

How can I develop an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for my child?

Recommended IEP Resources

  • The IEP Manual: Individual Education Planning for the Handicapped Student by Jim and Debby Mills (published by NATHHAN)
  • Writing a Student Education Plan: A Preparation Guide by Judith Munday (learn@helpinschool.net)
  • The IDOC: Individualized Documentation by Sharon Wallace and Julia Hoch (formerly ISEP: The Individual Student Education Plan, bbapath@msn.com)
  • Betty Statnick: I am asked this question by parents whose children had an IEP when they were in public school and also by parents whose children have always been homeschooled. Frequently, these HSLDA members tell me their homeschool support group is requiring an IEP or their consultant recommends that they have an IEP for their child. I often introduce these parents to the Clinical Teaching Cycle Model by Janet Lerner, PhD:

    >> Diagnose. Your child is tested by an educational psychologist or other professional who develops a written report that defines your child’s strengths, areas of need, and present levels of performance.

    >> Plan. Based on test results, you will develop a customized plan of remediation (IEP). The IEP contains specific goals, the time frame under which each goal is to be reached, and also the materials, resources, and curriculum to be used in teaching to those goals.

    >> Implement. The developed IEP is followed.

    >> Evaluate. After utilizing that plan, the teacher may later conclude that some goals need to be adjusted.

    >> Modify. The IEP is adjusted to include goals that are appropriate and, therefore, more likely to be attained by the student.

    I also explain to parents some advantages to having an IEP (also called an SEP-Student Education Plan):

    • It provides a written record of the skills your child has mastered and of the skills yet to be mastered.
    • It provides you with a plan for teaching whereby you can make appropriate adjustments to his school program.
    • It can include provisions for your child to demonstrate his learning in ways other than just paper and pencil tasks.
    • It provides a tailor-made program that suits the needs of your child as well as the pace appropriate for meeting those needs.
    • It allows you to incorporate other needed therapies as part of his school program.
    • It can give some concrete evidence of the child’s progress.

    My child has Asperger’s Syndrome. Is homeschooling a feasible option for us?

    Here for You

    HSLDA’s Special Needs/Struggling Learner department offers a variety of resources for parents of struggling learners or children with special needs. HSLDA members may contact coordinators Faith Berens, Dianne Craft, and Betty Statnick for counsel and suggestions. Call 540-338-5600 or visit www.hslda.org/contactstaff.

    For helpful resources 24/7 or to sign up for our e-newsletter, visit www.hslda.org/strugglinglearner.

    Dianne Craft: Many parents find that the very best educational setting for these wonderful children is at home. Since these children are often very curious, even gifted learners, at home they are free to explore the topics of interest to them. Also, since peer relationships aren’t their strength, they are not distracted from their learning by the constant need to interact with their peers. And since many of these children suffer from sensory processing problems, it is better for them to be educated in a setting free from the unsettling atmosphere of the crowded schoolroom with all its noises and changes in routine. At home, you can give your child a set schedule for the day, so he knows what to expect, which will give him a great level of comfort. It is also the best setting in which to pinpoint specific dietary issues that may be contributing to your child’s behavior.

    What kinds of help can parents look for to build social skills in a child with Asperger’s Syndrome?

    Dianne Craft: This is the number one issue that concerns parents of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome: How will my child get along in the world? Will he be a loner all his life? Parents can help their child learn to appropriately respond to various social situations by using some of the well-made social skills training DVDs that are available. In these daily lessons, the parent and child watch a DVD of a scene where children are interacting.

    Then the parent turns off the DVD and discusses with the child various appropriate responses. These DVDs are designed to cover the different kinds of social demands that a child faces daily that are so puzzling for the child with Asperger's Syndrome. Some helpful websites are: www.modelmekids.com and www.socialskillbuilder.com. For more resources, read the document entitled, “Homeschooling a Child with Asperger”s Syndrome” at www.hslda.org/strugglinglearner/aspergers.

    About the authors

    Betty Statnick, Dianne Craft, and Faith Berens are HSLDA’s special needs/struggling learner coordinators..