Whether a child is diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, Rett syndrome or any other special need, it’s difficult for parents to know where to turn for information and support. That’s where the Macomb ISD special education offerings can make all the difference.
This was the case for Sterling Heights mom Shelley Petty and her husband when they learned that their daughter, now 16, was multiply impaired.
“When I first had our daughter, our world was rocked. We got the worst news ever,” says Petty, a representative with the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) of the Macomb Intermediate School District. “As a special needs parent, you are really alone on an island until you find that tribe,” she says.
Her “tribe” helped her overcome obstacles related to her daughter’s diagnosis – and today, through her work with PAC, Petty gives back to Macomb County families and their children with special needs by providing guidance and support.
“I swore I would always continue that as long as I could, because it made an impact,” says Petty, who is also the PTO president of the Glen H. Peters School in Macomb Township. “It’s rewarding for me because I get to help parents find their voice, help their child and teach them how to advocate.”
That’s why, each year, PAC and the MISD join forces to present a Special Education Fair. The 2018 event – which takes place 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Macomb ISD in Clinton Township – features Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind as the keynote speaker.
Suskind is well-known in the autism community for his Academy Award-nominated documentary Life, Animated, which tells the story of how his family coped when their youngest son, Owen, was diagnosed with autism.
“This is going to be a great opportunity with a wonderful keynote speaker,” says Justin Michalak, the assistant superintendent for special education and student services at the MISD. “The breakout sessions are very relevant to what we are seeing with our families.”
The Special Education Fair is free to attend and open to families both in and out of Macomb County.
In addition to the Suskind’s keynote speech, which takes place from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m., there are four different sessions, Michalak says. Parents are able to choose two to attend. Sessions include:
- Addressing Behavior in the IEP: Learn how to build a detailed profile and create goals for academic success, social interaction and more.
- Bullying – What a Parent Needs to Know: It’s a big topic today, Petty says, particularly with the use of social media.
- Connecting Home & School in a Culture of Learning: “Life is busy, and so it’s very important that we teach parents how to collaborate and keep that line of communication open,” Petty says.
- AAC Core Vocabulary – Strategies to Support Emergent Communicators: “I have a child who is nonverbal,” Petty says, which is why she looking forward to the session on AAC core vocabulary. “Part of the reason why it works so well for many of our schools is because the schools make sure the parents know our core vocabulary.” This session will help others understand and learn about AAC, which stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
Also, meet with representatives from 28 local organizations and businesses that work with the special needs community. Resources that will be on-site include:
- AYSO VIP Program – Soccer for Special Needs Players
- Crawl Walk Jump Run Therapy Clinic
- Disability Network Oakland and Macomb
- Euro-Peds Center for Intensive Therapy
- Families Exploring Down Syndrome (FEDS)
- Hope Network
- Macomb County Health Department – Children’s Special Health Care Services
- MCFARES – Michigan Coalition for Fetal Alcohol Resources, Education and Support
- Michigan Alliance for Families
- Speech, Language and Literacy Center, Inc.
- Total Education Solutions
- Usborne Books & More
“This is a great opportunity to network with other parents,” Petty says, “to learn a little something and to see things from other perspectives.”
While the event is free, registration is mandatory. Click here to register for the 2018 Special Education Fair.
For those with additional questions about the Special Education Fair, contact Monika DeLuca at 586-228-3458.
To get additional details about Macomb County, visit the Make Macomb Your Home website.
To learn more about MISD’s special education offerings, visit the Macomb Intermediate School District’s special education web page.