Hey, parents, it's summertime and I haven't been on here in a minute. And I'm here with my friend and fellow mom, Courtney. Hey, Courtney. Hey, we are two moms. And you know, I always talk about not doing this motherhood, IEP journey things. So we're two moms, I partner with Courtney, because I've been a hot mess. And that's why you haven't had a podcast for me. And I reached out to get some some help. Because I need help. Courtney helped me what?
I'm here for it. We're gonna give them some tips. And we're just going to be sharing our our life as moms and advocates and just trying to make a difference in our all of our kids is life. Yes. And to help the parents around us. So yeah, I'm Courtney. I'm an IEP coach and disabilities advocate. I help families navigate special education. And I work on local and federal advocacy to help make policy change that I think will help all of our kids have a better future
coordinate doesn't play. And we have seven kids between us. So we know we got a lot of we got we got a lot of kids. Experiences.
Yeah, you see that bumper sticker. There's a whole lot of kids up in here. And that's how I feel most of the time, a
lot of interesting things happen in between us. I know this is a little bit off topic, we're gonna get back to what we said, because we have some IEP summer tips for us. For you guys. Not for not for us, we have it for them, right. It's for them, not for
us our own tips. So it's for them, and it's tips that we use for ourselves, for our kids to make sure we're ready for the upcoming school year and summer and just kind of how to have fun. markeesha and I are all about having fun. Travel and being really effective with our kids IEP. So Right. We're all those things,
right? And speaking of that, can you just give us a little bit about your path? What you guys did a little snippet of what you guys did all the rafting Yes, just a little bit, because we're gonna have a whole podcast about about what you guys about that experience.
Yeah. So yeah, just as a little introduction, my daughter is 18 My oldest daughter, Hannah is 18. And she has a physical disability. And so we were looking at, we're always looking at how can we include her? How can we have fun and make sure that we're doing things as a family and my husband Craig had this idea of going river rafting, which was I'm adventure seeker. I have no problem doing adventure, but I was a little nervous about how will we do that with with Hannah. But yeah, so we're gonna dig into that. But we went river rafting, the company we used was phenomenal. They were all in on inclusion, making it as accessible as possible. And just that spirit of we're gonna get her down to the river, and we're going to have a blast. And so we have some really cool photos of us river rafting. And my daughter who my other daughter, Lily, said, Man, this is check off my bucket list. And our guide was like you're already checking things off your bucketlist at 16. How cool. So yeah,
I love to hear it. And I'd love to see it. That's and I was a little jealous you guys because Courtney didn't tell me and I felt you know, Instagram jealous. And I text her and I was like, I didn't know you were going I mean, she's not obligated to tell me everything but I kind of feel like she should have but we're not going to air all of our dirty laundry out here on this podcast.
Part of it was I was like, should I talk about this? It must be successful. Pardon me waited to be like, I didn't want to be like we're going river rafting and it ends up in the river. A disaster. So I do kind of keep it like hush hush until we were on the other side done with the activity and I was like, Oh, look how fun it was. It turned out great. Right?
I understand that but I felt the same way when we zip blind last year. I was like let me wait to see if Josiah is gonna really do it and make sure that it's successful. So I understand that. Well, let's hop into some IEP summer tips for our other our parents out there. Yeah, I K A we came up with three tips because summer is not gonna last forever.
True, true, it always goes by fast and always
so fast. And but we don't want to bombard the kids either. We both believe in, you know, things being practical because we do have other kids. Surprise, we said, we got seven, between the both of us. Yeah. And the focus, you know, isn't just for in our home. And I know from talking to you, it's not just about Josiah in the house. It's not just about what his goals are, we have to, for example, get to those baseball tournaments, and do other things, too. So the one tip that we talked about was just to find a focus. And that's the one summer tip is he has several goals and your child might have does have probably several goals in their IEP. But for the summer, it's such a short period of time, two and a half months, roughly, probably for everyone, right, kind of maybe find the focus that you want to focus on for us. It was his language arts or reading has been our focus.
Yeah, and so for my daughter, where she uses a communication device, so she's a augmentative. and alternative communication, you might hear that acronym AAC. So we wanted to keep that going. That's her main way of communicating, but also kind of documenting how she's doing with her what we call spontaneous hits, where she's just initiating that all on our own. And so keeping track of that, and being able to bring that back to the school team kind of helps them know what's going on, and maybe even inspire them of wow, we haven't, we haven't seen her do that, I wonder what they're doing at home that allowed that maybe it was the placement of the communication device or kind of leaving it open ended for her. So that's the kind of things that you can do at home too, is when you're kind of tracking that and taking your own little notes, that stuff that you can bring back. And I know a lot of our families might not feel like an equal member of the IEP team. We might that might be the first time some of our listeners, friends are, are hearing on that, like I am not an equal member. And I think that's one way to really help you be an equal member is to come off summer break or winter break with notes that you kind of noticed things that went well, things that didn't go well, because those are conversation starters. Yeah.
Right. I love that. I love that. And our number two tip that we have for the summer is to make it practical, right mama has to get to target. That's what this Mama loves to get to target. But make the goals practical, and look into what your goals are. Because at the end of the day, our kiddos won't be Hannah's now 18. Right. And they aren't going to be in the classroom forever. I am what I say as I was a former teacher, and I hate to admit it a little vain. So when I first started, I was like, oh, Pinterest, I was like, Well, my classroom did look like this. And I want to be able to show the parents that I taught them their ABCs quickly realized, though, and was reformed, as I talked to the parents more, that it wasn't about me teaching them but they you know, they had real concerns like I can't get them in the car seat. And I was like, at the time I had two kids, I was pregnant with the third. And I was like, that's a big problem. If you can't get your kid in the car seat, you know, things that I hadn't thought about. Because I did not have just I at the time. So I did not have a child that had a disability. And I really started listening to I get choked up when I talk about this. Because I'm thinking about my parents, you know, and so I'm talking to the parents and parents, really talking to your teachers. Some of them might have but might be like me, like I didn't know, when I was a teacher. You know, I just didn't know until I've talked to them. Until I talked to my parents and they're like, Yeah, we can't get in the car seat. Yeah, we can't go to the game. Yeah. Or, or like you were talking like access to be able to get maybe Hannah's wheelchair and be able to get to
Yeah, is the place accessible. And then festival? Yeah. And as you're telling that story, it reminded me of the early years with Hannah and she could not stand grocery stores. She could not stand the lights, the noise. And so it restaurants really going out. It's just like, really hard. And so keeping it practical and then always helping families realize that yes, the goals have to tie in to the standards and and whatever the school district is saying, you know, in our state on our sensitised to a standard, but within that standard, that is the school thing that they have to tie the goal to, there's a lot of steps in those that are going to be for home and school, being able to transition is a school need and our home need being able to handle unexpected noises or changes? And how do we help the child regulate or express their needs, in those situations where they don't feel regulated, and in a way that works for a school and social setting. So a lot of times, sometimes we'll hear well, that's not a school goal. And so I just want to encourage parents to break down the goal with the with the team, yes. And then within that, you can usually find a lot of things that are need for home and school, and then you can find how to write it that makes sense for the school. But like you said, keeping it fun. I'm a speech therapist, I work in home health here in the summer, it's hot, the kids are tired, you have to get creative, like my kids, oh T yesterday, they made ice cream in a bag like old school like shaking it. So it's all these skills they were working on for small motor. And at the end, they got ice cream, let me tell you, they were excited. And they got to get through therapy. And and so that therapist was doing the same thing. How can I make this fun, practical, and just keeping the kids engaged. And so when you're at home, trying to work on goals and take data, you don't want it to be super structured and make the kids feel like they're back at school because they want to break. So it's finding, finding those moments that you can go oh, we just that was something cool. They did. I'm going to jot that down. Right.
Yeah, I like that. I like that a lot. So they don't want to be like, yeah, it's time. It's time to work on your IEP goals right down here. And they're like, oh, no, it doesn't have to be like that. Just look at your day, and be like, Oh, we can fit this in here. You know, we can look at look at that here, like look at your day and see like where those things can fit in naturally, I guess, maybe not practical and just naturally where it fits into your day.
Right? Because like anything else, as parents as moms, anything else stressing us out anything else making us feel guilty that we're not yet again, accomplishing everything we put on our plate. So it's like, we don't want that we our whole goal is really to help you find says kind of see it differently, maybe have a different perspective on it. And then how to use that information to what I call leverage your IEP meetings and those check ins with your IEP team.
Yes. We don't. We don't want to make it. We don't want to make it another task.
Right. A lot of task. Right.
That's my that's why I haven't been here. Anyhow, it's not about me. The third one is taking data over the summer, as we said, we don't want to add another task. But yeah, so we're gonna, we're gonna make it easier, though.
Yeah. And I don't know about you, but I always have my phone on me. Oh, and on the iPhone, you have this cool thing called notes. And I actually have an Instagram post about it. And I got a lot of interaction on it and questions about it, because they're like, tell me more like, what do you do? So I did, I started a Hannah's IEP goal kind of labeled it so I could be able to find it later. With keywords. It's very important when you forget why you labeled it. So something I could find when I'm searching for it to add to it. And then I just started kind of saying like, Hannah was able to say juicy apple that was totally new for her. So to describe something and she was just laughing at how juicy the Apple was when she did that. So I just kind of jotted that down. I wanted to remember, you know, we were talking about rafting and I wanted to remember the kind of the PT things. Speaking of getting emotional, I got emotional when we got back from rafting. And I thought about all those years of PT and the different things we worked on in physical therapy and how all of those sessions led up to her being able to stand, walk, walk across rocks are laid over, you know, with assistance and get into the raft and so I don't have all of her physical therapist contacts anymore, but I did go back and say to the ones I am in contact with on social media and was like, hey, guess what we did? And I want to thank you for being a part of her journey. And you really were a part of this moment because we When Hannah started, you know, she started very young, but she never put her legs on the ground. Well, one of our first big breakthroughs was getting Hannah to release her legs so that she could push them into the ground. And I still have that physical therapist contact on social media and I sent it to her, she's like, well, I'm so glad we forced her to put her legs down, because that was the first step of being able to stand and walk and transfer was actually putting her legs on the ground. And so, you know, just having that encouragement to like that, where you are right now, if your child is not the end destination, and everything you're doing is making a difference. So just jotting those down in the notes, because life goes by quick. And you might think, Oh, that was a small thing. But it's really the small things that add up to our kids. Being able to hit a milestone, and especially for my daughter, it's like, a lot of little goals that weren't the actual goal. And then one day, it just kind of fills up. Oh, we hit the goal, but it wasn't like that. We did, you know, years of small steps, getting into it,
right. Like when you when when it was way back when she was younger, you knew you didn't think Well, one day we might river raft,
right? Honestly, I was in the thick of it, I was just like trying to, you know that survival mode. And I think that's why you and I are so passionate as we understand being in survival mode, right. And we really want to help families be able to thrive and realize that life is hard. Some of this raising our kids, all of our kids, it's it's hard. And there's definitely things that are unfair and discriminatory that our kids experience with having a disability. And we're going to talk about, you know, in future podcasts about how we deal with that, and what ways we do that. But really, I want to leave parents with that hope that you can be working on this. And even though you just feel like you're just you know, treading water, and but you are going to come out and all of a sudden, you'll look back and go, Wow, those sacrifices we made going to these therapies every week really did make a difference for my kid. And that's why you want to make sure that the goals that you're working on, make sense for you, your child and your life or the life they envision having, because a lot of our kids have so many goals they could work on. And there's lots of different things we could pick. So how do you pick the right goal? And really, that's like, what's going to make the biggest impact at home in school? What does your child's interest what's going to motivate them to be like involved in therapy, and that's something you can sometimes get a sneak peek out in the summer is kind of seeing how your kids changed from last summer. And like last year, they were totally into that, oh, the pen or not, you can take that back to the school and be like, here's some some fun things I noticed about my kid this
incident, and sometimes they sometimes just in our culture in America, super focused on academics not that academics aren't knowing that's what we go to school for. But sometimes in academics, you can also find your, what your kids strengths are, it doesn't have to be just focused on academics. I guess that's what it was a it doesn't have to just be reading. But it could be a particular type of like, it could be anime, or it could be comics, or it could be based on Spongebob or whatever it is, it could be something particular that about reading a particular genre that they are excited about reading, right. It could be math, it could be Josiah is excited about he's always around here. Well, I mean, what's two plus two? Is about fats is all about the addition, you know, and I was like, and I'm about subtraction, because mama likes to spin what's
what's coming out? What are we doing?
Yeah. So you know, it's about those things. And summer is a great time just to sit back and observe and bringing that data to, to the to the team. And I think parents aren't aware that they are able to bring those things to the team. Right? They're just, you know, just consuming what the team is telling them about their child. And we want to empower them to say, Hey, this is what we did over the summer, and how can we make this a part of their learning my child's learning experience for the school year?
Yeah, because that's data. And so we sometimes hear school district lingo, you know, and it's like okay, but you can bring in the data that your child was able to look at a comic book or be able to do this for five or 10 minutes. So if they're seeing they can't sit and do an activity, but you're seeing they can, maybe the activity isn't interesting to them, maybe it's not utilizing their skills that they're that they're most confident in. Now that everything has to be only things we're most confident in. But how can we integrate that more, because we know if you're building off of a partially mastered goal, and you're building off their interests, you're just gonna get them engaged and be able to hit progress faster. So using that known section of your phone, taking pictures, short little video clips, and you can just do an album, I know when we were going through the evaluation process for my youngest son, we had like a little folder, and I would put like samples of his work notes in there of different things so that when I came to discussions, I could just pull up that album. And you could do the same thing like video clips from the summer and just have it ready so that you can just share those and you're not kind of trying to where was that video?
folder. Yep, go folder, which we will be talking about to you when we're doing doing a prep one, what to bring for your for your prepare for the beginning of the school year. Well, we can talk all day we and coordinate we could talk about this all day, we hope that you join us for the will be consistent because Courtney is going to keep me on on track. I'm like squirrel.
That so yeah, we want to be bringing you guys these podcasts sharing about our real life experiences, as well as special education tips, and just really parenting tips. Because all of those things make up our life and have different stressors on us. So we're just here to hopefully, bring a little laughter bring some perspective and some tips that you can take back and use in your life. Just to make it easier on you.
Find you though, Courtney, because I think they know where to find me.
Courtney Burnett, advocate on Facebook and Instagram so they can find me there. And then Courtney brunette.com is my website. So just my name, they can just find me by my name,
like find you by your name, and what uh, tell them about IEP in a IEP in a day.
Yeah, so I do have that. Another account that I'm building up as the IEP in a day, and it's a one on one coaching service for families where you can upload your child's IEP and evaluation to me, I review it come together, and we're going to make a customized, called it like a playbook, you're gonna get your own spiral notebook with your notes, tips and action steps to bring to your next IEP meeting. So it's really a coaching service around being proactive, helping families prepare for their IEP meeting. So they don't feel that stress that pit in the stomach. Rather, I want them to feel confident that they understand their child's IEP, they know what they're asking for, and how to have those collaborative conversations to get results that don't have to have a lot of conflict. And so I'm just basically teaching them. My top strategies that I've used as a mom and a special education advocate to get my clients. You know, we call them wins, but it's a win for the kid, everybody wants their kid learning and growing and making progress that should be a, it's not us versus them. That should be everybody on the team wants the kid making progress. So this coaching model was about simplifying it, parents could come together with me for an hour or two, leave with their to do list done. So the whole point of it is we're kind of live like this. And we are working through zoom. And we're just checking things off their list. So when they leave their coaching session, they already have their next steps and letters written how to ask for that. We're doing that together. And I think the best part is they get 30 days of what's called Voxer support. It's an app where you can just basically message me anytime it's convenient for you. And then I'll get back to you and I'm basically in your back pocket coaching you for 30 days, because this customer is kind of scary to take that advocacy step. So that's what I help them do.
Well, and just so you guys know that even though I'm an IEP coach, and I do this and my husband's in special education, I get stressed out about my own son's IEP and another person comes out sometimes, and Courtney helps me and I also have an IEP coach and it was gardening So, you know, I take off my IP code chat and I put on my mama hat for, for my baby. And yeah, and I know how your coat Courtney to, to help me so I could just be a mama and and yeah,
so and I heard one from you too because when you're a mom awesome, that's all your your training it's just like you ultimately that that heart that emotion that personal feeling comes over you because it's your kid and so I think it's smart for everybody to have someone helping them and you don't have to be in high conflict to want that or need that. Because why wouldn't you want your experience to be low stress high results? I think everybody definitely wants that. Yeah.
Yeah, it doesn't just have to be a problem with the problem. Just wanted to like blood. You said low stress? Yeah. For sure. Okay, well, we're gonna wrap it up, because we also want to keep them short. Because like we said, we have a lot of kids, we know you guys have kids, when we get you back to parenting give you a little bite size. So for your IP summer tips, we want you to find a focus, make it practical, or in your natural summer schedule. And to take data use use your phone notes on there, and so you have something to bring back to the team. And also we'll have the show notes. So you can find everything that we talked about here and you can print it up and you know, find Courtney on Instagram, follow her. And if you're not following me, then follow me to please and hope that you guys have a great rest of the summer and what do you do on this? Follow the podcast?
Yeah, download. Subscribe. That's right. It's like you subscribe so you know, and you get alerted.
All right, thanks, guys. Have a good rest of the day.