How Educational Mapping Can Help The Special Needs StudentOf course, you’ve already downloaded our FREE Educational Mapping ebook, but you might still be asking how the mapping works in real life.

This is the third in a series of articles from one of our BeyondTutoring mothers, detailing how educational mapping is helpful and can be carried out in a number of different situations.

We will spotlight one family with children Joey, Hannah and Molly in our series.

These children all have different needs, yet their mother uses mapping with each child on his or her own level.

Presenting… Molly’s story:

You’re read about my daughter, Molly, before on BeyondTutoring:

As Molly’s mom, I can attest that while educational mapping is very helpful for the normative or semi-normative child, for a child with definite special needs, this mapping is absolutely vital.

Our map with Molly started with suspicions of some sort of speech or hearing disorder at age 14 months. At 18 months, we started hearing tests (normal) which became a bi-annual event.

At 24 months, we decided to put her into a private pre-preschool program in order for her to have the opportunity to be with a group of children, hoping that this setting would get her to finally start talking.

We knew we might hit special education eventually, but being as how she was still pretty little and as-of-yet had no label more serious than “peculiar”, coupled with no local SPED options, she started 3-year-old nursery with the rest of the neighborhood.

I spoke to the teachers ahead of time and asked that they please direct me as well as possible to find the help my daughter needed.

It was at this point that my husband and I decided that even as she was, at that point, considered borderline for leading into special ed or the conventional system, we’d try to push getting her needs taken care of earlier rather than later.

Our reasoning on this was that we wanted Molly to be able to make friends, which was getting difficult at age three with very little speech, and we wanted to avoid a potentially long commute for the help that she would require, were this to be left unattended until first grade.

It was that year, at three, that we went from one specialist to the next, completely circumnavigating the local pediatrician, who ignored the entire issue.

Together with the school system, an IEP was put together for Molly. This included a special pre-K for speech issues, complete with in-house speech and occupational therapy, plus hearing tests booked every six months for the next two years.

Once in this pre-K, we had monthly sit-ins on the therapy sessions, along with staff meetings twice a year. About 2/3 of the way through K-4, we made a decision, with the program staff, to leave Molly back for an additional year of kindergarten.

This year would be with a regular class with periodic pull-out help from a special teacher, trained in helping a child make the transition from special ed to the regular system.

It was at this time that we started to look further into the future. What were our long-term goals for our daughter? We wrote them down as:

  • Social skills
  • Academic challenge

In that order. Eventually, this list will expand to include those fields she seems to enjoy and in those in which she excels, but these area already cooperative choices to be made at a later, more mature date.

So while Molly is pretty set and currently finishing third grade in a school that runs up to sixth grade, we’ve really kept our finger on the pulse of her school experience.

At the beginning of each school year, I have meetings, both with her teacher and the school’s resource teacher, as to cooperative expectations and goals.

I used this meeting to remind the school staff that I am available, supportive and cooperative.

I don’t want to show up to our first parent-teacher conference in December and be bombarded with unpleasant surprises. (Pleasant surprises, of course, are always welcome.)

Our constant contact has served Molly well. She is finally getting the resource help she was supposed to be getting in the first place, which was largely missing from her first grade year. Her third grade teacher has lovingly put her foot down about behaviors that need to change.

These behaviors are making social relationships very difficult for Molly and include both speaking and laughing very loudly, keeping her side of a shared desk a messy disaster and having very little patience for the short fallings of others. I get SMSes on a regular basis letting me know what is going on in school, pointing out how I can help from home.

Molly has now started another round of occupational therapy to help with writing issues and floor time (DIR) therapy to deal with behavioral and social issues.

Her original diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder is now perhaps in the process of gaining a sister diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome.

Eyes on the prize and we have our plan.

With both diagnosed and suspected special needs, mapping must include constant contact and re-mapping when necessary.

Being realistic, optimistic and enthusiastic has made all the difference in getting Molly on the path to being her very best, happy self. Making the time isn’t easy, I’ll be the first to hold my hand up in agreement on that. However, with a mapping system in place, it isn’t overwhelming.

We can do this… together!

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