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Setting High Expectations for My Son

March 17, 2020
Community Voices
A Black mother kneels next to her son and they hold each other tightly in a park on a winter day.

Acola turned to INCLUDEnyc many times over the past few years. First, she called INCLUDEnyc to find out how to secure an evaluation for her then 3 year old son, Kaleb. “I wasn’t sure of his diagnosis, so I called INCLUDEnyc,” Acola said.

INCLUDEnyc Senior Family Educator Ruth DiRoma explained the steps for an evaluation which would identify Kaleb’s needs and what services and supports might be best for him. Ruth also stressed how important it was to have everything outlined on her son’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). “Getting the IEP changed was so frustrating, but because INCLUDEnyc encouraged me to be persistent, Kaleb now has speech, occupational, and physical therapy.”

Next, Acola attended an INCLUDEnyc Turning 5 workshop, which reviews the process of applying to kindergarten with an IEP. “The process is so overwhelming. Sometimes, it feels like you’re applying to college, not kindergarten. Luckily, I was able to sit through the workshop and then, called the Help Line to clarify some details with an educator,” Acola said. “During the workshop, I also enjoyed connecting with other parents. I was able to hear about other issues they were experiencing with Medicaid or busing.”

After navigating the Turning 5 process, Kaleb was admitted to their first choice, a STEM program. “My son deserves the best and INCLUDEnyc helped me advocate for the school and services he needed,” Acola said. “In general, the world sets low expectations for our children, focusing on limitations and not possibilities. I see what my son can do. Kaleb loves building and fixing things. He enjoys solving puzzles. He could be an engineer one day.”