Advocating for Izzy

Oregon AEI would like to share a story from an Oregon mom who recently traveled to Salem to meet with her legislator for the first time. Heidi is a self-described “non-political person,” but with recent proposed budget cuts hitting the news, she felt motivated and empowered to share her family’s experience with early intervention and special education with her state senator. My name is Heidi Robinson, and my two children attend elementary school in Hillsboro. My daughter Izzy is seven, and was born with Kabuki Syndrome. She experiences intellectual and developmental disabilities as a result of this syndrome, as well as many medical issues. Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services in our state are not meeting recommended service levels. We moved here from Arizona in January of 2015. My daughter has been receiving either Early Intervention (EI) or ECSE services in Arizona since she was three months old. When she [...]

2017 Advocacy Days are Here!

If you are reading this, it’s probably safe to assume that Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE) services have impacted your life in a positive way.  If so, your advocacy in support of these services is needed now more than ever! The 2017 Oregon legislative session starts this week, and it’s more important than ever for YOU to take action in support of the programs and services that impact your life. Our legislators want to hear from you and benefit from your experience, so write an email, make a phone call, or give testimony at a legislative hearing! As you may have heard in the news, Oregon has a $1.8 billion dollar budget shortfall that may result in further cuts to already underfunded EI/ECSE programs which have been unable to provide the levels of service that children and families need. The Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means [...]

Remembering When: 2005 ECSE Services

Our son was diagnosed with autism in 2005 at the age of 3.5, and we decided to enroll him in an MECP classroom at the urging of the evaluator. It was a tough decision; he'd been home with me or spending time with a family friend who had become like a grandparent to him. Because we wanted him to learn his native (non-English) language, we hadn't had the opportunity to spend time with other children his age. At the time, he was eligible for three mornings in an MECP classroom where he spent time with children experiencing disability and typical peers. (Later, I would enroll my daughter in a similar classroom so that she could serve as a typical peer. It was a wonderful opportunity to take part in an inclusive setting, and very cost-effective at $5 a day!) Speech and occupational therapy were pushed into the classroom, and we received daily communication from the staff at [...]

Senator Sara Gelser: “We need to hear your stories”

Oregon AEI was privileged to ask Senator Sara Gelser to share her thoughts about ways parents can get involved in advocating at the state level on issues that are important to them.  How did you get involved in advocating on behalf of people with disabilities? The day before my 21st birthday, I gave birth to my oldest child who was born with physical and developmental disabilities. Through the first years of his life, it became clear to me how much economic, educational, and health care privilege impacted his ability to make progress and exceed expectations. It seemed like such a profound injustice to me that a child could be limited in meeting their potential through lack of access to services, education, or health care. That’s why I got involved with advocacy for children with disabilities. Around the time my son was born (1994), Fairview was also in the news as [...]

News: Oregon’s Expanded Workforce Registry

December 20, 2016 Recently, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services [HHS] and Education [ED] released a report that explored how states used integrated data from early childhood programs to improve their services. Oregon is one of the states highlighted for its development of an expanded registry for the early learning workforce. Before this expanded workforce registry was launched in 2012, Oregon did not have reliable basic demographic data on the early childhood workforce, such as how many people worked in early childhood programs, what jobs they held, their education level, how much training they received, their race, gender, ethnicity and primary language, etc. Today, Oregon’s integrated workforce database electronically links professional qualification and training data (from individual workforce members) with licensing data (from child care facilities in Oregon) in order to provide a better demographic profile of the early childhood workforce. Although this data is not presently connected to data on [...]

One Family’s Experience in Early Intervention: Benjamin

Benjamin was born in November 2010, four weeks earlier than we expected. Thankfully, because he had to be in the NICU, the doctors monitoring him on a daily basis were specialists in neonatal development, and we were able to detect his very rare chromosome deletion much earlier than we would have under normal circumstances. In January 2011, Benjamin had his first real "test" at only two months old when we had our first evaluation with Early Childhood Cares of Lane County to see if we qualified for Early Intervention services. I cannot think of another time when I have wished so hard to have my child fail. This is not something any parent would ever think that they would want to qualify for. However, over the last three and half years of our son's life, his early intervention team has been the foundation of our family's support system, and has [...]

One Family’s Success in Early Childhood Special Education: Lilly

Lilly is now 10, and was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. We recognized that we needed to learn more about how to support her so she could be successful. Lilly began early childhood special education [ECSE' right after her diagnosis, and we felt blessed to continue receiving those services up to the time when she entered elementary school. ECSE helped our family in many ways! Lilly was able to get the support she needed to be successful. I also believe ECSE helped our family function better because we found the resources we needed to understand better autism and how to best support Lilly's needs. Save

One Family’s Success in Early Intervention: River

River is a sweet three year old who was diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth, and has been receiving Early Intervention [EI] services from the time he was one month old. While communication has been challenging for him, his family shared that EI has been instrumental in helping him develop better communication skills. River has made huge gains in his speech and receptive communication over the past couple of years, and the strategies his teachers have provided for working on communication have been put into action in the home. River is getting ready to head off to his first year of preschool in the Early Childhood Special Education Program. We're excited to see him continue to grow and succeed! Save

My Success Story: Thomas

Thomas is 15, but he was diagnosed with a significant developmental delay in expressive communication before his third birthday. Although it was clear he understood much of what others were saying, he was challenged in his ability to express his wants and needs, which was very  frustrated for him. Thomas started receiving speech therapy services soon after his third birthday, and made great strides to the point where he learned to speak many words clearly by the time he was four. He continued with intensive speech services until he began public school, where support was slowly faded out. Thomas is now beginning his sophomore year of high school, and he is thriving. Thanks to the early intervention that Thomas received, he is able to enjoy high school with all of his peers in a general education program! Save Save Save

One Family’s Success in Early Childhood Special Education: Jacob

Jacob is an inquisitive nine year old with a world of knowledge! He was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, and received EI/ECSE services until he began Kindergarten. Jacob was very active as a little boy, but would not engaged with an activity for long. The first thing to spike his interest was Star Wars; these toys played a huge part in getting Jacob's attention!  EI services was great at finding other tools that connected Jacob with the outside world, like the Internet and documentaries. He is an expert on Space and NASA. Like lots of kids, Jacob has social discomfort, but he's a loving, wonderful boy who rarely shows behavior challenges thanks to the supports we put in place early on to help him be successful. If it hadn't been for the EI/ECSE services, we fear that Jacob would not be as successful today as he is. While it has, at times, been [...]