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Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children With Disabilities

A Dance That Matters
By: Janice M. Fialka, Arlene K. Feldman, Karen C. Mikus

Foreword by Ann P. Turnbull

Rich with humor and heart, this book provides practical insights and approaches for forming partnerships between professionals and parents for the benefit of children with disabilities.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12, Elementary, Secondary
  • ISBN: 9781412966399
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2012
  • Page Count: 176
  • Publication date: April 05, 2012

Price: $31.95



Cultivate effective partnerships between parents and professionals through honest, respectful and skillful communication

The authors draw upon the metaphor of "dance" to better understand the complexities and possibilities of forming partnerships between educators, administrators, early childhood providers, therapists, support staff, other professionals, and parents of children with disabilities. This revised edition of Do You Hear What I Hear? Parents and Professionals Working Together for Children With Special Needs is rich with stories, examples, and practical insights. This book, written from both the parent's and the professional's points of view, provides a developmental approach to understanding and forging positive adult relationships, while also providing concrete ways to advocate for children. The authors' years of experience as successful consultants, trainers, and educators lends this helpful resource a deep sense of realism and compassion. They remind the reader of how essential the parent-professional partnership is—and why it IS a dance that matters.

Key features include:

  • Practical insights and evidence-based approaches to forming partnerships
  • Easy-to-read, non-technical language that speaks to both the heart and the mind
  • Sample letters and other forms of communication shared between professionals and parents
  • Stories and examples of real-world conversations between parents and professionals
  • Effective ways to handle difficult situations

Rich with humor and heart, this highly readable book offers helpful steps for self reflection, personnel preparation, and parent-professional training. Educators and parents will find expert guidance for listening to each other's music, trying out each other's dance steps, and working toward a new dance that includes contributions from all—with the ultimate reward of seeing children achieve their highest potential.

Flip to page 7 for a review of the book in the Family Matter @ School Newsletter!

Key features

  • An accessible, easy to read, and non-technical resource for family-centered practice and school-home collaboration.

  • Sample letters in Part 3 are tools which will help educators better express their thoughts and feelings to parents. Part 3 also offers great examples of the power of positive communication.

  • Because of the authors' empathy for the anxiety and uncertainty that educators, service professionals, and parents may have about their working relationship, readers of this guide will feel understood and validated.


Janice M. Fialka photo

Janice M. Fialka

Janice Fialka is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and social worker with an expertise in adolescent health, parent-professional partnerships, inclusion, and post secondary education for students with intellectual disabilities. She has co-founded and directed several teen health centers in Michigan, and has previously taught at Wayne State University in the School of Social Work. She is the Special Projects Trainer for Michigan’s Early On® (Part C of IDEA) Training and Technical Assistance.

Over the past two decades, Janice has provided the keynote address and conducted workshops at numerous national and international conferences for audiences of families, school personnel, educators, social workers, early interventionists, health care providers, and community groups. Janice serves on numerous national advisory boards and has received several awards for her advocacy work, including 2007 Social Worker of the Year by National Association of Social Workers – Michigan Chapter.

Janice and her husband, Rich Feldman co-produced the award winning DVD, Through the Same Door: Inclusion Includes College which was awarded the 2006 TASH Image Award for the Positive Portrayals of People with Disabilities. This film documents Micah’s experiences as a college student. Micah, a rising leader in the disability movement, is part of the new wave of young adults with intellectual disabilities who continue their learning on a university campus.

Janice has co-authored three books, numerous articles, and a CD of several of her poems, entitled From Puddles to PRIDE which includes her often-published poem, Advice to Professionals Who Must Conference Cases. Her website www.danceofpartnership.com is a highly regarded comprehensive resource for parents and professionals. In 2009, Janice and her family received the Family Voices Lifetime Achievement Award in Washington D.C. for their work in advocacy and disability.

Arlene K. Feldman photo

Arlene K. Feldman

Arlene K. Feldman, MA, PD, SDA, LDT/C, began her career in education in 1967, at the ripe old age of 20. The depth and breadth of her experience within the field of education is varied and extensive. She has been a general education teacher, a special education teacher, principal of a special education preschool, Director of Special Education for 20 years, and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Her greatest educational accomplishment, for which she was presented the Excellence in Leadership Award by the NYS Council for Exceptional Children, was the introduction and development of the Collaborative Teaching Model (co-teaching within the inclusive classroom.) in her school district. Believing in the benefits of collaboration, she is also passionate about the partnership between professionals and parents of students with disabilities. She fervently strives to inspire her graduate students, the next generation of educators, to welcome students with disabilities into their inclusive classrooms, to understand the strengths and challenges of these students, so that they, as teachers, may meet their unique needs and enable them to succeed, and to work earnestly and collaboratively with their parents, with the students as beneficiaries.

Arlene and her husband, Dr. Harvey Feldman, a Developmental Optometrist, live in New York, and are the proud parents of four, grandparents of seven with two on the way, and hopefully, more to come!

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ann P. Turnbull



About the Authors


1. The Dance Toward Partnership: Using the Dance Metaphor to Understand Parent-Professional Partnerships

How the Dance Begins

Phases of the Partnership Dance

More Resources

2. Listening to the Hidden Lyrics: Tuning in to Your Partner

The Story of Sam

The Story of Rachel

More Resources

3. The Dance Manual: Essential Steps to Keep on Dancing

For Parents: Essential Steps

For Professionals: Essential Steps

More Resources

4. When the Dance Is Complicated

A Complicated Dance: When Parents Appear Angry

A Few Other Points to Consider When Parents Seem to be Uninvolved or Are Absent

Concluding Thoughts: We Are All People First

More Resources

5. Enhancing the Dance: Partnership Notes

Practical Suggestions for Professionals

Partnership Notes

More Resources

A Dance That Matters

Resources for Families and Professionals

References and Selected Readings



Price: $31.95
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