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Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children With Disabilities

Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children With Disabilities
A Dance That Matters

  • Janice M. Fialka - Dance of Partnership
  • Arlene K. Feldman - Educational Consultant, Adjunct, SUNY, New Paltz, Retired Director of Special Education, Valley Central School District, Montgomery, NY
  • Karen C. Mikus - Clinical Psychologist

April 2012 | 176 pages | Corwin
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.

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

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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

“The authors capture the range of family and provider experiences, communication styles, and strategies that create effective partnerships. This book is a critically important read for families, providers, and especially for preservice students entering professions in which they will work with children and families.”

Beth Swedeen, Parent and Executive Director
Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities

“As I read this book, I realized that I kept switching back and forth from my ‘professional’ hat to my ‘parent’ hat. Helping us to switch hats is the real power of this work. The personal stories highlight well-documented themes in the literature on parent and professional perspectives. The strategies are practical and effective. This is a text I will revisit often.”

Dr. Julie Ricks-Doneen, Director, Lowry Center for Early Childhood Education
Oakland University, Rochester, MI

“This is a wonderful reference book to help parent and professionals ‘dance the dance’ together and avoid any missteps. The authors help readers understand the underlying thoughts of both the parent and the professional when they meet to set up a program. This is a sure read for both parents and education professionals.”

Filomena Bernatowicz, Teacher and member, Committee on Preschool Special Education
Valley Central School District, Montgomery, NY

“The authors waltz us through steps to develop effective parent-professional partnerships using dance as a metaphor. When practiced by all participants in the dance, the result is mutual understanding and respect: the core of collaborative relationships. Theirs is a fresh approach to a much-discussed subject—a delightful invitation to dance.”

Elizabeth W. Bauer, Consultant
Human Rights and Civil Society, Birmingham, MI

“In my 15 years of teaching, I have not come across a book that so eloquently describes the sensitive relationship between schools and parents as they navigate through the special education process. Using dancing as a metaphor for this delicate relationship, the authors provide an easy-to-read manual that perfectly compliments a college class or professional book study.”

Jennifer Grieco, Special Education Teacher
Union County Public Schools, Waxhaw, North Carolina

“This book’s valuable information and insights make it a ‘must read’ for everyone involved in the special education process. I will refer to this book frequently as it reminds me of the often unsaid feelings and concerns of parents. The authors provide numerous useful approaches so that all parties can collaborate and do what is best for the child.”

Jacqueline Rau, Fifth-Grade Special Education Teacher
Maybrook Elementary School, NY

“Brilliantly written from the differing vantage points of both parents and professionals, this book shows how perceptions and assumptions can be falsely formed between ‘opponents.’ Use this knowledge to develop the strong partnerships necessary for parents and professionals to collaborate and support the needs of students!"

Kathy Brill, Board Member
Parent to Parent USA

“So often in special education, the people involved share the same goal, yet envision a different path to achieve that goal. The authors remind us that our ultimate goal is the same. They show us how, even in the most difficult situations, we can ‘dance’ together in successful collaboration.”

Tara Rounds, School Psychologist, CSE/CPSE Chairperson
Haldane Central School District, Cold Spring, NY

“This book offers important suggestions for finding a way to dance together, reminding us exactly why we are dancing—for the child. I strongly recommend this text to parents and professionals. The real-life examples will help all parties understand and empathize with each other, making it that much easier to dance together.”

Jo Spahr, Parent of a special needs child, and IEP committee member
Valley Central School District, Newburgh, NY

“The parent-professional relationship can be awkward, so using the metaphor of learning to dance together to benefit children is apt. With the resources to help children shrinking, it is more vital than ever for parents and professionals to forge strong partnerships. This perspective can really help—highly recommended.”

Robert A. Naseef, Author of Special Children, Challenged Parents
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.

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ISBN: 9781412966399

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