Business Profile

When I was working in schools, both as an administrator and a teacher, I always felt the burn of keeping up with the daily task list, as well as provide support to the families of my students. I knew that I held a vast bank of information that would help them navigate the world of Speical Education, yet struggled to share that information with them. It would bother me to do a parent meeting reviewing testing or recommending new programming if I wasn’t positive the parents knew exactly what we were doing and why, but there was rarely time to delve into everything as thoroughly as I would have liked or they needed.

Once I became unemployed, I started looking for jobs. Becoming my children’s primary caregiver proved to be both extremely rewarding and exciting, but also a huge adjustment. I have kept a job since I was 15 years old and it was strange for me not to go out in the world and engage intellectually with other adults and feel like a real generator of change in others’ lives. Nothing that I found truly inspired me or fit my qualifications and I started to fantasize about becoming self-employed but I had trouble brainstorming what I could offer others. One day, I sat down with a colleague and friend for a much-needed catch up at a local coffee shop and we discussed at length all kinds of business ideas I had. Most required a considerable financial investment or wealthy benefactors, and I had neither. Regardless, I left that meeting feeling fully refreshed and rejuvenated. Even my family picked up on my new and improved attitude and I realized how the loss of my job had really affected me and those I loved. I needed to figure out a way to fulfill this part of myself on a regular basis. About two days later, I got up on a soapbox on my Instagram story about foundational literacy and healthy reading habits for our children, with a really positive response, and my wheels started to spin. What if I created a platform for myself to share my ideas and help parents prep their students for success? What if through that platform, I also provided a service to financially support myself? but how? I decided that if I could use an Instagram and blog to establish my voice and credibility, I could also use it to promote a Special Education tutoring and family counseling business. Thus, Exceptional Services was born.

My goal for this company is to offer three levels of support: individual, family, and school/community partnerships. To start and establish myself, I am going to focus on the individual and family. Below is a sampling of services to get started.

Each rate is negotiable and based on need and complexity. Virtual sessions available (case-by-case) if not in the area.

1:1 Tutoring, Content-Specific K-12 (i.e. Math, Reading, History, Life Skills, Social Skills etc): 50$/Hour. Is your child struggling in school? or literacy, numeracy, linguistic skills? Select this session for tailored, individualized tutoring sessions.

1:1 Tutoring, Content-Specific, Adult/College Level (i.e. Math, Reading, History, Life Skills, Social Skills etc): 65$Hour. Have a class you’re hoping to improve your grade on? A book that you’re struggling with? This is the session type for you.

1:1 Tutoring, Test Prep: 50$/Hour.

1:1 Disability Training: 60$/Hour. Do you or your child have a disability that you don’t fully understand? I will prep a series of informational sessions specifically tailored to one’s individual circumstance/diagnosis, taking into consideration age, level of cognitive awareness, and emotional stability.

Family Disability Training: 65$/Hour. Similar to 1:1, however, this would be designed for a full family meeting style where all members would learn together and interact with materials. The person with the disability would not be required to be in attendance. Good for a new diagnosis or a younger child with disabilities.

IEP Review: 60$/Hour. If you are struggling to understand your child’s IEP or feel like it is not written well or provides appropriate services, we can sit down and review it together.

Evaluation Review: 60$/Hour. If you are struggling to understand your child’s academic, social/emotional, or behavioral evaluations, we can review all documents together and plan for an upcoming meeting.

IEP Meeting Prep: 60$/Hour. If your child has a contested IEP or the school is making decisions that make you uncomfortable or denying your requests, we can prep for his/her next meeting together.

IEP Review, Evaluation Review, and IEP Meeting Prep sessions can be done in a series and purchased as a “package”.

Advocacy Services: 70$/Hour. If you feel as though you need an advocate present at your child’s next IEP meeting to help you and the school come to an agreement, book this session. Bundle with IEP Review, Evaluation Review, and IEP Meeting Prep sessions for full, wrap-around support.

Introduction to Literacy &/or Numeracy, Parent/Family Courses: 65$/Hour. Parent/Family training in how to help your child learn foundational skills for literacy and numeracy. Interactive. Gather a group of parent friends together to get a group rate.

Consultation, Child: 70$/Hour. Is your child struggling in school or at home, academically, emotionally, or socially? Book a consultation to get a preliminary, informal evaluation to bring to his/her school to ask for formal testing.

Consultation, Adult: 75$/Hour. Are you an adult who has always struggled to read or comprehend math or understand the complexities of social situations? Book a consultation to learn more about what you might be struggling with and why as well as coping skills to help.

If you have questions about my services listed here, want to book a session, or if there are other services you may need, please do not hesitate to reach out. Go to the Contact page to submit an email.

 

Autonomy: What? Why? How?

When I wrote the tagline for my website, I knew I wanted it to contain the word “autonomy” before I could even formulate the rest of the words. Autonomy is a word that has always been important to me professionally and has become increasingly popular in the world of education. So, what does this word mean, and why did it migrate from exclusively describing countries and regions to people as individuals?

Autonomy is defined as “…a self-governing country or region; freedom from external control or influence; independence” (Google Definitions). Autonomy might not be in our every day vernacular, especially if we don’t sit around discussing both historic and present foreign politics (if you do, more power to you!). This is one of my favorite words because it is not as simple as describing someone as “independent”. It contains more weight and layered context. Saying that someone lives with autonomy implies that they completely govern themselves; that they know all of their strengths and weaknesses, and they know how to navigate their world, interacting positively with others and relying on their own resources and history. I have found that the best way to grant someone their autonomy is to fully educate them about themselves. Regardless of a person’s disability, and, I believe, especially because of disability, it is important to teach people openly what they are up against.

When I was teaching in Hartford, I piloted a Life Skills program. In the first unit, the students were learning about their own disability, researching trends, common aptitudes and areas of potential weakness. The project culminated with them reviewing, for the first time, their own Individual Education plans and learning what their Goals and Objectives were and how those were decided upon. I think some were afraid that this would dishearten the students, or bring about some negative, dependent habits. Instead, I found that they were more empowered. They were able to raise their chins and confidently ask teachers for their accommodations, stay after and review their scores on assessments and understand why they struggled on certain sections, or more efficiently select texts to read that were more appropriate/accessible. At that time, I had real data to back up what I believed to be true: the more information we can give our children, the more empowered they will become, as long as this is done in a calculated, measured approach, and in a safe place.

In my next placement, I met a student who was 17 years old and struggled socially. She could not relate to her peers, could not appropriately read social situations, didn’t know how to effectively engage with others, and, worst of all, she didn’t know why. She had Autism. Her social symptoms were textbook and she had no idea. She didn’t understand why no one “liked” her, or why she couldn’t maintain friendships. She was frustrated and struggled in her sessions with the staff because she didn’t believe that what she was learning (things like social cues, societal norms, conversational rules) was important, and ironically, she felt very superior to people who struggled academically and/or behaviorally. We begged her parents to let us talk to her about her disability, but they were resistant. They were afraid that knowing her diagnosis would stigmatize her, or somehow limit her. As her 18th birthday neared, she was applying to colleges and jobs and slowly becoming a citizen of the world and not just her parents’ home. The school and her pediatrician pleaded again, and, finally, they relented and let her doctor talk to her about her disability. It was as if a lightbulb went off for her. Her struggles weren’t over, she still had to overcome social and emotional hurdles and evaluate the prejudice she had against people with disabilities, now that she found herself on that list, but at least she knew. At least now when she found herself on sensory overload, or socially overstimulated, we could tell her why and she could read it in a book and know that she wasn’t “crazy” or “weird”. Autism and social/emotional disorders are normal for a LOT of people and it was unfair that she had felt like an outcast in her own mind for so long.

I respect a family’s right to structure themselves how they see fit, and I understand the fear that governed their decision to keep her diagnosis from her but giving her the information she so desperately needed granted her the autonomy necessary for her to have a lifetime of success. Not every family is qualified or feels comfortable doing this training or having these conversations, and that is okay! That is why disability training for individuals and families is a service I offer. I want to help people have these conversations so that it doesn’t feel like a weight or a scary, foreboding obstacle.