How IDS Can Help Before, During and After Relocation
Globally mobile parents have globally mobile children, and globally mobile children are just as much a measure of a successful job placement as the parent’s performance appraisal.
Educational satisfaction is a critical factor for professionals who travel as a family, and family satisfaction and stability are critical to the success of businesses as they strive to retain key personnel, particularly in remote and less developed locations. For most families ‘on the road’, making the best school choices involves some compromise. The extracurricular offerings may be minimal, the curriculum dated, or the cultural expectations seemingly overwhelming; all ‘typical’ factors parents must consider when deciding on global assignments.
But what to do when a child has special educational needs? Lack of a speech therapist hardly equates to the absence of a debate club. For families dealing with learning disabilities, behavioral challenges, and other issues affecting academic success, compromise no longer seems an option.
“We arrived to our post excited for the new experiences and adventures that awaited us. We had prepped for everything... or so we thought. Our oldest son Ryan was entering the 3rd grade. While he had always flourished back in the US, something had changed. We learned a couple of months in that he wasn't completing homework. Socially he seemed distant. He became short tempered and lashed out at us when we expressed concern. By our third month in the new home, our lives seemed to revolve around Ryan. Nothing seemed to work and he seemed like he was getting worse. Unable to find an English-speaking therapist, we were not sure what to do next. But we knew with close to three more years at this location, we could not maintain without help.”
As this family learned, their readiness did not include ensuring that Ryan’s SEN would be adequately met. They were ready, but not really set. They assumed that Ryan’s challenges would be adequately addressed when they arrived on location.
What they learned was that specific learning, behavioral and social challenges are not necessarily acknowledged worldwide, and that therapists specialized in supporting speech, language, motor, cognitive, and social development are a scarce international resource, especially those comfortable in this family’s native English language.
Just as they wouldn’t bring Ryan’s grandparents to a pediatrician for care, they discovered that finding a school-based pediatric therapist who would understand the intricacies of child development and learning disorders was, for them, like looking for a needle in a haystack. They understood, too late for their peace of mind, that the link between special needs support, traditionally a clinical concept, and educational programming, now referred to as ‘inclusion’, is only recently recognized in the international education sphere.
Ryan and his family represent tips of an iceberg of unmet special educational needs, yet with careful support and focused planning, they may have been all set to embark on a successful global assignment.
KERNELS OF WISDOM FROM IDS:
1. Develop and utilize an educational plan
If you know that your child has special needs, or if you even anticipate challenges with academic achievement, comprehensive assessments are the best place to start. Many families work with IDS for assessment and educational planning services. Through this process, families have found that having those assessments - and the educational plan developed from them - was as important as having passports. These plans served as a roadmap for tracking progress.
2. Make sure you have access to experts who can help guide and support services for your child.
If you’re already on location, speak with teachers to gather as much information about your child's challenges from their point of view. Find a provider who will help you to understand your child’s needs, and who will work with you to develop a plan for support. Investigate the local resources. Be careful not to assume that all therapists are created equal.
3. Having a child with SEN does not mean that your family can’t live a life of global mobility – it could mean that support services may take a different form.
When a child has needs in the classroom, it is more important to identify those needs and to activate a means for support than it is to put a label on them. Sometimes, families are unable to find a local resource available for testing, so you may not have the luxury of obtaining a full assessment complete with diagnosis. If you find yourself in that situation, look to a trusted online resource like IDS, that can help you to define the scope of need and activate support immediately. IDS experts can help your child's teachers with immediate tools and knowledge to help him/her succeed in the classroom.
Finding this type of assistance is no longer as difficult as in the past. What may have appeared at first like a roadblock now is a sign that you need to be prepared in different ways. A child with SEN can thrive in the international environment with the proper supports in place. Technology and the ability to web conference face-to-face with consultants opens up whole new possibilities allowing you to have expert support at your fingertips.
Ready? Set? Now go… embark on your placement abroad feeling prepared and ready to fully embrace your family’s new adventure.
The International Diagnostic Solutions (IDS) team supports individual families in a wide variety of global settings by offering:
web-conference based consultation to parents
training and ongoing consultation to classroom teachers and classroom aides