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ParentConfidante Blog
New York, NY
I am a special needs educational consultant and special advisor based in NYC.
Recent Activity
There has been much in the news about the sexual abuse that took place at Horace Mann School in the past and perhaps in other public and private schools as well. It's sad and maddening to think that adults who have our childrens' trust are using that trust to abuse them. One of the most difficult experiences I ever had as a school psychologist was to help parents and children cope with the trauma of having a popular teacher arrested on sexual abuse charges. In a situation like this, children have to find out very early about the complexity of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2013 at ParentConfidante Blog
If you are concerned about your child's academic progress, now is the time to initiate the evaluation process which could result in an I.E.P. (Individualized Education Program). It takes time, so starting now will ensure that all services are in place by September, 2013. Parents can get their children evaluated at no cost through the Department of Education (DOE) or opt for a private evaluation, but both routes take time. Through the DOE, the parent writes a letter requesting an evaluation and the reasons why to the principal or to the Chairperson of the local Committee on Special Education (CSE).... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2013 at ParentConfidante Blog
I've been hearing from parents in NYC that there have been cutbacks in Early Intervention services and from providers that there have been cutbacks in pay. It's clear from reading the latest directives from EI that cost cutting measures have been put into place but it is up to parents to ensure that this cost cutting does not impact the provision of therapies their children need. Early Intervention has been designed to intervene at the earliest possible stage that disabilities are determined so that remediation can be put in place. It's been well established that early intervention services work and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2012 at ParentConfidante Blog
The 10th annual Sprout Film Festival will take place this year from Friday April 27 to Sunday April 29th, 2012 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The film festival will be showing 53 films related to the field of developmental and intellectual disabilities. By presenting films of artistry by talented film makers, the festival wants to provide accurate portrayals of people with disabilities. The goal is to present enlightening and enjoyable works of art which will help break down stereotypes and promote a greater acceptance of the differences and an acceptance of similarities. Visit to get more information and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2012 at ParentConfidante Blog
NYC PRIVATE SCHOOLS REJECTION BLUES Now that the NYC private school acceptance and rejection letters have been mailed out, some parents are thrilled and relieved and some are sorely disappointed. While some children are basking in their parents’ approval, others no doubt feel that they have let their parents down. Parents need to be aware that children are highly sensitive to their parents’ moods and are listening even when they don’t seem to be. It is important for parents to be especially loving, accepting and encouraging at this time and to be alert to any unusual signs of stress in... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2012 at ParentConfidante Blog
A recent article highlights the importance of environmental factors when diagnosing and treating children with Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.). Dr. L. Alan Sroufe (NY Times, 1/29/12) wrote a comprehensive article on the overuse of drugs in the treatment of A.D.D. He takes issue with the assumption that there is a "brain deficit" in children who have attention difficulties and points out that the improvement in attention fades over time and that all people benefit from stimulant medication when focusing on more rote tasks. His basic point, is that society is overlooking environmental influences in the rush to medicate. For instance,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2012 at ParentConfidante Blog
The American Psychiatric Association is reassessing the diagnostic criteria for autistic and the proposed changes, as described in the NY Times article of Jan. 20,2012, may exclude many people who are now diagnosed as having Autism, Asperger Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (P.D.D.-N.O.S). These diagnoses would be consolidated under one category - Autism Spectrum Disorder - eliminating the Asperger's and PDD-NOS categories. While the new criteria will have little impact on the diagnosis of youngsters who are "classically autistic" - those who have severe limitations in their cognitive and social functioning- there may well be an impact on... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2012 at ParentConfidante Blog
As kids return to school, there is already anxiety about homework and parents are already rehearsing the tried, but maybe untrue, advice regarding homework and studying – find one place to study, study material until you master it, don’t move on to more complex material until you know the basics, etc. In addition, parents do their own homework to make sure that a teacher’s teaching style matches their children’s style of learning. However, as pointed out by Benedict Casey (NY Times, 9/6/10) there is research which points to some counter-intuitive advice that really makes a difference. * VARYING THE STUDY... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
Each year thousands of students anxiously wait to see if they have been accepted to selective public high schools in NYC and throughout the nation. There has always been a debate about how much a difference attending such a school really makes. Some people feel that attending a school of motivated, high functioning students is crucial. Other people state that the high achievers who attend these schools would do well no matter where went and in fact have better odds of getting into an Ivy League College from a less competetive school. A recent study, “Exam High Schools and Academic... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
Camp’s out and school is about to begin and there’s understandably a great deal of anticipation regarding the new year – in both students and parents. It’s only natural that everyone is also a bit (or more) anxious. Kids are often worried about the new teacher, about making friends, about the work load and about the dreaded return of the hectic school schedule after the fun of summer. Parents are anxious also –especially in the super heated and competitive world of NYC private schools. Parents are often more anxious than their children and they show it by voicing their concerns... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
Unfortunately there is no definitive understanding of what causes dyslexia, a severe reading disorder. In spite of numerous studies and theories, the underlying causes are unknown and remediation can be a hit and miss process. A recent article in the New York Times on 8/2/11 (Study Says Dyslexia May have Auditory Tie) described a research project at MIT which found that dyslexics had much much difficulty recognizing voices than non-dyslexics. The difference was so great that a problem in this area could be used as a diagnostic tool. While this study is interesting, the link between weak auditory discrimination and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
My sister, a college professor, has often mentioned that many of her students can't seem to cope with any academic stumble. If they run into trouble with an assignment or get less than an A, they are immediately discouraged and often involve their parents- who are eager to get involved. This pattern is more apparent now than in the past, and as pointed out in a recent article by Lori Gottlieb in Atlantic Magazine (7/1/11) it’s part of a trend in parenting that is meant to produce happy, successful children but often backfires. In her article “How to Land Your... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
The NY Times today (6/8/11) highlighted a practice that is well known in NYC private schools - private tutoring for even the brightest youngsters who are at elite schools. These students are tutored to insure that they receive top grades (only A's) thereby enhancing their chances of getting into elite colleges. It was pointed out in the article that academic tutoring has increased tremendously in recent years. It actually starts when the youngsters are toddlers - to help them get into preschool. Parents feel that they are providing the best they can for their children's long term success and tutoring... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
In the highly competitive environment of New York City private schools it is no wonder that many parents start tutoring their youngsters at a very young age in an effort to give them the extra edge. In "Fast-Tracking to Kindergarten" (May 15, 2011) the N.Y. Times highlighted the Junior Kumon program which tutors children in basic skills starting at age 3. Kumon asserts "the younger the better" and states that the repetition inherent in the program develops concentration. Parents described the benefits of the program as their childrens' knowlege increased, What was missing in the article was any mention of... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
Two recent additions to the array of private schools in NYC focus on the twice exceptional child - that child who has excellent cognitive ability but also a learning disability, ADHD, or emotional or social difficulty which impacts their success - thus 2e. The Quad Preschool opened it's doors in September, 2010 as did the Lang School (K-8). The time is right for these schools to open as I think there is a real need. In my work with children as a school psychologist, CPSE Chairperson and as a special needs educational consultant, I have seen many children who have... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
I was very happy today to get this email from a former client. Toby, I just want to let you know that <child's name> made dramatic improvement this year and actually made it into <mainstream Upper East Side NYC private school>!!! Can you believe it? We can't and as you can imagine we are overjoyed! The audiologist and the speech therapist you recommended made all the difference, especially after <NYC preschool director> sent us on that wild ride. You would not believe how <child's name> is now totally in the mix in class. He even gets invited to playdates. What... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
Thanks to NYC schools consultant Emily Glickman of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting who gave me a shout out today for my work helping hyperlexic children find appropriate private and public schools in Manhattan and surrounding areas. To read Emily's post, Help for Hyperlexia (Thoughts on Gilman's The Anti-Romantic Child) on her New York City (Manhattan and Brooklyn) schools blog. Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2011 at ParentConfidante Blog
I recently attended an open house at the Churchill School that was amazingly crowded with New York parents looking for an opening in a Manhattan Middle or High School. Churchill School made it clear that there were very few spots available but that didn't keep the parents from asking very thoughtful, knowledgeable questions and appearing hopeful. They were obviously hoping that their child would be the lucky one to get that opening in the 6th or 9th grade and hoping that more Manhattan parents would be transfered to San Francisco so another spot was available. When asked where else their... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2010 at ParentConfidante Blog
In the New York Times Style Magazine (12/5/10), there is an excerpt from Allen Shawn’s upcoming memoir, “Twin”, in which he writes about the disappearance from his life at the age of 8 of his twin sister, Mary. Allen, the son of William Shawn, the legendary New Yorker editor, describes how he felt when Mary, diagnosed as autistic, was sent to Sandpiper, a residential school for mentally disabled children. Except for scripted letters and occasional visits, she vanished from the everyday life in Manhattan of Allen and his brother Wallace, leaving Allen disoriented, with a fierce fear of loss and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2010 at ParentConfidante Blog
I recently read an article about Dannel P. Malloy who is running for Governor of Connecticut. Although Mr. Malloy graduated magna cum laudi from Boston College and from Boston College Law School, as a child he had trouble learning to read, do math and master basic skills such as tying his shoes. As late as the fourth grade, his teachers thought he was retarded. However, his mother knew better and she encouraged him to concentrate on what he could do well. For instance, she knew Dannel had a good memory and gave him a radio so he could hone his... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2010 at ParentConfidante Blog
SPROUT FILM FESTIVAL The Sprout Film Festival, featuring film and video related to developmental disabilities, will take place this weekend, Friday April 30 – Sunday May 2, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Sprout Film Festival aims to raise the profiles of people with disabilities by showcasing them as both subjects and performers. Films from many countries, exploring a wide variety of issues, will be available at the festival. By presenting films of artistry and intellect, the festival hopes to reinforce accurate portrayals of people with developmental disabilities and familiarize the general public about important issues facing this population.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2010 at ParentConfidante Blog
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Mar 15, 2010
Now that the NYC private school acceptance and rejection letters have been mailed out, some parents are thrilled and relieved and some are sorely disappointed. The children may not know or care what NYC private school they’ll be attending, but they are also feeling the effects of their success or failure to get into the right school. While some children are basking in their parents’ approval, others no doubt feel that they have let their parents down. Parents need to be aware that children are highly sensitive to their parents’ moods and are listening even when they don’t seem to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2010 at ParentConfidante Blog
In the past when the “Gender Gap” was discussed it usually pertained to the discrepancy between boys’ and girls’ achievement – with girls not doing as well academically. However, all that has changed and the main concern now is that boys (in all socio-economic levels) are in trouble and falling behind in their achievement test scores and in their graduation rates from college. This has been brewing for about twenty years and there is apprehension that if the trend continues, there will be a negative economic and cultural impact. There’s already a social impact as demonstrated on the front page... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2010 at ParentConfidante Blog
Parents of youngsters receiving special education services are often concerned about telling their child's prospective kindergarten teacher that their child has received services through Early Intervention or CPSE. Early intervention services did what it's supposed to do and their child is now ready to go into a regular class, but parents are uneasy about sharing the history of special needs. They fear that if the teacher knows that their child once needed additional help, their child will be stigmatized in some way and that the teacher will look for problems that aren't there. This is especially true in the NYC... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2009 at ParentConfidante Blog