Monday, June 17, 2013

A Cause for Concern: Early Intervention ('Sunbolt' by Intisar Khanani Release Day Party)

As a part of the celebration for Intisar Khanani's latest work, 'Sunbolt,' we were asked to share a cause that concerns us. One that lays heavily on my mind at all times is early intervention services for children with any kind of special needs.

Around here, at the preschool level, a child is classified as having a disability when it is something as minor as an articulation delay in speech, to something as severe as nonverbal autism comorbid with OCD and other afflictions. Children are eligible for services when they demonstrate a severe delay in one area, or a moderate delay in at least two areas of development. It takes a tremendous amount of work on the part of both the teacher and the parents to get the child evaluated. Then, you have to meet with the Committee for Preschool Special Ed to try to get appropriate services. And then you are working with anywhere from one to multiple therapists, trying to help the child become an even better version of himself. Unexpected roadblocks come up in the form of parents who are unable to acknowledge or admit that their child needs extra help, a lack of funds from the county or district to provide necessary services, or a private school not having appropriate people on staff to fully carry out the therapies designated by the therapists (such as OT therapy). 

The next round of difficulties take place when the child is no longer classified as a preschool student. Schoolage children have to meet one of 13 different criteria that demonstrate difficulty in maintaining academic achievement. Your bright kids who are struggling with Sensory Processing Disorder or even speech issues are left behind in the dust, because academically they are doing okay. Parents are supposed to have the right to choose their child's school. Unfortunately, some private schools are unable to maintain a staff with a Speech/Language Pathologist or an Occupational Therapist, to provide what are known as "building level services." Children can get left behind or miss out on what they really need to help them to exceed traditional expectations. It makes me sad.

These battles are just as difficult when the child has multiple problems. I have many "SpEd Mom" friends who have persevered for years, fighting to get their children the best possible services, whether through public or private means. It shouldn't take 8 years to finally figure out some of the appropriate techniques to meet these children's needs. Parents shouldn't have to fight so much to get their children help. It breaks my heart, both for my friends' kids and for my students.

"A Cause for Concern" celebrates the release of Sunbolt, a YA fantasy novella by Intisar Khanani. Sunbolt tells the story of Hitomi, a young woman with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, a dark mage slowly amassing power in a bid to control the Eleven Kingdoms. Stories often have an issue at their heart, however big or small, global or personal. This week offers a chance for bloggers (and readers) who love stories to share the issues that are close to their hearts. What do you wish you could change in the world?

Title: Sunbolt
Author: Intisar Khanani
Genre: YA Fantasy

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt
Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame. When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

Buy links: Amazon \ Barnes & Noble \ Kobo

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar is hard at work on two new projects. The first is a companion trilogy to her debut novel Thorn, following the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife. The second project, The Sunbolt Chronicles, is a novella series following the efforts of a young mage as she strives to bring down her nemesis, a corrupt and dangerous Arch Mage who means to bring the Eleven 

This is the artwork of author T.L. Shreffler, and a signed print is part of the giveaway. 

T.L. Shreffler on her "Cause for Concern" artwork:

"My 'Cause for Concern' is the steadily declining quality of our natural habitat: the earth. We have holes in the ozone layer, global warming, polluted oceans and diminishing forests. I think it is our duty as humans to nurture the earth and protect it, especially because it is in our power to do so. This piece of art represents the love and reverence that we should hold for mother earth."
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  1. Hi Andi-
    Thanks so much for taking part in "A Cause for Concern." Your post really opened up my eyes to the issues facing parents of children with special needs. As a young mom with kids who are not quite preschool age, these issues haven't come up for me or my kids' friends...but I can see just how difficult and bureaucratic it can be, and how children can easily slip through the cracks. This is especially troubling when you think about how vital the early years are in helping children develop the skills they'll need as adults. Thanks so much for your post!

  2. Great post, it's certainly not something I've considered in a while and if I have in the past it's perhaps due to a two minute clip on the news.