Jan 21, 2021
Episode 73: Special Education Services Across The World With Guest Jodi Samuels
In this episode, we discuss schooling across two continents for children with special needs. Jodi Samuel’s daughter Caila first began schooling in NYC schools, where she was provided with extensive services through the state. She was lucky in that all of her therapies were provided to her during the school day. She attended school in an open-minded community and accepting school. When Caila was 6, Jodi and her husband debated whether to move to NY suburbs vs Israel. In the end, they chose to move to Israel.
They had very little time to pack their bags and move to Israel. Jodi did not speak Hebrew, and teachers did not speak English. To communicate, she used the assistance of Google Translate, friends, neighbors, and her older children. Meetings with teachers and administrators was challenging. Since her daughter started school in Israel at such a young age, they immediately had to start looking for school for the following year. After the first year, finding schooling was challenging, because the first school they tried was a poor fit. Jodi had to go through 11 schools before one school finally accepted Caila. Jodi plans to bring in a consultant when looking for high schools for Caila to help her find choices and figure out what their rights are. School has become more difficult due to speech, cognitive, and language delay, more homework, and learning a new language. As she gets older, Caila spends less time in an inclusion class, depending on where she is educationally with that subject.
In Israel, Caila has an IEP, but does not receive many services in school. She has an in-school shadow 25 hours per week. Her private insurance pays for her other therapies, as schools in Israel tend not to believe in additional services within the school system unless a child is in a self-contained classroom. Due to this, Jodi had to become the CEO of Caila’s intervention team. She had to do a lot more driving Caila to therapies and she had to begin guiding everyone on Caila’s team.
Although Caila adjusted very quickly, socialization has been more difficult for Caila due to the way families and neighborhoods are set up. Although there has been no bullying, she has been excluded by a lot of peers.
Jodi has found that resources are much more limited in Israel. Finding therapies for Caila was easier than finding schooling, since they had already been using services from those places before they even moved to Israel. She found that social support networks have been key for learning valuable information about finding services for her daughter. She also discovered that natural born Israelis felt that people not from there expect too much and complain a lot and so therapists and staff tend not to communicate with parents much about the children.
To cope with being the coordinator of everything for Caila, Jodi recommends coffee and red wine. Find what gives you a boost and an outlet. She noted that creating a support network is mandatory, including a local, someone who speaks the language, other parents, and pioneers in that area. Don’t be scared to ask people for help. Utilize services from advocacy groups. Search for and use all the resources you can find. Use social media for your benefit. Use concierge services upon moving to a new country. Use consultants when you need them.
Chutzpah, Wisdom, and Wine: The Journey of an Unstoppable Woman
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Hosted by: Jessica Temple and Lewis Temple
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Copyright 2021 Jessica and Lewis Temple