Group helps parents of children with special needs

MIFFLINTOWN — The Juniata County School District has created a group specifically for parents who have a child with special needs.

Jill Condo, director of Special Education, said parents were continually approaching both her and secretary to the superintendent Polly Digon with questions about their children.

Together, Condo and Digon decided to start a support group where parents can share ideas, discuss problems and ask questions.

Each meeting features a speaker who shares advice and information with parents. For example, the May 2018 meeting provided information for summer treatment programs through Penn State for children with ADHD.

“We haven’t targeted specific needs, but if a family was having trouble and needed to reach out, then they can ask questions,” Condo said. “It’s like an open forum.”

Condo has ensured that at each meeting parents will receive information about a variety of resources in the area, covering all areas of special needs.

Some resources previously shared were Community Care Behavioral Health, which offers meetings for parents and family members, as well as a website, sparkforautism.org.

An education consultant from the intermediate unit attended the first two meetings of this support group, and discussed different methods parents can use for certain behaviors children with special needs exhibit.

The next meeting will host JCSD psychologists. They will talk with attendees about the re-evaluation process for Individualized Education Programs.

“Sometimes students need additional testing, and sometimes they don’t,” Condo said. “The psychologists will explain to parents what the evaluation looks like, and how to tell if you may want additional testing.”

Since the support group is still new, Condo has not yet designed a way for parents to connect between meetings should they want to continue helping each other.

“I want this group to continue networking between schools, community resources and families,” Condo said. “I’d like to keep it as an open forum and a place to come as an outlet for different family members.”

The support group meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of every other month at the JCSD administrative office meeting room, 146 Weatherby Way, Mifflintown. Its next meeting will be held this Thursday, Sept. 27.

Residents of all surrounding areas are invited to attend. RSVP to Polly Digon by email at pdigon@jcsdk12.org or phone at (717) 436-2111 ext. 5002.

COMMENTS