Tuesday, June 7, 2011

VBT# Is My Kid Stupid ? - Nzingha West - Part 2/3

In Today's Post we have an Interview with the author of the book "Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster" Nzingha West.

Interview with the Author:

1) Tell us about your book Is My Kid Stupid?

Is My Kid Stupid? Was written as an empowerment tool for families who have children. It's a short read, and it was meant to give concise, specific information that would ultimately benefit the child and parent. The book teaches parents how to advocate for your own child, how and where to get free services for your child. It also teaches families how to get a free private school education for their children.

2) How did you get into the field of working with special needs?

I became a teacher first, and after seeing how most children with mild-moderate special needs were being neglected, I took it upon myself to educate myself and become more aware of how to help.

3) What was the inspiration behind writing and presenting the book “Is My Kid Stupid”?

My biggest inspiration were the parents who would seek my help. I figured that I could be of assistance to so many more parents by just putting everything down on paper, and showing them the ways they could be of assistance to their children with or without professional help.

4) What qualifications do you need to become an Instructor working with children with special needs?

To become a tutor, you really don't need any qualifications. However, it is more than beneficial to someone to become licensed as a teacher. I find that because I have a background in both the sciences and education, I am better apt to deal with certain details of my work on a daily basis. Plus to become a teacher, you have to be fingerprinted and have a background check performed in you. This leads to credibility and allows you to have a better grasp on how to cope with a child's moods.

5) Did you experience writers block? If so, what did you do to get rid of it?

I can't really say that I did experience writers block. My book is a non fiction book, so there really weren't any characters that I had to develop.

6) What are you working on now?

As of right now, I am considering writing another book. It's just a spark in my mind. I have yet to sit down and put a pen to paper and write.

7) You work for an organization called Urbane Academics; can you explain a bit more about what you do?

I own a practice called Urbane Academics and through my practice I offer instruction, cognitive behavioral therapy, special education advocacy, as well as diagnostic testing and teacher training.

8) Had you previously written anything?

Other than a few college papers, before Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster, I hadn't written anything.

9) Do you have a personal experience dealing with children with special needs as I am somebody who has grown up in a family where 3 members have a special need?

Other than my work as an instructor and advocate, I cannot say that I have a personal experience with learning disabilities. Nevertheless, that did not decrease my interest in and love for my work.

10) During the writing process, what was one high and low that you encountered?

The editing process was brutal. It is very disheartening to have someone tear apart your work, even if it is for the better good. One high I had, was seeing my book cover completed. Some people didn't get it, but I was able to visualize what I was trying to write about and that was worth the hassle.

11) How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?

I never wanted to become a writer, however, I became so enthralled in the thought of having a book, and writing a book that would be of some use, that I couldn't sleep without writing down outlines, or thinking of titles.

12) What are your views on the rise of autism aspects throughout children as even in New Zealand it is becoming more and more common among children etc.?

I think that people are recognizing more and more that not everyone operates the same way. This is a good thing, because the more we are able to recognize people's differences, the better we become at understanding.
Autistic children, just like all other children are people too, and they deserve the same amount of respect and understanding as every child.

13) Do you in America have a strong support for children with Disabilities as I know in New Zealand probably due to its smaller size , we have got a couple of support groups and funding etc , what is available in America ?

We have more and more support everyday. The media definitely supports learning disabilities, and with the rise of the internet, more and more resources are becoming available to help cope with diagnosis and treatment. Parents are also using websites like meetup.com to facilitate their own support groups.

14) How have you found the response of your book among parents with children having special needs?

For the most part people have been accepting and excited about the book. I've received lots of great comments. I have also received some poor comments about the tone of the language in the book, or the title etc. For the most part those people have been few and far between. Many people have been able to ascertain the meaning of the book through the illustration on the front cover.

15) As somebody who is familiar with children with special needs, some of them are pretty amazing and can do some awesome things; do you have an inspiring story or a fun tale that stands out in your mind that you wouldn’t mind sharing?

When I first began specializing in children who have learning disabilities, I came across a student who had a lot of anxiety, but was so talented with his painting and illustration. I asked him to draw a picture for me, which I still have. He felt great, and I appreciated the beautiful artwork he created for me.
I find that autistic children are so talented and spectacular.

16) Now that your book has been published, what is your next step or where do you hope to go from here?

I hope to write and create more books. One day and one step at a time.

What Does Special Needs Mean To Me
For one, the term special needs comes under a lot of scrutiny, the same way plus size is shunned, and considered unnecessary to many women. With special needs, your child is labelled, and unfortunately, that doesn’t sit well with many parents. Many people associate special needs with severe disabilities, but really that isn’t totally the case. Many children have mild or mildly moderate learning disabilities, or special needs like Aspergers, ADHD, or Dyslexia.

Special needs is a label, it is also a way of recognizing that a child may need some additional assistance, and with the right people that label can be a god send.

In my opinion, special needs is a way of recognizing an exceptional child. A special needs child may have extraordinary talents for math, or science, or art. Recognizing that child’s strengths is one of the most important ways to help that child. I love working with a “special needs” child, it’s a humbling experience to know that there are people, who may or may not have the most sophisticated social skills, but are literal geniuses. It shows that there is no creature on earth who does not supply some type of learning experience or talent to those around him/her.

Special needs is an extraordinary talent, and should be thought of in no less way. I’d rather change the term to exceptional needs, because all of these children are exceptional and account for so many wonderful things that are developed and introduced in our world.

If you don’t know a special needs child, you should find on by volunteering, or becoming a teacher or therapist.

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