West Texas conference provides tips for parents of children with

West Texas conference provides tips for parents of children with learning disabilities

LUBBOCK, Texas -

More than 500,000 children across the state have some type of learning disability, according to the Texas Education Agency.

The PEN Project provides resources to help families better understand their child's disability. The Reach for the Stars Conference and Disability Resource Fair teaches parents the necessary skills to know their child's rights and get the help they need in the classroom. 

Stephanie McLoughlin works with families in the Panhandle. She said identifying a learning disability is the first step in understanding it. 

"But that can be anything from a learning disability like dyslexia or ADHD. And it can be all up to our physical disabilities like cerebral palsy or anything like that. So anything that classifies as a disability, so any student who needs protections by federal laws to make sure they're not discriminated against," she said. 

She adds parents should know their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

A lot of families don't always understand their rights in the education system and so they don't know how to ask for things that their child may need," she said. "And so reaching out to the PEN Project allows me to help that family navigate the district to understand their rights and to also have the courage to stand up and ask for the things their child needs, because as parents we are our child's best advocate."

Each session is tailored to fit the needs of parents. McLaughlin said this session was focused on anxiety and behavioral methods. 

"So, every year it's a little bit different. This year we worked on anxiety and how we can help our children cope with anxiety. We talked about how we can help our youth with disabilities transition to adulthood smoothly and have better outcomes," she said. 

Parent Christopher Brown said the program's given him the necessary skills to navigate his child's learning disability. He recommends the program to other parents. 

"Being able to go into a certain school meeting and understand the language and how those issues help my children or my kid," Brown said. 

Each year there's two sessions in West Texas. The PEN Project will host another conference in Amarillo in the Spring, but resources are readily available online. 



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