A free education resource fair for parents of students with special needs -- from the mildly dyslexic to the severely autistic and physically disabled -- will be held at Crittenden Middle School on Friday, Jan. 27, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"We run into a lot of parents who don't know what sort of resources will fit their kids," said Christine Case-Lo, a local parent of a special needs student.
The Special Education Resource Fair will feature booths and tables from at least 28 special education organizations, offering information about tools designed for and organizations that cater to the needs of special education students, according to Case-Lo.
Case-Lo, who heads the Mountain View Whisman School District's Special Education PTA, helped organize the fair in coordination with the Special Education Local Plan Area 1 Community Advisory Committee, a regional authority on special needs education.
Representatives from special needs-oriented art programs, tutoring and mental-health services, and physical therapists will gather in Crittenden's multi-purpose room -- "Any resources for kids who may need a little extra," Case-Lo said.
While a wide range of resources will be available at the fair, Case-Lo noted that many of the vendors at the fair will be representing special needs-friendly summer camps.
"There are a variety of services that are available in the community that special ed parents might be interested in," said Karen Mueller, president of the Community Advisory Committee. The fair will also offer financial planning and legal resources, "because those issues can pop up," Mueller said.
Raising a special needs child can be extremely challenging, especially in the first few years after diagnosis, Mueller said.
"I have accumulated knowledge over the years, but when I started out, it was a mystery," Mueller said. "You suddenly have the information that your child is different and you're in for an interesting journey. Specialists tell you the earlier and the more intensive the intervention, the better. You feel like you've got to do it all and all at once, and that can be an overwhelming, crushing feeling."
Mueller said that the fair can be helpful even for students who are right on the edge of being considered special needs. "This is meant for students with all different levels of difficulty," she said.