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Include the Educational Assistant!

Kids with complex special needs or mental health issues often have multiple service providers.

However, in many of these situations there is limited communication between those various professionals.

Without the coordination and sharing of information between professionals, with the the parent present they lose the benefit of their synergy and the parent loses the benefit of the multiple inputs coming together to facilitate a common understanding and treatment of the issues.

Now imagine there is one of those service providers, the one most often with the child and that person isnít even included in the sharing of information by all the other professionals involved. Their understanding of the childís needs come from only one of those professionals who represents whoever else serves the child.

To add, imagine that professional who spends the most time with the child is discouraged and in some cases even prohibited from speaking to the parents about their child. As odd as that sounds, it occurs. Frequently.

Now this isnít the situation everywhere, yet it is all too common.This is the situation in many schools serving kids with special needs. It doesnít serve the child.

It is as if they have it all backwards. Apart from the parent and child, the most important person in that childís life is the one who spends the most time with them.

That person, in the school system is most often the Educational Assistant.

Parents, I encourage you to require the Educational Assistant to attend those meetings where your child is discussed.

I encourage you to ask directly for consistency in terms of the EA assigned to your child.

I encourage you to ask how many hours of direct service your child will have from an EA.Without such pressure on the school system and without the parent informed of these concerns, students with special needs will continue to be undeserved.

The Educational Assistant is often the most important person in your childís school day. Too many schools have the backwards.It needs to be turned around.

The voice of the parent matters in this.



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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847  


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider Gary an expert on child development, parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations, social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a Section 112 (social work) report.


Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.


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