Saturday, December 8, 2007

Welcome to SPEC Online

It has taken longer than I expected, but I am finally able to say, "welcome to SPEC online" -- for the last seven years, this group of motivated parents (read later to see why we are motivated) has met monthly during the academic year to exchange ideas, explore advocacy options and obtain expert guidance for a set of dedicated members of the community to help families with children who have disabilities. For now, this blog will serve as the primary location for continuing dialogue about the topics that we start in the meetings but never seem to have enough time to finish.

Special Parents for Exceptional Children (SPEC) meets monthly when possible at the Chestnut Hill Library (photo right). Thanks to them for making space available on Saturdays, and click here for map and directions. We typically open with a light lunch provided by members and funded by a small grant from the Philadelphia Department of Health (I think -- corrections can be sent to me or posted as replies).

Each meeting has either an agenda (business to get done) or an invited speaker on a topic for the entire group. Past speakers have been Joe Scullin of UCP, Ruth Landsman of Ed-Law Center, and Doug Dye, attorney with expertise in special needs trusts and other financial and legal issues for our families. This group is as grass-roots as it gets, members suggest and invite speakers, make up the audience, and (eventually) work online.

Why we do what we do: yes, it starts out as for the children, but it as much for the parents; to learn, to support, to commiserate, and eventually to grow to accommodate the challenges we face -- more together than before the meeting.

Kudos to Jill Spector for starting this group, and to Jean McCoubrey for keeping it going for all these years -- I was supposed to put together a website, the easiest part of this project, so of course it took the longest time :-(. I will start as the first poster, and invite people to either respond to a given post or email me with content and other ideas. It may take time, but I am hopeful that this blog can help continue the work of SPEC outside of the meetings, perhaps even connect to other resources and groups. Your help is encouraged and appreciated -- J.D.

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