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Advice From Myrna Martin, A PEAK Parent Advisor

Advice From Myrna Martin, A PEAK Parent Advisor

Today, we highlight the work of our newest Parent Advisor, Myrna Martin. Myrna joined the PEAK staff in May of 2019 as a Bilingual Parent Advisor so she’s worked pretty well to get her boots muddy in the march to give parents answers, resources, and more as they navigate their own advocacy journeys. Myrna first became involved with PEAK when she herself sought resources and advice from a Parent Advisor for her child. We recently interviewed Myrna about her journey to PEAK and her advice for parents in these uncertain times. 

 

1. Tell us about yourself.

My name is Myrna Martin and I am a Bilingual Parent Advisor. I am from the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. I migrated to this country when I was 11-years-old. I am married and have a 6-year-old son that was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2. I learned about PEAK Parent Center about 5 years ago when I planned to move to Colorado from Seattle, Washington. I was connected to a Parent Advisor at PEAK who helped me learn about resources and organizations that could allow me to provide my son with services in Colorado. When an opportunity came to apply for a job at PEAK Parent Center, I knew it was the perfect chance for me. It was my turn to help other families learn of services and connect them with organizations that could help in unique ways. I also could provide parents with necessary information to help them work with their schools in ways that would best support their children. And, because I am fluent in Spanish and English, I knew I could advocate for and support families and parents who primarily speak Spanish. This is how I came into my role as the bilingual parent advisor (PA) for PEAK.

    

2. As a Parent Advisor, are there common questions from parents that you have been getting over the last several months relating to the COVID-19 pandemic?

As we hear often, we are living in unprecedented times. These past few months have been difficult for parents, schools, and educators. Here are some common questions I’ve received:

My child is not getting the Services agreed on the IEP? How do I request speech or behavioral support?

Do I have to accept an IEP meeting through Zoom? I would prefer to wait to have an in-person meeting.

My child was behind in school and now it feels like they have fallen even farther behind. How do I get them help?

The answers to these questions can vary depending on the full story of the family. Many times, a good place to start is contacting the special education administrator of your school. Another option is to reach out to the Director of Special Education in your school district. If you have specific questions, please call PEAK Parent at 719-531-9400 and speak directly with a Parent Advisor or email parentadvisor@peakparent.org.

   

3. As a Bilingual Parent Advisor, do you think that Colorado’s Spanish speaking communities are receiving updates regarding COVID-19 in ways that are meaningful and supportive? If not, what are some ways that communication with Spanish speaking families could improve? 

It is hard to answer this question because I do not want to generalize, of course. I do feel that, more and more, we find easy access to information via media platforms like television, radio, or social media. In Denver, there are several Spanish speaking parent support groups forming. These groups have been very successful at keeping their members informed on education policies, resources, and services. There is also lots of information readily accessible via Facebook and Zoom. During these uncertain times where social distancing and quarantine measures are necessary, many Zoom meetings are taking place to not only share information but to provide support and compassion.  

    

4. What is one critical piece of advice you would offer to parents of children with disabilities, especially as they begin to think about sending their children back to school in the coming weeks?

It is a very difficult decision to make.  I, too, have been struggling with this decision. I cannot make your decision for you, but I can tell you some of the things that I am considering: 

How well does my son learn at home? 

How is the school planning to ensure that learning in-person will be safe?  

What will remote learning look like? 

Will it be harder for my son to start school in-person, and then after a few months have to go back to remote learning because of an outbreak?  

My son has therapies at home currently - how will I fit his therapies into his schedule if he goes back to school? 

I believe each family has a unique set of circumstances that they need to consider in order to make an informed decision. Some parents work outside the home, and as a result, they cannot help their children with homeschooling. On the other hand, some parents have circumstances that allow them to help their kids with remote learning. Regardless of which situation you may have, deciding whether or not to send your child back to school during a global pandemic is extremely hard. I wish all parents and children a good school year, whatever that may look like. Let us all practice patience and perseverance as we maneuver through these difficult times. 

    
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