Close-up of a teacher working with a group of students in class

My Story
I was a young and inexperienced mom when my first daughter was born. My husband and I had moved to the United States from Venezuela and were far away from family. I didn’t even know if I should speak in English or Spanish to my daughter. I felt alone and confused.

What I Was Doing
Once I realized that my daughter was having trouble with focus, I started to research online. I found a lot of unreliable and inaccurate information. This left me feeling overwhelmed and, once again, confused.

I went to the doctor, who ran a series of tests. I was also in contact with the teacher, who echoed my concerns. She would call me, saying that my daughter was having trouble paying attention and that she was in the clouds. The teacher explained that my daughter wasn’t socializing with other kids and that it was harder for her than the other kids to learn.

This was all very hard for me and made me feel uneasy. I wasn’t equipped with the right information, which made the path seem more difficult than it needed to.

What I Wish I’d Known Sooner
I wish I’d known from the beginning that we weren’t the only ones who had these issues. Many families, both immigrants and nonimmigrants, were in our shoes. In fact, I’ve learned that one child in five has learning and attention issues, just like my child.

And I wish I’d known earlier that the United States has laws to protect children. One of the big ones is IDEA, which can give children services in school. Another is Section 504, which allows for eligible kids to have a 504 plan.

The entire area of laws and school services can be very complicated. And so the government actually established training centers around the United States to help parents. And these centers are in every state!

Today, I work at one of these centers—the Center for Parent Information and Resources. I help parents who are just like my husband and I were when we moved here. Learning and attention issues are not unusual in children. There is help out in the community. You just have to know where to look.

As for speaking English and Spanish to my daughter, I speak both now, and it’s a wonderful thing.

This post was originally written in Spanish. Click on the “Español” button at the top of the page to read the post in Spanish.

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About the Blogger

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Myriam Alizo is a mother, advocate and activist. She helps start and run parent groups and conducts bilingual trainings on special education topics at the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN). Alizo also works at the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR).


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