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  • Writer's picturePaula Migliaccio

What Does "Success" Look Like for Your Special Needs Child and How Do You Get There?

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

What Does "Success" Look Like for Your Special Needs Child and How Do You Get There?

This picture to me is the culmination of all the work I did with my son for the past 19 years.

He started out with no eye contact from birth, he couldn't walk, had low muscle tone and could not sit up on his own, he couldn't chew (needed feeding therapy for 7 years), he could not pick up things, he did not interact or know we were there, he had to be taught to call for Mommy, had no words until he was 4 and then he had echolalia for two years and no communicable language. From the time he was 12 months old he received feeding therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, special ed therapy and I eventually received parent training. He was diagnosed with Autism when he turned 4 years old. When his language emerged and he could finally have conversational language, we discovered he was also oppositionally defiant, which was another challenge on top of the meltdowns that came due to not being able to accept any changes in routine, environment, even in the way we drove home from school! I had been advised to place him in typical school with an aide, because he was deemed to be bright and the special ed system in our district did not really "teach" kids but rather kept the same curriculum from K-5. So I fought to have him stay in typical classrooms (with an aide/para) and I worked to find a place where he would be accepted (which turned out to be a magnet school within the district, in which kids were allowed to walk around the room if they wanted, pindrop quiet wasn't required in the classrooms, and parents and teachers collaborated to create meaningful learning experiences with many volunteers in the classroom at a time). He crashed out in 5th grade so I had to homeschool him for a year, but after that, he was able to go into typical middle school without an aide, and remained in typical school all the way through HS without aide support. I found a smaller sized typical HS which had an Engineering Academy, and I moved to a whole other town in order to be able to choice him into that magnet high school. This past month (June 2021), my son with ASD/ADD/ODD graduated from that same high school! He is planning on going to the community college in the fall and he now drives, has a part time job, has friends and a girlfriend, and wants to either be an engineer or a pilot.

My definition of "success" for my son was getting him to be as independently functioning as possible, and I set out to do so from the moment I figured out there were issues. He was my greatest life's work for the past 19 years, and I cannot describe how I felt when he graduated typical HS--I'm still flying high from it all! It was NOT easy--I had to threaten the school district several times in order to enforce what was on his IEP, I had to visit lawyers to get advice, I had to find social skills opportunities--I even became an assistant coach for Lego Robotics league when he was in middle school in order to make sure I could help him "get along" socially if necessary during meet sessions. I almost had two nervous breakdowns along the way from not fully taking care of myself and spending all my time and energy on my son. I'm sure much of my story sounds familiar to you! We are special moms, having to do twice as much work as the next mom, in order to help keep our kids going in the right direction--applaud yourself for being so resilient and making it this far!

What is YOUR definition of "success" for your child? What do you see in the future for your son or daughter? Where are you in your process of helping your child become all he/she can become? Where can you turn for help?

I'm not just a mother of my own special needs child--I am a tutor/teacher of special needs individuals (for 25yrs) and also a behavior analyst/behavioral therapist (for 5yrs) with the personal and professional experience to help guide you to find the resources you might need on this path. Do you want someone to teach your child to read or how to understand meaning in what he/she is reading? I can help you with that, as I've been highly successful in helping both kids and adults with special needs move along their growth paths. Do you need help behaviorally? Do you want to know what to do as a parent in order to help your child move ahead? I ONLY received parent training as my son was growing up (no 1:1 ABA therapy, as our insurance did not cover it back when he was young). In other words, I was taught how to manage him and what to do in my home, and that carried over into other environments as well. I am certified to help teach parents how to handle their child with special needs (I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst). I can also do 1:1 ethical ABA therapy, or social skills (I'm a certified UCLA PEERS social skills provider). I've also worked with adults with all kinds of special needs, as half my fieldwork hours were in group residential homes, and I can help you with your adult special needs child as well.

Most of all, I can listen and hear your concerns and point you in the right direction for whatever it is your child might need next--I offer a FREE 1hr CONSULTATION/TALK WITH ME to hear your concerns and goals and let you know I might be able to help you. You might need other services, and since I've been a mom who has gone through what you're going through, I know of other resources to tell you about or help you find. Contact me here ( and let me start to help you! My greatest passion in life is to be able to help other parents and families of special needs children, the way I myself was helped in the past. Let me help you get on the road to the success you want to see for your child--contact me to get started talking now:,, 1-805-341-6731

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