Ian’s Business Idea Gets a Jump Start


 Ian’s business idea involves hand crafted wooden puzzles and magnets. His parents are fully involved in the business idea and we are proud to welcome the HOROWITZ FAMILY to the Entrepreneurship 4 Independence (E4i) Summer Camp Program

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Our October 17th National Public Radio Radio Show

Click on the icon below to listen to our interview on National Public Radio


Posted in Book Launch News, Uncategorized

School Bells Ring, Are Ya Listenin’?

School starts in a few days and that is bringing up a a lot of mixed emotions for me. I know that almost every parent is anxious about a new school year, especially parents of “special needs” students, so I am definitely in good company.  I’m looking forward to watching Ian grow and learn through all the new experiences he’ll have at school and I hope its as good as the final quarter of last year.  Of course, I just can’t help being just a little bit worried.

Ian is very, very excited to be going to 7th grade. He was really happy to see the school bus stop by this morning to make note of his stop. He got pretty bummed out a little while ago because he discovered that the brand new and very cool Star Wars T-shirt he was planning to wear the first day will not be allowed at school because the characters are holding weapons. (Well…it is Star Wars!)  So now he has to come up with a Plan B – and he just doesn’t want to consider Plan B at all right now.  Of course, he has also been asking and speculating about what his teachers and classes might be like. However, along with all that fun and excitement comes homework, organizational challenges, packing lunches every evening, and social challenges… including the possibility of bullying.

Although I’m usually much more actively involved in guiding my special needs child’s education, his IEP team was actually pretty good so we had already decided to try to relax and not make schedule requests. We were pleased with the way they handled things last year. However, I recently went back on that and requested art class for his “Special”. I did that because Ian had left his teachers thinking he enjoyed PE but in reality, he was afraid that he may be bullied if he got PE again. Even though the coach was amazing with Ian, he couldn’t supervise closely all the time. There were around fifty students in the class and I do believe that the two coaches tried hard to keep it safe and fun, but despite those efforts, there were a few issues here and there. Ian’s gym clothes were stolen, too and that sure didn’t help matters. Fortunately the assistant principal was very understanding and she was able to get him into the art class.  Ian is pleased about it. Hopefully that kid he had the problems with won’t be in there with him. Believe me, it has been tough not to call them to ask for an advance copy of the schedule. Also, I’ve heard that there are a couple of 7th grade teachers who don’t like to accommodate the ESE students per their IEPs so we will remain vigilant.

Meanwhile, Ian has been very happy doing as little as possible this summer. He even turned down offers to go to the summer family movies at the local theater. What a shock! He has always been very good at relaxing but he’s really been trying to perfect that process lately. I wouldn’t say lazy, though because he has had some activity, just not as much as usual.  He has been active with Special Olympics, a week of camp at Junior Achievement’s Biz Town, a trip to a nice Orlando resort, Sea World, some academic work, and some time spent with friends, but he’s mostly wanted to just hang out at home.

The academic work we did, especially anything that involved writing, didn’t go as well as I would have liked. Ian is heavily into “homework avoidance” and that causes quite a lot of stress for him and for us, his parents.  I sure hope he rallies next week when he gets homework for five or six different classes.

We are holding off on buying school supplies because Open House is tomorrow and we’re hoping each teacher will give us a list of supplies that are actually needed. I’m sure we’ve missed some sales but we could save money in the long run. Its annoying to buy everything on the school list and then see that some of it goes unused and the teachers send home additional lists anyway.  Of course, I’ll be on the lookout for a weapon-free Star Wars t-shirt, too.

Please let us know what you and your kids are thinking and doing about the looming school year.  We would love to hear from you.

Kind Regards,


Posted in School Issues

Adios Private School – Hello Public School

Over the past year Sandy and I were not pleased about the way Ian’s schools was run.  When we first met with the administrator she did not impress us as organized person. As it turned out our first impression was accurate. The communication with the parents was poor, there was I felt an excessive number of teacher planning and not all the field trips were of any real eduction value.  I routinely referred to this school as a camp.

We didn’t feel Ian was placed in the correct class but got nowhere with the school. The school administration was stonewalling us about changing Ian’s placement.  Being used to frequent assessments in the public schools, we asked how Ian was doing. The school could not give us an answer. We were told that they only test at the beginning and the end of the school year. Fortunately for Ian, this school is considered a not for profit and its students are eligible to receive services from the public school district. We decided to request additional help in reading and math.  Ian was tested and in few weeks tutoring began. A few weeks later we were told that Ian had regressed to below where he was when he left fifth grade and was stagnant in others. This was the straw that broke the camels back and we decided Ian was not coming back. At this point the there was about ten weeks left in school.

With about eight weeks left in school Sandy was discussing our decision to put Ian back into public school with  a supervisor of the public schools outside services division. She told us that if we were going to do this we shod do immediately so Ian would qualify for summer school. We took her advice and place Ian in public middle school with about eight weeks called us and suggested we put Ian back public school.

Because we never took Ian off the State standards, Ian had to be placed in general education classes with pullouts for math and reading. After meeting Ian, the school administration felt, for social reasons, Ian would be best placed with he honors students. After his first week in school Ian said he learned more in one week in middle school than he learned all year in the private school. Hopefully he will have the placement next year.

He is very happy at public school. He even signed up for phys ed as an elective. If you read our book you could imagine our surprise with choosing to take phys ed. he had been quoted as saying he hates PE

Lastly, I told Sandy this may be our only chance to  get a my child’s an honor student bumper sticker.

Posted in School Issues

Teaching About Loans

Over the years we’ve been teaching Ian about money, about different types income and the difference between liabilities and assets (assets make you money, liabilities cost you money)  in hopes that he will eventually be a good steward of his finances and be able to develop multiple streams of income.  He is developing some skills. He loves to sell. It doesn’t matter if it is a fundraiser for Scouts or his morning coffee stand. He loves to sell and enjoys learning about business and how to make money.

A couple of months ago Ian’s Scout troop was deciding where they were going for summer camp. At that Ian said he did not want to go Scout summer camp, but he did want to go to summer camp at JA Biz Town, a camp operated by Junior Achievement. We had no problem with his choice. The more he learns about filling out applications, interviewing, and banking now the better off he will be when he needs these skills. It wasn’t long before Ian said he wanted to pay for Biz Town himself at a cost of two hundred dollars. He had ninety-eight dollars in his bank account so he was going to have to earn the rest.

The other day we got notice from Biz Town that were giving a fifteen dollar discount for early registration  Ian wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.  Since he didn’t have enough money I made him an offer to loan him the money. Since Ian needed ninety-dollars for early registration, I took this opportunity to teach him about loans and that there is a cost to borrowing money.

I offered Ian the money for the registration, but he would have to secure the loan with his forty dollar Walmart gift card and forty-seven dollar credit to Walmart. Interest on the loan would be two percent. . I explained to him the difference between a secured and unsecured loan and that if he didn’t pay the loan off he would lose the gift card and credit. He still wanted to move forward with the loan. I got on Internet and and did a search for promissory notes. I took advantage of a site with fill in the blank forms and created a loan document with payment schedule. The loan would cost him fifty-four cents. Before I went over the loan document with Ian, I asked him if he thought the camp was a asset or liability and he answered asset because he was getting an education. I went over each clause with Ian and he signed it.

I told Sandy about the loan agreement and she asked how Ian could earn his money. I told her   Ian gets six dollars for mowing the front and back yard and ten dollars each for washing both of our cars. He can do these jobs weekly whether or not it is needed. I figured at the very least he may get into some good work habits and learn about scheduling his time.During his Spring break from school he can set up his coffee stand. He can promote his print on demand art site.

When Sandy took Ian to Biz Town to pay for camp, Ian proudly told them he was paying for camp and that he took out a loan so he could early register. He explained the loan arrangement and the camp director suggested that instead of paying the full registration he make the payments to the camp instead of to his parents. He called me to see if I would modify the loan so he could make the payments to the camp instead of his parents. I said OK.  Because now the arrangement essentially changed from making the loan to the equivalent of co-signing a loan. It is still secured by the gift card and credit.




Posted in Teaching Money Concepts

11 Tips for Deciding on Private School: A Retrospect:

We are about half way through school and so far we are not sold on this private school. Sandy and I recently put together a list of things about our experience with the school that we liked, didn’t like or were merely acceptable. We had eleven pros, thirty-nine cons and four acceptable.

Based on our experience here is our advice to those considering private school.

  1. Take good notes of all your preliminary discussions with the school. Even though Sandy and I were at the same meetings we recall things differently. If you can legally record a meeting do it.  If they have a problem with being recorded you have to wonder why.
  2. Before you meet with the school be sure send them a copy of your child’s Individual Education Plan.  At the meeting question them about it to see if the they’ve read it
  3. When you talk to parents who have children at the school find out more about their children’s needs to see how similar their needs are to your child’s. When we talked to parents they told us they love the school. We found out later their children’s needs were considerably different than Ian’s.
  4. If the school tells you they focus on life skills ask the what that means and how do they do it.
  5. The school Ian is in is a not-for-profit school and, in Florida, the students can still get services from the public school. If this situation exists in your area contact the public school system and find out what level of cooperation they’ve had with the private school.
  6. Don’t make your decisions based on programs they tell you they are working on. They may not materialize.
  7. If possible get a copy of the school schedule for the upcoming year. If you can’t get that then get the schedule from the current/previous year.
  8. At Ian’s school, about three days of academics were sacrificed because the students were practicing for the school play. If you are bothered by things like that then try to feel the school out about how they balance academics and special events.
  9. If the private school does a lot of field trips, ask what happens when a child does not participate in the field trip.
  10. Again, if many field trips are expected, get an idea of what type of trips they are.  We were disappointed to discover that many of the field trips Ian’s class took were to places Ian had already visited or that they were not as educational or enriching as we had expected.
  11. Find out how often they assess your child’s progress.  As I said in Tip 1 we were able to get services for Ian, fortunately this required a mid-year assessment. Unfortunately, this assessment showed Ian’s reading comprehension and math regressed according to previous public school testing.  As it turns out, this private school only does assessments at the start and end of the year.  Everything I’ve read about reaching goals talks about mid-course corrections. With assessments only at the beginning and end of the year it is difficult to see if you’re on target.
Posted in School Issues Tagged with:

Public or Private Middle School

Middle school is tough enough if you’re a typical kid with no disabilities. So as parents we were naturally wary of sending Ian to a public middle school.  After his transition IEP,  we became even more reluctant to put Ian in public school.  We were concerned that if we took Ian off the State’s standard test that he would have no chance of of getting a high school diploma. He would essentially get a certificate of completion and would not be eligible to go to a community college. If we kept him on the standards he would be in the general education classes and we were not convinced that he would have gotten help he needed.  He would be eligible for a high school diploma, but at what cost. Most likely keeping up with the work would be stressful and in all likelihood his success rate would not be as high as we would have liked. Even though we had concerns we decided we were going to check out private special needs school.

Posted in School Issues

Our Guide for Special Needs Parents

Cover Guide For Special Need ParentsA Guide for Special Needs Parents

Our book is now available

Click Here to Buy from Amazon


Fourteen years ago Sandy was pregnant with our son Ian. Being diligent parents we read the parenting books and magazines. We wanted to be as prepared as possible as we embarked on parenthood. When Ian was five months old we found out about his disability. Our library of parenting books didn’t cover the new direction parenting was taking. There were no parenting books for this path. It would have been nice to get a heads up about  how things were going to change and more importantly what we could do to reduce the added stress this new direction was going to create. For fourteen years we navigated the waters of special needs parenting before we decided to share what we’ve learned along the way.

We decided to write this book to give others the heads up we didn’t have and let others benefit from our experience and planning.

In this informative guide you will find strategies and techniques to:

  • Reduce the intensity and duration of meltdowns and tantrums.
  • Improve the responses to transitions.
  • Teach financial concepts and develop marketable skills.
  • Make therapy equipment for home use.
  • Deal with the challenges of mainstreaming at school, and socially.
  • Plan for your child’s future employment and financial well being.
  • Improve your records management
  • Systemically compare therapies, learning programs and  schools.

Even though our kids different, as parents we are essentially faced with thesame challenges. This guide will help you navigate the waters of being a special needs parents.

Posted in Book Launch News

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