Friday, 30 May 2014

Top Transition Tips for Your School-aged Child

By Shana Soucy, NBACL Manager of Inclusive Education

The end of the school year is approaching quickly and many parents are starting to wonder “Will my child be ready for the new school year in September?” “What if the new teacher does not know what to do when his routine is broken...”, and, “Is the new school going to be as supportive?” 

June is an important month for parents and school personnel to focus on Transition.  Here are some tips to ensure your child has a successful transition to a new grade/teacher or a new school.

Steps toward a good transition:
  1. Find out if there is a transition model in place at the school, if not;
  2. Form a comprehensive transition team (with the help of the school).
  3. Meet with the team (most parents have transition meetings in the beginning and end of the school year).
  4. Plan for the evaluation of the transition goals and strategies (If the strategies do not work for the student, it’s important that there are follow-up meetings to ensure that the student’s transition is as smooth as possible.  Brainstorming new ideas and strategies can be done during these collaborative meetings.).
It’s very important to have a clear agenda of what will be covered during the transition meeting.  For example, if your child has difficulty with routine changes, the meeting should cover different strategies that will be used when his daily routine will be different.  Items that could be covered during a transition meeting could be:

·        Special Education Plan (SEP): What was done this year and what will happen next year;
·        Student’s strengths;
·        Student’s needs (academic, emotional, behavioural, medical, etc.); and
·        Strategies that can help the students with daily challenges.  Some examples include: visual schedules to prepare the student for changes in his or her schedule, to using social stories.

Involve your child.  He/she might not be at the transition meeting but if possible, they can have their say in what they think would help make the transition less stressful.  Bring these ideas to the table at the transition meeting.  Remember, planning for an individual can only be successful if they are on board with it!

If your child is transitioning from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school, or is moving to a different school, you may want to contact the school and schedule a time for the student to visit his/her new school and classroom.  This may lower his/her stress levels by knowing exactly what the school looks like, where his/her classroom, cafeteria and bathrooms are located. 

If the student is anxious about transitions, it could be beneficial for him/her to meet with school personnel with whom he or she will be working with daily (ex: classroom teacher, resource teacher, educational assistant, etc.) the week before classes are in session.  Showing the student where the lockers are located and simple things like where he might sit in the classroom could make a big difference and ensure they have a successful start to a new school year.

Finally, for young children transitioning from an Early Learning Childcare Centre or home environment into kindergarten, it’s important for the parents to arrange a tour of the school with their child.  Some schools are very accommodating and will let the child spend an hour or part of the day in the classroom so that he/she can familiarize him/herself the school and learning environment. 

Parents should inform the school that his/her child has a disability and should ask that a transition meeting be organized to discuss the child’s strengths and needs.  It is usually during this meeting that the parents and school would organize a tour of the school.

Transitions can be difficult for many students, but planning and preparing your child can help them adjust to their new environment and help make their experience more positive. 

Collaborate with the school, attend transition meetings and be sure to involve your child. 
With good planning, you and your child’s educational team can collaborate to create effective ideas and strategies to ensure that everyone is prepared and feels ready to start a new school year!

For more information about successful transition for your child, or about Inclusive Education, contact Shana Soucy at: 1-506-453-4400, toll free (within Canada) at 1-866-622-2548 or email

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Top Tips for Accessing the Disability Tax Credit

By Rachel Mills, Manager of Family Support & Independent Facilitation, NBACL

For many families who support a son or daughter with a disability, there are added expenses related to meeting the needs of their family member. One way to offset some of these additional costs is through the Government of Canada’s Disability Tax Credit (DTC). If you are found eligible, you can use the DTC to reduce your taxable income, or can be transferred to an eligible family member.

Accessing the DTC can be a challenging and sometimes intimidating process for people with a disability and their families. This blog will focus on providing tips to help individuals and families when applying for the Disability Tax Credit.

Please note this information is not intended as financial or tax advice.

Tip 1: Prepare for your visit to the doctor

In order to be considered for the Disability Tax Credit, you must have Part B of your application form completed by a qualified practitioner. A full list of professionals who are considered qualified practitioners is included with the application form. When calling to making an appointment with your medical professional, advise them of the purpose of your visit. This will allow them time to prepare for your visit, including reviewing any relevant medical documentation on file related to your disability.

Before visiting your medical professional, it can be helpful to spend time identifying and documenting the areas in which your disability impacts your life. Individuals with a disability and their family members experience the impacts of a disability on a daily basis, while a medical professional may only see a patient for a short time every few months. In order to assist your medical professional to complete your DTC application accurately and thoroughly, it can be helpful to provide them with a written letter detailing the areas of your daily life that are impacted, and provide concrete examples.

The quality of responses provided by your medical profession in DTC application plays an important role when your application is being considered for approval. If your doctor is reluctant to complete a DTC application for you, the written examples you provide can help them see the ways in which your disability impacts your daily life. Your doctor’s role is to confirm the extent and impact of your disability.

Eligibility for the DTC will be determined by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Tip 2: Submit your application as soon as possible

If you are just learning about the Disability Tax Credit, don’t delay, apply now! DTC applications can be reviewed at any time of year. It often takes several months for a decision to be made about approval therefore forms should be submitted as soon as they are completed so processing can begin.

Tip 3: If at first you don’t succeed, try again!

A large number of applications for the Disability Tax Credit are initially declined. Just because your application was not approved the first time, does not mean this decision is final. If your application is declined, you will receive a written notice explaining the reason for the decision. You have the option to provide additional information from a qualified practitioner and have your file reviewed again. You also have the right to file a formal objection to appeal the decision within 90 days of receiving written notification.

Tip 4: If approved, have past tax years reassessed

If you are found eligible for the DTC, it is possible to have your income tax reassessed and adjusted for up to 10 years retroactively from date of approval for years that the disability was present. To request assessment of past tax years, applicants must complete form T1-ADJ T1 Adjustment Request which can be access at: A separate form must be completed for each year you wish to have reassessed. This will allow the Canada Revenue Agency to reassess past years and apply the DTC. In some cases, this may result in a rebate being provided to the individual or eligible family member.

In addition to the significant tax savings that can result from accessing the Disability Tax Credit, the DTC also opens doors to other financial savings for people with a disability such as Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs).

The application form to apply for the Disability Tax Credit is called T2201 and can be accessed on the Canada Revenue Agency’s website at:

If you require assistance with completing your Disability Tax Credit application, you can contact Rachel at:1-506-453-4400, or toll free at 1-866-622-2548.