Nicole Santiago is a former educator passionate about helping students with diverse learning needs. Starting as a Spanish teacher in the DC area, she often created resources for her classes due to the lack of Spanish-speaking paraeducators.
This experience led her to become an advocate for students with learning disabilities, always pushing for their inclusion in her classes and showing up at IEP meetings. After her son was diagnosed with ADHD and other learning differences, Nicole became even more dedicated to supporting students with diverse needs and ensuring they could access education.
She continues to strongly advocate for inclusive education and is dedicated to making a difference in students’ lives.
In this episode of the Don’t IEP Alone podcast, host Lisa Lightner chats with Nicole Santiago, the founder of Family ADDventures, about her journey from being an educator to becoming an advocate for children with different learning needs. Nicole shares her experiences in supporting families and children with learning differences, including her work with the police department, her advocacy for a family in a church dispute, and her insights on getting involved in advocacy work.
Join Lisa and Nicole as they discuss the challenges, victories, and the importance of advocating for children with special needs. Tune in to be inspired and empowered to make a difference in the lives of children with learning differences.
Primary Topic: Introduction and Background
- Introducing Guest: Nicole Santiago from Family ADDventures
- Sharing experience in education and advocacy
- Transition from teacher to advocate and educator for the guest’s own children
Primary Topic: Advocacy Work and Collaboration
- Diverse forms of advocacy and additional responsibilities beyond IEP meetings
- Collaboration with various organizations, connecting with professionals, and seeking support
- Importance of remaining collaborative in advocacy work and building strong relationships
Primary Topic: Advocacy Challenges and Motivation
- Dealing with challenges, misperceptions, and misconceptions in advocacy work
- Staying motivated and positive amidst difficult situations
- Personal experiences with continuous efforts in fighting for change
Primary Topic: Advocacy Experience with Schools and Churches
- Supporting a family in their fight against a church to help their autistic child’s right to worship
- The complexities and difficulties faced in the advocacy process
- The importance of patient persistence and the impact of raising awareness through advocacy
Primary Topic: Encouragement for Aspiring Advocates
- Encouragement for parents to engage in advocacy work and initiate change
- Advice for getting involved and making an impact on any level
- Discussing professional organizations and resource networking for aspiring advocates
Primary Topic: Finding Nicole Santiago
- Details about the platforms and ways to connect with Nicole Santiago from Family ADDventures
- Mentioning website, Instagram, and Facebook profiles for further engagement and information
Primary Topic: Empowering Parents in the Advocacy Fight
- Empowerment and validation for parents navigating the special education system
- Encouraging parents to embrace their role as foot soldiers in the advocacy work
- Highlighting the significance of more individuals engaging in the advocacy fight