Special Needs and Special Gifts
As parents of children with disabilities we face the awesome task of meeting the often-complicated physical, mental, emotional, and educational needs of our children.
You are the expert on your child. No one knows more about your child than you You nurture, you listen, you observe, you encourage, you see how he learns, you know the strengths and the weaknesses of your child. You know what makes him happy, and you know what ticks him off. You know what frightens him. You know how far he can go before he falls off the deep end.
Your parental knowledge is extremely important to the educational process. Here are some helpful resource articles.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), recognizes your importance and expertise as a parent. The law encourages your participation as an equal member of the team that will decide the educational placement, support, and services your child will receive. To become an equal participant in the process you need to understand some basics about special education and the tools that cam empower you as a parent.
Advocacy tools you can use now.
Hopefully this web site will help you to quickly grasp the basics of the law, explain my understanding of the philosophy driving that law, and help you attain basic skills that will enable you to be an equal member of the team directing your child's education. From my experience as a parent of children with disabilities, from many years of working with educators, and from experience as a volunteer parent advocate, I have a fair amount of insight into the education process, and the advocacy tools that work.
You will feel tremendous relief as you begin to take charge of your child's educational planning. For the rest of his life, your child will live with the decisions made by the education team. You are a crucial player in the success of this journey. The basic tools you will need to succeed along that journey are in the pages to follow. If you will follow the links at the left of each page you will complete a mini course in advocacy that will place you on an equal footing with other members of your child's education team.
Success builds on success
As you use these tools you will grow in your effectiveness as an advocate. Each success will lead to further successes for your child. You will gain confidence and feel more comfortable when you walk into what you may now view as the dreaded IEP meeting. You will feel more at ease in guiding your child's education and in helping the team see your vision for your child. You will be respected for your knowledge of the law and the special education process. You will become an equal, contributing member of the educational team, as intended by the law.
Advocacy tools powerful in everyday life
The tools of advocacy can be very powerful and helpful in areas other than education. Parents say they have been helpful in clarifying, documenting, and attaining medical services, social services, and other difficult-to-access resources. Also, your child may be watching you as you advocate for him or her. With your modeling you will be teaching one of the most powerful tools in life, self advocacy.
If you keep meticulous written records and documentation, you will have an excellent foundation upon which to proceed to any level of resolution you might need to seek. In the long run, it is the written word that counts in an IEP, a formal complaint, or a due process.
Keep in mind that the tips at this site are not meant to replace legal advice. If you decide you need a lawyer, be sure to consult one who is qualified and experienced in the area of special education law.
A very important, helpful organization is your state's Parent Training and Information Center. Don't hesitate to call these friendly people who are there to help parents of special needs children.
Information at this site is not to be construed as legal advice.