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What is a Special Education Advocate?

January 25, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

Special Education Advocates or IEP Advocates help parents write appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and attain special education services for their child with a disability from their public school system.  They do so by familiarizing themselves with the special education process.  Please be aware, advocates are not attorneys.  However, advocates are extremely helpful in IEP meetings to assist in the negotiation process between parents and their school.  The Advocate can provide information about special education options and requirements and can help seek specific services or programs.  The advocate knows local schools resources and can see solutions others might not.  A Special Education Advocate is: Read the rest of this entry →

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Overview of Special Education in California

April 21, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

A few months back the Legislative Analyst’s Office wrote a 28 page primer entitled, “An overview of Special Education in California.”  While it is meant to be an introduction to Special Education in the State of California a large portion of the report parallel’s special education across the nation and is worth reading even if you are not living in California.  Especially since California has approximately 10% of the more than 6.6 million children currently receiving Special Education services across the United States.

About One in Ten California Students Receives Special Education Services. About 686,000 students with disabilities (SWDs) receive special education services in California, comprising about 10 percent of the state’s public school enrollment. Specific learning disabilities—including dyslexia—are the most common diagnoses requiring special education services (affecting about 4 percent of all K–12 students), followed by speech and language impairments. While the overall prevalence of students with autism and chronic health problems still is relatively rare (each affecting 1 percent or less of all public school students), the number of students diagnosed with these disabilities has increased notably over the past decade. Read the rest of this entry →

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Parent Counseling & Training in an IEP

October 4, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

As a parent of a child with an IEP the first few meetings I attended many years ago were quite confusing. Since I am not the type of person who likes to feel confused or unprepared, I made it my mission to learn all I could about the process. I bought law books, researched online, took a Special Education Advocacy Certificate Program and learned about many of the therapies available. During my education process I learned the School is responsible for providing my child a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and for providing me, the parent, counseling and training. It’s ironic that I took it upon myself to become educated about the process and my child’s disability when it’s the School’s responsibility to provide all pertinent information. Read the rest of this entry →

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IEP Success Takes More than Love

August 1, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

The love a parent feels for their child is very powerful.  Especially when a parent has a child with special needs, the instinct to protect their child becomes an unstoppable force.  Unfortunately, we have all heard about the “Irresistible force paradox.”  You know the one:  “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?”  Or to keep this analogy going a little longer, what happens when a Parent (unstoppable force) meets a School District (immovable object) in an IEP.  Right about now is where many people reading this blog will want to flame me.  Yes, I know all about IEP Team collaboration and working together and Kumbaya and all of that.  I also know that in the real world this doesn’t always happen. Read the rest of this entry →

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Summer is a good time to familiarize yourself with your child’s IEP

July 28, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

The lazy days of summer will soon be over and whether your child goes back to school in August or September; you should pull your child’s most recent Individualized Education program (IEP) and take the time to read it from cover to cover.  Now is a good time to familiarize yourself with all of your child’s disability, goals, accommodations, class placement, etc….in order to make sure your child’s IEP is implemented correctly in the upcoming fall semester.  It’s important to be familiar in advance so that you are able to begin tracking your child’s services at the beginning of the first semester, instead of finding out sometime in December your school is out of compliance with your child’s IEP.  Also, if you have an IEP meeting coming up in the first semester to discuss amending the current one, now is a good time to write a list of concerns that you have.  You can always add to it when the school year begins, this way you are prepared to have a productive meeting when the time comes.  Read the rest of this entry →

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The Art of Asking Questions at an IEP

June 23, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

It has been said, “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions” (Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize Winner for Literature).  These are words to live by and my wife, Dennise, and I have found that asking questions in an IEP meeting is a very effective strategy for advocating for your child.  Yesterday, Dennise wrote in her blog, “Needs Drive Goals and Goals Drive Services in an IEP”;

….. if you think your child needs additional services always remember to start at the beginning.  First, update your child’s present level of performance.  Next, write multiple goals for every area of need including all of the components.  Lastly, use the present levels of performance and goals to justify additional services.  If parents remember to work from beginning to end they should have a much more productive IEP meeting. Read the rest of this entry →

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Needs Drive Goals and Goals Drive Services in an IEP

June 22, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

As I reflect on the prior IEP season one common theme continues to jump out at me.  You can’t request additional services for your child if there isn’t a written goal that the service will help the child achieve.     This is crucial for parents to understand.  A well written IEP starts with an accurate Present Levels of Performance (PLOP) that outlines the child’s strengths and needs.  If additional assessments are necessary to accurately update the child’s PLOP then make sure the request is made with ample time for the assessments to be performed prior to the annual IEP date.  Once you have an accurate picture of the PLOP make sure you write a goal for every area of need.   You would be surprised how often goals are not written to address every need and parents will have a very hard time justifying additional services without a goal.  Read the rest of this entry →

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