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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Twas the night before an IEP meeting, when all through the house, every creature was stirring and running about. The assessments were filed in a notebook with care, in the hope that we’d get a one on one aide.
My son was having another tantrum in his bed, while visions of ABA therapy danced in my head; And I knew that I was out of my element since I’d never been taught any behavior strategies. When up in the attic arose such a clatter, I sprang from the room to see what was the matter.
Away to the attic I flew like a flash, tore up the ladder and then fell with a crash. I picked myself up, just as the light from above gave luster to my wife holding her stash. And what to my wandering eyes did she have but the behavior analysis thought lost long ago. Read the rest of this entry →
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is a myth! Generally speaking, if your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) they are either receiving a Free Public Education or an Appropriate Public Education but not both. The term FAPE means special education and related services that:
- have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge;
- meet the standards of the State educational agency;
- include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State involved; and
- are provided in conformity with the IEP required under Section 1414(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Read the rest of this entry →
In my long-time role of parent volunteer (nationally and locally), people know and seem to like me. They certainly aren’t afraid of me – as I’ve discovered as a classroom volunteer at my kids’ schools…“no classroom presence” is the verdict.
In the courtroom – as opposed to the classroom – I command more attention, of course. Being a lawyer does that. Ditto in the IEP meeting room. People sit up and take notice. As they should. Things get done. Again, as they should. Read the rest of this entry →
Advocacy can come from anyone, whether you are advocating for your child or someone is doing it on your child’s behalf. What parents need to understand is that advocacy does NOT mean you have a crystal ball. Reality check; the only things that are constant in this world are death and taxes. Therefore, when advocating for a child, it is impossible to predict the end result. When parents set out on a journey to advocate for their child, whether they do it themselves or hire someone, they must be open to wherever that journey takes them.
For example, you might have a child that has behavioral problems and is also failing in school academically. You feel your child requires an aide to assist them in class, so that is what you want to fight for. However, you’ve made this determination before any assessments have been conducted to see whether the child’s academic failures are caused by their behavioral problems or their behavioral problems are causing their academic failures. Basically, by requesting an aide before all the data has been evaluated, you’ve put “the cart before the horse.” Only after all the necessary assessments have been completed and discussed; you are able to make an informed decision as to what the appropriate services are required to help your child receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). At the end of the day, your child might require a placement change in order to receive FAPE. This brings me to my next point “Placement.” Read the rest of this entry →
“After my son was diagnosed with autism, we felt alone. We had no idea what to do, or who to turn to. Our friends couldn’t really help us. We felt isolated, like we were re-inventing the wheel.”
While this quote is from the mother of a six-year old boy diagnosed with autism three years ago, it could have come from any parent of a child with special needs. Feelings of isolation often start with the diagnosis. Family and friends on Facebook may want to help, but usually do not have the foggiest idea what it truly means to have a child with autism, ADHD, Down’s Syndrome, or any other special need. What’s more, they may even offer unhelpful advice or judgments that further isolate an already stressed out parent. Read the rest of this entry →
This is the final in a series of posts by Lori Gertz about the process of becoming an advocate for her growing special needs child. Click here to read the first part of the series, click here to read the second part.
First grade started before the summer had a chance to end. The third week of August had me lugging all three kids into Emily’s orientation day with school supplies. The other schools, private in nature, weren’t starting for a few more weeks. Emily’s first grade teacher, as it turned out, was the first cousin of a dear friend of mine and so I met her socially prior to the transition IEP meeting at the end of Emily’s kindergarten year. When I placed her at the IEP meeting, I was a bit taken aback. I had actually poured my heart out to her about Emily on a 1:1 parent to parent basis, I felt like she had seen me undressed. Read the rest of this entry →
I’m bringing this up today because we are heading to my son’s annual IEP meeting this morning. Preparation for his meeting didn’t start this week; it began when the school year started. As soon as he started doing homework, doing class assignments and taking tests, we’ve been keeping track of it. Why, because we’ve been gathering data about his strengths and needs. Remember every time your child enters a new grade level, they have a whole new set of curriculum standards to learn. Some of the concepts might be building on curriculum from the previous year so it will be familiar to them, but some will be brand new.
For our children who struggle with academics, it’s extremely important to track how they are able to deal with their new academic challenges. For example my son is in the 5th grade, so now he has to be able to identify inferences in his reading comprehension assignments and tests. Because he struggles with abstract concepts, he has had a difficult time in this area. We’ve been watching him struggle all semester, so I asked his Teacher and the Resource Specialist last week to come up with a goal to address this area of need when we meet today. They both agreed that he needs a new goal to help him in this area. Another new goal that we need to add is regarding creative writing. Although he can do factual writing it is extremely difficult for him to write creatively, again because the concept is abstract for him. Academics are not the only area you should track all year long, but rather all areas of need should be monitored for ways to improve functioning. One other such area is behavior problems. Read the rest of this entry →
My child needs a psychological assessment – should I have this done through the school or privately?
Children may be referred for psychological testing for many reasons, as discussed in my prior blog post, My child was referred for psychological testing – what does that mean? Typically, the first decision to be made when your child is referred for an evaluation is choosing whether to have the assessment done by the school psychologist or by a psychologist in private practice. One common motive for requesting an evaluation is that it is a required part of obtaining an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Many parents are unaware that they have the RIGHT to request an independent evaluation if they receive a school evaluation for an IEP and disagree with the findings. Parents can even request that the district pay the cost of the subsequent private evaluation (see this link from the US Department of Education for details: http://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html#process). Given this mandate, one logical conclusion would seem to be to start with a school evaluation, and wait to see if you are satisfied with the results before scheduling a private evaluation. However, certain crucial measures (e.g. IQ tests) are prohibited from being re-administered for a period of one year due to practice effects, and therefore the private practitioner would be forced to use the scores gathered in the school’s evaluation, utilize different measures, or wait the long period before re-administration. In addition, the child would then have to miss additional class time to participate in a second testing. Thus, the decision of whether to use a school psychologist or a private practitioner is best made prior to the start of the testing. Read the rest of this entry →
Think you know all you need to know about your child’s IEP – or that her teacher does? Maybe not!
Too often we fall into the bad habit of “trusting the process” without making sure that we understand the process. School districts develop forms, checklists, and procedures and we don’t always feel comfortable asking why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Why does it matter? The IEP should identify your child’s strengths and needs so the IEP team can put together a group of supports to enable your child to be more successful in school. The wrong supports can result in a lack of progress, or unruly behavior due to frustration. Be prepared with information from The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY). Read the rest of this entry →