Why would parents need an advocate for their child with a disability?

Advocates Response: It may come down to you don't know what you don't know, and an advocate experienced with your district at minimum can clue you in to some of the things specific to your district that can help you be fully informed. For example, there are few ways to resolve your gut feeling that the evaluation really does not capture all your child's specific deficits if you also believe that the evaluation captured 'all areas of suspected disability' because everyone else moves forward as if it was comprehensive.

Parent's response: When a parent enters a room with a district’s  school principal, school psychologist, teacher, school counselor, and perhaps the district’s special education director, you will want to have an  experienced educational advocate by your side.

negotiation quoteOur  first experience of going to a meeting by ourselves was surreal.  My  husband and I already knew what supports our son  needed, and what the district should do. Even though we seemed  quite knowledgeable, when we requested an aide for our son who  needed one to one assistance to navigate a new experience, we were told  that the did not have a double disability and therefore he did not qualify for  one.  We also knew that boarding a big bus full  of students would be impossible for him because of his fear and  anxiety, and we were told that they did not have another bus for  him.

A  follow up meeting with an educational advocate put a stop to the  shenanigans.  They knew that the advocate knew better, had  knowledge of what to do when a district refuses to give supports that are  needed to access education, and just by having the advocate there to  remind the district of their duty (backed up by case law) the district quickly changed their minds.    

We have found [our] districts tend to be very deceiving  about what your child may need, how they have come to that conclusion, (based  on what scientific data), and what supports are available to them. As  parents, we are emotionally vested in our children and want the best for them,  but things can quickly become confusing and frustrating at meetings.  

Your  advocate likely knows the laws that protect our children with disabilities and from working with so many other families, and in our case by having a special needs  child of their own, they can offer ideas of what supports your child may  need to be successful, and the tools that are needed to properly measure that success.

Our  advocate is there to support us and guide us through a sometimes-lengthy process of seeing to it that  our child is educated with a free, appropriate, public, education  (FAPE). It is not enough that he is just in school, or that he  is included as part of the regular education classroom, but that he is  making meaningful progress so that he can reach his God given  potential.

Sincerely,  Full time Autistic parents. (posted June 25, 2009).




    © 2011 Amber Mintz, Non-Attorney Advocate, 610-927-9904- business hours; 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday