There are excellent special education services out there, but finding the right ones for your child can be a daunting experience. If you need financial help, or you are battling the school district for the services your child needs, you can get assistance from an advocate.
Working with an advocate can give you some relief when you feel overwhelmed and it becomes hard to maintain emotions. Whether it is dealing with the amount of information you are receiving, if you need assistance in communicating with school district officials or if you just need help with problem solving when issues are challenging, an advocate who knows the laws and parental rights can come in handy.
What is an advocate?
An advocate is someone who works to improve the lives of children with disabilities and their families. There are several roles that an advocate may play in supporting your child with special needs, including:
It would be useful to find out what training the advocate has received. Skills such as communication, collaboration, presentation, and maintaining a professional relationship are important proficiencies needed by anyone who is an advocate. They should have current information and a good knowledge of special education in general as well as special education law. Care must be taken to ensure that their information is current and accurate. Practical experience such as attending IEP meetings or case conference participation should also be expected.
Understanding your child’s needs
It is important that the advocate gets to know your child. This way, the advocate can better assist you in customizing your requests to the particular needs of your child. Each situation is different and requires open minds to come up with solutions based on the unique situation. The advocate should be able to explain how your child’s disability may impact his or her learning and then work with you to help prioritize your child’s needs.
Allowing you to have final say
Your advocate needs to understand that no matter what, you have the ultimate final decision-making power. An advocate who interjects too much personal preference, or who does not respect your final word is overstepping his or her role. Ultimately, decisions are for you, as the parent, to make when given options. An good advocate should know and encourage this.
The bottom line
The best advocates look for win-win solutions, and will support you in every aspect. This means that even though your advocate is helping you to understanding systems or working with the school to create an acceptable program for your child, he or she is also collaborating with the school and the district to achieve a solution that puts everyone on the path to success, if possible. supports your child, but does not put the school in a financial or personnel strain? While you may want “everything” for your child, every other parent who has a child in special education does too, and if it strains the school or district financially or personnel-wise, then it is counterproductive for everyone.
If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.
American Advocacy group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with Autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.
CONTACT US FOR HELP.
Dial (877) 762-0702 or email us at [email protected].