A Special Needs Advocate is one of the most powerful supporters you can have when you’re dealing with the tangle of organizations, regulations, and documents that can affect children who need extra help. Do you actually need a special needs advocate, though? If you answer “Yes” to any of the following, then it’s probably time to make the call.
1. You’re Too Busy To Handle Everything Yourself
This is one of the most common issues parents have. Many are already working full-time jobs, and just being able to schedule a meeting with the school is often harder than it should be. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to give your child’s education the attention it deserves, then don’t try to do everything yourself. Advocates can help you understand the information provided, make decisions, and ultimately ensure that your child gets everything they should.
2.Your Emotions Are Distracting
We all care deeply for our children, but the truth is that an emotionally-charged atmosphere is not good for ensuring that children get help and support. Whether you’re worried about your child’s future, angry at what you see as failures on the school’s part, or just feeling stressed because of how many roles you’re juggling, a Special Needs Advocate can help take emotion out of the issue and focus on what needs to be done.
3. You Don’t Know Your Rights
The law requires schools to do many things for children in Special Education, but some schools are reluctant to provide certain services. Many schools will simply say, “We can’t do that” when they just don’t want to do it. Your child should never suffer because of a school’s refusal to follow the law. Special Needs Advocates are trained to understand the law and can ensure that your child’s school does everything it’s supposed to.
4. You Want Help Reviewing The IEP
Discussions with staff members are not a binding contract. In fact, in many cases, schools are only required to offer the services and support that are included on a child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). A Special Needs Advocate can review this document with you and ensure that your child will receive everything you expect them to receive.
5. Your Child Isn’t Progressing As Well As You’d Like
If your child has been in the Special Education system for awhile, they should have made progress. Their IEP should recognize any barriers to learning and have a plan to deal with them. If your child isn’t making any meaningful progress, a Special Needs Advocate can help you understand why and find out the best way to fix this problem.
6. You Disagree With The School District’s Decisions
Many needed services are initially denied by schools, but you don’t have to accept their refusal to provide a service you believe your child needs. If you truly think they’re in the wrong, a Special Needs Advocate can help you investigate the matter and figure out what, if anything, can be done to resolve this situation.
Get More Information
The California Department of Education maintains a page about the Services and Resources for Special Education. You may wish to review this before any meeting with the school district. The CalEdFacts page is particularly important since it contains information on everything from public access to special programs and testing requirements.