The Wrightslaw Way

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Feeling Helpless? Start Building a Well Developed Team

01/06/11
by Debbie Larson

Did you read what this grandfather wrote about his granddaughter who was normal until you handed her a book to read. Even though he had private evaluations completed on his granddaughter, he believed no hope was in sight through the public school. You too may feel the helplessness he felt.

Stop now feeling helpless.  Start now to build a well-developed team devoted to developing effective educational services for your child.

It is time to work the process. Here’s how.

  • Start with the Wrightslaw website.  Read the article about tests and measurements.  Reread it if you have to. Read it until you can explain to someone else the meaning of your child’s test results.
  • Gather information and work samples from your child’s teacher.
  • Make a video of your child trying to read.  Consider making a video of a typical classmate reading (with the parents’ permission of course).
  • Start your documentation.  Write notes of every conversation you have with a teacher or administrator about your child.  Copy every letter you send the teacher or district.
  • Write to the district requesting evaluation for special education eligibility.  Note the date you sent or delivered the letter.  Include consent for psycho educational evaluations by the district.  This starts the clock on the process.
  • Keep researching.  Learn about dyslexia, ADD, and processing deficits.  Read the FETA site information about the eligibility process.  Buy or borrow the FETA book.  Read it.
  • Write down any questions you have about your child’s learning style.  Ask what approaches might be used to teach her effectively.  As you get answers, document notes of conversations.

Be “pleasantly persistent”. If told the person is too busy to evaluate right now, you can understand, but since you know the school will comply with timeline required by law, you wonder what alternative they will utilize.  If you are asked what you want them to do, you can smile and tell them that is why you are so glad they have such knowledgeable people on staff; that you are sure they will have wonderful ideas at the team meeting.

Be ready, but NEVER threaten, to take the next step.  A call to your state Dept. of Education can open many doors.  If you do make the call, make your request in the form of a request for help.  No not complain about the school or teachers.  Such actions undercut your ability to build the team you will need for your child.

Most times, when a school realizes that there are informed family members advocating for a child, they simply do what is necessary and follow the process.  When that happens, be gracious and appreciative. You will be working with them for several years to come.

A well-developed team devoted to developing effective educational services for your child can be very rewarding.  Sometimes it just takes getting the team built.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jennifer 02/27/14 at 11:59 pm

    I feel like I am getting a run around with my son’s school. He is in 8th grade and he has a 504 plan and is now homebound. The school counselor pushed for homebound until I agreed. Now that he is homebound, we have not heard from the homebound teacher to set up instruction for him. I feel like this should have been done before his first day home. He is still getting farther and farther behind with no help. I was told that homebounding him would prevent this.
    Also, when I mentioned having him evaluated for an IEP, the counselor didn’t want to discuss it. He has dysautonomia, and is being set up for testing for Chiari Malformation. His neurologist recommended an OHP also, but she didn’t want to discuss that either. How can I request an advocate to help deal with the school?

  • 2 Heidi 01/11/11 at 1:14 pm

    QUESTION I NEED HELP. What if student needs retained due to mature not academics. She is CD and competely mimicks and role plays what she sees. If moved ahead will be with 4th and 5th grade boys and clearly not great models due to CD level. So, what can this person due to retain when school says NO retention?