Last week we told parents to find an expert to evaluate your child and make strong recommendations about your child’s communication needs.
We also said… If you, a parent says, “My child needs an iPad”, that’s the last device the school will consider. Even if you were an AT expert, it would be hard because you are the parent first, and schools do not want to “give in” to parents.
Dad2Luke commented, “I’m having a hard time reconciling the statement in this article that if a parent suggests something that it will be the last thing considered by an IEP team.”
Sounds as if he may have run into that “brick wall” of resistance at schools.
Brick Wall of Resistance
We do say parents are experts on their children. But from the perspective of the school staff, parents are outsiders.
In our articles and books we write about “school culture” that includes the beliefs and assumptions held by school people. We also say parent-school conflict is normal, predictable, and inevitable. Unfortunately, school culture prevents school staff from realizing that sometimes, parents really do know what their children need.
Can you force educators and school psychologists to change their beliefs? No.
As the parent of a special ed child, your job is to negotiate with school staff and secure a good quality special education program for your child. As a negotiator, your single most important tool is to understand and be able to explain the position of the “other side” as well or better than your own!
That’s why we teach parents how to use advocacy tactics and strategies that will help develop a different relationship with the school and the IEP team.
This is also why a comprehensive evaluation by an expert in the private sector is so important. The evaluations used to make educational decisions must contain accurate information about what your child really needs – including changes that need to be made in curriculum, teaching methods, and/or school structure. The only people who will provide this information are experts in the private sector.
We recommend that parents ask the evaluator to attend the IEP meeting to discuss their findings, explain their recommendations re: the type of program the child needs, and to answer other questions. It’s more difficult for the team to “consider,” then ignore, an evaluation when the person is sitting at the table with them.
The Special Education Survival Guide – Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition.
In Chapter 4, you learn about gatekeepers, special education teams, and one-size-fits-all programs.
In Chapter 5, you learn about obstacles to success, including myths, rules and school culture, personality styles, how to deal with difficult people, and steps you can take to minimize or resolve problems with the school.
In Chapter 6, you learn why parent-school conflict is normal, predictable, and inevitable. You learn the most common reasons for conflict, and strategies you can use to resolve conflict.
Chapter 7, you learn how routine problems can erupt into crises, common pitfalls, and steps you can take in a crisis to improve the odds for a good outcome.