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Keys to Successful Advocacy: Organize, Plan, Prepare
"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."-John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach
"Can you imagine educating a child with a disability without a master plan? You do not know about the child's disability, how the disability affects the child's learning, or how the child needs to be taught. You do not know what services and supports the child needs."
do not know what steps you should take to ensure that your child receives
appropriate services. You do not know if your child is making progress.
You are not aware of obstacles you may encounter or how to resolve problems.
Is it reasonable to think you will figure this out as you go along?"
(Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy by Pam and Pete Wright)
If you are
like many parents, you are confused about your role. What do you
need to learn? How can you ensure that the school provides your child
with quality, appropriate special education services?
to make long-term plans for your child. You are the constant factor in
your child's life. You represent your child's interests. If your child
does not receive an appropriate education and master the skills necessary
to be an independent, self-sufficient member of the community, you will
deal with the outcome.
time to organize information about your child, make long-term plans, write
goals with timelines, and build working relationships with school personnel.
View your job You will negotiate with the school on your child's behalf.
Your goal is to get the school to provide your child with a good special
schools represent their interests. Schools and school boards are
concerned about cost and efficiency.
Until now, most parents have been barred from effective advocacy by lack of information and isolation. The Internet is changing the status quo.
Parents who learn about their children’s rights (and their own rights and responsibilities) and learn how to use tactics and strategies are more likely to succeed in getting good services for their children.
If you are a “new parent,” this Game Plan will help you get started. You need to learn about your child's disability, educational techniques, how to measure progress, how to negotiate, how to use tactics and strategies to negotiate.
To learn about your child's disability, visit disabilities information web sites. Use our Directory of Disabilities Information Organizations.
Download, print, and read these articles from the Wrightslaw Advocacy Library.
The Wrightslaw Advocacy Library has dozens of articles that will help you be a more effective advocate for your child.
Contact your State Department of Education – ask them to send you ALL their publications about special education.
Find a private sector expert who can work with you to develop an appropriate program for your child, evaluate your child's progress, and make recommendations to the IEP team about the services your child needs. (See Chapter 2 of Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy for tips about finding evaluators and consultants.)
Select books in areas where you are least knowledgeable. You will find information about our “Book a Month” plan in the Advocate’s Bookstore at Wrightslaw.com
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The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, effective educational methods, and Internet links.
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If you have questions or need help, visit the Wrightslaw Discussion Group.
We plan to add a Forum to the FetaWeb site so you can post questions and get answers.
Special Ed Advocacy Tutorial
Fantastic 8-part tutorial was written for parents who want to advocate for their children by a psychologist, Dr. Leslie Packer.
You'll learn about the personal qualities of an advocate, basic legal rights under the IDEA and Section 504, Eligibility, Evaluations, Eligibility Meetings, Components of an IEP, Procedural Safeguards (designed to protect your and your child's rights), and discipline issues.
The tutorial also includes sample letters and forms, a glossary of terms, and links to dozens of resources.