around America will soon prepare their children to return to
school. But are the parents themselves ready? For millions of
raising children with special needs (or suspected learning
disabilities) there is yet another step: gain
educational advocacy skills to negotiate a specialized program
for their child. They must learn this now, at the beginning
of the school year, to effectively team up with educators to
develop a program with measurable educational goals.
education advocate Graciela Tiscareño-Sato and her husband
are eight years into raising a daughter who is blind. She's
thriving in the local public school, within the California special
education system. She reads and writes in Braille and loves
school, despite having both vision and hearing impairments due
to a severely premature birth.
Satos compiled their knowledge of law and seven years of negotiating
experience into a multimedia
DVD for all parents, service providers and educators in
our educational system. The parents attended a Wrightslaw
Special Education Law Boot Camp before their daughter started
public preschool. They learned about parental and child rights
under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004
(IDEA 2004). They learned how school districts make decisions
about special education programs. This laid the foundation for
the positive relationships they've built with their IEP teams.
seminar DVD contains the written rules (key legal passages all
parents must know), the unwritten rules (organizational culture
of school districts), and uniquely, the tools the Satos created
to keep all IEP meeting child-centric. The presentation is sprinkled
with first-hand accounts of events they've witnessed in IEP
meetings and how parents can learn to negotiate their way through
similar situations. Graciela adds best practices learned while
coaching client families in various school districts.
The DVD was created for:
published an advocacy article in the National Federation of
the Blind's Magazine "Future Reflections" last fall.
The positive feedback led her to create a seminar. She has presented
this two-hour seminar monthly in the San Francisco bay area
since November to parents with children on IEPs, to preschool
parent groups and at the Infant and Early Childhood Conference
Gilhooly, a parent of a child with special needs who is now
pursuing a Special Education Credential, attended
Grace's live seminar and said, "Grace presented a wealth
of actionable information for both new and seasoned parents.
Parents and educators will benefit greatly from her knowledge."
Advocacy Services. The new DVD includes statements heard
from teachers and administrators in various districts. These
statements, many times based on organizational behavior instead
of law, are instructive to all school personnel. Graciela is
determined to build bridges of knowledge between parents and
educators, so that children with disabilities receive continuous
educational benefit. This DVD will be available in Spanish if
there is sufficient demand.
is the second advocacy DVD by this family. The first, "Letting
Your Child's Wild Side Out: Raising a Confident Blind Baby,
Toddler, Preschooler," has shipped to school and agencies
in 29 states, Canada and Australia.
today and August 31st, parents and educators who contact
Graciela and state where they saw this story will be entered
into a drawing. The Satos will select three winners on September
1st and give each a complimentary DVD. The
advocacy skills DVD is available here.
and Tiscareno-Sato Advocacy Services, LLC.
Besides working as a special education advocate for seven years,
Graciela has presented at disability conferences to parents
and educators. She's published numerous articles. She's fluent
in Spanish, holds a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and a Masters in
International Management from Whitworth College. Connect through