When Should Parents Hire a Special Education Advocate?
Once a child has received a diagnosis that requires special education services, parents have the daunting task of determining how to make that happen. Often, parents feel like they are flying by the seat of their pants as they learn the entire IEP (Individual Education Plan) process in an effort to get the best education possible for their special needs child.
So, when should parents seek to employ a special education advocate? Anywhere along the journey! Here are some parameters that may help parents arrive at that important decision.
Hire a special education advocate as soon as a diagnosis has been given. Once the child has received a diagnosis, the parents want to be sure that their child will be placed in the best possible classroom with a teacher trained to identify and implement effective strategies for school success. Having a special education advocate present during the initial IEP process helps the parents interpret the terms used, and assures them of having a voice in determining placement.
Hire a special education advocate during school transitions or for a change of placement. A child may do well in the primary grades and then hit a roadblock during middle school or later in high school. Sometimes, the special education team will determine that the student will receive less services for certain subjects, but the child may still need accommodations to be successful in a more generalized class. In some cases, services may be discontinued, (e.g. reduced speech/language therapy) when the class demands have increased.
Keep a special education advocate throughout your child’s time in school. Many parents employ an advocate for the duration of their child’s education. The advocate supports the parents when attending school conferences, IEP meetings, and evaluations, and acts on their behalf to insure the school is adhering to the IEP and looking out for the best interests of the child every step of the way!
Next: what qualities to look for in a special education advocate.