Avoid the Parent Nightmare
Shortly after I retired from working in the public schools, I came upon a heartbreaking Facebook Live video of a mother with a special needs daughter. She had just come out of an IEP meeting. She made the video as she was crying in her car out in the parking lot. This mother expressed honestly and emotionally how difficult the meeting had been.
She shared that “her head felt like exploding”, and how “exhausted and wiped-out” she felt after a grueling meeting. I was deeply saddened by watching this mother’s emotional anguish. I knew that no parent should have to endure that pain, and that I knew exactly how they could avoid it.
How can you avoid this painful scenario?
A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
This can be difficult to attain. Parents are understandably motivated by their emotions-the love for their child. School systems are primarily motivated by the law and job requirements. Parents will always feel the increased burden with every decision that is made. Parents must feel they can participate as an equal partner in decision-making for their children.
A COMMITMENT TO THE CHILD'S EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
The school team must be committed to ensuring sufficient educational opportunities are in place so a child’s learning potential is reached.
Both sides must feel they are part of a mutually respected team whose goal is to promote the meaningful social, emotional and academic growth of the particular child.
Quite often, the elements for success do not exist on your own.
A Special Education Advocate
with a Proven Track Record
An Education Advocate can
- Act as a liaison in meetings between parents and school personnel as part of the multi-disciplinary team.
- Make the difference in ensuring a child gets the appropriate instruction and services.
- Provide an understanding of the language and legal processes between parents and the school.
I have seen how emotionally difficult it is for parents of a child with special needs to be their sole advocate. Unfortunately, once these emotions come out, the focus of the meeting is no longer on the task(s) at hand, but on the parent.
The opportunity to let an advocate “run interference” in addressing/clarifying difficult issues and decisions that must be made at school meetings allow parents to simply focus on their child and his/her needs.
Additionally, many school personnel welcome the presence of an advocate at a school meeting. An advocate can communicate the issues in ways that both the parents and the school personnel are not able to do.