4 Proactive Dragon Slaying Tips for IEP Meetings, to Empower Your Advocacy!

Are you the parent of a child with Autism, or another disability who receives special education services? Do you become overwhelmed during the IEP process, and would like to learn a few tips to help you? Are you tired of the lies and deceptions being told to you by special educators? Then this is the article for you—4 proactive advocacy tips (dragon slaying tips) to empower you in IEP meetings and afterward!

1. Try and see if you can have a friend or relative attend the meeting with you (bring someone who knows how to write fast and take good notes). This is for a couple of reasons: a. the person can take in-depth notes about what is being said and who is saying it, and b. the person can be a witness in the future, if a dispute develops between yourself and special education professionals.

2. Tape record the meeting so that you can listen to the tape after the meeting, and fill in your notes (in case you missed something). Also, CD’s of IEP meetings may be used in due process hearings (if allowed by your state).

3. Bring a written list of issues that need to be discussed (do not forget to add items from an independent educational evaluation (IEE). By the issue write yes or no and leave a little bit of space. This way you can document if the school agrees to provide the service or not, and jot down specific things that they say during the meeting (don’t forget to add who said it).

4. Write an IEP summary letter after the meeting (do not forget to date the letter and sign it also), documenting what happened during the meeting. You should include discussions not in the notes, special education professional’s attitudes, and specific comments made by staff (to include their names). I have begun doing this recently in my advocacy and find it very helpful because I can include things not in the IEP document that should be—-but now the letter is in the child’s educational record!

Recently at the end of a meeting one of the school staff said something that would help the parents in their quest for their son to receive scientifically research based reading instruction. I immediately grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down what was said and who said it (the mother gave me funny looks because she did not know what was said or that I was writing it down). In the IEP summary letter I put this information and I believe that it was helpful in my advocacy! When the school answered the letter, they never mentioned what was said, or denied that the educator said it, so I was home free! Always document when special education professionals say something that can support your advocacy!

Good luck—remember your child is depending on you!

Top Special Educational Advocacy Tips for Parents

Most parents who have a child with special needs want to home school their child. They choose to do so in order to keep their child safe from peer pressure and close to themselves, for their child’s safety. This can be a daunting process, if you choose to educate your child yourself. However, it is not insurmountable. Check out the following steps that can make the process easier:

1. Know what suits your child best

You as a parent know the best for your child. If you feel that your child has a certain disability, you can help them cope with it. You understand your child best so you decide better what can help them learn. You can use different visuals, cues and other fun learning ways to educate your child.

2. Use letters to communicate important matters

Communication through email or telephone doesn’t work really well. Letters help you keep track of the entire history of communication. You may need to look back at your child’s documents later in case you fall into a disagreement with the educational advocate. You may create “minutes of the meeting” and send a copy to the personnel later, in case you have a face-to-face conversation.

3. Ask the educational advocate if you feel something is wrong

Your child’s advocate may suggest something that you may disagree with. You have all the right to ask for the details about the policy regarding that matter. It is important that all parents know about the policies for children with special needs. If need be, you can also ask for proof of the policy that your child’s advocate may suggest, for the benefit of your child.

4. Know the special education and disability laws in your state

It is important that you know all the laws related to special education and disabilities. This is important for your child’s education and future. You can avoid going misinformed by the special education personnel. The personnel may not communicate important matters that can affect your child’s education process.

5. Know the rights that your child has under special educational services

It is essential to know what sort of special care and service your child is entitled to. You can talk to your child’s advocate; do some self-research too, in order to provide the best education for your child. Educational advocacy services are of great help, as they make sure your child’s needs are fulfilled and your child receives proper education.

5 Lies About Special Education Transportation, and How You Can Overcome the Lies and Get Your Child

Are you the parent of a child with autism or a physical disability, that receives special education services? Does your child need transportation services? Do you think that special education personnel are not being truthful about what the federal special education law (IDEA 2004) says about transportation? This article will be discussing 5 lies that are commonly told to parents about transportation. Also, discussion on how to overcome these lies to help your child receive needed, transportation services.

Lie 1: We can keep your child on the bus for as long as we want. While IDEA 2004 does not address length of bus ride, long bus rides can be negatively affecting a child's education (causing stress, negative behavior). The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) stated in a policy letter to anonymous (1993) that lengthy bus rides may be discriminatory, and may result in denial of FAPE. Why could a long bus ride be discriminatory? If children with disabilities are on the bus longer than children without disabilities, this could be considered discrimination.

Lie 2: No one says that we have to provide transportation to your child, and we are not going to. Transportation is considered a related service and needs to be given to a child, if they need the service so that they can receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Lie 3: The transportation director makes decisions about whether a child needs transportation not the IEP team. In a document from OSEP entitled Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation OSEP states "The IEP team is responsible for determining if transportation is required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education and related services …" If your child needs transportation make sure that it is listed in your child's IEP as a related service (if child not riding regular education bus).

Lie 4: The state says that we can bring your child to school 15 minutes late every day, and take her out 15 minutes early due to transportation issues. Ask the school to show you in writing any documentation that proves that they have the right to do what they want to do. In the above example you could ask for "Please show me in writing where it states that our State Department of Education is allowing cutting short of education due to transportation issues!"
Actually the above OSEP document makes it clear that the school day for a child with a disability should not be longer or shorter than the school day for general education students. Since a child would receive less educational time this could also be a denial of FAPE.

Lie 5: If you want your child to participate in extracurricular activities then you must provide transportation, we do not have to. Actually IDEA 2004 states that a child with a disability has a right to transportation for required after school activities as well as for extracurricular activities. Make sure that the extracurricular activity is listed on your child's IEP, and also listed that they require transportation in order to participate in the activity.

How do you overcome these transportation lies?

1. Learn about transportation requirements in IDEA 2004 (which is the federal special education law). I use the book Special Education Law 2nd edition from Peter and Pam Wright, which is fantastic. This book as well as a lot more advocacy information for parents can be found at: http://www.wrightslaw.com .

2. Call your states Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) for help with advocating for transportation issues.

3. Bring all of the above information to an IEP meeting to assist you in your advocacy.

Good luck in your advocacy!

4 Tips If Your Special Education Advocate is Banned From IEP Meetings

Are you a parent or advocate who helps children with autism or another disability, receive special education services? Have you been told that you can not attend IEP meetings with parents in a certain district? Would you like to learn a few tips on how to handle this situation? This article will give you 4 tips to use if this situation happens to you or an advocate that you work with.

The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that parents have the right to have people help them, who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student. IDEA also states that parents have the right to be equal participants, in their child’s IEP process! If parents ask an advocate to come to a meeting with them, the advocate is to be considered an IEP team member.

OSEP agrees with this and issued a memorandum on January 15, 2004 clarifying an advocate’s role at an IEP meeting. It states that: Since the parent has invited the advocate to the IEP meeting, this person is considered to be an IEP team member and may assume an active role in the student’s IEP. Some advocates are being banned from student’s IEP meetings because they are considered divisive! Below are 4 Tips to use if this happens to you:

Tip 1: If your advocate is banned from an IEP meeting, send a letter to your school district asking for the state and federal law that allows them to do this. Attach to the letter any evidence that you have that the advocate was actually banned (Letter, E mail etc). Ask for a response within 10 days.

Tip 2: In the same letter, state that according to IDEA you have the right to have people at the IEP meeting that have knowledge or special expertise regarding your child. For Example: Your advocate has worked with your child for over a year and understands their needs, or has special training in the disability that your child has.

Tip 3: Also state that: IDEA requires school districts to develop an IEP for each child with a disability, with parents playing a significant role in this process. Also, that for you to do this you require the help of a qualified advocate!

Tip 4: Send a complaint to your state board of education stating that the school district is violating IDEA by banning your advocate from attending IEP meetings. The actual violations are:

A. School district is preventing you from having a person who has knowledge or special expertise on your child, at the IEP meeting.

B. School district is preventing you from being an equal participant, and playing a significant role in the IEP process.

C. School district cannot give you any specific state or federal law that states they have the right to ban certain advocates.

Parents have the right to bring the advocate of their choice to their child’s IEP meetings. School districts cannot ban an advocate from coming! If this happens to you, stand up to the special education personnel for the benefit of your child’s education.

Special Education Acronyms – What Do All Those Letters Mean?

Do you sometimes wonder what some of the Acronyms in special education mean? Do the acronyms make your head spin? This article will discuss common special education acronyms and what they mean. This will make it easier for you to actively participate in your child with disabilities education.

1. FAPE: stands for Free Appropriate Public Education. Each child has the right under IDEA to receive a free appropriate public education.

2. IDEA: stands for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; which is the federal law that applies to special education.

3. IDEA 2004: This is the federal law that was reauthorized in 2004. If you see this in an article, it usually means that something was changed in IDEA, by the reauthorization in 2004.

4. LEA: stands for the local educational agency, which is your local school district.

5. SEA: stands for the state educational agency, which is your states board of education.

6. IEP: stands for the Individual Educational Plan, which must be developed for every child that receives special education services.

7. LRE: stands for Least Restrictive Environment. LRE means that children with disabilities need to be educated in the least restrictive environment, in which they can learn. LRE starts at the regular classroom, and becomes more restrictive.

8. NCLB: stands for the No Child Left Behind Act.

9. IEE's: stands for an Independent Educational Evaluation. These are proposed and paid for by parents, to help determine their child's disability or educational needs.

10. IEE's at Public Expense: stands for an IEE where the school district pays for it. There are rules that apply to this, that you must learn before requesting an IEE at public expense. Many special education personnel try and do things that are not allowed under IDEA, so you need to educate yourself.

11. ASD: stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder, which some school districts use in their paperwork.

12. ADD: stands for Attention Deficit Disorder.

13. ADHD: stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

14. PWN: stands for Prior Written Notice. Parents must be given PWN when the school district wants to change things in the child's IEP. (such as eligibility, change services, refuse to change services etc.).

15. ABA: stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis that is an educational treatment for Autism.

16. SID: stands for Sensory Integration Disorder. A lot of children with Autism have difficulty with sensory integration.

17. SPD: stands for Sensory Processing Disorder which is the same as above, but some people in the special education field, call it different names.

By understanding the acronyms used by special education personnel, you can be a better advocate for an appropriate education for your child.