9 Steps to Parent Empowerment for Parents With Children in Special Education!

Do you have a child with Autism that is receiving special education services? Would you like to learn how to be a better advocate for your child? This article will address 9 steps that you can take to empower yourself, to advocate for an appropriate education for your child!Step 1: Begin by asking a lot of questions when you speak to your child’s teacher. Sample of questions for your child’s teacher could be: “What curriculum are you using to teach my child to read? What do these standardized test scores mean? What type of positive behavioral supports do you use in the classroom” If your child’s teacher tells you something that you do not understand, ask her to explain it, and perhaps send you the explanation in writing.Step 2: Ask lots of questions when attending an IEP (Individual Educational Plan) meeting for your child. Sample of questions at an IEP meeting could be: “What does that word mean? What services will my child be receiving, and how many minutes will they be receiving the service? What standardized testing will you be conducting on my child, to see if she is making educational progress?” Always ask for explanations, when special education personnel start talking in terms that you do not understand, or talk about services you do not understand.Step 3: At IEP meetings give your input on how you think your child is doing in school, and on what related and special education services, you think your child needs! Parents know their child better than most school people do, so it may be easy for them to figure out what services the child needs, to benefit from their education. If you have trouble speaking up at meetings, put together a one page parent input statement, to bring to the meeting with you.Step 4: To help yourself feel more comfortable speaking up at a meeting; “role play” with other parents, what may happen at the meeting. This is a good way to get yourself prepared, to make good arguments for services that your child needs.Step 5: If you still have difficulty speaking up at meetings, bring another parent who has experience in the special education process.Step 6: If your child’s behavior interferes with their education or the education of others, insist on conducting a Functional Behavioral Assessment, and have a Positive Behavioral Plan developed. You may need to fight for a qualified person to do these, but it will help your child as well as other children.Step 7: When you attend an IEP meeting, be sure and read the IEP before you leave. I realize meetings can be stressful, but it is critical that you take the time to read the IEP, and make sure that it is accurate.Step 8: Ask for any changes to the IEP, if the document does not reflect discussions held, or agreements made. If things are not written clearly it can be difficult to enforce what is written in the IEP.Step 9: You must realize that by standing up to school personnel you may anger some people! But what is more important, making someone upset or fighting for appropriate services for your child? In my opinion the child wins every time, because they need special education services in order to have a fulfilled adult life.By following these 9 steps you will be empowered to advocate for your child, and they will appreciate it!