As a parent, you know your child’s needs. You know when they need accommodations to help them learn. Often, you deal with challenge after challenge when you are advocating to get your child those school services. You feel like no one understands what you are going through. This can be very discouraging to a parent.
Sometimes parents need a little extra support working the tricky educational system. That’s where my role as a parent advocate comes into play.
I began working with a parent who was having difficulties with her 7-year-old son’s school. She wanted help to better understand educational rights for children with disabilities. This mom had already done so much to try and support her son.
He has an ADHD diagnosis, but she suspected something more. Maybe autism. This parent had attended ADHD and autism-related symposiums, workshops, and conferences. You name it, she knew about it.
This mother had been asking for help from the school for a year. She had done all she could to get the school to test her son in order to identify his diagnosis and needs; to place him in the proper educational setting; to get him the accommodations he needed to help him succeed. She had little to no success. The school wanted to hold him back and provide few accommodations.
They finally agreed to start evaluations.
Today, after months of waiting and weeks of evaluations, she saw the result of her advocacy work. We attended her son's 3-hour Admissions Review and Dismissal (ARD) meeting. The committee recommended therapies, programs, accommodations, and modifications for her child.
Today, I got to witness a mother’s victory over a system that failed him for almost two years of kindergarten. Today, I got to walk out of an ARD, turn to my client, and say, “YOU did it!” Today was an amazing day.
Critical thinking and problem-solving skills go beyond academics. Everyday life provides opportunities to apply these skills. During my son’s educational career, a lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills was often noted in his Individualized Education Plan paperwork. While he may struggle with these skills academically, he solves problems all the time in his daily life.