This is a collection of “lessons learned” from parents who have children with disabilities. Parents were asked, “If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?”
- "I would learn the difference between modifications and accommodations. Accommodations DO NOT change what the student will master. The content of the lesson/activity stays the same. Modifications DO change what the student will master. Class/activity content is changed to meet the needs of the child."
- "I would read the Procedural Safeguards. I would also learn about “Prior Written Notice” (PWN). Parents have a right to see in writing why the school suggests a change or refuses to make a change. PWN can address areas like identification, evaluation, placement, or how the child receives a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE). PWN should provide an explanation of the school’s decision."
- "At my son’s ARD/IEP meeting I would request teacher training. I would be sure the training is written in the IEP. I recently learned that supplemental aids and services can (and should) include staff training if that training is needed to carry out the IEP."
- "I would follow and trust my motherly instincts. I would stay true to our vision and my son’s dreams and goals. I am the expert when it comes to my child."
- "I would learn the difference between an Assistive Technology (AT) device and an AT service. Giving assistive technology devices without training on how to use them is no different than building a house without a foundation. It does not work. Training and assistance are vital."
- "I have learned that “life skills” are not best taught in a classroom. My child learns best through natural life experiences, not in separate segregated environments. There is something powerful about the natural teachable moment. I would work on life skills at home."
- "I would ask for a written copy of any policies and laws. If the school denies a service for my child, saying it goes against policy or the law, I would ask for it in writing. Sometimes even though someone thinks there is a written policy, the truth is the policy does not exist. There is always opportunity for human error."
More information about the special education process, including videos that offer additional parent experiences and stories can be found in the Education and Schools section of this website.