Have you just entered the world of special education? Are you beginning the IFSP or IEP planning process? If so, I am sharing my best tips (from 20+ years of experience) on special needs advocacy.
How to Become a Special Needs Advocate
If the first thought that comes to mind is that you can’t do this?
You, as a parent of a special needs child, are the best qualified person to advocate for your child. And I will say it again because it is worth repeating:
You are the best person qualified to advocate for your child.
Yes, it’s true!
You. Go look in the mirror… I’ll wait. Just be sure to come back.
Are you back?
To become a special needs advocate, and more importantly, to take the first step into becoming an advocate for your child? This one big thing needs to happen:
Your mindset has to change.
Without this incredibly important mindset shift? You will be spinning in circles.
I had my own ah-ha moment the year that I made Santa Claus cry.
And, my friend, I could very well still be on the path of overwhelmed IEP meeting attendee had I not started listening to myself. Had I not started realizing that wow — I am capable of doing this. And that yes, I am capable of asking for the things that my daughter needs.
I came to realize that yes, I am my daughter’s advocate.
Even among the licensed professionals and the certified therapists. The teachers with their years of classroom experience and advanced college degrees.
I am the expert on my daughter.
I am the most qualified to be her advocate.
IFSP and IEP Advocacy
So, you might be thinking, that’s all well and good.
But what about making sense of this whole IFSP or IEP thing? What can parents do about special education advocacy? Especially when special education advocacy has so much language that’s hard to understand. I get it. Really, I do get it. Special education terminology can be enough to make your head spin. Add in the world of the Extended School year? And we really don’t get much of a break.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Once you get a better understanding and a better grasp on these terms, and understand the way that the laws work, special education is so much easier.
Or, at least, that’s how I felt.
But, I also looked at it from the approach of taking a journey.
I knew, after all, that learning how to advocate would be an important skill. And one that I would likely need for the rest of my daughter’s life.