Make a Plan and Revise as Needed
Creating an advocacy plan begins with a vision:
What does your heart wish for your child’s educational journey 1, 5, or 10 years from now?
In what environment do you see him thriving?
What supports does she use successfully, and what has not worked at all?
What is available?
What are the pros and cons of inclusion and segregated placement?
How can special education help your child grow academically and emotionally?
Does your child require special education at all, or simply some supports and services under a 504 Plan?
What is the difference between the two?
How do we know where to start?
Choosing an Advocate
Being asked to join a family in their journey to obtain appropriate services and supports for their child is an honor. It is a sacred relationship built on trust, understanding, and shared goals. No single advocate is going to be able to fill that role for every family. Advocates are as different as the families we serve, but we all share a passion for protecting the educational rights of children.
When looking for an advocate to join your team, interview several and ask a lot of questions. Do your research. Feel confident in their ability to advocate for your child and share your vision. If you are looking for an advocate, you may be feeling desperate about a situation that has already gotten out of hand, or perhaps you are being proactive before any disagreements with the school have a chance to surface. Please be aware that advocates can not guarantee any specific results, and be very cautious about any that do. Your advocate at Charting the Course will be up front and honest about the special education process, timelines that cause delays, and deadlines that restrict options for disputes. We hope you choose us, but more importantly, we hope you find the advocate that feels right for you and your child.
The process to be found eligible for special education services is not fast. Even though IDEA has timelines in place to move the process forward, it can take several months before a qualifying child begins receiving services. There are certain documents that you can provide the school that would potentially make it move faster. Your advocate will explain the timelines and what documents you already have, or can obtain, to get an IEP approved, developed, and in place sooner.
The most direct answer to this question is: Whatever your child needs in order to access their education and make meaningful progress.
There is no secret menu of services that the school provides to families that know to ask for them. Although there may be common accommodations and services the school provides, each plan is individualized to meet your child’s unique needs. The IEP team is tasked with analyzing where your child is performing academically and functionally now, and collaborating to determine what is needed and appropriate for them to make meaningful progress. Even though your child’s eligibility category describes the disability that most profoundly impacts their access to their education, the services provided are not dictated by that code.
This is where your vision is important to share with the team. Keep the team focused on the bigger goal and encourage creative problem solving on how to get there, school year by school year.
A medical diagnosis is not an automatic qualifier for special education services. IEPs are intended for children who require specialized instruction in order to make progress in their education. Some children with disabilities may only require accommodations such as extra time for tests, break cards, or lecture notes. All of these accommodations can be provided through a “504 Plan,” which refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. When academic interventions or different ways of teaching a student are necessary, a student may be found eligible for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is a different federal law.
The site cannot and does not contain legal or medical advice. All information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only.