Students with disabilities are entitled to educational equity, making meeting each student’s special needs crucial. Unfortunately, complex policies, endless documents, as well as long and tiring processing make it difficult for families to receive the help they desperately need. To help students with special needs access resources and support necessary for their education, special education advocates work tirelessly to provide parents with advice and assistance when dealing with social services, programs, and any special needs their children might need.
The role of Special Education Advocates
Special Education Advocates fight for the rights of students with disabilities, helping families understand and navigate complex special education laws, including the IEP, or the Individualized Education Program. Advocates are experts in the special education field and do everything in their power to make sure that students with disabilities receive appropriate support. Some of the key responsibilities of a special education advocate include:
- Providing guidance to families in understanding their rights and processes involved in securing necessary aid for their children.
- Assistance in the development and implementation of IEPs, making sure that the program accurately reflects the needs, strengths, and accommodations for each student with a disability.
- Monitoring school institution’s implementation of IEPs and addressing any concerns that may arise.
- Conflict resolution and mediation between families and schools, facilitating communication and helping ensure the best outcome for students.
- Providing advice on available programs, services, and other accommodations that students with special needs might benefit from, as well as helping write requests and responses.
- Helping parents analyze evaluations and interpret test results, recommending adequate resources for each student.
What is an IEP?
An Individualized Education Program is a binding document that outlines all the specific services, accommodations, and resources tailored to a student’s unique needs. The IEP is prepared in cooperation with special education advocates to make sure it meets all requirements for the student’s academic success and personal growth.
Each IEP must include a statement of the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, as well as measurable annual goals and short-term objectives that help benchmark students’ progress. A description of all services and aids necessary for the student is also required, along with a statement of accommodations and modifications needed for students to participate in general education activities.
The IEP must be reviewed and updated at least every year, or more frequently if needed, to ensure that it remains relevant and effective in meeting the student’s needs. Parents and guardians also have the right to request changes or modifications to the plan if they feel it is not effectively serving their child.
How do Special Education Advocates empower parents?
Special education advocates have the training and resources necessary to help parents become effective caretakers, equipped with knowledge and skills needed to navigate the special education system and themselves advocate for their child’s rights. By teaching, advocates help build a solid foundation for long-term success in the educational journey of students with disabilities.
For many families, special education advocates play a critical role in supporting students with disabilities in receiving quality education. They protect students’ and their families’ legal rights, help develop an adequate IEP, and make a lasting impact on the lives of students. If you’re struggling with supporting your child with special needs in their education, a special education advocate might offer just the help you need.