Empowered: 4 Tips for Parent advocates: Having a child with a developmental or learning disability can be quite challenging. It’s important for parents to keep in mind that although they may retain the services of an advocate to help get them through a specific issue or situation its their role to provide ongoing and continuing support for their child. Advocacy is a lifelong process. Parents should be empowered! Having an “already defeated” attitude does not help the special education advocacy process and most certainly does not help increase the self-esteem of yourself or your child. Below are a few tips for parents to keep in mind when advocating for services in the special education process.
- Keeping things in perspective
The special education process can be overwhelming. Your most important job is to support your child and to help them keep their self-esteem in tact. Challenges can be overcome. Don’t let the tests, school bureaucracy and endless paperwork distract you from what is really important – providing your child with emotional, educational and moral support.
- Doing your own homework
Learn about new developments in special education law/policy in your state. Every state has a free parent program that may offer workshops and provide information for parents to gain tools to advocate on their childs behalf. You may instinctively look to others for solutions – schools, teachers, therapists or
doctors – but you need to take charge when it comes to finding the tools your child needs to continue learning. Sometimes this may consist of retaining the services of an advocate to attend IEP meetings or provide consultation services.
- Being an advocate for your child
You may have to speak up more than once to get special help for your child. Embrace your role as a proactive parent and work on your communication skills. It may be frustrating at times, but your calm, reasonable and firm voice may make the difference in achieving what you want for your child.
- Remembering that your influence on your child outweighs all others
Your child will follow your lead. If you approach the learning challenges with optimism, hard work and a sense of humor, your child is likely
to embrace your perspective or at least see the challenges as a detour and not a roadblock. Focus your energy on learning what works and implementing it in your child’s life the best you can.
To get more information on early childhood in the Arlington Heights, Illinois area you can visit the Illinois State Board of Education on their Special Education and support services page http://www.isbe.state.il.us/spec-ed/html/sped_early_child.htm