Educating, Motivating, and Advocating for appropriate Special Education

– a user-friendly program for families!


 “At IEP meetings, I feel so helpless.”

“They refer to my son in these meetings as ‘the student’ – never by his name.”

“I’m always told my child ‘just needs to try harder’ even though we do 4 hours of homework every night.”

“I’m just not sure what to say, I’m so intimidated.”

 “The teachers and the principal know what’s best for my child, don’t they?”

Many parents of children with disabilities, and youth with disabilities themselves, are intimidated by the special education processes that are put in place by the public education system.  These processes are supposed to be a part of the federal guarantee that children with disabilities receive the most appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.

Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),  provides a legal foundation for including children with disabilities into educational setting with their typically developing peers, as opposed to segregating them in “special schools”, what happens to them when (and if?) they are found eligible for special education services? Consider the following when answering this question:

  • Do teachers have the knowledge and training to provide an education that is appropriate to children with disabilities?
  • Do general education teachers want children with disabilities in their classrooms?
  • Do principals and other school administrators have a strong enough special education background to provide appropriate leadership to their teachers and staff who work with children with disabilities?
  • Are parents of children with disabilities and older youth with disabilities truly valued as part of the IEP team, and their input utilized and considered in the development of the IEP?

On any given day, in any given meeting throughout West Virginia, the answer to one or more of these questions is undeniably “NO”. When that fear becomes a reality, parents of children with disabilities are left helpless to provide the last line of defense in educating their child appropriately, if they don’t have the skills and tools necessary to effectively advocate for their child’s specific needs.


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