Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is a Special Ed Advocate?

An advocate is someone who acts or intercedes on behalf of another.  A Special Ed Advocate supports the parents of special needs children in a multitude of ways. He/she must be familiar with the laws affecting special needs children and be able to guide parents through the processes of helping their child receive the best education circumstances will allow. 

2) What are schools required to do to help my special needs child?

  • Allow parents meaningful participation in the IEP development process.

  • Devise an appropriate IEP based on the child’s individual needs.

  • Implement that IEP as written.

  • Conduct all necessary evaluations of the child.

  • Determine placement and service at the ARD meeting, and not before.

  • Convene ARD, IEP, and 504 meetings in a timely manner.

  • Have proper personnel present during these meetings.

  • Give notice of planned meetings and student/parent rights.

  • Prevent punishment of the child for actions or inactions that are caused by the child's disability.

  • Maintain proper records and provide them to parents.

  • Provide education and services in the least restrictive environment.

  • Offer extended school year services to the child where they are necessary.

  • Provide accomodations allowing your child to participate in extracurricular activities to the same extent as his non-disabled peers.

  • Appropriately determine if a struggling child is in need of special education or services  in a timely manner.

3) Are there time limitations on the schools for meetings and responses?

Yes, there are specific timelines for special ed processes and meetings. Click here for a chart from the TEA. Now don't let the detail scare you. Just go through it carefully and you'll find a wealth of information.

4) What does a Special Ed Advocate do?

  • Explains reports and assessments to parents.

  • Helps in preparation for IEP/504 meetings.

  • Accompanies parents to the meetings.

  • Reviews documents before they are signed.

  • Serves as a primary contact to the school system.

  • Writes letters and requests to special ed personnel, the school district, state and local boards of education, and state or federal agencies.

  • Makes recommendations for how to file a complaint or go to due process.  At this point a good advocate likely will recommend the services of a Special Ed Lawyer.

5) How does one become a Special Ed Advocate?

Frankly, anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a Special Ed Advocate.  Good advocates, however, have experience with special needs children, understand the laws affecting special ed, are passionate about helping special needs children, have the backbone to stand up for special needs children, and are continually learning more through workshops, webinars, and professional organizations.  Being a Special Ed Advocate is a 24/7 job. 

6) How do I find a Special Ed Advocate?

You’ve already got a good start. First, review the information here at JusticeAFSE.org.  Then feel free to contact me. (Of course I would expect you to check me out during the process.) COPAA is a good place to start.

 

7) Who do Special Ed Advocates help?

Special Education Advocates help families of children with learning difficulties.   Some children struggle with their studies or behaviors.  In either case parents will want to know what can be done to help their child in school.   Some children may be eligible for special education services or a 504 plan.

8) What kinds of issues might affect my child’s learning?

  • Learning Disabilities (math, reading, writing)

  • Physical Disabilities (including vision and hearing)

  • Mental Retardation

  • Emotional or Behavioral Disorders

  • Autism

  • Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD)

  • Asperger's

  • Tourette's Syndrome

  • Chronic Illness

9) What is the Autism Supplement?

The State of Texas Autism School Supplement was developed in 2008. Any public school in the state of Texas receiving federal funds must follow the Commissioner’s Rule as set forth. So the Autism Supplement — the 11 areas addressed by it — must be a part of every ARD meeting where appropriate. School administrators can interpret it quite loosely, but all 11 areas must be addressed. Click here for the full text of the supplement. Don't worry, it's not very long.

10) How do Special Ed Advocates charge for their services?

As professionals, Special Ed Advocates set their own rates. Many charge by the hour, though some charge by the project or accept retainers or other arrangements.

11) How much do you charge?