Effective Parents are Aware of Their Child’s Disability and Their Strengths and Weaknesses
Parents are usually the first to realize that their child is struggling in school or that something is “just not right.” Effective parents trust their instincts and seek evaluations to address their concerns, even when they are assured by teachers that “everything is OK.” I cannot begin to count the number of cases that I have had in which the school ignored the parents’ concerns about their child’s inability to read, for instance, until, several years later, when the child is finally diagnosed with a learning disability.
Parents who advocate successfully for their children realize that they play a central role in obtaining an accurate diagnosis of their child’s disability. They request evaluations through the school or obtain independent educational evaluations and, when needed, obtain private evaluations from highly qualified professionals.
Effective parents realize that their work is not finished by simply obtaining a correct diagnoses. They know that diagnosing a disability is just the first step in the process, and that they must continue to advocate by convincing the team to recognize the diagnosis and to provide the special education services that have been recommended by the evaluators. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a team to decline to accept a diagnosis provided by a private evaluator, which oftentimes leads the parents to my office for legal representation.
Even when a diagnosis is accepted and services are scheduled under an IEP, effective parents know that they must be diligent in ensuring that their child’s teacher is aware of the diagnosis and the child’s entitlement to services. It happens far too frequently that a teacher expresses ignorance of a child’s IEP several months into the school year. Effective parents use the first parent-teacher conference or a quick note or e-mail to ensure that the teachers are aware of the child’s needs. It is important to be aware of your child’s disability as early as possible and to help inform all member’s of your child’s educational team as well.