There are many entry points to special education services in a student's educational path. Some students have services right from the beginning as their needs may have been identified through some early intervention service providers. Others it is in elementary and some not until secondary or even post secondary. There are many public stories of students who were never identified with a learning disability until adulthood.
Once you enter the special education system you might feel like you have entered a maze, and worst yet, you are in a maze where people are speaking a foreign language - acronyms! Educators love acronyms and yes, even we are caught using them despite our best intentions. Some of the areas you will need to better understand include...
- Individual Education Plans
- Special Education Programs
- Psycho-educational Assessments
- Identification, Placement and Review (I.P.R.C.)
all of which can be very confusing. You are asked to contribute to discussion about your child's strengths, interests and abilities, while being faced with the reality that they are also having some significant struggles. In order to understand the system you need to do some research. In order to navigate the system, you need to be an effective advocate.
what is an advocate?
An advocate is someone who ensures that another person's rights are being respected and that what is happening for that person is in that person's best interest. If you are a parent of a child with unique learning differences, you are the voice for your younger child, and the support and possible voice of your older child. As a child enters post secondary, they become their own voice. A parent advocate shares and receives information, attends meetings, reviews documents, helps evaluate the action plan, and most importantly makes decisions.
How can you make decisions if you are not informed?
That's why The P.A.L.S. Network exists. To help with your learning, and to assist you with developing the tools to becoming a better advocate. Learning is key but action gives traction. Becoming a well informed advocate may not happen over night and we are here to help.
What can you do?
- Attend one of our advocacy sessions
- Get informed! Seek the information you need.
- Give us a call! We can help steer you in the right direction.
Inquire about a private 1:1 or small group session to improve your advocacy skills.
As we move forward we will be creating an entire page devoted to the topic of advocacy. Stay tuned!