MOM: "We should be able to trust the system to do what's right for our kids."
DR.LEVINE In theory, this sounds good. But when you are dealing with a child
with disabilities, there will always be disagreements. You simply will not get agreement from the number of participants who are required to be in these team meetings.
Beware of The Gatekeeper
A “Gatekeeper” can be a teacher, therapist, service provider, administrator, or anyone who completely overreacts whenever their opinions, responsibilities, recommendations, or expertise are questioned or challenged by the parent or advocate. These are the people who believe that they know it all. Therefore, if a parent implies or states outright that their child’s special education needs are not being met, the Gatekeeper cannot handle it.
Schools are in the decision-making process for the short-term. As a parent, you are in it for the long-term.
Eventually, your child will leave the public school system. If he/she is does not receive an appropriate education, will the teacher, the school principal or director of special education come to his/her home and help him/her with his/her checkbook? Of course not. This is the parents' responsibility.
It is the parents (and society-at-large) who are ultimately responsible for students with disabilities who cannot achieve a level of independence. So parents have a great vested interest.
Parents and Schools -- Different Perspectives
Parents and schools invariably look at the child's education from vastly different perspectives. Schools are only required to develop goals and objectives (or benchmarks) for a twelve month period.
As parents, we need to look at where we want our children to be at the end of their public education.
MOM I don't see why the school has to draw lines in the sand.
DR. LEVINE When Disagreements Turn Into Power Struggles
Many disagreements turn into power struggles. Power struggles do not make winners look good.
EP Meeting Frustrations
MOM: I hate going to IEP meetings. The team interrupts me, talks over me, and are not willing to respond to my questions and comments.
DR. LEVINE When this happens, it's because parents don't know how to take control of the situation. Parents need to use subtle psychological strategies to empower themselves and make the school members of the team respect their positions.
DR. LEVINE: LET ME HANDLE THE MEETING.
Your child is your life. But what happens when your child with special needs isn’t progressing in reading? What happens when the school district decides to take services away from your child? What happens when the school isn’t following your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
By law, your child with special needs is entitled to appropriate educational services. But the school district may make decisions you don’t agree with.
Trust your instincts – if you think your child isn’t receiving an appropriate education, let me HELP YOU.
Message From Dr. Levine
If you are like most parents, you trusted the advice and recommendations from your school staff. Now you have come to realize that you cannot trust their advice. From your perspective the schools program is damaging your child as your child falls further and further behind. Under these circumstances feelings of anger and betrayal are nearly inevitable.
Are you worried that your child needs special education services? Does your child already have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) but you are feeling that something isn’t right? Do you feel like the IEP team is speaking another language and you don’t know where to turn?
Parents Are Natural Advocates For Their Children
Who is your child’s first teacher? You are. Who is your child’s most important role model? You are. Who is responsible for your child’s welfare? You are. Who has your child’s best interests at heart? You do.
You know your child better than anyone else. The school is involved with your child for a few years. You are involved with your child for life. You should play an active role in planning your child’s education. The law gives you the power to make educational decisions for your child. Do not be afraid to use your power. Use it wisely. A good education is the most important gift you can give to your child.
I can guide you through all the special education laws, assessment plans and assist you in IEPs. I have helped hundreds of families understand the special education process and obtain the services that their child is entitled to under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
After an IEP Meeting Have You Ever Left Your School Wondering.
What just happened? What did I sign?
Is my child getting the best possible services?
Am I asking the right questions?
Does this plan truly meet my child’s needs?
You may have experienced these factors that have created a crisis for your child.
Placed your child in a program that he doesn’t belong in despite your objections
Refused to provide necessary services because these services are expensive but would establish a precedent.
Refused to consider or include private professionals recommendations in the IEP
Terminated the child from special education after the child’s IQ scores dropped because there is no longer a severe discrepancy between the child’s ability and achievement scores.
Caused the child to be arrested at school and suspended or expelled the child for behavior that is related to the child’s disability.