Navigating special education is a common struggle for many parents. With the changes in education that have occurred over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges have become even more pronounced. As you continue to balance remote learning with your child’s unique educational needs, you may be wondering about other resources that could assist you. Should you use an IEP advocate? If so, how would that process begin?
Here’s a brief run-down on how IEP advocacy works and how it could help your family.
What Is an IEP Advocate?
Ideally, an IEP advocate — or an Educational Consultant, as some prefer to be called — is someone who can help you successfully advocate for your child during IEP meetings and throughout their time in special education. While there is no formal process for becoming an IEP advocate,(1) the most successful advocates have specialized training and know how to handle the situations that you may face as a parent in the school system.
Why Would You Need an IEP Advocate?
If you feel like your voice isn’t being heard during IEP meetings, an advocate can help your concerns be addressed by the school administrators. While the coronavirus may mean that you have to temporarily be flexible with the services and goals promised in the IEP, it should not mean that you have to make permanent changes or that your child should have drastic and unnecessary education cuts. An IEP advocate can address these problems and make sure that your child is provided an appropriate education regardless of the current climate.
Outside of pandemic-related IEP concerns, you might also have general concerns about your child’s education that you feel aren’t being considered by the school. For instance, you might feel like your child should be in a special education program, but is not. You might also feel like the IEP being offered isn’t suitable for your child, or that he or she isn’t receiving proper services. An IEP advocate can also help in these instances.(1) If, however, you have legal concerns regarding your student, it’s important to remember than a special education advocate is not an attorney.(2)
How Do You Choose an IEP Advocate?
One of the most common ways to choose an IEP advocate is through networking. There are likely people in your support group or in your child’s school that are also using the services of an IEP advocate. There are also Maryland advocacy resources that can help connect you with an advocate. The neuropsychologists at NeuroBehavioral Associates are able to attend IEP meetings with you and professionally guide you through your child’s needs.
When selecting an advocate, it’s important to take the time to understand the advocate’s background in special education. Do they have experience with your child’s school district? Have they been in similar situations with other children and families? You want to be certain that you are selecting a highly qualified person to be your IEP advocate.
NeuroBehavioral Associates Can Help You Advocate for Your Child
NeuroBehavioral Associates remains open and available for assessment, consultation, and therapy services. We are limiting the number of people in our office, providing in-office, low-contact assessments, and maintaining physical distancing.
For more information on our services, including our IEP support, or to schedule an appointment, contact us online or by phone at 410-722-7155.
You can also explore our series of coronavirus-related blog posts.
- Lee, A. (2019, October 17). How to Find a Special Education Advocate. Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://www.understood.org/en/family/relationships/finding-friends-support/how-to-find-a-special-education-advocate
- Lee, A. (2020, April 17). The Difference Between Special Education Advocates and Attorneys. Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/your-childs-rights/dispute-resolution/the-difference-between-special-education-advocates-and-attorneys