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About to hire an advocate for my son- is it a good idea?

Posted by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 11:16 PM
  • 26 Replies

I am thinking about hiring an advocate for my son regarding his next IEP meeting and future issues regarding his education. This will be my second IEP meeting (the first one I was completely clueless), and he will age out of the special needs preschool through our school district next year. I am really confused, overwhelmed and am unsure of what I should be asking for, and about what my son is entitled to receive, service-wise.


This advocate has 15 years experience, has a son with dyslexia and learnign dsiablities herself, and she came highly recommended to be me by another mom of a son with special needs. I spoke to her on the phone tonight- she returned my call within 10 minutes of my leaving her a voice mail. She sounds confident, firm, and like she knows what she is talking about. I was impressed.


For any parent who has ever done this, what was their experience like? She's going to read through all my son's paperpwork- IEP, updates, evaluations, etc, and give me advice on whether or not the current IEP is appropriate, what I should be asking for concerning next year and of course, if needed she will attend the meetings with me, for a fee.


I'm thinking it's worth a try.


Any thoughts?

by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 11:16 PM
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Replies (1-10):
ROGUEM
by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 11:26 PM

 I would do this if you can afford it.  An advocate runs my local support group and I can't tell you the wealth of information I have received from this group.  I am constantly learning things that I was cheated out of because I didn't know "the lingo",  "the rules", and basically what my child was entitled to.

Why re-invent the wheel, let an expert fight your battles and get you all you are entitled.  An IEP is a legally binding agreement and most of us wouldn't do any other legal document without an expert so why do we put ourselves through this without help. 

It will probably be the best money you have ever spent.  Your son is young and these are touted as the years where therapy and interventions are the most beneficial, so by doing this you will get him more.

dawncs
by Dawn on Feb. 8, 2012 at 11:42 PM

Personally, I would not hire an advocate at this stage of the game. Unless there is a serious problem between you and the school, an advocate is not needed at most Special Education meetings. You can learn a lot about the I.E.P. process for free at http://www.wrightslaw.com/.

Dawn
Beautifully Talanted Autistic Social Story Author
Diagnosed Asperger Syndrome as an adult
Diagnosed Edema (since young)
Author Page: http://www.toyboxunlimited.com/ (has discounts)

Leobaby2007
by on Feb. 9, 2012 at 12:29 AM

Interesting differing points of view. Confused as ever! But thanks for the advice! wink mini

It is true, though, about not signing legal docuaments until a skilled profressional looked them over first. I had a last will and testament written up after my son was born and of course I went through an estate planning attorney. It cost me some $$$, but it's worth it for my peace of mind. I have not regretted doing it.

Boy, if any one had ever told me pre-baby that I'd have to make such HUGE decisions NOW in this stage of the game re: my child, I would thought have thought they were crazy.

The good thing is that if I retain her now, it would be from now until (God Willing) he graduates from high school- that she would review any reports, IEP, etc. and give me advice about them. Phone calls, and emails are free (unlike an attorney's time- they will bill you for BOTH- lol), and of course I would have to pay additionally for her attend them meetings with me. Mostly I would love for someone with experience to look over all the reams of paperwork I have on Donovan and tell me what she can make out of it.

I am aware of Wright's Law, but getting the team to enforce it and knowing the "lingo" is something I am not something I am accustomed to. I also tend to be "too nice" just "take what they give me", assuming they have my child's best interest at heart, which I am sure they do, but I still don't want to be taken advantage of, KWIM? I want someone to back me up who has been around the block a few times.

We did have an issue with a very negative pre-k teacher, to the point where I felt it was best to pull my son out of the class and just have him continue in the special needs preschool  in the afternoon and worry about pre-K again next year, because over my dead body is he going to Kindergarten  next year with developmental delays AND an August birthday (turning 5). I was angry about the situation and didn't feel like anyone was there to have my child's back, but instead of using my energy on being mad about that, I am trying to channel it into something more productive.

I've got the check written out the paperword ready to send out.... I just need to make a decision. Is the money I wrote the check for gonna a hurt  this month? YES? However, it could be the best money I've ever spent.

I didn't even know what an "advocate" did until recently. I've really had my head in the sand for awhile and I feel like I am choking, like I am drowning. I need help. I need to know what to do, and I need advice from someone who knows their "stuff".

I guess I made up my mind, but that could change tomorrow morning lol. Still, if anyone has any more opinions or stories related to this issue to share with me, I would love to read them.

I'll check out thr wrightslaw website and see if I can make heads or tails of it!

Thanks!

Leobaby2007
by on Feb. 9, 2012 at 12:44 AM

I was looking over the info on the wright's law website and under "Mistakes Parents Make", this about sums me up to a "T".

2. The opposite mistake: trusting administrators and teachers too uncritically; assuming that if they are "nice" they are also competent and interested in serving the child's best interest; not questioning slow, or nonexistent progress as long as the child, parent and teacher have a cordial relationship;

^^^ That's SO ME!

BeccaGK
by on Feb. 9, 2012 at 12:47 AM
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I didn't have to pay for anyone to come to the IEP meeting with me. We have a place in my town where they will call the school and come to meeting for free. I spend alot of time there talking and getting advice and borrowing books. Good luck on whatever you choose!

Leobaby2007
by on Feb. 9, 2012 at 12:53 AM

I think through the autism reseach center, I may be able to get an advocate- not sure if it is free of charge. I should probably check that out.

Thanks again for the replies!

3mx2mom
by on Feb. 9, 2012 at 6:34 AM

In my experience, when you take an advocate into the meeting it IMMEDIATELY puts the IEP team (school based members) on the defensive. I would not bring an advocate into an IEP unless it is absolutely necessary and a last resort.

dawncs
by Dawn on Feb. 9, 2012 at 6:41 AM


Quoting Leobaby2007:

I am aware of Wright's Law, but getting the team to enforce it and knowing the "lingo" is something I am not something I am accustomed to. I also tend to be "too nice" just "take what they give me", assuming they have my child's best interest at heart, which I am sure they do, but I still don't want to be taken advantage of, KWIM? I want someone to back me up who has been around the block a few times.

We did have an issue with a very negative pre-k teacher, to the point where I felt it was best to pull my son out of the class and just have him continue in the special needs preschool  in the afternoon and worry about pre-K again next year, because over my dead body is he going to Kindergarten  next year with developmental delays AND an August birthday (turning 5). I was angry about the situation and didn't feel like anyone was there to have my child's back, but instead of using my energy on being mad about that, I am trying to channel it into something more productive.

I've got the check written out the paperword ready to send out.... I just need to make a decision. Is the money I wrote the check for gonna a hurt  this month? YES? However, it could be the best money I've ever spent.

I didn't even know what an "advocate" did until recently. I've really had my head in the sand for awhile and I feel like I am choking, like I am drowning. I need help. I need to know what to do, and I need advice from someone who knows their "stuff".

Thanks!

You will be dealing with new people at his new school. I would give them a chance before you hire an advocate into the situation. If you work with the teachers at the elementary school level most times, your son will be placed into the best placement for him. In some cases if there is a half day kindergarten program at the school, your son could be mainstreamed for half of the day and receive Special Education services for the other half of the school day. However, this is depenedent on the individual school and the school district.

Dawn
Beautifully Talanted Autistic Social Story Author
Diagnosed Asperger Syndrome as an adult
Diagnosed Edema (since young)
Author Page: http://www.toyboxunlimited.com/ (has discounts)

mallowcup17
by on Feb. 9, 2012 at 8:01 AM
We have yet to use an advocate but have access to people who have helped us through both personal and business contacts. Good luck with everything!
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aidensmomma508
by Wendy on Feb. 9, 2012 at 8:09 AM

I wouldn't get an advocate unless I wanted to fight a decision or there was a problem. but I don't have money to throw around either. 

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