If you've ever found yourself in a dark room, with a locked door, and no way to find the light switch, you already know how it feels navigating the world of special education. There are thousands of methods, resources, and websites. As you are doing your best to find a way to help your child, your journey could begin to resemble Alice chasing a white rabbit down a hole into Wonderland, except you can leave the "wonder" out of it. Wouldn't it be incredible if there was someone who could unlock the door, and turn the light on for you?
I found my way into advocacy with a journey that probably looks a lot like yours; a parent desperate to get her son the help he so desperately needed. Like many of you I'm sure, I ran into brick wall after brick wall as that elusive white rabbit got further and further down that never-ending hole. There are two things I want to share with you here that I pray become etched in your mind forever:
1. YOU ARE YOUR CHILD'S GREATEST ADVOCATE
No one on planet earth will go to the lengths you will to help your child. It's like that Marvin Gaye song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", there is no end to the heights, or depths too great for you to ensure your child's future and happiness. When I work with families I find that the students who achieve the greatest success over any hurdle are the children with parents paving a path in front of them. Because of the deep connection you have to your child on an emotional and spiritual level, you can perceive needs and progress that other family members, teachers, and coaches cannot. That's when you say "It's right there. Don't you see it too?" I believe that teachers, coaches, advocates, family, and friends will often rise to the level of our belief in our children. "Don't you see it?" Thank you in advance for the liberty I am taking here, as I know it is not true in every instance, but for this blog's sake lets say that it is true in your case. You, as the parent, have the ability to pull greatness from deep within the spirit of your child because of who you are to them. As parents, we believe it for them until they believe it for themselves, and we say to every onlooker, "Look! It's right there. Don't you see it," until they too see what we knew was there all along.
2. SOMEONE HAS ALREADY LIT THE WAY
If you found your way to specialeducationboss.com looking for help and resources you have come to the right place. Soon, this site will be full of video tutorials for parents to become the advocate their child deserves. If you were going to build a home, I'm going to guess you would find the best contractor. You would make sure the foundation was solid before the framing went up, and you would know for sure you weren't building your dream home in a floodplain. What more would we do for our own children? Sadly though, many of our children do not have a credible "contractor" in their school district well-versed in what the law actually says about services for our kids. Their education is being built in a floodplain that at any moment could be full of water. This is the situation that I, and many other parents, found ourselves in. An advocate is one who comes by plane, by train, by boat right into the middle of the disaster zone to throw you a lifeline to pull you out of troubled water. I assure you, the imagery applies. I felt a little bit like the Christopher Columbus of the special education world when I started twenty-years ago. My only true resource was have the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on speed-dial. Then, I had to have the courage to face those who were simply doing what had been done before, most of the time unlawfully The beautiful part of my journey for you; simply walk in the trail that was already blazed for you. I will be your child's advocate from near or far. The way has already been lit. Here come the lifeboats.