A Letter to “Those Special Education Parents”

Dear “Those Special Education Parents”,

You may know who you are and you may not. You’re the parents that previous teachers warn the following teacher about before transition IEP meetings or in emails about an upcoming move to a different school.

Administrators are aware of you too and they attend meetings that you’ll be at, even if their attendance is not required.

And why have you received the label of “those Special Education Parents?” Because you advocate for the services your child deserves.

Earlier this year, I had an IEP meeting in which the family requested a parent navigator to attend. The role of the parent navigator was to guide the parents through the confusing IEP process and to answer any questions they may have before, during, or after the meeting.

I was incredibly excited to have this navigator at my meeting and was encouraged that the parents reached out for this service to better understand their child’s education services.

I remember thinking “how proactive of them” and “what a great resource to find!” I came to find out that this person’s attendance made some other members of the IEP team nervous.

All of a sudden, administration was on the IEP invite, even though this wasn’t required for the meeting. The idea of this third-party put them on edge.

And why? Because the year prior, this family asked some difficult questions about the rights of their child that led to additional meetings.

Keep in mind, these meetings were well within the parents’ rights and they asked really good questions about their child’s services.

Suddenly, they were “those Special Education Parents.”

So, who are “those Special Education Parents?”

They are the parents that request the IEP ahead of time so they can look over the paperwork to be prepared for the meeting.

They are the parents who ask difficult questions during IEP meetings and may even question parts of the IEP itself.

They are the parents that ask for additional services, additional therapy time, or therapy in general.

They are the parents who know their rights, do their own research, and reach out to outside organizations for help during the confusing process of Special Education services.

They are the parents who know that the IEP is a draft and that anything can be changed during the meeting.

They are proactive advocates for their children, often with fire in their bellies as they overcome the obstacles to provide the best for their children.

They are my favorite parents.

Here is what I learned at the aforementioned IEP. I learned the answers to some really fantastic questions posed by the parents, things that I should be explaining at every IEP meeting, but have never considered.

“You say that this is a second grade standard, but what does that mean?”

“Where do these goals come from?”

In my IEP meetings since then, I take the time to explain to parents where their child’s goals come from and why they seem so lofty. I go more in-depth about how that goal may be accomplished, because just reading it isn’t enough to understand how that will play out with their particular child.

Those Special Education parents have taught me so much more about my job and my interactions with parents and I truly wish there were more parents like them.

To all of those Special Education Parents out there, this is what I want you to hear. Never stop being “those parents.”

Never stop advocating for what you think your child deserves. You are the most important part of the team and you know your child best.

Yes, the road may not be popular and there will be people who don’t agree, but if you stop advocating, who will fight for your child?

I know that, sadly, not all Special Education teachers, general education teachers, administrators, therapist, etc. will agree with me, but be encouraged by the fact that there are those of us out there that are advocating for your child alongside you.

The road can be dark and lonely, but never stop and never apologize for advocating for your child. Just do it respectfully.

No one will ever be the perfect parents, but remember, you are the perfect parent for your child.

Thank you for being those Special Education parents and for teaching me how to be a better teacher! My hope and prayer is that you will inspire more parents to join you.

Written by, Becca Frahm

My name is Becca Frahm and I am a third year, self-contained Special Education teacher in South Dakota. I teach kindergarten and first grade students with a variety of disabilities including autism, cognitive impairments, and multiple disabilities.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

2 comments
24 likes
Prev post: The Issues that Divide UsNext post: Topics We Don’t Talk About

Related posts

Comments

  • Benjamin Kihwele

    April 14, 2019 at 4:56 am
    Reply

    This is wow...! Powerful message to encourage both parents of children with disabilities and Special Education Teachers.

  • Chris D.

    April 14, 2019 at 1:50 pm
    Reply

    This was so refreshing to read. I was one of "those parents" who never stopped advocating for my 4 year old with autism. Although I […] Read MoreThis was so refreshing to read. I was one of "those parents" who never stopped advocating for my 4 year old with autism. Although I was not too popular in the school district because of this, I would do it all over again. My son is now a 22 year old, soon to be college graduate, who starts his first full time job in statistics this June. Thank you for being a teacher who supports special needs parents and their children. God bless you. Read Less

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Me
About Me

Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

READ MORE

FindingCoopersVoice
Follow my YouTube Channel
Follow my YouTube Channel

When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one was talking about it. Autism was hidden. I vow to change that.
WATCH NOW

Most Popular
Sign up for Finding Cooper's Voice
* = required field

powered by MailChimp!