1.                   Develop a personal relationship via casual contacts;

2.                 Maintain constant communication (telephone calls, notes, casual meetings) for good news as well as for concerns;

3.                 Make the most of every opportunity to share information to learn more about the child;

4.                 Support one another in the development of learning opportunities;

5.                 Observe, Listen, Question, Provide information, Request Advice;

6.                 Remember: Everyone has the child’s best interests at heart!




1.                   Believes in the child and is realistic about the child’s present status and his/her potential;

2.                 Believes in him/herself, his/her ability to achieve what is required, and his/her ability to persevere;

3.                 Knows the child and has a good understanding of his/her needs and how they may be met;

4.                 Knows the child’s legal relights and responsibilities, the school board’s policies and procedures, the school personnel’s understanding of the situation, the educational plans, the board’s procedures, and resources;

5.                 Identifies unmet needs and/or rights;

6.                 Recognizes key people, his/her allies, and the available resources;

7.                 Recognizes obstacles to achieving what is required – persons, policies, practices, resources;

8.                 Is a good communicator:

*   prepares for meetings

*   is proactive, systematic and knowledgeable

*   has the necessary documentation;

*   listens attentively

*   hears

*   watches

*   notes how something is said and what is not said

*   recognizes family/systemic barriers

*   understands other’s positions

*   acknowledges what is said

*   requests clarification and further information;

*   expresses self in an assertive, organized manner

*   records what is said, when, by whom and the expected follow-up;

*   ensures all parties are equally aware of all the facts, provides information    before meetings and provides positive feedback and empathy;

*   encourages others to give their opinions;

*   provides opinions

*   makes allowances for personal styles

*   and is patient

     9.         Focuses on a team approach and formulates compromises             (win/win solutions)

10.              Follows up to ensure that all parties have fulfilled their obligations and provides written confirmation of decisions;

11.               Accepts that advocates are not always popular;

12.              Recognizes that it is essential to teach the child to learn how to be a self-advocate and then, steps back and lets go.




1.                   Recognize, identify and  define the problem.

2.                 Commit to solving the problem together.

3.                 Brainstorm and gather all the necessary information to develop a strategy.

4.                 Choose the best strategy based on the child’s status, the professional personnel available, the resources available, and contextual variables that may impact on the outcome.  Agree on a time frame.

5.                 Implement the strategy.  Remember that consistent expectations from home and school are essential.

6.                 Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy at school and at home.

7.                 Alter the strategy, if required.




*   The squeaky wheel gets greased

*    Information is power

*    Believe in your child

*    Believe and trust in yourself, you can do it

*    No doctor, therapist, teacher, or any  other professional knows your child better than you do; you deal with it 24/7, “professionals” don’t

*   Obey your hunches

*   Educate yourself: read, read, read!

*   Learn your child’s rights

*   Find a good advocate, using the profile above




Visit the Wright’s Law website for practical help. In a recent issue of their newsletter, they presented some wonderful articles, such as "ADVOCACY TIP: HOW TO USE A 'PARENT IEP ATTACHMENT'" and "Advice from Indiana Advocate Pat Howey - Trusting the System To Do What's Right". For a printer-friendly version, click here.


The Autism/PDD Resources Network offers a great deal of information. Look under the "more to do" section.


South Dakota University provides a great Dictionary: For Parents of Children with Disabilities.  This will enable you to trade acronyms like a seasoned pro!


From Emotions to Advocacy-The Parents’ Journey


Advocacy for Autism


SNAP - Special Needs Advocate for Parents


The Art of Writing Letters

Patient Centers ~ Support and Advocacy


Family Resource Center on Disabilities 



Note Taking:

A.                Keep detailed, dated notes.  Be sure to record names, phone and extension numbers of all you talk to.

B.                 Tell the people you are talking to you are writing down what they are saying and be sure to indicate in your notes that these are direct quotes.  Ask them to repeat themselves if necessary.

C.                 Ask for items to be sent to you in writing. For example, if you have been told your child will have a one-to-one, full time aide, be sure you have a copy of this promise.

D.                Keep a file of copies of doctors’ assessments and recommendations.  If you are requiring a doctor’s care due to personal stress, have them write you a note and keep copies of such. This may come in handy when requesting respite hours.

E.                 Log all phone calls. Keep a pad for this specific purpose beside the phone, and keep track of information.

F.                 If you are placing the call, map out what you are going to say, leaving spaces for answers.

G.                 If you are constantly given the “run around”, make your dissatisfaction known, ensure you are speaking to the person in charge. Be sure to log.

H.                You may want to follow up a phone call or meeting with a short letter reiterating the conversation (facts only). Be sure to copy your letter to people/agencies such as advocacy, governmental, case workers etc.



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