You can hear this hue and cry from parents everywhere. But when the cry involves your classroom, it is up to you to decide how to respond. It is the professional’s task to help the family tackle the problem. By staying out of the picture, your job becomes harder and harder while the child’s difficulties accelerate. The true solution is to become involved so the presenting problem can be resolved. What does being involved mean? The answer to that question is the three C’s: Communicate, Cooperate and Collaborate

Teachers need to be empowered to understand their students. Knowing what your student needs is vital. Knowing how the child learns is as important as the solution to change. Teaching new and innovative strategies creates a useful and successful learning pattern. This innovative approach supports a new way of learning for the student that increases competency and self-esteem.

Parents know that answers to their problems exist, but they need to know how to ask for them. They need to know their rights. They need to know what programs are available and what a school system can and cannot provide. Parents need to understand that they must collect records and data in order to provide the information the school system requires to fulfill their obligation of seeing that each child learns according to his or her potential. Parents need to know the processes they must go through to gain services, what to expect from the system, and how to create a partnership with the professionals who can help their child.

Together professionals and parents need to be positive, looking forward, able to put emotions aside in order to allow action to begin. We all know that there is a lot of concern, but being specific and focused helps the process move smoothly. With this communication and open sharing, successful outcomes are possible.

By working together, professionals and parents ensure the child’s success and make sure every child receives the gift of accomplishment. These are your keys to success. To help you remember, I hope this key will become a constant reminder. I challenge each of you to print it and hang it on the refrigerator to remind you that only by being a team will the outcome provide the child success.

But, you may ask, how do I get the answers because I need to put this into place? Whether you are a parent or a professional, CHADD has a great program designed just for you. I have an inside track to know that several day-long workshops are planned that will be presented around the country to address how to advocate for each and every child! Is that awesome or what?

Parents and professionals will spend a day learning how to advocate for the child who has special needs. They will learn how to receive help in determining what services may be necessary in order to meet these various needs. Participants will learn what their rights are under the law, understand early intervention, response to intervention, 504, IDEA, ADA and other issues that may be new to them, or old labels that never made sense. Come learn how to communicate by creating a partnership between parents and school. Learn how to use positive interaction, be aware of the importance of documentation, and what questions to ask as you develop an IEP or 504 Plan.

Why bother taking the time and energy to be informed? Listen to a parent with a teen-aged son: “If only I had known how to tell the school what my child needed, he wouldn’t have had to struggle so long. Thank you for making our lives easier.” Or the parent of a ten-year-old: “This workshop cleared the way for my family. Now services are in place, my daughter receives support and is successful for the first time in her life.”

Spread the word! Here is the information about the first of these advocacy workshops.

My Child Needs Help!
Seminar on Child Advocacy
January 28, 2012
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Atlanta, Georgia Area
Cumberland Academy, 650 Mt. Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs, GA 30338
Sponsored by CHADD
Presenters: Mary Durheim, CHADD National Past President
Joan K. Teach, PhD, CHADD Advocate and Special Educator
Local Hosts: Georgia Workgroup: CHADD-GA, LDA-GA, Kids Enabled
Advocates for all special-needs youngsters are welcome.

Mary and I hope you will join us in the near future. Can’t get to Georgia? Bring us to you!