Are there special education success stories and how can I get them for my child?

As a parent and advocate for over 25 years, I am often frustrated at how long it takes to successfully advocate for a child (even my own children)! Sometimes it seems like I’m hitting my head against a wall (giving myself a concussion), with little to no results. I was recently reminded that advocacy is difficult by its very nature, but even when it seems like I haven’t done much or the parents haven’t done much, the child can really benefit!

1. I was helping parents in another state with their child’s education in high school. Things had gotten very bad at school for the young man and the school wanted to send him to an alternative school. I immediately began working with the mother and educating her about IDEA 2004 and the discipline laws. I read letters, helped her write letters, worked on an agreement with the school, and encouraged her to keep fighting despite how bad things were. The situation got worse and the young man dropped out of school, which was frustrating for his parents and me! Imagine my surprise when a few months later I received an email from her mother with a photo of her high school diploma! I’m so excited for the young man, and I realized that if his parents and I hadn’t fought for him, he probably would never have graduated! Great result!

2. I advocated for a child with autism for over a year. The young man could not read, was behind in all academic areas, and had developed a school phobia. In my defense, I had to educate the school staff a lot about dyslexia; research-based instruction as well as extended school year services. Another problem is that the school district insisted on bringing their attorney to all IEP meetings; even after giving a copy of the OSEP policy letter to Clinton discouraging this practice. After a year, we had made some progress, and the parents (and I) decided that they would try it on their own (helping them over the phone, etc.). After I stopped attending the meetings, the school district stopped their attorney from attending the IEP meetings, and the treatment of parents is somewhat better. The young man is learning academically and no longer has a school phobia. Amazing!

There are success stories in advocating for special education; And here’s what you can do to increase your child’s chances of success:

1. Firm and persistent promotion for as long as necessary. Sometimes promotion is like a long trip, rather than a short one. Hang on and you’ll be glad you did!

2. If your child is struggling to read, it is critical that you find accurate information about dyslexia, to use in your advocacy and research-based ways to address disability. Try this link to the International Dyslexia Association (

3. Learn about and advocate for best practices in special education for your child’s disability. For example: ABA is still considered best practice for children with autism.

4. Call your state PTIC and ask about free or low-cost advocacy training. Not only will you learn a lot, but you will be able to connect with other parents!

5. Consider using a qualified and experienced advocate; This can often be of great help to the success of the promotion. Make sure the advocate has experience with your state’s dispute resolution processes.

6. If the school continues to deny and / or delay needed services, consider using the dispute resolution processes (due process, mediation, and state complaints).

There are promotion success stories and this article has given you some examples. You have also learned some dragon slaying tips to work towards your own son’s success story! Good luck!

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