Are you the parent of a child with autism that has had major conflicts, with special education personnel? Has your school district developed an IEP for your child with a severe learning disability, but refuses to follow it? Have you spent thousands of dollars trying to ensure that your child receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE)? Anger is a very common emotion that you may feel, especially if your child is denied needed educational services. This article will discuss how to turn that anger around, and use it to benefit your child’s education.
Many parents experience a lot of difficulty, when trying to get their child with a disability a free appropriate public education. In fact it is my belief that few children with disabilities in the U.S. actually receive FAPE.
Some special education personnel use tactics such as blaming the parent, in order to not have to pay for expensive special education services. A lot of anger that parents feel is justified anger. But if the anger becomes explosive, you will not be able to help your child. Use these tips to help you control your anger, to benefit your child:
1. If you are in an IEP meeting, and you feel yourself getting angry, ask for a small break. Go outside, or walk in the hallway. This will give you a chance to calm yourself down, so that you can be a more effective advocate, for your child.
2. Stand up to school personnel in an assertive manner, if they try and blame you for your child’s difficulty. You do not cause your child’s autism, or learning disability, or behavioral difficulty. This is a tactic used by many special education personnel, and sometimes catch a parent off guard.
If you do not stand up to the personnel blaming you, your anger may get the best of you. Remember that being assertive means staying as calm as possible, but working toward getting your child the services they need.
3. Focus on what educational and related services that your child needs. Bring a list of items that you would like to discuss, and check them off as you discuss them. Write down what you are promised for your child, and make sure that it is written in your child’s IEP. By focusing on your child, you will be less likely to get angry.
4. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Use this strategy, when special education personnel try and change the subject, when you are asking for needed educational services for your child. For Example: We were discussing my child’s need for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), please stop changing the subject and address this issue. This strategy works; refuse to move the discussion along until the important issues are discussed.
5. Bring a friend or advocate with you to any meetings that you are concerned may become adversarial. Also consider tape recording, special education personnel are often careful of what they say when it is being tape recorded.
6. If you find yourself getting angry over a dispute; write a letter to special education personnel. In the letter, clearly state what the dispute is; stick to facts, keep emotion out. By writing a letter you will decrease your chances of letting your anger overtake you.
By using these easy strategies you will be able to keep your anger in check, as you advocate for an appropriate education for your child. Good Luck in your advocacy journey, remember you are not alone!