Once your child has a diagnosis of a disability or disorder, what’s the next step? You can start working on strategies at home, but if you’ve never been through something like this before, how do you know the most effective steps to take? And what happens at school? How can you make sure the best plan is put into place to help your child succeed academically and socially? What if the school seems to be putting up barriers or doesn’t have the staff to make sure each child with needs has the assistance they need? How do you communicate your child’s needs during a meeting without getting more confused, frustrated or worse, angry to the point of creating walls between the family and school?
Obviously there are many important questions and decisions to make – the list above is only some of the issues you might have to address. How do you get started?
Advocacy is defined as “active verbal support for a cause or position.” It is a complicated process and your role as parent is crucial to making sure your child receives the best educational plan possible. Due to any number of circumstances – this is new to the family and the parents don’t know what the law allows/expects; personalities between the family and school collide and decisions aren’t being made; the complexity of the child’s situation leaves everyone baffled – this task could be overwhelming.
Enter the services of an educational advocate, whose job it is to provide that active verbal support to assist with your child’s education. Dr. Joanne Smith-Darden is our clinic’s educational advocate who works with clients who have been tested by our doctors, so the continuity of our professional care is maintained; recommendations from our assessment are taken directly into the school environment in order to help the child’s needs.
Dr. Smith-Darden has a diverse background in education, speech and language pathology, social work and developmental psychology. She has participated in and directed hundreds of school meetings (e.g., Student Study Team meetings, IEPs, Section 504 Plan meetings) that have helped parents, students, teachers and administrators incorporate assessment results to strategize meaningful educational as well as therapeutic objectives. Her exceptional skills in advocacy have made profound differences to not only the child in the school setting, but also to the family as a whole.
- Advocacy at CNLD
- Disability & Special Education Acronyms
- Team of Advocates for Special Kids-TASK
- GreatSchools: Involved Parents, Successful Kids
- Michigan Dept. of Education: Special Education
- Michigan Protection & Advocacy
- IDEA Partnership
For more information about our Advocacy services, click here to view our brochure.