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ADHD at School

Was I Wrong To Hire An Education Advocate Or Not???

I am doubting my decision about hiring an education advocate.  Has anyone ever hired one and if so was it a good choice or not?  Did you tell the school before the ARD meeting?  Did you record the meetings as recommended? There are so many decisions as parents we have to make. It is so much harder than I ever imagined.  Any words you have about an advocate I would appreciate all honesty - good or bad.

Replies

They are expensive.  Some are good.  It really depends on what your goals is.

Hiring one will put the school on edge… Even more so if the advocate comes across as fire and brimstone. 

Reach out to you local sepac.  There are often many people there that know the ropes already. 

From my personal experience-definitely record!  Then do a rough transcription when you get home. 
My son has inattentive ADD and struggles in school primarily with writing.  We inquired with an advocate once and explained our situation because we felt he should be getting extra services that they weren’t providing.  She actually recommended hiring a tutor instead of her.  She said we would get what we really wanted (extra help) with fewer headaches and be able to really control how the extra help is provided.

So I would think about what you think you son really needs that you think is not being provided and see if the $1000+ is better spent another way.

Posted by motherhenn on Aug 04, 2011 at 9:05am

I wish I had advice for you, but I am sort of going thru the same thing, although I have decided not totake anyone into the meeting with me for that very reason of not wanting to put the school on edge. He is going into the 6th grade, and after a rough 5th grade he was finally diagnosed at the end of the school year. So I am about to go into a meeting in a few days with the principal and his core teachers , and I am very nervous about it. After a lot of testing and a bunch of reports and a huge list of recommended accomodations from that psychologist, I narrowed it down to about 10 things that I truly believe will help him. Nothing out of the ordinary, except for asking a teacher to spend the last 10 -15minutes of the day alone with him. Just to discuss his homework, and hopefully make a plan on when he will complete it that evening, how long it might take, etc. This will be an “informal” agreement as we are in a Catholic school. Anyway, I , too would love to hear anyone’s opinion of how to handle thing if the teachers say they can’t do these things. How pushy should a parent get???

Posted by c on Aug 04, 2011 at 1:44pm

I am an educational advocate.  I disagree with the comment about advocates being expensive as it truly depends on the services one can provide to you and your son.  I, for example, operate on a “tier” or “level” of service basis.  My services and the respective costs build upon one another.  I find it a bit unethical to charge by the hour as, at some point in time, some party gets the short end of the stick.  I’d also like to point out that if your child has a 504 plan in place for his ADD/ADHD, an educational advocate may be helpful in encouraging the school to follow this plan as it is a violation of your son’s civil rights if a plan is in place and the accommodations are not being followed.  Finally, I’d encourage you to rethink the advice about the school viewing the advocate as an adversarial party.  Unlike a lawyer, an educational advocate typically does not hold a law degree.  If the advocate is truly trained in advocacy skills, the advocate will know how to approach the school to “calm any fears” that they are there to rock the boat.  The bottom line is an advocate is there to serve your child.  Yes, there are times when there may be some tension, but the child is the reason everyone is present at any meeting.  That has to remain the foc-us.  I’d encourage you to evaluate why you want an advocate, what you’d like the advocate to do for your child, and then spend time looking into advocates.  There are resources on Wright’s Law in which you can type in your state and bring up a list of educational advocates as well as other professionals that may be helpful for you to peruse.  You can get to this list by going to http://www.wrightslaw.com and clicking on the icon “resources” on the righ side of the screen.  I’m at 563-249-4703 and would be glad to help.  My blog is http://advocate4kids.blogspot.com

Posted by advocate4kids on Aug 04, 2011 at 11:14pm

With the advocate I retained we get 12 hours of service for a set fee ($1,000+).  That kinda scared me.  Emails and calls are subtracted from the hours.  They come recommended so I think we will be ok.  Should I tell the school I am bringing an advocate?  One person told me that if I do not tell the ARD committee that they would postpone the meeting when they arrived because they want their legal team there too.  What about recording the meetings?  That just seems like I am expecting dishonesty somewhere in the process.  Or are the committees use to that?  I never want to burn bridges.  I just want the best for my son.

Posted by TJF on Aug 05, 2011 at 4:48am

Check with your local school district on what their procedures are for an IEP. Even if you only do something informal or a 504, they should have a brochure that explains parental rights and terminology. That brochure may also contain other organizations or contacts like parent advocates who are available to support you (and may be provided without charge). If you go in like you are asking the school to be a part of a team to support your child, they shouldn’t be too defensive. Most school personnel want the children to succeed just like the parents do, altho I know you can run into the occasional teacher who won’t change their ways no matter what! Good Luck!

Posted by deeadhdmom on Aug 05, 2011 at 5:06am

I would recommend an advocate as I used one for my sons’ ARD meeting.  I’m very thankful that I did.  The advocate is VERY knowledgeable in these meetings and if this is your first, you need that knowledge and experience on your side.  Schools are used to recorded meetings so don’t think they will feel threatened by it.  If you bring a recorder, then they have to record it as well or you can request that they record it if you don’t see the recorder out.  Just state that you don’t want to miss any important details that are discussed.  Back to the advocate…. schools will try to get by with the minimal expected of them.  My advocate did 90% of the talking as he and I had already discussed my concerns and he had reviewed my son’s work.  He immediately pinpointed from his work, concerns that he had which he requested certain “tests” be done by the school district to determine reasons for the issues.  I would never have known about those types of tests or concerns that he revealed.  So, yes, I am 100% for an advocate, especially if it is your first ARD and am not sure what to expect.  Yes, you want to inform them that you will have an advocate with you at the meeting.  Mine was very good and already known by people at the meeting.  He did a very good job keeping the meeting focused and keeping the suggestions measurable.  Good luck to you.

Posted by Mom2Klay on Aug 05, 2011 at 9:39am

Hi, I found out through my years of dealing with this issue,certain people get on edge once an Advocate is brought in is because they were not doing their job completely. I also know it is your right and duty to do so it you don’t feel you understand what is going on or you’ve asked for certain things that you know your child needs and did not get.Yes, you should tell them an Advocate will be with you and keep it on the key issues and what you would like to see for your child. Remember a parent no matter what help you bring in, is ALWAYS their child best Advocate.Good Luck stay on track!

Posted by BSC MOM on Aug 14, 2011 at 9:08pm

I also forgot to add, do your homework with advocates as well. Some will work pro bono while others will either go by your income, while other charge a flat fee. As mentioned above WRIGHTSLAW is a great website for
these key issues and many others.

BSC’S MOM

Posted by BSC MOM on Aug 14, 2011 at 9:11pm

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