Being an advocate for your child with special needs

Misty A. Watson

Misty A. Watson




Information and strategies abound regarding techniques that should be implemented by parents of a child with special needs to advocate for the child’s education rights, therapies, and treatments. Building a network of resources and support is vital to becoming a parent advocate.

A great tool is available from the Advocacy Group Autism Speaks. They have put together a 100 day kit to help families with a new diagnosis of autism.

Parents also must quickly learn how to navigate the complicated educational laws governing children with special needs. Wrightslaw and other disability advocacy websites offer families a plethora of information regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and a child’s right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

Blogs, twitter accounts, and other online information can also be useful tools for families, so long as information from such sources is carefully verified. Local support groups can provide families with powerful network of allies and confidantes.

Attorneys, financial advisors, and accountants are also important components of the team. Information regarding special needs trusts, Medicaid rules, investing for the future of your child, and guardianship decisions should be obtained. Finding professionals who focus their practices in special needs is important to building a long term strategy for the family. Often these professionals may know about resources that families have not yet explored.

Becoming an advocate for your child with special needs can feel like a never ending battle; however, with a good team of professionals and a support network of family and friends, the information overload can be lightened.

Posted by Attorney Misty A. Watson. Watson’s practice focus is estate-related: planning, administration, and probate. She creates trusts, wills, financial, and health care powers of attorney, guardianships, and conservatorships. 


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