A husband and wife team up to present a cleareyed, informative guide for parents of children in special education.
The Graves’ how-to debut includes practical recommendations for other mothers and fathers traversing the sometimes-bureaucratic maze of special ed. In the early 1990s, the authors discovered that their 3-year-old son needed help, and this text includes many examples from their 15 years of experience. This easy-to-understand resource covers many facets, from requesting eligibility testing to transitioning a child into adult life after high school graduation. It includes a summarized history of special education, but it mainly offers hands-on advice, such as how to understand school evaluations and participate in productive team meetings. Instead of overwhelming readers with jargon, the authors introduce only a few important acronyms, such as the IEP, or Individualized Education Program (or Plan). The IEP is an important legal document, updated each year to identify a child’s abilities and needs, which determines the special education services he or she will receive; the Graves explain how to develop an effective IEP with specific, measurable goals. The well-referenced text also contains simple but useful action steps (“What Parents Can Do”) at the end of each chapter. For example, one suggests ways to be prepared for meetings: “Talk through your issues for the meeting with your spouse, partner, advocate, or trusted friend. Write down your concerns, then create a proposed agenda and share it with your special education liaison.” The book also looks at when to bring in professionals, such as advocates, from “outside” the system. Teachers and administrators may bristle a bit at some topics, such as when to hire a lawyer, but the tone is mostly evenhanded; for example, the Graves repeatedly suggest that parents remain cordial to educators, even during disagreements.
A viable resource for helping children obtain the best special education possible.