The Limits of Parental Advocacy: Sometimes You Just Have to Hire A LawyerThe Limits of Parental Advocacy

For the first time in 2-1/2 years, Ian is in the right place. He attends a full day, in-person private school aimed at square peg students, aged 18-21. This year, he will get extra help for reading, improve his social skills, gain work experience, and get support at the local community college. Guidance counselors will teach us how to fill out government paperwork and help us map out a plan for his future. I am beyond relieved. 

Even before COVID completely derailed Ian’s schooling, his education was mediocre at best. I tried to improve this situation at his yearly IEP meetings and throughout the year, after reading copious resources on the Internet about rights and procedures and getting tips from other parents. Our advocacy was all DIY, because as recent graduates from PhD programs, we couldn’t afford a $500 per hour attorney.

Despite all those Internet resources and chats with friends, Ian never had a great education. At the best of times, he was included in a regular classroom with an aide, but without any extra help for his weaknesses. In the worst of times, he was stuck in a tiny classroom in a basement with lower functioning students who screamed all day. I should have hired a lawyer when he entered the public school system at age three. Self-advocacy, even for this highly educated mom, never worked.

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