You, Your Child, and Special Education: A Guide to Dealing with the System


Overwhelmed and intimidated: That's how many parents feel when they're dealing with the complex special education system. How can they transform themselves into confident, knowledgeable advocates and get their children the free appropriate public education they're entitled to? Give them the answers with this empowering survival guide, the book with the straight talk parents want and the encouragement they need as they work to get the best services for their child. A comprehensive update of a resource parents have...

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Overwhelmed and intimidated: That's how many parents feel when they're dealing with the complex special education system. How can they transform themselves into confident, knowledgeable advocates and get their children the free appropriate public education they're entitled to? Give them the answers with this empowering survival guide, the book with the straight talk parents want and the encouragement they need as they work to get the best services for their child. A comprehensive update of a resource parents have relied on for more than 17 years, this no-nonsense guide cuts right through the myths and obstacles that block the way to better education for a child with special needs. Veteran advocacy expert Barbara Cutler directly addresses parents with empathy and candor, drawing on 30 years of professional expertise and her deep personal insight as the mother of a son with autism. Share this book with parents and they'll have the step-by-step, real-world guidance they need to proactively participate in IEP meetings to secure more and better services for their child develop productive assertiveness that gets real results arrange, prepare for, and conduct a classroom observation recognize and defeat the popular arguments against inclusion communicate and negotiate effectively with school personnel learn how to say no and fight for the child's rights if an IEP is not acceptable make the most of support from personal advocates and parent and citizen organizations fully understand their legal rights and the elements of a free appropriate public education and least restrictive environment monitor IEP implementation and intervene if the school doesn't deliver agreed-upon services Going far beyond abstract advice, Cutler makes successful advocacy come to life through sample letters and dialogues, realistic vignettes, practical materials like a detailed classroom observation checklist, and solutions to large and small problems that

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Editorial Reviews

Paula Kluth

"Not sure how to challenge your child's placement? Need to prepare for an IEP meeting? Unsure of your rights? You will find everything you need to know in the pages of this common-sense guide. It will have you feeling empowered, informed, and even inspired!"
"If you are new to special education, I think you'll appreciate this book."
The Midwest Book Review - California Bookwatch
"Offers a fine step-by-step guide to parents on how to get the most from the school system."
The Midwest Book Review - The Bookwatch
"A 'must-have' acquisition that teaches parents how to work within the school system to advocate educational benefits for their child."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598571233
  • Publisher: Brookes, Paul H. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 846,029
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Coyne Cutler, Ed.D., got her advocacy training the hard way. Divorced and with two small children to raise, she began to search out services for her son with autism. It took her almost 10 years to realize that being a patient, no-trouble-at-all parent was not the way to get attention or services. She learned painfully through her personal experience that a parent has to become vocal, visible, knowledgeable, and relentless in order to become an effective advocate. As a parent of a now middle-age son in continuing need of services, Dr. Cutler has been through the system in the dark days when her small son seemed to have no rights at all through the early days of the educational rights movement and later into the adult service system. From a once quiet and compliant parent she has become a leading advocate for people with disabilities and their families. Aware of deficiencies in systems serving people with disabilities, Dr. Cutler worked on her own professional development, acquiring bachelors and master's degrees from Harvard (where she was also a Merrill Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute) and a doctorate in special education from Boston University.

Dr. Cutler has directed educational, supported works and community resource programs, including the Autism National Committee (, which she serves on now; facilitated the development of a model respite care program; trained parents and professionals in positive behavior support programs; and provided individual consultation in various states to public schools dealing with the needs of students with autism and developmental disabilities.

In her more than 30 years of service, she has continued to advocate as a member of boards of service, state, and advocacy organizations including her local Commission on Disability and Regional Developmental Disabilities Council. She has presented throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. She has published chapters in various disability-related books and newsletters.

Looking back, she realizes that because of her son's disability, her career was chosen for her. "I've made my personal and career decisions by dealing with the crises that parents of children with disabilities learn to expect as part of their daily routine. It's a life that's sometimes harrowing, sometimes rewarding—but never, never dull. I have never regretted my decisions. Without strong parent advocates, our sons and daughters could be overlooked and poorly served."

Dr. Cutler lives next door to her son, George, and his wife, Sherrie, and across the street from her son, Robert. The family is often together on weekends and is always available to support each other.

Paula F. Goldberg, isexecutive director of the PACER Center inMinneapolis, MN;

Sue Pratt, M.A., has advocated for students with special needs for more than 35 years. She claims she keeps trying to quit, but people like her friend Dr. Cutler and parents in need keep her "keeping on." Ms. Pratt received her bachelor of science degree in elementary education from St. John College in Cleveland, Ohio, and her master of arts in education from Western Michigan in Kalamazoo. She has taught for 11 years and worked for or directed the parent center in Michigan (Citizens Alliance to Uphold Special Education [CAUSE]) for 25 years. Among her accomplishments, she lobbied with great zeal to change the wording in The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from behavior management to positive behavior support for the 1997 reauthorization. She also worked with the Office of Civil Rights and CAUSE staff to produce the first guide for professionals and parents to obtain services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for students with disabilities not in special education.

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Table of Contents

About the Authors vii

Foreword to the Revised Edition Paula F. Goldberg ix

Foreword to the 1993 Edition Rosemary Dybwad Gunnar Dybwad xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xv

1 It's About Rights 1

2 Keeping Up with IDEA 13

3 The Myths Stop Here: Substituting Fact for Fiction 33

4 Services and Snow Jobs: Understanding Your School System 67

5 Using Your Everyday Skills: "Hey, I Can Do That!" 103

6 Getting Inside Your Child's School: What It's Like for Your Student 151

7 Getting the Right IEP 181

8 Confrontation: When Nice Guys Finish Last 217

9 And the Beat Goes On: The Need for Constant Advocacy 245

Appendix A Parent Information Centers 265

Appendix B Other Resources 278

Index 287

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