Are Parents Considered the Experts of their Own Special Needs Children?

This has been a rough IEP season at my office.  Not because money is still tight and funding sources are scarce for special education services, or because these meetings can go on for hours on end, but because it seems parents are often not considered experts of their own children with special needs.  And when parents question the appropriateness of services, why do they have to defend their positions of advocacy, and if they can afford it, bring on someone like me to legitimize the request?  I worry about the countless parents who cannot afford private psychologists, attorneys or advocates, and who may not agree with their school district but defer to professionals for lack of recourse.  Might this play into why so many parents are choosing to home school? I’m not sure.  Regardless, I’m wondering how parents across the country experience the IEP process, and hoping that my recent observations do not reflect a larger reality.

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Sadly we needed to hire a lawyer after my son went two years without a signed IEP. I was arguing he needed more than 30 minutes of group speech when he was mostly non-verbal and had very little social skills.
Because I have shown the district that I will go to the mat for my son, they have pegged me as a parent who will fight. It has worked to my advantage but not with out a serious drop in the bank account. It seems we shouldn’t have to chose between other services outside of school or a lawyer.
I too feel for people who maybe are not as knowledgable or have the time to research the law. I have been fortunate not to need a lawyer every time. I am also fortunate to have family that have helped us when the cash flow was hard.

Thanks so much for sharing… This is such a difficult reality, and the potential is there for districts to support parents, not cause more stress. It is troubling that parents are often not considered the experts of their own children.