Introducing Hawaii Reporter’s New Education Column-The Special Education Advocate

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    ”’Dear Parents:”’

    We all have hopes and dreams for our children. Then, the day comes when someone — perhaps a doctor or diagnostician, tells us that we must face reality, reduce our expectations and just accept that our child may never be “normal” due to his or her disability. At first we grieve and then we graciously accept whatever help is offered, apologetic that our child is a burden. It may be months or years later when we may discover that our child is not progressing and not getting needed help to achieve independence. Worse yet, we find out that the authority to which we entrusted our child knew all along that appropriate assistance was not being provided.


    That is when we learn to fight.

    We fight for our child’s right to a productive, happy life. The first step in the fight is knowledge. We research the disability; we seek out expert diagnoses and best practices. And then, armed with irrefutable evidence, we take this information to school or other government agencies to seek cooperation. When faced with uncooperative bureaucrats, we then learn about federal and state law, as well as the intricacies of navigating the special education maze.

    The Special Education Advocate is a collaboration of parents, advocates, doctors and attorneys to answer the daily questions parents and providers have about the ever-changing rules and regulations of state agencies and suggestions on how to advocate for any special needs child.

    The goal of the Advocate is not to be adversarial. The goal is better outcomes for children through parent education and assistance. We welcome all of your concerns as you join our online support group.