5 Ways Parents of Children With Special Educational Needs Can Advocate for Their Kids

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Children with special educational needs (SEND) are vulnerable. Their learning difficulties might be invisible to those around them, and the support they need often goes unnoticed. That's why it's up to parents to step up as effective SEND advocates for their kids.

Being an effective advocate for your child doesn't mean you have to be an unpleasant person or a sneaky schemer who manipulates friends and teachers into doing what you want. It means being informed and prepared, getting acquainted with available assistance, and ensuring your kid gets the help they need at school and home. If you're in a position where you feel like the system isn't working for your child, here are five ways to advocate for them and get them the support they need.

Become educated about your child's needs and condition

Being an effective SEND parent advocate starts with gaining knowledge about your child's needs and conditions and available assistance. Read up on your child's specific needs and consult a doctor or other medical professional if necessary. This will help you advocate more effectively and understand what kind of assistance your child needs at school and home. Know everything there is to know about your child's condition so that you can understand their specific needs. You can't advocate effectively if you don't fully understand your child's situation.

Work with teachers and educational departments, not against them.

Teachers and education departments are not the enemies. They're people who want to do the best they can for all the students they have in their care. But they often don't have the training or the time they need to understand and meet the needs of every child in their class. That's why you must approach teachers and educational departments not as adversaries but as people who want to help your child. You want to get on their side and understand what they need from you so that you can work with them to get your child the assistance they need. Throughout your child's educational journey, the more allies you have, the easier it will be to get what they need going forward.

Learn about special education law and your rights

As a parent of a child with special needs, you have rights that other parents don't have. You have the right to be involved in your child's special education process, understand what is happening with your child's education, and ask questions. Special education law is complicated and varies from state to state. Understand your rights as a parent and your child's rights to special education assistance. Consult a lawyer if necessary. Special education law is vast and complicated. There's no way to cover everything in this article, so read up and consulting special needs lawyers if necessary.

Be proactive when it comes to problem-solving & don't cause them.

Sometimes parents get so caught up fighting for the things their child needs that they end up causing more problems than they solve. For example, you might be so intent on getting your child an IEP that you end up making unreasonable demands of other people and creating unnecessary drama that doesn't help anyone. It's important to be active and assertive in your child's special education process, but it's also critical that you not cause problems or make things more complicated than they have to be. Be proactive, but be careful not to cause unnecessary drama that doesn't help anyone.

It can also be beneficial to look to the future and effectively plan for any problems that might arise as your child gets older, from needing additional transport options to increased settling-in periods when changing schools or support for children will need help adjusting to changes in the school year such as term breaks.

Keep extensive notes and documents about everything.

Keep extensive notes and documents about everything. This will help you track what's going on, what your child needs, and what assistance they receive. It will also help when it comes to follow-up with teachers or administrators. Parents who are effective advocates keep detailed records. This is especially important if you must follow up with administrators or representatives from your child's school or special education team. You won't get anywhere if you can't provide concrete evidence of your child's need for assistance.


Special educational needs are invisible, and they often go unrecognized. That's why it's up to parents of children with special needs to advocate effectively for their kids. Parents need to get educated on their child's needs, work with teachers and educational departments, understand special education law, be proactive in problem-solving, and keep extensive notes and records of everything. These are the best ways to advocate for your child and get them the needed assistance.

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