I wanted to share a short list of the top required readings we have found invaluable in our trials and tribulations of advocating for our boys’ education within public school districts. I know there is a good amount of information on the Internet (both good and bad) and I would love to hear your suggestions of great resources! In order to be a great advocate for your own child, you first have to understand one very important rule: “No one cares more about your child’s education than you.” So, if you as the parent have the greatest responsibility and interest in making sure your autistic child gets the most proper education, then it suffices to say that you must read, research and prepare for the day when (not if) you get in a disagreement with your district. As the saying goes in when you own your own business, “It’s not IF, but WHEN you get sued”, such is the same as a parent-advocate – It’s not if, but when you are going to run into potential IDEA issues. When this occurs you have to be ready to prepare for a potential fight. I wrote a 3-part series about this about a month ago about how we prepare for disagreements. You can read the first part of the series by clicking here. I can’t encourage you enough as fellow parent with autistic children that you must do the sometimes difficult part of increasing your understanding of how to get a proper education for your child. Even if your family has enough financial resources and wherewithal to hire advocates and SPED law attorneys, if you don’t have a thorough understanding of at least the basic premises of special education law then you won’t know if the people you hired are doing all they can or truly looking out for your child’s best interest. Ignorance of IDEA and related matters is NOT bliss! Our children are counting on us to be the best parents and advocates for them that we can be!
These are must-read, got-to-have-in-your-library resources for properly advocating for your child’s legal rights! If you don’t have these books, copy and paste the title into your favorite book site, or print this out and take it with you to your local book store and order them today! The investment in your knowledge about your child’s needs will save you so much money by helping your school district avoid the mistakes and tricks they sometime play at the educational disadvantage of your autistic child!
In no particular order:
1) Autism – Asserting Your Child’s Right to a Special Education, by: David Sherman
2) How to Compromise with Your School District Without Compromising Your Child: A Practical Guide for Parents of Children with Developmental Disorders, by: Gary Mayerson
3) Every book and video that Wrightslaw.com publishes!
The headline says it all. Here is another must have for members of the armed forces who have autistic dependents. This downloadable resource (you can also get a hard copy for free by contacting the organization if you are currently serving in the armed forces) from The Organization for Autism Research. and Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC). They have collaborated on a collection of autism guidebooks, but they have created one specifically for the military: “Life Journey through Autism: A Guide for Military Families”. This is an immediate must have. For a free resource, this guide is PACKED with the must-know information for families living with autism in the military. It is very well written and retains a simplicity that is easily digestible information for all. It is especially difficult to discuss very detailed and deep topics like the navigation of IDEA when it comes to your son or daughter’s education. The book explains it very simply. Beginning with what autism is, moving to what it takes to raise a child with autism, healthcare through Tricare (ECHO & the Autism Demonstration) and then education matters. There is a large index of resources for further reading and research on the topics covered in the book. Most importantly though is the real-world tone the book takes which I always personally appreciate. The authors tell you that, yes in fact, your life is going to be different because you have an autistic child. Because of your child’s autism, his life is going to be different than what you may have planned or hoped for. In essence, it is what it is. Now accept it, adapt to it and start to be an advocate through it. Your child is depending on you as no one else will care more, love more or advocate more for the best health care, educations, programs and services that are available today for your child. I’m not one for sugar coating. I want the black and white and I’ll draw my own education, meaning and/or inferences from it. The creators of this guide do just that, but in a way that also empowers you to start making better decisions for your child’s welfare. No sugar, but lots of uplifting carbs to fuel your desire for advocacy.
Please download, get your free copy or purchase one today!
A reviewer of the book from Amazon.com had this to say about the book and I concur with the praise and recommendation for the book:
“Areva Martin, the author of “Everyday Advocate” is both a passionate advocate for the autism community and a successful, Harvard-educated attorney. It is not surprising that this book connects with both the head and heart as Ms. Martin describes her personal journey to advocacy after her youngest son’s autism diagnosis at eighteen months (he is now ten years old). Her courageous fight on behalf of her son now benefits the larger autism and developmental disability community and those who care for them as it is transferred through the expertise found in this book. In addition to Ms. Martin’s compelling personal story, this book provides practical “real-world” applications and advocacy tools that will embolden and empower you and your family as you face special challenges as you fight for your loved ones. This book, written in plain English, will meet you where you are in your journey….but you will either develop or strengthen your advocacy skills with its insights and recommendations.
Be clear, this is a very practical book…..after reading it, you will be stronger and armed for your possible struggles on behalf of your loved one(s) and work with doctors, school districts, among others. This book really does the “heavy lifting” for those who need and seek help. There is an overwhelming abundance of information available on the “worldwide web” and Ms. Martin helps you sort out and manage this information overload. I highly recommend this book.”
Another thing that I personally appreciate about this book is she tells it like it is in an almost, “Get over it, your kid is autistic…now FIGHT FOR HIM!” I love that kind of attitude and you may find that very attitude in some of my postings here on the pathways in autism!
As an Army officer with autistic dependents I was very eager to read the new book “Special Needs Families in the Military: A Resource Guide” by Janelle Hill and Don Philpott after I first saw a preview of it in the Army Times two months ago. This is another book in the military life series by Philpott which helps service members and their families deal with the significant yet often overlooked difficulties unique to military life.
The book focuses more on the broad scope of special needs instead of any single disability. It addresses the programs, systems, specific benefits, legal issues, caregiving & support, education, medical care, insurance, advocacy and coping strategies surrounding special needs families in the military. While it is designed for military families, this book could be just as helpful for any parent who has just learned that their child has a disability and needs special help.
The book begins right from the initial shock that every parent experiences when they learn about their kid’s disorder – the whole, “My kid has what?” question that we ask our pediatrician or specialist conducting those initial screenings. The book follows a linear flow and then embraces the softer, emotional issues that all special needs families have to experience and adapt to. Beginning with chapters focused on “First Steps” and the “Diagnoses”, the book takes you through detailed explanations of all the topics listed above. This book is a MUST READ for those who have just learned about their kid’s disability, but it will also be a blessing for those more schooled on the issues or who are looking to refine or better their ability to advocate for their dependents.
The authors have a very easy to digest style that takes complicated issues like IDEA and other federal laws, proper advocating strategies, navigation of the military health care system Tricare, ECHO and the Autism Demonstration. ALso helpful are the wealth of resource information, both print and online, directing the reader to further dig in to resources available to any given special needs situation. Resources like Wrightslaw, STOMP and a plethora of websites and organizations that can provide some sort of assistance to families in very valuable.
My recommendation is that you get a copy of this book today as a resource as you navigate the pathways of autism and advocate for your child. For military families the book is a MUST HAVE as it will help you understand what is available to you regardless of service branch, rank or disability.
When it comes to reading books in order to self-develop and educate yourself to make you a more effective and productive leader in your field, I think Ben Franklin said it best when he said, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can ever take it away from him.” Invest in your mind to make yourself a better and more informed advocate. Your auttie will thank you someday for your dedication in his development!