A special education advocate can provide you with information to fully understand the IEP and ARD process. The information an advocate gives you allows you to participate in making educational decisions for your child as a fully contributing member of the ARD committee. Your special education advocate can help you understand the full range of options available to you and communicate with your child’s ARD committee effectively. These services can have several beneficial outcomes for you and your family. Getting help from an advocate can assist you in reducing stress and feeling overwhelmed. It can also help your child make more progress, improve their skills, and feel successful at school.
When you are working with your child’s school, you, the teachers, and the administration should all be on the same team since you all want the best education for your child.

But there are times when it’s hard to get on the same page as your child’s school. Maybe the school just did an evaluation, and the results look like they describe a different child than the one you see at home. Maybe you’re sitting in your child’s ARD meeting and you feel there are services missing from your child’s IEP/BIP. An Advocate can help identify the services needed, accommodations needed or possibly just requesting the data (documentation) that your child’s current IEP has been implemented with fidelity.

I always recommend parents speak with an advocate from the initial stages. It’s better to have a good plan in place than to have to try to resolve problems that could have been avoided.
Special education advocates are different from attorneys. Attorneys (also known as lawyers) have college degrees and have graduated from law school. Attorneys have specific training in advocacy skills and must be licensed, meet continuing education requirements, and follow ethical guidelines. Attorneys can practice law, meaning they can provide legal advice, draft legal documents, and represent clients in court proceedings. Special education advocates are not mandated to have specific educational credentials and are not licensed specifically as special education advocates. While there are advocate training programs, which are hosted by a range of organizations, from law schools, to educational agencies, to private individuals and companies, there is no governing body that ensures that advocates are trained.