Are you the parent of a child with autism or other disability that is
tired of receiving the run around, from special education personnel?
Have you tried compromising with school personnel, and your child is
still not receiving a free appropriate public education (FAPE)? I have
great news for you, there is another way to work with school personnel
to get an appropriate education for your child. This article will
teach you about how to be assertively persistent in your fight for
your child’s education. Compromise does not work, but assertive
As an advocate for over 15 years I have helped many parents navigate
the special education system. I coined a phrase that describes, how
you should act in your advocacy efforts, with school personnel. I call
it assertive persistence.
Assertiveness is defined as being clear with what you are asking for,
developing concrete evidence of educational and related services that
your child needs, documenting every thing that happens, and speaking
up for your child in a respectful manner. You may think that if you
stand up to school personnel that you are not respecting “authority.”
This is not true. You can stand up to special education personnel, for
the good of your child in an “assertive” way.
Aggressiveness; which unfortunately some parents use in their dealings
with school personnel, is defined as: cussing, screaming, calling
names. You should never do these things! Years ago I heard that the
first person that starts screaming in a disagreement, loses the fight.
If you feel yourself beginning to get angry, which most parents do,
take a break to calm yourself down.
One technique that you can use in your quest to be assertively
persistent, is Repeat, Repeat, Repeat! This technique is extremely
effective in making sure that school personnel do not try and change
the subject, when you are asking for services for your child. You
could say “Please do not change the subject, we were discussing my
child’s need for ABA services, in order to benefit from his
education.” Every time the disability educator tries to change the
subject, repeat the above statement. This will keep you and school
personnel focused on your child’s need.
Another important part of being assertively persistent is to put
together documentation that verifies your child’s need for a
particular service. You could get an independent educational
evaluation (IEE) on your child, or use their district and state wide
For example: Your child with a learning disability of Dyslexia, is in
4th grade and reading at a 1st grade level. Their state wide testing
verifies this fact. At an IEP meeting, you can bring up these test
scores, and ask for remedial reading for your child. Also, make sure
that your child has not “missed” important skills for reading. No
Child Left Behind (NCLB) states that 5 skills must be learned for
early reading success. These five skills are: 1. Phonemic awareness,
2. Phonics, 3. Fluency, 4. Vocabulary, and 5. Comprehension.
Persistence is important because advocating for a particular service
may take several months. But continuing to persevere will help you win
the fight for your child.
Compromise can be seen as giving in to what school personnel want, and
not effectively advocating for your child. You can stop giving in, and
learn to be assertively persistent for the good of your child! Good