Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Parent Advocacy Vital Element in Initiatives for Federal Policy

If you are an active advocate or are in the wings thinking about what you need to do towards advocacy but maybe are scared to be too forceful, etc., let me encourage you...an advocate impacts the community in a larger arena even though their primary purpose is their child.
I shared this advocacy topic on the FCTD discussion thread yesterday and thought it was a good one to post here as well The catalyst was a well written piece on the Special Needs 08 blog yesterday (link below) and a wonderful guest commentary from Patricia E Bauer's Disability News that really shares the impact parent advocacy has had on Federal Disability Services and Special Education law. Please check these links out today - they are terrific.

I shared on the thread:
"When you advocate for services and coordinate and draw others to collaborate together on awareness of those who have been underserved, you are creating a ripple effect that impacts many. On the blog, Special Education Truth, the author explained in a post titled "History Says: Advocacy Starts with You", that "Rud Turnbull, a special education expert at the Beach Center on Disability at the University of Kansas, says his most effective work has been not as a professor, but as a parent." You can read the guest commentary by Rud here: http://www.patriciaebauer.com/2008/12/20/turnbull-guest-commentary/

One of his points is:
"First, the future of any child with a disability born in this decade is promising largely because of the private action –- the community organizing — that parents of children with disabilities began more than 50 years ago."
Rud goes on to share the impact that family advocates have had in shaping disability services and policies. On a similar note, in my own practice, it has been shared that clarification of law and instances of grey areas in interpreting special education law, will be clarified through practice and litigation - meaning, that when a lawsuit challenges, it causes clarification and brings us closer to accurate definitions. That is a sad commentary on how things sometimes get done, but that process again is triggered by a parent advocate or advocacy group oftentimes. I would encourage you to read both of these posts in the links above. There is a lot of wonderful information in them and I am excited to find these new and informative resources.
Also, stop by the FCTD Discussion on advocacy I am co-moderating through the end of December. We would love to have you share your thoughts - or just stop by to read what folks are saying.

All the best to you,


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