“Society DOES have the ability to make choices as to how it will assimilate knowledge and how those choices will impact fairness and justice.”

The problem is, society doesn’t always make the right choices, and when it doesn’t, children’s lives are ruined because they don’t graduate from school with a diploma, and end up in the juvenile justice and social service systems. They are called collateral damage and society, as a whole, doesn’t care. Well, I care and so do many others.

I have a daughter with Cerebral Palsy and I made sure she was appropriately educated. They tried to put her into special education substantially separate rooms and I refused.

One time they placed her in one in elementary school because they didn’t have a substitute aide when her aide left. So they put her in a classroom where they were having parties every day and watching movies.

Her homework stopped, she wasn’t coming home with books to read, no math homework?! So I requested a meeting and found out what they had done. I made them give her summer school that they paid for, and took them to hearing for an aide to be in the classroom with her, I won.

At the end of her 8th grade year transition into 9th grade meeting, they told me that if I made the district educate her in high school, she wouldn’t graduate and offered a residential placement with “people of her own kind”. People in wheelchairs were what they were referring to.

I refused the placement and told them that they were going to continue educating my daughter. I made them get her a laptop, the tray that it sits on that attaches to a wheelchair, software programs to enhance her learning, they even gave me a tutor every day after school that came to my house and did her homework with her because I told them if they wanted her to do homework, I’m not writing for her anymore.

She graduated high school with high honors, went to college, and runs her own internet marketing business. She was successful because I was successful in “making” the system educate her in the least restrictive environment.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, and I want your child to have a chance at the same success!

Start believing that there is a more appropriate education available to your child. Find out what it is, and go for it!

Take advantage of modules I created, the “Advocate App”, and/or have me do a records assessment and you too will be smiling when your child with a disability meets with success at the end of their high school experience.

The reality is, it’s all about the child and their needs. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what they are and had the words to get your child what they need? Getting them through the first glass ceiling, that’s what it’s all about. Good luck!

 

Professional Bio

Toni Saunders MS.PsyABA, has been the Executive Director and Educational Consultant for a nonprofit organization that she founded in 2001. It provided advocates to parents from all socioeconomic backgrounds for 15 years.

Her experience showed that parents who had the money to pay for an advocate or attorney got their child’s needs met, for the most part, while parents who didn’t have the resources didn’t. How fair is that?

So she set up the organization with alternate rates of pay to include as many low income parents as possible. In that nonprofit business, she worked with over 2000 families with a 95% graduation rate. Graduation is based on passing the districts requirements and the states standardized testing requirements. So the earlier your child’s needs are identified, the more time they have to get an appropriate education.

To ensure that she and the parents knew everything about their child’s needs, she developed a system of analysis for reviewing 3 years of school records of a student, taught the parents everything they needed to know about their child’s disability, what was wrong with the education they were getting, what evaluations that the district completed were comprehensive and which ones weren’t.

What information or changes were needed going forward. Compared IEP’s and provided a comprehensive document for the parent to understand.

Her goal is to educate you, the parent/guardian, so that you will eventually not need an advocate or attorney, and the district starts to respect your knowledge. She spends her time meeting the family and especially the student and explaining to them their disability so that they will know why learning is so difficult, for those who can understand; and then works with the family to come up with a team meeting plan of action.

She attended team meetings, mediations and hearings (won 4/7) both at the Bureau of Special Education Appeals, and Juvenile Court helping the parents and students through stressful situations due to the student’s substandard education and lack of behavioral supports.

Toni traveled around the country presenting at conferences for people with disabilities in learning, and designed trainings for Parent Advisory Councils and partnering with other organizations speaking/teaching about topics like “How to advocate for you child with special needs, Bilingual Special Education in the US, and Special Education Laws and Regulations.”