I’m thrilled to be launching this website and hope to provide parents with valuable information on current issues in special education and how to advocate for their child’s education.
My son has multiple challenges, yet he works harder than anyone I know, and does it all without complaining. He is my inspiration. He sees the good in every situation. He makes you stop and appreciate life around you, from the new tulip in the front yard to the full moon on a winter’s night. His smile is contagious and he doesn’t let the many obstacles before him stand in his way. It’s his perseverance, attitude and determination that motivate me to ensure that children with disabilities have the appropriate special education programs and services that they deserve.
After learning everything I could about special education to help my son, I left the New York City law firm, where I had practiced commercial litigation for seven years, and started my own firm (The Law Office of Colleen E. Parker, P.C.). My law firm focuses solely on special education issues. I feel lucky to be practicing in a field where I can use my personal experience and legal knowledge to help other parents secure the appropriate special education for their children. Pursuing this path has been extremely rewarding; I truly care about my clients, and I am passionate about securing the appropriate educational programs and services for them.
Nothing is impossible. All of our children have challenges, but they also have unique strengths and abilities. My son’s IEP describes his needs as follows:
“[His] diagnosis of apraxia, dyspraxia, dysarthria, auditory processing disorder, disorder in auditory comprehension, as well as his difficulties with motor planning cause him to have deficits in the areas of attention, expressive language, gross motor skills, oral motor, reading, writing, math, basic cognitive/daily living skills and fine motor.”
This description may seem daunting, but I have very high expectations for my son, and, in turn, he works hard to achieve them and is motivated to try his best. It is crucial that our educators also have high expectations for children with disabilities, and provide them with opportunities to succeed. As stated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),
“[A]lmost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible . . . “ 20 U.S.C. 1401(c)(5)(A). By advocating for your child, you encourage others to support him or her. It is amazing what is possible when people believe in your child.
I hope this introductory post helped you to get to know me. In my future posts, I look forward to discussing current issues in special education, and providing you with practical information to help you advocate for your child with special needs.