Excerpt: If you've had an insider's view of educational decision making for children with disabilities, you would know this: parents who knowledgeably and skillfully advocate for their children's educational needs are far more successful in getting their children the programs and services they need than parents who know little about their children's specific needs. Generally, the more successful parents understand the specific nature of their children's disabilities. They know a great deal about the general and special education laws that govern referrals, evaluations, decision making, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), program implementation, and progress monitoring. And typically, they also know that the success of their advocacy depends on getting the expertise, information, and documents they need. They know or want to learn how to do this.
Unfortunately, most parents are unprepared for the challenges they'll face when their children struggle in school. Rather than actively participating in their children's education, they become passive observers. In many cases, they're passive because they're overwhelmed by a diagnostic jigsaw puzzle of enormous complexity and mystery. If you're one of these parents, this book can help you better understand your child's learning needs-the critical step for getting the right help. It can start you on the road to helping your child become a successful learner and happier child.
Five Ways is not a substitute for our comprehensive book, Reading Disabilities: Beating the Odds. Instead, Five Ways is what movie fans call a prequel. It gives you basic information to help you recognize reading and other learning disabilities and shows you how to get your child the educational and related evaluations he needs to succeed. Reading Disabilities: Beating the Odds goes further. It gives you 301 pages of detailed information, suggestions, and specific strategies you need to successfully understand his reading and learning needs and advocate for him throughout his years in school. The Five Ways: an Overview:
- One: Determine if your child will likely have or already has reading or other learning disabilities.
- Two: Learn as much as you can about your child's disability, teachers, and school.
- Three: Find an expert to help you help your child.
- Four: Have all the components of reading (or other learning disabilities) evaluated.
- Five: Before any evaluation, give your child's evaluator(s) a list of critical questions to influence the focus and nature of the evaluation(s).
- Determine if your child is likely to have or already has a reading or learning disability; and
- Understand what you need to do-early on-to help your child succeed.
But wait. Why spend the time and energy doing what we strongly recommend? After all, don't schools identify and solve children's difficulties? Some do, some don't. Some have the resources, some don't. Some have the knowledge and skills, some don't. Some have the motivation and organizational structure, some don't. If your child struggles with reading and attends one of the "some don't" schools," he'll suffer-perhaps for a lifetime.
Just look at this editorial from the American Educator:
"This we can say with certainty: If a child in a modern society like ours does not learn to read, he doesn't make it in life. If he doesn't learn to read well enough to comprehend what he is reading, if he doesn't learn to read effortlessly enough to render reading pleasurable, if he doesn't learn to read fluently enough to read broadly and reflectively across all the content areas, his chances for a fulfilling life, by whatever measure-academic success, financial success, the ability to find interesting work, personal autonomy, self-esteem-are practically nil."
Reading and Learning Disabilities: Five Ways to Help Your Child is available at no cost to non-profit organizations by request by writing to Howard Margolis at firstname.lastname@example.org. Parents can download the ebook from Amazon.com at this link.