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Lorna d'Entremont
BY Lorna d'Entremont

Four Parenting Books on Special Education You Need To Read

In our part of the world, children have just started a new school year. Parents, teachers and their students can turn a new leaf and try to make this new school year a pleasant and productive one for all concerned.

Special Education Apprehension

Parents of children with special needs usually approach a new school year with apprehension because special education services sometimes entails team meetings, changes in the curriculum, supplementary aides, and knowing the rights their child has to ensure that the school is providing the child with an appropriate public education.

Books on Special Education

Most parents raising children with special needs will be able to relate to, and appreciate, the four parenting books I recommend this month. I have included a paragraph on each author as often the author bio helps a reader decide if their work or life experiences prepared them to write a book that shines a light on their own preoccupations.  Each book is written by authors who are also raising a child or children with special needs.

Seth’s Story: My Journey of Raising a Child With Special NeedsSeth’s Story My Journey of Raising a Child With Special Needs by Jennifer Fitzhugh M.Ed

– by Jennifer Fitzhugh M.Ed.

This book is about the trials and tribulations of raising a child with a disability. It discusses how the advocacy process begins the minute a child is born and continues through doctor visits, school environments, and even into employment. The target audience is parents of children with special needs as the book also ends with how parents can learn more about the special education process in public schools and how to be a more informed advocate in schools.

Jennifer Fitzhugh is an advocacy specialist at The Brighton Center in San Antonio Texas where she teaches special education law classes to parents of children with special needs. She also represents parents at IEP meetings to ensure that children are receiving their free and appropriate public education.

Jennifer has been a special education teacher and administrator for 20 years. She has a Masters in Special Education and has served on the Board of Directors for the Epilepsy Foundation as well as been a volunteer with the Down Syndrome Association. She is also involved with the Glut One Foundation.
Read complete review.

Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work An Insider Guide

Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work An Insider Guide   -by Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves –-by Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves –

The Graves spent fifteen years in special education with their son and now they are trying to help other parents avoid the problems they encountered.

These problems include evaluations that are vague and don’t convey useful information, IEP goals that aren’t measurable, conflicts of interest for school employees and even outside professionals, and graduation standards designed to push special education students out of the system before they receive an appropriate education.

The experience advocating for their son made the Graves realize that every single year of a child’s education matters and that parents are the only constant advocates their child will have during these years. It is an enormous responsibility, but it can be an ultimately rewarding one and their book will help you help your child with special needs.

Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves are parents with typical jobs and interests who happen to have spent 15 years in the special education system trying to obtain an appropriate education for our son. Through trial and error, success and failure, they managed to learn what it takes to navigate the bureaucratic maze and the often hidden agenda of school culture so that their son could receive the education he deserved and by law was entitled to.  Their goal is to help other parents achieve similar results for their children.
Read complete review. 

The Everything® Parent’s Guide to Special Education: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Advocating for Your Child with Special Needs

The Everything Parent's Guide to Special Education-by Amanda Morin

Ms. Morin walks you through the process on how to evaluate, prepare, organize, and get the needed services for any child with special needs.  It is a comprehensive, easy-to-read book.  It tells parents of all they need to know about the laws that administer special education, keeping track of their child’s progress, the process of referring for special education, and what happens once their child is referred and evaluated.

The book includes worksheets, forms, sample documents and letters, and information on:

  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Educational needs for different disabilities, including multiple disabilities
  • Current law, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Working within the school system to create an IEP
  • Dealing with parent-school conflict

Amanda Morin is an education writer and a trained special education advocate. She uses her experience as an early interventionist, teacher and a parent of children with special needs to inform her work. She has worked with renowned experts to provide parents with accurate, up-to-date and actionable information on child development, parenting, and educational topics.
Read complete review. 

We Said, They Said: 50 Things Parents and Teachers of Students with Autism Want Each Other to Know 

We Said, They Said  50 Things Parents and Teachers of Students with Autism Want Each Other to Know-by Cassie Zupke

This 288 page book that guides parents, teachers and school administrators is divided into two parts. The first part contains 25 things parents really wish they could say to teachers while the second is 25 things teachers wish they could say to parents.

Ms. Zupke has organised these 50 topics each in their own, short chapters. The book is an easy read. The language used and conversational tone make it very user-friendly for overwhelmed parents of children with special needs or busy educators.

Ms. Zupke  writes that one good way to get to know the school staff and for the staff to get to know a parent is to volunteer at school. Spending time together builds trust, understanding, and best of all a better outcome for your child as his two most important allies learn to work as a team.

Cassie Zupke is the mother of three teenagers, one of whom has mild autism.  A former engineer in NASA’s Deep Space Network, Cassie is also the director of Open Doors Now, a non-profit education and support group for students with mild autism/similar disorders, their families and educators.  During the eight years since ODN’s inception, Cassie has designed and operated parent mentoring and support programs; social skills/friendship programs for children, teens and young adults; and educational presentations for parents and educators.  Cassie has helped train hundreds of K-12 teachers and administrators about autism and how to include children with autism in general education classes.
Read complete review.

Final Thoughts

To make special education work the clear consensus is that the parties involved must work together.  Cassie Zupke says in her book, “What parents do or say at home is what the child brings to school; therefore, parents who undermine the teacher, show no respect for her, and harass the teacher in front of their child make it very difficult for their child to have respect for his teacher and believe in her. Bad parents are actually a liability to their child. All the efforts to help a child can be derailed by parents who refuse to work together to figure out how best to help their child.”

Lorna d'Entremont

Written on October 7, 2014 by:

Lorna d’Entremont has a Master of Education and has taught thirty years in French elementary classrooms in Nova Scotia. When she retired from teaching, she joined her daughter as co-owner of SentioLife Solutions,Ltd. the makers of the sensory, oral-motor tools SentioChews and KidCompanions Chewelry. She blogs about issues that concern parents of children with special needs and also writes reviews for their Special Needs Book Review site. She is a wife, mom of three, and grandmother of five granddaughters.