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Advocates are individuals who work on behalf of people with disabilities to get needed services. Advocates help students with learning disabilities and other disabilities as well. Advocates are not attorneys and cannot practice law or provide legal advice. 

Advocates in special education can help parents get important services for their children with disabilities. Most people use advocates when schools or other service providers deny services, treatments, or equipment a child needs.  However, even if you are satisfied with the level of service you are receiving from your school district, consulting an advocate can serve as a "reality check" to ensure your child is receiving appropriate programming.

When weighing whether to involve advocates, parents should ask for specific reasons their requests for services are being denied. When determining the need for advocates, parents should carefully consider:

  • Is this a want or a need?
  • Will I (or my child) still meet learning goals without this item or service, although it may take longer or may not be the method I would prefer?
  • Is my request based on sound research?
  • Is there a possibility that the item or service could be ineffective or harmful?
  • Is this item or service experimental or not a mainstream method?
  • Is my request reasonable?

Atlantic Magazine published an excellent 2016 article about the challenges facing parents and teachers in the IEP process and The Hechinger Report published a 2017 article about the problems with special education.

If parents believe the service is valid and necessary, they may want to consider consulting advocates for help.

Click here to read more about advocates.


(One noted school attorney complained the above cartoon depicts school districts as the devil. 
To be clear, it's a cat and mouse, analogous to David vs Goliath).