Parents Helping Parents of Wyoming State Parenting Center

Michele Pena- PIC Outreach Parent Liaison- Casper Area

Michele Pena- PIC Outreach Parent Liaison- Casper Area

As an Outreach Parent Liaison and the parent of a child with special needs, I love advocating for children.  When it comes to advocating for your own children, the process can be difficult and frustrating.  I have spent many years learning and fighting for my child’s right and legal right to attend the classes and receive the therapy he deserves.  I understand, as a parent, that sometimes it is very hard to listen and negotiate the best interest of your child when you put so much hope and effort into getting the proper school education.  That’s why as a parent advocate I want to help other parents by giving them the education and tools so we can all come up with the correct academic and social structure for the children. 


I highly recommend reading Wrights Law “From Emotions to Advocacy”.  This is a wonderful book that has great information on advocating for your child.  It gives suggestions on dealing with different personalities, Advocacy 101, as well as keeping records for your child.  I especially like the chapter on How to Write Good Evidence Letters which gives letter writing tips from requesting your Child’s records to letters requesting an evaluation for Special Education.

I have learned the process of advocating can be difficult for both sides but the need to listen to everyone is very important to coming up with a solution.  As parents, advocates and school officials we all want the best for the children and in the end nothing else matters.



Comments on: "Tips on Advocating for Your Child" (6)

  1. I agree Michele. What is absolutely driving me up a wall is the way ‘professional’s’ treat parents, esp. moms. I honestly don’t know how many moms I have spoken with that have come in here bawling, because yes, they knew their son/daughter had adhd, or sensory disorder, or (insert disorder here) and then the powers that be, cornered mom (didn’t even make an appt or anything) and SAID to mom, “We THINK your child has autism, he/she really needs to get tested.” OH MY! I thought I was the only that THAT had happened too, but NO! I think there should be serious ramifications for a ‘professional’ to be tossing terms like that around, and I think it borders on criminal. The mom is a total wreck (just like I was). Falls to pieces (just like I did). Turns to me – who ONLY through experience happens to KNOW that 9 times out of 10 times EVERYONE is wrong. So I spend virtually days on the phone, in the office, helping her because she took this YET again diagnosis to heart and is letting it eat her up (just like I did). Then after they make one of these many cavalier little announcements and go home to happy hearth and home, while my mom is contemplating everything but going home; they inform her that she must also PAY for said evaluation. Yanno, it’s really a small consolation when I tell a mom, that no, she doesn’t have to pay for the evaluation, the district does, because she has just been wounded in the heart and it’s going to be one of those days she NEVER forgets. How about we go back to the old days and say to mom, “We think child needs an evaluation.” Mom says, “For what?” School says, “Because we have a concern.” EVERYONE knows that ‘we have a concern’ is never good news. By the end of the day when my ex nutritionist said that she thought Spencer displayed ‘autistic tendencies’ I had 3 appointments scheduled with 3 different docs and ALL were paid for by my insurance. What gives these people the right to scare you like this? I should have told her, “Well that mole on your face looks like a melanoma, but hey, that’s just me.” I am sticking with ‘I have a concern.’
    *Note: Not picking on Autism here, it could be CP or ED or anything – but so far, it NEVER is – it’s always Autism, and yes, there are worse things to get diagnosed with – but typically, I am already in touch with this parent because of some other diagnosis they had to deal with, like MR or Legally Blind or something equally as traumatic.
    It’s just very hard.

  2. Krista said:

    I truly believe that the way that IEP’s are set up, that it is the goal to leave families confused and questioning their own ability. Having just went through my very first IEP with my son, although the purpose was for him it is soon lost in statistics, paperwork and necessary jargon. On the way out, my husband looked at me and said, “thank heavens you understand education, because if it were just me, we’d be lost.” Although what he doesn’t realize is that I felt just as helpless and confused, even having the experience of participating in other IEPs, it doesn’t mean nothing when its your own kiddo. I think that people look at the whole process as a means to an end, and just try to swallow the bitter pill and get over it. So sad that it is that way….

    • I 100% agree Krista, and here’s why. I feel that only the most tenacious of parents are going to make it thru this IEP process, BECAUSE, it was designed specifically to be very complicated, loaded with legalese, and as imposing as possible in order to KEEP parents OUT of the educational process. It wasn’t my imagination that kept parents out of schools 20 years ago, it was because they weren’t welcome. It was the “We are the professionals, we do the educating” mindset, and I think it is still VERY apparent in many educational settings today. There is absolutely NO reason why these IEP’s cannot be set up complete with flow-charts and handouts.

      What if we did something like this: ‘If we do this, then we can foresee this happening – however if we go this way, we see this as a potential outcome.’

      We just did that all via flowchart, and what was I talking about? Transition planning mandated by federal law by age 16. I am not saying treat people/parents like they are incapable of learning; I am saying make the whole process easier to understand, because you are right, it is a bitter, bitter pill – and one you just took, for what? You have no idea.

  3. Thanks for you you do Michele!

  4. Blanca Moye said:

    Is great to work with people like you, congratulations for what you do and what you done for children.

  5. Marcy said:

    Wait to go Michele!!! you truly spoke from the heart and I couldn’t agree with the popints you made more.

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