What is an Educational Advocate?

Health Writer

Children with ADHD, learning disabilities and other disabilities may be eligible to receive special services, accommodations or modifications in school under the law.

There are two main laws that govern individuals diagnosed with or identified as having special needs or disabilities.

  • Section 504 is a civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination in schools and other institutions receiving federal funds of individuals with disabilities. If a child with ADHD qualifies for services under Section 504 he or she can receive either accommodations or modifications in the classroom.
  • IDEA is a Federal Special Education Act prohibiting discrimination of children with special needs. ADHD is not specifically listed as impairment under this law, however, some children with ADHD may qualify under "other health impaired." If a child qualifies under IDEA, an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) must be developed.

Educational advocates understand the laws that affect children with disabilities and special needs and keep up with changes in regulations. In addition to knowing the laws, advocates should know about services schools can provide. Advocates often attend school conferences, review educational records and meet with the student, parents and school personnel and make suggestions on possible accommodations and modifications to help the child succeed.

Specifically, an educational advocate can help by:

  • Attending meetings at school to represent the student and the parents.
  • Review school records and make sure all records are made available to the parents.
  • Determine problems interfering with the educational needs of the child.
  • Develop and suggest strategies for both school and home to help the child succeed.
  • Become part of your child's educational team.
  • Develop goals and monitor progress to help ensure the child's success.
  • Ensure the school is held accountable and follows the laws by providing services for the child.
  • Provide parents with information and options if the school and parents cannot come to an agreement.

Many parents find it helpful to use an educational advocate to help navigate the sometimes overwhelming and confusing maze of special education, educational law and to help reduce the intimidation parents can feel at school meetings.

If you are looking for an educational advocate, you can try searching for educational advocates, check with Parent to Parent, or check on the following directories:

Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids

ISER Special Education Advocacy Services