How do I rebuild trust on my IEP team once its gone? Monday, Aug 13 2012 


I know the feeling. You feel like the school has betrayed you. The IEP team didn’t agree with your recommendations, you had to fight them, and now your IEP meetings feel like a very uncomfortable party where the host isn’t wearing any pants. I’ve been there, and I have some advice on how to get that trust back.

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Need some help with school advocacy? Try V.O.P.A.! Thursday, Oct 20 2011 


Okay, we all know that the folks in the school try hard. In spite of that, sometimes things go wrong. None of us parents want to do some of the things we say, like hire an attorney, sue the school, or complain to the state and federal departments of education. However, sometimes we know the school is doing something wrong but, since we’re not educators, we don’t know how to say what is wrong in a way the school will understand. If you’re in Virginia, you can get some help from V.O.P.A., the Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy.

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Virginia Passes Autism Insurance Reform! Monday, May 9 2011 


Thanks to the hard work of a number of people we finally have autism insurance reform in the Commonwealth of Virginia! Thanks to everyone involved, especially the Virginia Autism Project and the advocacy arm of Autism Speaks. Thanks also go out to all the senators and delegates who voted for it, especially Senator Howell and Delegate Greason for sponsoring the bills in their respective assemblies. Finally, thank you to Governor McDonnell for signing it rather than exercising his veto power.

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An open letter to Governor McDonnell #2, Autism Insurance Reform Thursday, Feb 10 2011 


I sent this letter to the Governor this morning. I hope my fellow Virginians will follow suit. If you want to write the governor you can do so on his website at . Feel free to cut and paste my text if you’re not great at writing letters. The most important thing is that we let Governor McDonnell know how important this is to the future of Virginia.

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2011 Virginia Advocacy and the Virginia Autism Project Tuesday, Jan 25 2011 


The 2011 Virginia General Assembly started last week and it is a sprint, not a marathon. The GA is in session for less than 30 days on odd numbered years. That means things move at a frantic pace, and folks on the spectrum need you to make some calls.

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Upcoming Wrightslaw Seminar for folks in the Fredericksburg Area Tuesday, Aug 31 2010 


Okay, rarely do I shill for anything, but I’m helping to organize and promote this event for the Autism Society of Northern Virginia and I feel like it is an incredible opportunity for parents in Fredericksburg. Pete Wright, the founder of Wrightslaw, is coming to Fredericksburg! He will be giving his famous one day conference with everything you need to know to start advocating for your child. Pete does hundreds of seminars every year all over the country and has helped thousands of families learn to advocate for their kids.

The Wrightslaw books prepared me to advocate for Raymond using my wits and the law. I know the emotional appeal is where most parents start, but it simply isn’t enough in this age of budget cuts. This seminar gives parents the tools they need to overcome school objections and make sure their kids are treated fairly. It will cover the following areas:

1. special education law, rights and responsibilities
2. tests and measurements to measure progress & regression
3. SMART IEPs
4. introduction to tactics & strategies for effective advocacy

So what’s the bottom line? $100 per person, $150 per couple if you register before October 1st. After that it goes up to $125 per person and $175 per couple. Registration includes the seminar, 3 books, continental breakfast and lunch. Couples only get a price break because they only get one set of books.

It will be held at the University of Mary Washington’s Jepson Alumni Center located at 1119 Hanover St. Fredericksburg VA 22401. Registration begins at 8 that morning. You can get more details and sign up online at the ASNV Wrightslaw Event Page. If you have questions, post them on the blog or send me an email and I will get them answered. I hope to see you there!

Autism Society’s Day On The Hill 2010 Part 1: A Crash Course In Advocacy Wednesday, Feb 24 2010 


If it seems like most of my posts are about advocacy recently you are absolutely right. I’ve been doing a lot of advocacy because now is the time to do it. The Virginia General Assembly only meets for a couple months, and it seems like the Autism Society is front loading our 2010 federal advocacy opportunities. It works for me, because I love talking to people about my son. Today’s session was a marathon training session on how to advocate in Congress.

I’m going to condense what I learned into a few simple sentences. There is a lot more, but what I view as the three keys are as follows. Shake hands, introduce yourself, tell folks where you are from, tell your story, ask your congressman to do what you want and follow up later.

Boom. You’re ready to get a job as a lobbyist.

Maybe not quite yet. The bills we are working on are below with links to the AS pages that summarize them. Please take a minute to click and read them. They all make good common sense.

ATAA – The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act – “To improve the quality of life for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families, the ‘Autism Treatment Acceleration Act’ was introduced authorizing federal funding for services, treatment, support and research on autism spectrum disorders.” Senate Bill 819 / House Bill 2413


ABLE – Achieving a Better Life Experience Act – The federal government gives families a helpin hand saving for the future. Senate Bill 493 / House Bill 1205

Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act – This one really speaks for itself. Let’s make this one happen. Senate Bill 493/House Bill 1205.

ToSCA – Toxic Substance Control Act Reform Platform – This one is key, and will be introduced soon. This would require the removal of severely toxic substances and better labeling of other controlled toxic substances. This is a big deal for kids and adults on the spectrum, and humanity in general.

You can always check on these bills and get tons of great information at the Autism Society’s Federal Legislation Page. You can take action right there. Its really a great resource.

We were taught by a number of different speakers who I want to thank here. First off, thanks to Jeff Sell for being the confident and down home emcee. Thanks to Lee Grossman, president of the Autism Society. Thanks Cathy Pratt for your stories and your compassion. Thank you Serena Lowe for your insight and passion. Thanks Dara Baldwin for your perspective and your strength. Thank you to Steve Beck for your work and dedication. Thanks Donna Ferullo for your detailed analysis and intelligent presentation. Thank you Lindsay Dahl for your solid facts and lobbying advice. Thanks Caryn Yavorcik for your media knowledge and PR wizardry. Thanks Chris Kush for your insider knowlege and smart approach. Finally, thanks to the Autism Society staff as a whole for putting this together and helping us help our loved ones, most especially Hannah Cary.

Next segment will come friday as I’m sure I’ll be too exhausted to post tomorrow night. Any support you can give in the form of calls or emails will be appreciated. Make a difference and help take back our government.

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