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.



Does the school meet about my son without me? Friday, Aug 3 2012 

I know that sounds like a silly question. I mean, what administrator in their right time would coordinate not one but two IEP meetings, especially considering how many different folks it would impact, changes in schedules, etc. No way schools would do something so disingenuous as meet about a student without disclosing the meeting or telling the parents, and it would certainly be unconscionable for them to put a plan together for your child without your input, right? Even if they did, they wouldn’t be unethical enough to lie about it, would they?


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA: Part 2 Q & A with DOE Monday, Oct 24 2011 

To continue and expand on our discussion of FERPA, I called the Department of Education for some clarification. The number I used was 800-872-5327 (800-USA-LEARN). I reached a courteous and knowledgeable woman who had some great answers to my questions. I didn’t tape it, nor did I get her permission to quote her, so the replies are my paraphrasing based on my notes of our conversation. If you have questions, I encourage you to call DOE. Be prepared for the post call survey though, which will come a few days later. It freaked me out when a recorded voice said “This is the Department of Education…”


They’re our kids, not our causes. Sunday, Oct 23 2011 

As the dad of a kid with autism I go to battle a lot. I fight stereotypes, debate our politicians and argue with the school. However, as much as I am passionate about the causes involved in autism I am still aware of why I’m fighting. I’m fighting for my son.

Its easy, when I get into heated debate mode, to start “letting people have it.” I’m a fairly witty guy with a knack for turning a quick phrase, and consequently I have the dubious gift of being able to make people feel inept or uneducated. However, when I start to go down that road I try to ask myself a few questions.


Autism Parenting Skills Part 5: Base expectations on facts, not conjecture Wednesday, Oct 5 2011 

We attend a lot of meetings at schools and with doctors due to our sons autism. I’ve noticed that many folks try to tell me how things will unfold for my son, or set limits on his abilities. I have a tendency to think less of people who do that, but it does seem like a somewhat common flaw to assume that expertise is the same thing as divination.

As a dad, I’m fairly skeptical when it comes to anyone limiting my son’s potential. We have been told repeatedly that he wouldn’t be able to do things, like make friends, ride a bike, hop on one foot, etc. Without fail, those folks have been wrong. It takes extra support for Raymond to learn how to do some of those things, but he manages to do them.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA: Part 1 Friday, Sep 9 2011 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, is a handy federal law for parents with kids with disabilities. It protects the privacy of student education records, but it also gives parents rights to access those records. That’s the part of the law we will be chatting about today.

First off, you can find the law here on, the Department of Education’s web portal. The site has good information everywhere, but you can read the full act online here at Its good reading, and we’ll be choosing a few specific parts to highlight.


Autism Parenting Skills Part 4: Bravery Wednesday, Aug 24 2011 

“Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.” – Franklin P. Jones

I have been told recently that not everyone who has an opinion has the courage to raise it, and many people do not speak up when they have something to say but instead bite their tongues. Since that idea is totally foreign to me, I thought I those folks need to know why we parents need to speak up.


Autism Parenting Skills Part 3: Trust Your Instincts Friday, Aug 5 2011 

In this day and age we all question ourselves about everything. I’m not saying that self reflection is bad, but there is also a time when you have to go with your gut. Hopefully this post will help you figure out how to turn your instincts into challenge detection devices for your kids!

The most common thing I hear from parents of folks on the spectrum is “How do I know I’m doing the right thing.” I ask myself that one, and I also hear it from my wife, and my answer is always “our son is learning and growing. That is the right thing.” I’m a pragmatic type in that I measure right or wrong by outcome. If our outcome is positive, if our son has learned a skill or grown as a person or we as a family are more functional then we did the right thing. If it goes the other way then we didn’t.


Autism Parenting Skills Part 2: Question everything! Thursday, Feb 10 2011 

When I think about how we have learned things about autism I have to give my wife most of the credit. She asks the most pointed, detail oriented and reference specific questions I’ve ever heard. However, her questions always get us into discussions that give us more information. I learned a lot about asking questions just by listening to her, and I want to pass some of that along to you.


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
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!

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