Having or showing realization, perception or knowledge- Merriam-Webster. This is the definition of aware which brings me to my second principle in the BE.H.A.V.E process which is “BE Aware. You must make yourself knowledgeable about special education as much as you can. I kind of had a little bit of a head start when I was starting the process with my son. I was actually in school studying for my bachelors in social work when all of this transition was taking place. I actually had to do a research paper on any policy of my choosing. Since I was dealing with this special education question I decided why not kill two birds with one stone by researching the law/policy that was taking over in my life so I researched IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. To be honest, after all of this research the biggest thing I learned and the only thing that made complete sense was that my son and I had rights.
The research paper got me an A in the class but I still felt like I was failing at fighting for my son. I met a lady at a day care while I was interviewing for field placement (internship) for school. We ended up talking on a more intimate level about our children and their special needs. She handed me a stack of resources and told me to look through them and to call with any questions. I found a flyer for the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities also known as OCECD. This place saved my life. They had a five hour seminar that I attended with my son. It was pretty much the whole law broken down into terms that I could understand. They handed out handouts for support groups, how to ask for a special education evaluation, a sample booklet on how to write certain letters to the school staff, the school board and when you request a second opinion from an outside source.
There are many ways to make yourself aware of the information that is need for the journey you are about to take or that you already started. I will eventually get more in depth about specific topics. The number one thing you need to do and it is very necessary is make yourself familiar with the advocate and/or coalition in your area and inquire about any seminars or workshops coming up or even some personal assistance.
“An Investment in knowledge pays the best interest”