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Special Education & Learning Disabilities Resources: A Nationwide Directory


By Sharman Word Dennis, M.Ed.

I am an educator. When I began this quest to become an educator I was in high school and volunteered at a facility that served children with special needs. That experience led me to pursue a degree in elementary education, not special education because I was going to teach elementary education, and zero in on those children who were developing differently. This desire led me to the best degree I could ever have obtained, a graduate degree in special education. This degree was and is still special because I was in a program that focused on teaching children not labels. I was taught to look at each child’s uniqueness and to observe his/her strengths and needs.

I want parents and teachers but in particular parents to know that the field of special education is an honorable one if the teachers with degrees in special education are trained properly. By properly I mean that the teacher should have a strong developmental and education foundation that allows him/her focuses on the strengths of the students and also how to strengthen on the needs of the student. The teachers must also focus on the child as a developing child, not on a label that has been "tagged" to the child. All too often I hear teachers say, "I am working with LD kids." Kids are kids first. The student has been labeled but that label does not define the child.

As a parent, what should you expect if your child is in need of special education services? First you want to know from the regular classroom teacher and those who evaluate your child exactly what the problems are that are interfering with his/her learning. You also want to know the things your child does well. Teachers often focus on the needs without any knowledge of the strengths of the student and how to channel those strengths to help the student’s needs. You also want to make sure that no meetings or evaluations about your child have occurred without your consent, and if meetings or evaluations have occurred you want to make sure the school followed established policy or law. You want the information about your child to be presented in a manner that you can understand. The information should be understandable whether you have a GED or a PH.D in Engineering. You should never sign anything at any meeting pertaining to your child’s needs unless you fully understand all of the material presented. You can always ask for a copy of the information to review and sign at a later date.

As an educational advocate I suggest that, if you have any concerns about such meetings, you have an advocate attend with you.

When choosing an advocate look for one that who has knowledge related to education, knows the law, not just IDEA 2004 but other pieces of legislation that may help improve your child’s developmental, emotional, educational and social needs.

A good advocate will provide you, the parent, with information and will support you in the meeting, but will not speak for you. An appropriate advocate remembers that you are the parent and they are the supportive of your role.

Remember special education services can be therapeutic as they should be but you as the parent have to know what to expect.

Sharman Word Dennis is an educational advocate and the CEO of Global Enrichment Solutions, LLC a company that provides advocacy, training, evaluations, therapeutic services and tutoring. Visit call 202-882-2533 or e-mail

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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