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From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide

By Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr WrightHarbor House Law Press; $29.95.

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From Emotions to Advocacy is an excellent resource for parents of children with special needs. Written by Peter and Pamela Wright, this parent-friendly volume is well organized, easy to read, and easy to skim for that crucial piece of information for next week’s meeting. To avoid being overwhelmed by the wealth of material, read the book in several sittings and use the table of contents and glossary to find what you need.

I recommend starting with table 3-1, “Tips: Taking Care of Yourself.” You will be surprised at how much better at advocacy you will be when you do so. Other parts of the book will also be immediately helpful, particularly the tables offering tips on testing and test scores (table 11-1), taking notes at meetings (table 26-1), and other useful advice. To prepare for the new school year, read the letter-writing tips in table 23-1, followed by “Appendix I: Sample Letters to the School.” These tips and the two chapters on letters will help make all your written communications more effective.

Chapter 19 contains a good explanation of provisions and eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which ensures that children with disabilities have equal access to education. The schools I have dealt with provide only the evaluation and testing that you request, so knowing everything that is available under Section 504 can be helpful. My oldest child, I was told, did not qualify for special education; it wasn’t until she was struggling in college that we found out about Section 504 accommodation for her disabilities.

The appendices are great. It might be useful to bring the book with you to meetings, with “Appendix J: Glossary of Special Education and Legal Terms” flagged for easy reference when professionals start speaking in jargon. Other appendices list contact information for various agencies. What a blessing it would have been for us to have such a list of resources to call on for help! With Peter and Pamela Wright’s book, parents today have expert advice at their fingertips.

Reviewed by Katey Casab, a parent by birth and adoption of children with special needs.

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