Are you concerned for your child?
Do you wonder how best to help?
have trouble paying attention and getting school work done?
showing signs of discouragement, sadness, or anger?
Is the school offering
the right services? Are they helping?
Or is this your child?
Or are you an adult with concerns about
To get what your child needs from the school, you may need
advocacy. You have to ask for what your
child needs using the right language, recognizing what the schools can and can't
do. Even in the school systems that have the required programs, spaces are
limited. Unfortunately, some (though definitely not all) school districts
will push parents and children toward accepting less than what the children
actually need, due to budgetary or other limitations.
Our focus is on the child first and foremost. If the school can provide what
is needed, our preference is that the child receive the needed services there.
If the school cannot or will not provide the needed services, for whatever
reasons, then we will advocate doing what is necessary to get the needed
Julian (not his real name) was 10 years old when his parents brought him
to us. He could not read at all. He hated school and wanted to drop out to
work with his father as a cable TV installer, because that was work he
thought he could do without reading. The school wanted to continue him in
the same program that had failed to teach him to read for 5 years.
We pushed for out of district placement in a school that could
teach him, armed with the results of our evaluation of Julian that clearly
showed what he needed. We went to see the program on offer by the
school system, and explained how and why that had not worked previously and
would not work in the future. We went to see alternative programs, and
recommended one that would meet his needs. We eventually succeeded, and
Julian was placed in the recommended school. Today, Julian is 15 and reading
close to grade level. Almost as important, he feels good about
himself, in an environment where he is not the only one to have to struggle,
and where he could and did succeed.
Although we do work with some school districts that appreciate our complete
objectivity, our clinic is not financially dependent on any school district.
Parents can trust that we will always put their child first, and if that
occasionally means that our recommendations are not welcomed by the schools, we
are prepared to make them anyway.
The basic tool you need to get more or different services from your school is usually a comprehensive
neuropsychological evaluation. Sometimes, the school doesn't see what you see. Our comprehensive and
objective document is the first step in opening a dialog with school personnel,
so that together you can develop a strategy to achieve your goals for your
If there is something besides a learning difficulty involved, such as
attention deficits or behavioral problems, or if
there are multiple issues, you need to understand your child's strengths and
challenges in order to help. Parents read our report
- written to avoid technical jargon - and say, "this is our child!"
We do much more than just deliver a report. We will sit with you
and develop an effective strategy to get your child what he or she needs, taking
full account of his or her assets and challenges. We use our knowledge from
working with most of the school systems in eastern Massachusetts to make our
recommendations couched in language that we have found to be most effective in
securing the best outcomes.
If needed, we will supplement
the office evaluation with in-school support, including team meetings and classroom
evaluations. (You may wish to read about how the
advocacy process works.) Unlike
many other clinics who only do evaluations, we expect to have to go to the
schools to attend meetings and evaluate programs. We have found this to be
essential to successful advocacy.
However, to be successful, we have to make our advocacy supplemental to our
own educational and neuropsychological evaluation. We cannot successfully
advocate based on the reports of other evaluators, since we look at factors that
few other evaluators consider. Furthermore, in mediations or hearings, our
testimony is effective only if we can talk to what we have directly observed. We
cannot testify as to what others have observed, even if their report in provided
to the mediator or hearing officer.
If you also need services outside of school, or if you need a different
school, the report has the information
you need to secure the right placement. Or, if your child's needs exceed
what schools can do, we can help you organize a multi-disciplinary approach.
Our goal is to obtain the best possible
outcome for your child's continued learning and growth. We are here to
support you as you advocate for your child.
Susan Brefach, Ed.D.