Tag Archive for: additionalneeds

Every child deserves an education tailored to their unique needs and abilities. For parents of students with additional needs/disabilities, the journey to securing the best possible education for their child can be challenging. However, a beacon of hope is shining in the form of the Think Differently about Education Act, a legislative measure that empowers parents by ensuring they are fully aware of a vital right – the right to invite individuals who can assist their child with their educational needs to their Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. This groundbreaking bill has been unanimously approved by the Education and the Workforce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, marking a significant milestone in the pursuit of equitable education for all children.

Understanding the Think Differently about Education Act

The Think Differently about Education Act, often referred to simply as the Act, is a testament to the commitment of our lawmakers to provide every child with an inclusive and comprehensive education. At its core, the Act requires schools to proactively inform parents of their right to include experts and other third parties in their child’s IEP meetings. This notification must take place before the first IEP meeting of each academic year, ensuring that parents are armed with knowledge and agency from the very beginning of the school year.

Who Can You Invite?

One of the most powerful aspects of the Act is the flexibility it offers parents in choosing who they can invite to these crucial meetings. Parents are not limited to the school’s recommendations but can invite anyone they believe can contribute meaningfully to their child’s educational development. This can include:

  1. Subject-Matter Experts: If your child’s additional need or needs requires specialized knowledge or therapies, you have the right to invite experts in the relevant field. This could be a therapist, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, or any professional who can offer valuable insights.
  2. Legal Counsel: Sometimes, navigating the intricacies of special education laws and regulations can be daunting. Parents have the option to bring a lawyer who can ensure that their child’s rights are protected and that the IEP is in compliance with all applicable laws.
  3. Family Members: Often, no one knows a child better than their family. If a family member possesses knowledge about your child’s unique needs and abilities, they can also be invited to contribute to the IEP meeting.

Why This Matters

The Think Differently about Education Act empowers parents in an unprecedented manner. It recognizes that parents are not only the primary advocates for their children but also the individuals who best understand their children’s needs. This legislation ensures that parents can assemble a team of experts and supporters who can work together to create a more effective and inclusive educational plan.

By being aware of their rights and exercising them, parents can:

  1. Promote Inclusivity: Including experts and other knowledgeable individuals can lead to more comprehensive and inclusive educational plans tailored to the unique needs of your child.
  2. Ensure Compliance: Having legal counsel present can ensure that the school is following all applicable laws and regulations, protecting your child’s rights every step of the way.
  3. Leverage Family Expertise: Family members who understand your child intimately can offer invaluable insights, enhancing the effectiveness of the IEP.


The Think Differently about Education Act is a beacon of hope for parents of students with additional needs. It recognizes that every child deserves an education that is tailored to their unique needs and abilities. By informing parents of their right to invite experts and other individuals to their child’s IEP meetings, this legislation empowers parents to take an active role in shaping their child’s educational journey. It’s a powerful step towards a more inclusive and equitable educational system, one where parents can advocate effectively for their children and ensure they receive the education they deserve.

Here is A Guide to the Individualized Education Program.

On page seven it says:

“Tell the parents that they may invite people to the meeting who
have knowledge or special expertise about the child.”

Our lovely eldest grandson has just had his twelfth birthday & is turning into a handsome boy, what a wonderful journey we have been on with him, with its highs & lows, us learning how to deal with a meltdown, him learning to live in a world he doesn’t totally understand, however, we wouldn’t change a thing. We love him unconditionally, as I’m sure he does us.

 Over the year’s things have changed, one being to let us sing happy birthday to him, the other one being to share his birthday cake, up to now his cake has been his & his alone. His brother & cousins could join him in blowing the candles out as well, not a big deal to many but to our gorgeous boy it’s a massive step. He loves whatever cake I make him, so long as there is a lot of chocolate involved & this year, he said I was #cake queen!! I’ll take that.

 He doesn’t need huge presents & was so excited with a gift card for his favourite pizza restaurant, along with gift vouchers for clip & climb adventure. He had also received money which he is saving towards a dog, I’m not sure he knows how long he will need to save for! He also received a Google home which with his love of music was a big hit.

 Still an adrenalin junky, with absolutely no fear, he along with his brother love to do adventurous things, they recently went to an indoor climbing centre, hence vouchers for clip & climb, they loved it, climbing to the top of all the obstacles & swinging back down.

 Five years ago, both boys learnt to swim whilst in America on holiday. They love the water & these lessons paid off big time when they recently went to an indoor surf centre. They were loaned wetsuits & surf boards & were shown how to surf, they loved it, going again & again, being thrown off & getting back on, I have a feeling they will be going back very soon.

 Our gorgeous boy is not without his problems, bless him, along with being autistic he has been diagnosed with ADHD, at school he has an HECP which entitles him to a classroom Assistant that works alongside him, helping when he does not understand what’s being asked of him, but he is doing very well, he came home with his report with all A’s & B’s & even exceeded expectations with a couple of subjects, needless to say we were all very proud of him.

 He still loves his music & along with his brother & cousins will dance away to the radio. He is still a member of the steel band & at Christmas he opted to play at the tree lighting ceremony in his local town, a huge step for him to play in public. We were in America & couldn’t go so we asked him if his mum could take pictures for us to see, in the past he would have refused but this year he said yes. Another milestone reached!

 As he has got older, he has become more tactile, his Grandpa spent ages encouraging him to have a “big boy hug” with him, gradually over time it worked & the first thing he does now when he arrives is kick off his shoes and give his Gramps a hug. I even got one the other day for bringing him some chocolate cookies, that’s a huge welcome step forward.

 He does make us laugh as well, at the end of last year his Grandpa had a small operation & was resting on his recliner when our funny boy came in, he said “Nanor shouldn’t Grandpa be in an old peoples home, he doesn’t look very well” I assured him Gramps was fine, just resting.

 In the summer we took both boys to an air show, which was obviously going to be very noisy, a problem for our grandson, who is noise sensitive, his brother asked if there was ear protectors for him, there wasn’t, so we warned him it would be loud & I offered to watch from inside with him, he said no he would be ok, put his hoods up, yes he was wearing two,  & put his hands over his ears. His brother who is always looking out for him put his hands over as well, it worked he coped, another milestone conquered.

 On another occasion we had a visit to the zoo, his brother wanted to go to the butterfly house, which he was not keen on, so as Grandpa was there he said he would go in & I would wait with him outside, but he said “no Nanor I can do this come on!!” and he did, another milestone reached.

 He knows he is autistic & reacts differently to certain situations, he has asked why he’s autistic & why is it getting worse, I’m not sure if it is getting worse or if that’s him recognising the symptoms, but sadly we don’t have answers for him, but we will always be there offering comfort support & unconditional love.

 Now if all you see is autism when you see our gorgeous grandson, having a meltdown or using naughty words, then that is your loss. Behind these events is a loving, sensitive, intelligent boy, trying as I started with, to cope with a world he doesn’t totally understand.

 Give him time, give him space & you will see exactly what we see.


Author: Karen Woollett “Nanor’s Tale”