Empower Your Parent Voice:
What You Need To Know To Be
Your Child’s Best Advocate

An interactive informational self-help guide for
parents of children with Special Needs

By Diane Cannava and Patricia Minishak


 $39.95+ $6.95 S&H

(This workbook is only available for purchase from our website)

More About This Book

  Empower Your Parent Voice… provides answers for parents Nationwide!

Preface • Table of Contents • Introduction • Reader Reviews


This book was developed being mindful of the many day-to-day restraints that parents’ experience, as well as the potential inadequacies encountered within the educational system. Therefore, it was designed as an easy-to-use guide and workbook that enables parents to become their child’s best advocate when seeking to optimize their child’s educational experience. Valuable information is provided for empowering parents to secure the most appropriate educational program for their child with suspect or recognized special educational needs. Read More

The following statements outline pertinent components addressed in this book:

  • A major role of a responsible parent is that of a knowledgeable, life-long advocate for their child.
  • The development of specialized personal skills is paramount to successful advocating.
  • A supportive home and school working relationship fosters more consistency in addressing your child’s social-emotional, cognitive and physical needs.
  • Knowledge of available interventions for specific age groups assists parents in securing the most appropriate services for their child in the least restrictive environment.
  • A refined understanding of the Special Education Process and its parameters affords a more successful overall experience.
  • Vigilant monitoring of prescribed interventions ensures the effective delivery of specifically designed instruction.
  • Corrective action options regarding due process are purposely designed to address disagreements and non-compliance issues.

“We believe that with the appropriate personal skills and a suitable knowledge base, parents can cultivate a self-assured ability to successfully navigate the confusing maze of the Special Education Process.”

Table Of Contents

    Section 1: Questions to Explore as Your Child's Advocate 5
    Section 1: Personal Groundwork 11
    Section 2:Effective Communication Skills 15
    Section 3:Win-Win Conflict Resolution 18
    Section 1: Pre-Referral Intervention Process 31
    Section 2: Special Education Process 39
    Section 3: IEP Development Meeting 53
    Section 4: LRE Placement 62
    Section 5: IEP Document 63
    Section 1:Monitoring IEP Implementation 75
    Section 2:Evaluating Progress on IEP Goals 76
    Section 3:Compliance Issues 77
    Planning Your Child's Life-Long Goals 85
    Acronyms 88
    Special Education Terms 90
    Appendices 102
    Situational Vignettes 123
    References and Resources 127


 Due to a heightened awareness of the increase in the special needs population, a barrage of informational books has surfaced addressing issues involving parents advocating for their children with suspect or recognized special needs. An underlying problem evident in this type of reference book is the impersonal methods employed in addressing the vastness of the Special Education Process and its legal complexities. Our aim in composing this book is to allay parents’ fears by making a complex process friendlier by initially addressing the personal skills parents must possess to empower them when exercising their rights. We believe that parents can cultivate the powerful voice required to advocate for their own child for the purpose of securing the most appropriate educational program possible. …after all, who knows your child better than you!


 As a result of our lifetime of work in the education profession combined with endless hours of interrelated research, an on-going theme emerged: Parents need to be armed with the appropriate personal skills and knowledge to successfully build an on-going, meaningful, proactive relationship between their child’s school and its special education services. Thus, the primary intention of compiling this book is to provide parents with the personal skills and technical knowledge to better navigate the maze of the Special Education Process and ultimately become their child’s best advocate.

Organization of the book Read More

What You Need to Know to be Your Child’s Best Advocate is designed as an interactive informational self-help guide for parents of children with special needs. As you read through this book you will discover a sequentially organized format designed to be a parent-friendly guide and workbook with interactive worksheets and “real life” reflections. With clear non-threatening language, a professional point of reference is presented as perceived from the other side of the desk. This insightful approach helps to provide parents with a more realistic outlook when attempting to develop a productive working relationship between school and home. 

 The book is divided into two major components:

        Part I-Personal Skills Development

  • Proactive personal skills and groundwork required of you to become your       child’s advocate

        Part II-Technical Application of Learned Knowledge

  • Mandated educational responsibilities of your child’s local education agency (LEA) from birth-21 years of age 
  • Parameters of the Special Education Process

The scope of the material Read More

Part I will require you to build a firm foundation in becoming your child’s best advocate. In the first chapter Finding Your Parent Voice you will be introduced to the concept of a proactive parent voice and the important relationship it plays in becoming your child’s best advocate.

In the proceeding chapter Developing Your Knowledgeable Parent Voice you will be directed to establish a functional, easy-to-use, Parent Friendly Advocate Tool Kit (PFAT-Kit) tailored to assist you in organizing your child’s critical personal and educational resource information.  The personal skills section of this chapter is designed to assist parents in polishing their current levels of communication skills and building more diverse strategies to resolve conflicts peacefully.

After successfully completing the first two chapters you are ready to take the next steps to proactively utilize your new or refreshed parent voice with a feeling of confidence in your abilities to skillfully maneuver through the Special Education Process covered in Part II.

Chapter 3 is devoted to Utilizing Your Proactive Parent Voice which provides you with technical information regarding the referral protocols for early intervention programs and special education services.  The initial sections of this chapter clearly illustrate the critical steps for identifying, evaluating, and securing services for children with developmental delays or specific learning disabilities. The later sections of this chapter outline your role as a contributing member of your child’s Team in the development of a successfully tailored Individualized Education Program (IEP) document. Emphasis is placed on working through actual sections of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) document as well as establishing criteria for acceptance of a truly individualized program and its complementary placement.

Once a credible Individualized Education Program (IEP) is established your work is not over in assuring your child’s educational success. You are still responsible to maintain your parent voice through vigilant “watch-dogging”. In the remaining chapter Maintaining Your Empowered Parent Voice you will be provided with quick and easy methods for monitoring the overall implementation of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) by tracking timelines and evaluating your child’s over-all educational progress. Occasionally problems do arise; therefore, we felt compelled to include a section to guide you through compliance issues and the intricacies of Due Process regarding the right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP), and the placement within the least restrictive environment (LRE).

A comprehensive reference section closes out the book with a significant listing of important terms, popular acronyms and noteworthy websites. Appendices are also included to enhance your knowledge and skills repertoire required to be your child’s best advocate.

Conclusion Read More

Throughout this book you will discover many valuable skills as well as guidance for the critical junctures you may encounter in the course of your child’s educational experience. However, let us remind you that there are no “quick fixes” especially when it involves your child’s educational needs. Becoming your child’s best advocate isn’t about learning a “few new tricks”, nor grooming yourself for an “occasional speech” to speak out on behalf of your child.

Parents need to recognize themselves as an extremely powerful entity in all aspects of their child’s life. Trust in the fact that a little work up front for personal growth and development will sustain you through a life-long process in your child’s best interest. As you enrich your current knowledge base you may discover a need to shift your thinking about your role as a parent and also about the role of the educational system in general. This shift in thinking actually requires you to give up a few assumptions regarding the controlling decision makers involved in your child’s educational programming. 

By purchasing this book you have already taken the first step in viewing yourself as a positive force and the “glue” that helps to assure continuity between your child’s home and school life.  As authors, it is our hope to empower parents to truly become a powerful voice and the key decision makers throughout their child’s life.

Reader Reviews

The following comments were compiled from several introductory book readings attended by a variety of parents, teachers, and other individuals who voiced a direct or indirect need for this information.

  • Love the workbook format! The worksheets came in handy to better prepare me for meetings.
  • Loved the Alerts! They came at just the place to drive home an important point with key inside information.
  • It’s nice to finally have a resource that I can understand. I felt like my hand was being held as I was led step-by-step through the special education process.
  • The worksheets were just what I was looking for to guide and organize me before, during and after important meetings. I like the fact that these worksheets can be used over and over again throughout my child’s education.
  • The Bonus Section was a wonderful addition because it gave me more insight and a better understanding of the necessary transitional planning that my child will require as a special needs adult.
  • It was nice to find a book that included a personal skills development section for parents to help build confidence for dealing with school personnel, who can certainly be intimidating at times. 
  • I felt the other side of the desk perspective was informative and eye-opening.
  • I can see Part II of this book being used as a resource manual for educators.
  • Being my own child’s advocate will save me a great deal of money that I would have to spend on legal fees.
  • After reading Empower Your Parent Voice…I feel that I have the confidence to be my child’s best advocate.


 An empowered parent voice…the best gift you can give your child!!!


 $39.95+ $6.95 S&H