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A Guide to Special Education Advocacy

A Guide to Special Education Advocacy

Matthew Cohen



Disability law can be complex and intimidating, so how can concerned parents use it to ensure their child with a disability receives the appropriate education they are legally entitled to?   

A Guide to Special Education Advocacy gives strategies for advocating for better provision of special education in schools. Despite the many services and accommodations that have been made for students with disabilities, such as the use of Braille or providing specialized education in a regular or special classroom, many children with disabilities do not get the services they need and are not placed in appropriate programs or settings. Because of this, the perception of disability often remains unchanged. Matthew Cohen's insightful manual gives a practical vision of how a parent or a professional can become an advocate to achieve a more inclusive and rewarding education for the child with a disability.

This book will provide parents, people with disabilities, professionals and clinicians thinking about special education advocacy with an overview of current disability law and how it works, identifying practical ways for building positive and effective relationships with schools.

Matthew Cohen is Adjunct Professor at Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, where he teaches Mental Health Law. He is a partner at Monahan and Cohen Law Firm in Chicago, Illinois and has extensive experience of working one-on-one with children and their families who have been let down by current special education policies.
Matt Cohen is a lawyer's lawyer and an advocate's advocate. His deep storehouse of experiences in special education are synthesized in this comprehensive, comprehensible, and compelling book. Cohen's insights and strategies have been ground-truthed through years of case work, policy work, and community and parent education. His lucid analysis of the law and his distillation of advocacy strategies that actually work will benefit anyone who is interested in the education of children. This up-to-date book, filled with useful references, will become the benchmark work in the field.
Dean Hill Rivkin, College of Law Distinguished Professor, University of Tennessee College of Law
Matt Cohen brings his extensive knowledge of special education and his talent as a writer to this book, explaining complex legal matters relating to the education of children with special needs in a way that is clear and easy to understand. This is a book every parent, teacher, administrator or family member of a special needs child will want to read cover to cover.
Nancy Hablutzel, Ph.D., J.D., Chicago-Kent College of Law
A Guide to Special Education Advocacy is a well written text that would find a usefull place on the bookshelves of both clinicians and parents. I highly recommend it to the readers of JADD.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Cohen, a disability rights expert, attorney, and parent, has written an invaluable guide for parents who 'must serve as the ultimate case managers for the child' and the clinicians and advocates who assist them. Anyone encountering the special education maze should read this book, which describes a complicated and sometimes adversarial process as clearly as in humanly possible.... Highly recommended.
Library Journal
An excellent, very readable explanation not only of what IDEA requires, both substantively and procedurally, but how advocates and parents can make it work. From the convenient outline of the process provided by the table of contents, in the order most parents will encounter it and arranged to properly emphasize substance over process, to the practical pointers highlighted by his "E=MC2" formula, Mr. Cohen has admirably achieved his stated purpose: to help parents (whose children are not experiencing success) identify points of potential conflict and ways to address those conflicts.
S. James Rosenfeld, Founder and Director, The National Academy for IDEA Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers at Seattle University School of Law
A Guide to Special Education Advocacy: What Parents, Clinicians and Advocates Need to Know covers disability law and its complexities and tells parents how to ensure a child with a disability receives education they are legally entitled to. From understanding services and the evaluation and re-evaluation process to gain them to different kinds of environments, this is packed with specific and detailed observations key to any special education library catering to professionals.
The Midwest Book Review
Matt has provided a scholarly treatise for parents and professionals written in the engaging and invigorating style that he is so comfortable with. This book in my opinion is the most thorough and well written analysis of the history and application of disability law, and the impact on real life experiences for students, available in print to date.
Kathryn Dobel, co-chair of CAPCA (California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy) and founding board member of COPAA (Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates)
Matt Cohen is one of the leading lights of special education law. He has an unmatched record of success in representing families in their efforts to obtain educational and support services for children with disabilities. This book is filled with insights and practical information drawn from his comprehensive knowledge of the law and his extensive experience in advocacy. I recommend it to everyone working in the field.
Mark C. Weber, Vincent dePaul Professor of Law, DePaul University, and author of Special Education Law and Litigation Treatise
A Guide to Special Education provides guidance to parents who are tackling this difficult task. It is an excellent guidebook for any parent, attorney, advocate or educator who would like to learn the underpinnings of the legal structure of the special education system requirements, with a look at practical implementation and ideal conclusions/considerations.
A Guide to Special Education Advocacy is probably the most comprehensive publication yet to combine a thoughtful analysis of special education law and practice with effective advocacy strategies on behalf of children with disabilities. Each chapter contains "E=MC2 Advocacy Strategies," which are sterling practical tips and insights for parents and advocates. This book is a must-read for all those that want to increase their knowledge and understanding of special education law and advocacy strategies.
Torin D. Togut, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law; Georgia Legal Services Program; Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
Matt Cohen has hit it out of the park with this guide. It takes a truly gifted writer to translate the often complex special education laws and regulations into practical information that families can easily digest and use... This book is a must read for families and advocacy leaders. Matt Cohen hits a homerun with this guide and clearly establishes why he has become a highly regarded national authority on special education law, advocacy strategies, and special education policy.
NAMI Beginnings: National Alliance on Mental Illness
Matt Cohen's secrets of great special education advocacy are in this book, laid out in a user-friendly, understandable format. It's all here-tips at the end of each section with tangible strategies for parents and their advocates, forms and letters, and a glossary of the alphabet soup so critical to special education. This essential resource will empower parents, giving them and their advocates the tools necessary to enforce their children's special education rights.
Aimee E. Gilman, special education attorney and parent, co-founder and Executive Director, Special Education Services, Cleveland, OH
Matt Cohen's background as a disability rights expert, attorney, and parent insures the practical grasp, sensitivity, and wisdom necessary to distill the substance of the laws and strategies involved in special education advocacy. His expertise is grounded in this brilliant and strategic treatise assisting families and professionals to acquire the best programs and services for children. Having an uncanny insight into the issues that families face on the ground, Matt Cohen's new Guide provides families and professionals alike the most reliable resource yet to navigate the special education conundrum.
Barbara H. Dyer, Staff Attorney, University of Tennessee College of Law; The CAN-LEARN Project; Children's Advocacy Network; Lawyers Education Advocacy Resource Network
Wow! This book is like a "Mapquest" that puts the parent on a journey, making the process clear and concise. But more important, it is sensitive to the emotions a parent feels during very vulnerable times on the journey. As a parent, I would want to keep it within reach by day and under my pillow at night.
Ellen McManus, Wilmette, IL, whose daughter has been represented by Matthew Cohen

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
1. Development practitioners in action
2. Teacher, teach me to see
3. On empathy for the other
4. On organic feminism
5. On theatre, trauma and forgiveness
6. On leadership
7. Wisdom of water