Articles written by: Erin Richardson

Erin Richardson

Erin Richardson is a mother of three, including an 11-year old son with autism. In her former life, she was a practicing attorney. Her journey with her son has taken her down a different path, however, and she is now a Special Education Advocate and Co-Director of the newly-formed Special Education Advocacy Center of Tennessee (SEAC) located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Addressing Issues Before The Holiday Break
Community

Addressing Issues Before The Holiday Break

If you feel like there are ongoing problems at school that need to be addressed, let me encourage you to address those issues with the school before the holiday break. If things aren’t right at school, or if your child isn’t being adequately supported, you should ask for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting before the break so that these concerns can be addressed.

Photo by Yun Mi Park at the World Language Academy in North Georgia.
Community / Special Education

Observing Your Child In School

I adhere to the belief that a parent can’t be an equal member in the planning process of an IEP without the ability and opportunity to visit their child’s classroom (or proposed classroom) to see the environment and how their child is functioning in that setting.

Managing Mama (Or Papa) Bear
Community / Special Education

Managing Mama (Or Papa) Bear

Advocating for your own kid is hard. Although I spend most days advocating for other kids with disabilities, I’ve been forced to spend a great deal of time lately fighting for my own child. It is hard – much harder than working on behalf of other kids. Advocating for our children’s’ educational rights is one of the things that makes our job as parents of kids with disabilities so challenging.

Photo provided by Erin Richardson.
Community

Preparations For Returning To The Classroom

The beginning of a new school year comes with trepidation for all students and parents. For families with a child with a disability, there are additional layers of worry and concern.

No Rest For The Weary
Community / Special Education

No Rest For The Weary

As a special education advocate, much – if not most — of my work is on behalf of individual students with disabilities and their families. But when I’m not working with a particular student, I often am engaged in advocacy efforts at the system level.

The Realities Of Individualized Education Program Meetings
Community / Special Education

The Realities Of Individualized Education Program Meetings

Preparation and persistence remain the keys to IEP success for parents. A prepared parent will arrive at IEP meetings with a clear set of objectives. They will know what their child’s strengths and weaknesses are, and they will be prepared to make the case for why specific supports and services are appropriate for their child.

Schools Often Fall Short Of Managing Behaviors Among Special Needs Students
Community

Schools Often Fall Short Of Managing Behaviors Among Special Needs Students

If a student is engaging in disruptive or aggressive behaviors, he or she cannot attend to the educational setting, and thus, cannot learn from that environment. All students can exhibit these kinds of behaviors, but where they affect students with disabilities, the law says that the student’s team should address those behaviors through the implementation of appropriate strategies and methodologies.

Via the Southern Education Desk Flickr page
Community / Special Education

Transitions Pose Challenges For Special Needs Students

Students with special educational needs often require a team of support including parents, teachers, administrators and therapists for smooth transitions throughout grade levels.