Partnering With Parents of Special Needs Students: Barriers to Collaboration

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					                             Th e N e w s pa p e r o f t h e N a t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n o f S c h o o l P s y c h o l o g i s t s

S ept e m b e r 2008                                                                                                                                                        Volume 37, Number 1

Description: Individual states adopted legislation and funded the development of special education programs, but they were modeled after those that originated a century earlier providing instruction for students with disabilities in segregated settings. Relying on prevailing research at that time, including Kirk's work on psycholinguistic learning disabilities, Cruickshank's theory of perception and cerebral palsy, Kephart's study of variations in IQ, Frostig's understanding of visual perception, Lehtinen's work on brain injuries, and Mykelbust's study of auditory and linguistic processing, the parents advocated for their children's needs to be served within mainstream school settings (Wong, 1998, p. 14). It is important to recognize the many factors that influence the ways in which school systems address parents of students with special needs and the ways in which parents respond: * A history of change imposed by parent advocacy groups * State and federal mandates dictating what teachers must do in their classrooms * Required knowledge of laws without the benefit of a law degree * Allocation of resources vis--vis the access to services * Limited training in parent-teacher conferencing * Differing perspectives between parents and educators * The imbalance of power in meetings * Fear of the unknown Some or all of these factors can negatively impact parent-educator interactions around the decision making and program planning involved in special education.
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