The Art of Advocacy – A Parent’s Guide to Advocating for Their Child With Special Needs

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Presented by
Clair SchumanFormer Executive Director, ACT – Autism Community Training
November 14, 2008 in Vancouver

About the Presentation

Many parents are confused and frustrated by the complexities of systems they must navigate to find help for their child with special needs. These systems include: the Ministry of Health for diagnosis, Community Living BC, the Ministry of Children and Family Development for early intervention and out-of-school services, and the school system for services for their school-age children.

This Online Video offers parents an overview of how to develop skills they need to navigate successfully through the hurdles they may sometimes encounter. Using the school system as an example, parents are guided through the components of empowerment necessary to become an effective advocate for their child. Specific guidelines and tips will be provided in this positive, practical, user-friendly and interactive seminar. This Online Video is not disability-specific, but will be especially helpful for parents of children with “invisible” disabilities.

Topics include:

  • Knowing your rights and responsibilities
  • Understanding roles and responsibilities of players in the system
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • Managing your choice of words, temperament and body­language
  • Learning the jargon
  • Making a plan
  • Documentation and the paper trail
  • Collaboration and negotiation
  • How to make a complaint
  • A handout on contracting with service providers will be distributed.

The Online Video is in six parts with an approximate total running time of 4.5 hours.

  • Part 1: Introduction to Advocacy
  • Part 2: Learning about Resources
  • Part 3: Understanding the Mechanics of the System: the School System as an Example
  • Part 4: Decision Making & Problem Solving
  • Part 5: Developing Essential Behavioral Skills
  • Part 6: Collaboration

About the Presenter

Clair Schuman has worked for over 20 years in the area of special needs for both government and not-for-profit agencies and is a social worker. The parent of a teenage son with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Clair has extensive experience as a workshop presenter on education issues and is recognized for her commitment to training families in the advocacy skills they require to ensure their children are receiving the supports they need. Prior to her appointment as Executive Director of ACT – Autism Community Training, Clair was the Provincial Coordinator for Education and Family Support for the British Columbia Association for Community Living and is a former Director of Programs and Services for the Autism Society of British Columbia. In her own community, Clair recently stepped down from her volunteer role as facilitator for the Tri-Cities Autism Community Group, a position held since 1999. Clair has degrees in Social Work and Psychology.

Comments from Live Events

  • “Well presented, useful info. Finally a clear picture of who does what (or should!) in different Gov’t levels. Lots of good info on advocacy.”
  • “Ideal for those with children in school. Relevant & helpful hints that can be applied in other areas of advocacy.”
  • “Very Informative. As a support worker and a parent I will take this information back to my colleagues and present it to them!”
    -Parent & Para-professional