The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc

Don't Be Afraid to Ask


Don’t Be Afraid To Ask by Brice Palmer

[Webinar Date: May 12 7:30 PM Register] You’ve heard over and over: Ask, and you shall receive.

As the Rolling Stones put it, you may not always get what youwant, but sometimes, just because you asked… You might get what you need!


You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime
Well, you just fight find What you need

Do you ask for what your child really needs to thrive and makeprogress at school? And, do the words you use blur the main message about what your child needs?


Special education, as well as general education, is loaded with obscure jargon terms that may sound scholarly and authoritative – but – do those words get the result you want and your child needs?

In too many instances, education jargon words work against you because most of those words are either intended to carry a vague message or the words are not appropriate for saying exactly what your child needs.

For example, the word access is in almost every parent email or letter that I get. What does access mean in the real world your child has to deal with every day? The word access in special education comes from the statutes and regulations that means a child must have access to the school’s programs and services as well as the school building itself. I call it a squishy word because when we talk to the school and ask for what the student needs we are limiting what we are asking for. Access means just that. Access. It does not mean anything more.

There is a terrific free Texas Education Consumers Association publication (resource) titled Education Terminology Every Parent Must Understand It is free and you can download Here:

Know exactly what and why you want what you want.

Define what your child needs for a Free and Appropriate Public Education. Define exactly why what you ask for is necessary. Do not just jot it down. Write it and rewrite it until you can ask (not request) for it in plain everyday language and with confidence.

Practice with a friend.

You will not always get what you want or what your child needs the first time around. Why isn’t the school going to give you what you want? Just ask. Ask for whatever your child needs. You just have to be willing to ask in a straightforward well-crafted way. No, it isn’t a magic thing. It will not always work the first, second, or third time.

Make this routine a habit. Use it in your everyday dealing with any situation in your life.

But – what will you ask for?

Have you critically read your child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance section of the IEP?

There is a reason why that section is at the very top of every IEP written. That section gives us and the school a baseline from which all of the specialized instructions, related services, modifications, and accommodations are set in the rest of the IEP. That section is supposed to have measurable information in it.

When was the last time you saw any measurable information in your child’s present levels?

I want to introduce you to Patricia Howe. Pat is an extraordinary advocate and advocacy teacher. You can find her on her Facebook page at

Pat developed a parent’s outline for present levels many years ago. I have used it and have given it to parents for at least 10 years. Her outline appears below. Modify it to fit your student’s situation or for any changes in your state’s regulations about present levels.

Use Pat’s outline and you will be far better informed and prepared to ask for what your student really needs at any IEP meeting.

Parent Form

I. Preparation

A. Request copies of Evaluations, Reports, that the Team will consider at the


B. Obtain copies of all information you will submit

C. Obtain written reports from independent service providers

D. Other preparation

II. Present Levels of Performance (Parent’s Observations, Perspective)

A. Home

B. Community

C. Leisure and recreational activities

D. Activities of daily living

E. Fine and gross motor skills

Reports from school and independent therapists

F. Speech/Language

H. Social/Emotional

Reports from school counselors and private therapists

I. Verbal Abilities

J. Independent Education Evaluations

K. Medical information

L. Letters, reports from physicians

III. Strengths (what can the student do well?)

A. Social/Emotional

B. Communication abilities

C. Athletic abilities

D. Academic abilities (Specific, i.e., math, handwriting, spelling, etc.)

E. Likes and interests

F. Personality

G. Leisure/Recreational activities

H. Activities of daily living

I. Fine/Gross motor

J. Verbal skills

IV. Challenges (What is difficult for the student?)

A. Social/Emotional

B. Communication abilities

C. Athletic abilities

D. Academic abilities (specific, i.e., math, handwriting, spelling, etc.) keeping up with classmates

E. Likes/dislikes

F. Personality

G. Leisure/recreational activities

H. Activities of daily living

I. Fine/gross motor

J. Verbal skills

K. Homework issues

V. Needs

A. Accommodations

1. Highlighting textbooks

2. Written instructions to supplement oral instructions

3. Study sheets

4.. Word processor

5. Dictate answers

6. Extra time for assignments

7. Oral testing

B. Modifications to the curriculum

1. Manipulatives

2. Submit posters in place of written book reports

3. Break down assignments into parts

4. Shortened assignments

5. Graph paper for math problems

6. Calculator to reinforce skills mastered or to prevent frustration

7. Computer assisted instruction

C. Related Services

1. Speech/language therapy

2. Paraprofessional or classroom aide

D. Physical/occupational therapy

E. Transportation

1. Special bus route

2. Special equipment

3. Reimbursement

F. Assistive technology

1. communication boards

2. laptop

3. writing tools assistance

G. Counseling

H. Transition Services

1. Vocational assessment

2. Aptitude/Ability assessment

I. Other Services

1. Adaptive physical education

2. Specialized instruction

3. Computers or software

4. Vocational training

J. State/school-wide assessment program

K. Need for additional assessments or evaluations

VII. Goals and Objectives

A. Pull from strengths, challenges, needs

B. Here Patricia had a note that reads “See “The Prospector and the Goal


VIII. Placements

A.  Never address placement in the parent report

B.  Careful drafting of the parent report may achieve desired placement

IX.  No One Likes Surprises

  1.  Provide the parent report to the IEP team chairperson a week before the team



Yes, doing this is a lot of work. Doing it, though, will prepare you for your IEP meetings

so you can be much more persuasive when you ask for what you want.


About Brice

Brice is a full time working advocate. If you want to know more about Brice and what he does, go to his website at and click on the Our Story tab near the top of the page or, just click here: 

 May 12, 2016 at 7:30 Register here