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Negotiating the Special Education Maze Winifred Anderson, Stephen R. Chitwood, Deidre Hayden, Cherie Takemoto

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For more than 25 years, this classic guide has taken parents, guardians, educational advocates, and special educators step-by-step through the special education process. Now revised and updated, reflecting the latest changes to the special education laws,NEGOTIATING THE SPECIAL EDUCATION MAZE continues to provide thorough, time-tested advice based on the authors’ years of experience helping parents advocate for their child.

The book covers all the crucial components parents and advocates need to consider from anticipating a child is not succeeding in a program or school to seeking an evaluation; from planning an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), to understanding classroom placement options and monitoring progress.

Key topics include:

  • Eligibility for services
  • Understanding the IEP process
  • How to write effective goals
  • Tips on participating in IEP meetings
  • Making sure IEPs are carried out and effective
The new fourth edition provides expanded information on:
  • Transitioning from high school to adult life
    1. Employment
    2. Independent living
    3. Self-advocacy
    4. Continuing education
  • Required statewide assessments for all students
  • Problem solving disagreements between families and schools
  • Due process and other legal recourses
Invaluable forms and charts help parents plan their IEP strategy, keep records and key contacts, log conversations and correspondence with important players, and track progress. This guide is one of the best tools available for understanding how to navigate the special education maze! 

"*Verdict: This classic’s hallmarks remain: a thorough comprehensible explanation of the educational and legal processes involved; listings of concise and manageable steps; and a myriad of useful definitions and references have been its hallmarks. Those features as well as new information mean it shouldn’t be passed over. Highly recommended for all public libraries and academic libraries with educational programs.

Background: First published more than 25 years ago, this book has served as a lifeline for parents and educators who have found it difficult to advocate for their children and students in need of special educational services. In this fourth edition, educators Anderson, Stephen Chitwood, and Deidre Hayden continue in these traditions and provide valuable updates to the many recent changes in educational law, including the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act in 2004. Cherie Takemoto, Executive Director of the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center and a parent of a child with disabilities, adds additional insights. Of particular interest in this edition will be the information that promotes understanding of the many issues relating to the transitioning process from public school to adult living, including self-advocacy."
-Library Journal Xpress Reviews, *starred review, March 25, 2008

"As a parent currently finding my way through the special education maze with my daughter and as an occupational therapist in school-based practice, this book is a necessity.

Negotiating the Special Education Maze clearly explains the entire special education process from identification to implementation and even includes the current laws guiding it. It also thoroughly explains transition services for students 15-21, which many books leave out. The case studies and examples for every step of the process make it easy for the reader to understand and follow. Worksheets and sample exercises can better prepare parents for meetings with school personnel.

Negotiating the Special Education Maze is written in terms parents can easily understand and follow. The indivualized education plan (IEP), indivualized family service program (IFSP) and 504 are explained clearly and thoroughly. Even as it is easy to read, the research and content of the book remains extensive in nature. All components of the special education maze are clearly explained with summaries at the end of each chapter for reinforcement. The guide is just that, a guide to help anyone who needs knowledge of how the special education process works.

The book also points out the importance of researching local policies specific to the reader's individual school district, as school districts vary in their policies. This book should continue to be revised as laws and policies change.

This book is an excellent resource for any person involved in the special education process and is a must read for students the occupational therapy field to help them better understand the steps and their involvement in the process. I just wish I had read this book before we began the special education maze!"
-ADVANCE for Occupational Therapy Practitioners, May 11, 2009

"The 4th edition has been eagerly awaited by both parents and professionals. The copyright on our copy of the third edition is from 1997. this was before the 2004 revision of IDEA. The book was a classic in the field of special education. The authors see the process as a journey and titles the chapters in this way so the reader can easily find a chapter to help them navigate a problem area. It was updated for the changes in the educational law and structure of the IEP. I especially like the chapter titled, Transitions Opportunities to Explore. There is also an excellent IEP planning chart with goals and services needed to meet the goals. There are many charts, forms, checklists and more to help the family keep data organized. The final chapter is, “Does the Journey Ever End?” This chapter is followed by a glossary, resources and a comprehensive index."
-Support for Families Newsletter, Fall 2008

"While this is a wonderful, step by step guide for families who have a child with a disability, it is also an essential guide and resource for teachers and administrators in both regular education as well as special education. Not only will they be better informed about the law, they will also have a much better understanding of what families go through as they learn to manage the special education system. This should be mandatory reading for all teachers-to-be at the pre-service level."
-Sue Ferguson, Chair, National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (NCPIE)

"Children with special education needs are a glory and a challenge. This book is a must to appreciate both."
-Ben Bradlee, former Executive Editor, The Washington Post

"What a pleasure to see a fourth edition of this very useful book. It's a resource families will return to often as they navigate the education system, services, procedures, policies, and opportunities. Negotiating the Special Education Maze is a personal guide, knowledgeable of the education system and understanding of the family's role and concerns; taking your hand and walking through the halls with you as you find your way to all the opportunities schools have to offer your child."
-Suzanne Ripley, Ph.D., Director, National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) 



Chapter 1: Beginning the Journey--A Plan for the Trip

Chapter 2: People and Procedures--Charting Your Course

Chapter 3: You and Your Child--Strengthening Exercises for the Journey

Chapter 4: Referral and Evaluation--Which Way to Go

Chapter 5: The Evaluation Process--Navigation Survival Tips

Chapter 6: The Eligibility Decision--A Turning Point

Chapter 7: The Individualized Education Program--Road Maps, Sign Posts, One-Way Streets

Chapter 8: Placement: Crossroads and Intersections--Which Way to Go?

Chapter 9: The Individualized Education Program Meeting--Choosing the Route Forward

Chapter 10: Checking Up--Making Sure You’re Going in the Right Direction

Chapter 11: Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers—A Place to Start

Chapter 12: Transition--Pathways to the Future

Chapter 13: Transition Plans--Mapping the Rest of the Journey

Chapter 14: Resolving Disagreements—Detours

Chapter 15: Protection Against Discrimination--Alternative Routes through the Maze

Chapter 16: Looking Back at the Special Education Maze--Does the Journey Ever End?




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