Welcome to Letter W day! We are in the home stretch of this alphabet series, woohoo! I can’t believe I had a goal of finishing it in October and it’s not going to be done until February. But hey, it will be complete soon. I chose W is for Wrightslaw because Wrightslaw is another great, yet sometimes complicated, resource for parents. So I thought that I would give a few tips and more details on Wrightslaw so that all parents can access it better.
Last month I had to put a notice up in our Facebook group. I saw so many parents asking questions, and other (well intended) parents offering “Have you tried Wrightslaw?” as a suggestion. First, yes, it’s a great resource. But, for the beginner parent, it can be overwhelming. It basically is the same as saying, “Have you tried googling it?” To the parent who is anxious and frustrated and upset with their child’s situation….it can be overwhelming. I had a few parents thank me and some even said that the first time they went to Wrightslaw, they ended up in tears. It’s a great site, lots of fantastic information, but it obviously was not designed by blog/web designers with parents in mind. It’s been around forever and maybe they have an overhaul in their long range plans, who knows.
So, here are some tips on navigating Wrightslaw and using it to your full potential.
- It has a lot of law, statute and case law information. Again, the information on the site is from lawyers. I personally, as both an advocate and a parent, do not think it is a great idea to go into an IEP meeting quoting case law. However, you can research it to know if the law is on your side in a particular situation, and how those cases demonstrated the need to get the services. I tend to stay child focused and leave the legal-ese up to the lawyers. Once you are debating case law and who has the better case and law on their side, you are no longer focused on the child.
- That being said, I have on occasion been told factually inaccurate information in IEP meetings (with clients). We have at times responded with, “It is my understanding based on what I’ve read, that case law actually supports this position because…..” But, we always make sure we have concise, reliable data to back up this statement.
- On the website, Pete Wright has published a 4 minute video explaining how to navigate the site. Taking 4 minutes out of your life to view it might save you some tears of frustration later.
- Another tip for finding what you want, is to do your search on Google. But, use the term Wrightslaw before the question you have or your issue. I have done another post about how to use Google to do better internet searches. Many parents have found that using Google instead of searching internally on the site has brought better results.
- The Wrights have many other useful features on their site, besides answers to IEP questions. This includes a Yellow Pages listing for advocates, attorneys and other related services and they host workshops and conferences all over the country. The full schedule is on their website.
- Wrightslaw also has published a series of books to assist parents and advocates. You can see the assortment here:
All in all, if you are an information junkie like I am, you can get lost in the site. It has so much great information. The IEP process is a complex and sophisticated process, even for the parent who has no disabilities. But, if you share the same dyslexia or ADHD issues as your child…it can be overwhelming. There is help out there, so take a deep breath. Remember, it took more than an hour for your child’s situation to evolve, so it’s not going to be resolved in an hour. The IEP process is slow and finding and digesting and understanding all the information can be long. This is a knowledge base that I wish I didn’t have to have…but those are the cards I was dealt. So treat this like a job or a hobby or whatever it takes to motivate you, and do your best like you do in all your other activities. There are no shortcuts in the special ed process.
Feel free to join our Facebook group as it has been a wonderful support network and a game-changer (their words!) for many parents. And I promise that if you ask a question and I see someone say, “Have you tried Wrightslaw?” I will jump in and help!