Special Education Consultant

Consultant Spotlight: Melissa J, M. Ed., Special Education Consultant

Why may a family seek guidance from you?

Navigating the world of disability services within public schools or seeking private therapies and treatment can be overwhelming. There is a sea of acronyms, emotions to reconcile, and some perceived (and real) barriers to initiating services. All of these factors combined can make initiating or changing your child's service or care plan difficult. It can be helpful to have an objective and experienced consultant such as myself to provide not only a big-picture perspective, but also help to dive into the details of documents such as evaluations, IEPs/504 Plans, progress reports, etc.

What benefits can you provide to families?

  • Understanding special education and Section 504 law, including their rights as parents of a child with a disability or disabilities.
  • Provide tips on partnering with service providers to ensure the integrity of a holistic service plan.
  • Offer emotional support and perspective on receiving a diagnosis, entering into or improving their experience within the special education and Section 504 processes, and evaluating long-term progress. This may include navigating the initial diagnosis and service initiating process, attending and/or planning meetings as an advocate.
  • Coaching on forging a sincere partnership with their child's service providers, and/or improving adversarial or difficult relationships with providers.

How do you have a positive impact on the families you support?

With twelve years’ experience in traditional public schools, public charter schools, and cooperation with private providers, as well as experience with both high and low incidence disabilities, I offer perspective, compassion, and knowledge so that parents can be empowered partners in planning their child's education or therapy experience.

Why do enjoy working one-on-one with families?

I consider working in public education my life's work. However, working within the public school system means processing a high volume of cases on a daily basis. The bureaucracy can be overwhelming for professionals and families alike. By working as a consultant or advocate, I am afforded the opportunity to step back from the systems approach and revisit the real reason I chose this work... the individual child. The family/ consultant experience allows us all to slow down, take stock, and make a holistic, child-centered plan.

How do you empower children and families?

Empowerment is my number one goal! By providing families with information, perspective and confidence, I empower them to take on their role as an educational planning partner for their child. There are many federal, state and district laws and regulations that protect families of children with special needs. I see it as my job to inform parents of their rights and responsibilities within the process, so that they may be an empowered participant in the education process. My hope is that these skills will allow them to maintain meaningful engagement and advocacy skills throughout their child's educational journey.