Parents of children with developmental disabilities or special needs are the best experts on their children. This statement is often made by professionals in the field of developmental disabilities. However, how often are parents asked to help solve problems that frustrate, baffle and sometimes overwhelm their children's teachers?
While the educators and other "experts" credit parents with being the best experts on their children with special needs, one has to wonder if this statement has become another cliched phrase or PC term rather an actual belief by those who provide educational services for children whose parents have learned by trial, error and necessity how to solve the very problems educators often face?
Actually, this is more than just a cliched phrase and should be part of the belief system of anyone involved in educating children with special needs. Parents of children with special needs have put in more real hours, not credit hours, learning about their chidren; and through many years of blood, sweat and tears, parents of children with special needs have acquired expertise in one very specific field: educating their children.
“If you want one of my most profound tips on parenting; forgive yourself for all that you have done wrong, for all the times you’ve parented poorly despite your great intentions. The more you can forgive yourself, no matter how bad you feel your parenting was, the bigger the gift you will be giving your children, and yourself. You can stop major family dysfunction by implementing this crucial tip, and make your family the loving, gentle and safe haven that you want it to be” (Jacqueline Green,“Great Parenting Practices,” http://greatparentingpractices.com/)
Only a parent whose become an expert on her child could make the above statement with authenicity, sincerity and humility. One of the biggest mistakes made by many educators is not welcoming parents of special needs children into their classrooms and utilizing this kind of expertise when faced with problems in special education classrooms. Instead of feeling like contributors to their children's education, parents often feel like outsiders when a group of experts get together to decide what's best for their children.“
Many parents feel very overwhelmed when faced with a panel of teachers, administrators, assessment personnel and other experts. Sometimes school personnel can forget that the parent is also an expert on the child” (“How to Become an Advocate for Special Needs Children,” http://www.essortment.com/become-advocate-special-needs-children-56732.html.) Experts will stop forgetting that parents are experts on their children with special needs when they stop just saying they are and start believing they are.