- Name and Phone Number
- Child's First Name
- Grade, County, School
- Child's eligibility and/or diagnosis
- Current School Situation or other issue you wish to discuss
- Best time / day to contact you.
10 Commandments for Parents of a Child with Special Needs
1. Take one day at a time, and take that day positively. You don’t have control over the future, but you do have control over today.
2. Never underestimate your child’s potential. Allow her, encourage her, and expect her to develop to the best of her abilities.
3. Find and allow positive mentors: parents and professionals who can share with you their experience, advice and support.
4. Provide and be involved with the most appropriate educational and learning environment for your child from infancy on.
5. Keep in mind the feelings and needs for your spouse and your other children. Remind them that this child does not get more of your love just because he/she gets more of your time.
6. Answer only to your conscience; then you’ll be able to answer to your child. You need not justify your actions to your friends or the public.
7. Be honest with your feelings. You can’t be a super-parent 24 hours a day. Allow yourself jealously, anger, pity, frustration and depression in small amounts whenever necessary.
8. Be kind to yourself. Don’t focus continually on what needs to be done. Remember to look at what you have accomplished.
9. Stop and smell the roses. Take advantage of the fact that you have gained a special appreciation for the little miracles in life that others take for granted.
10. Keep and use your sense of humor. Cracking up with laughter can keep you from cracking up with stress.
Understand Your Child’s Records: I can assist you with understanding what is in your child’s records and be a resource for what information may be missing or you need assistance with.
Understand Your Child’s Educational Plan: Children with disabilities often require an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The parent should play a major role in the development of the IEP including the child’s documented strengths, weaknesses, goals, objections, related services and placement decisions.
Offer You Advice and Things to Consider: My advice is based on my experiences as a previous employee of the school system, my experiences with my own children and the training and research I have done in the areas of Special Education Law and Advocacy.
Improve Your Child’s Plan: We can discuss what your child needs and I will work with you to have the school district implement a plan to provide your child with an appropriate education that is provided in the least restrictive environment with appropriate accommodations and modifications. I am here to assist you with planning and staying focused on the key factors.
Attend Meetings / Review Communications: To create an effective and appropriate IEP, the team needs to look closely at a child’s needs and pool their knowledge, experience and ideas to design a program for the child.
Assist With Conflicts: My desire is to deescalate conflicts and use strategies and skills to help everyone to work collaboratively as a true team to benefit the child. In my experience, there are fewer conflicts when an advocate is involved in the process. I am typically able to get school’s to pay attention to the requests of the parents and implement good solutions. There is often more two-way participation in the meetings when an advocate is involved. Some school staff are not used to parent’s taking an active role in meetings. I can help you to participate in creating your child’s plan and to be seen as a responsible and respectful parent. Our goal is to make the school WANT to help your child in the least adversarial way possible. I want to help you build bridges of understanding.
Support, Educate, Equip and Empower You: My desire is to assist parents on their path of advocating for their child's educational rights. I desire to help you become more involved and confident in your child’s education. You are not alone. I want to help you become more confident and successful in advocating for the needs of your child.
"(Our child) was a PreK student who’s IEP this past year was not being followed due to lack of training of teacher and needed additional OT services. Also, we were concerned about her placement for Kindergarten. Sandra was a true lifesaver! She was able to help us comprehend the test results that we had previously been given and how to present them to show the needs of our child. Also, we were able to get additional testing that should have previously been completed by the school originally. In addition, she was able to provide us appropriate placement for our daughter for her Kindergarten year. It was incredibly beneficial for us as there are many advocates out there who do not accept younger children. However, I believe that we arethe ones with the least amount of choices. There are so few “special needs” pre-schools available (not to mention they are very costly) and we do not qualify for SB10. It was wonderful to finally be able to get the services my child deserves. I was very thankful that Sandra was willing to assistance us, and above all she has exceeded our expectations every time!"
A.H Paulding County
"You did an amazing job in our meeting today and I’m now thoroughly convinced, if I wasn’t already, that I’ll never attend another meeting for (son) without you. You thought of all of the things I would never have thought of, asked the hard questions, pushed for answers and services that (son) so desperately needs. You did this all the while remaining positive, upbeat, and determined to help (son). We Thank You! Thank you for being so compassionate and supportive over the last couple of weeks as we’ve prepared for this meeting. You truly understand the wide range of emotions I’m experiencing as a result of all of this; having you there as a source of support means more to me than you’ll ever know. We both feel very blessed to have you working with us to help (son). We truly appreciate your efforts and look forward to working with you in the years to come." S.A. Acworth, GA
“Sandra's compassion and knowledge is what makes her such a great advocate! She is thorough and truly cares for each child and parent.” Tiffany Moody, Special Education Advocate, PLSP Graduate, GAO, Coweta County
Sandra began working our file the very FIRST day I called her. I never thought I'd find someone that would fight for my son as much as I would. Before I found Sandra I attended meeting after meeting, and always without results. I always felt defeated after leaving these meetings. It was a COMPLETELY different story having Sandra by my side! Sandra is extremely knowledgeable. She knew exactly how to handle each situation we were presented with. Having Sandra is such a relief. I know we are in the best of care with her. We continue to use her services today and will in the future as well. I highly recommend Sandra. She is the best!!! SPonce
Sandra is AMAZING!!! We have used Sandra for many years now to assist with our child's IEP. We have had several various issues with our school and Sandra has always been able to find a resolution. With her experience and background, she is able to maintain a good working relationship with the school and the family, while working to get everything your child needs. I would never attend another meeting without her. I would HIGHLY recommend her to anyone!!! Poohgrl2u
Sandra Riggs did an amazing job at our child's IEP meeting. After our experience with Sandra this year, we will never be without her in a meeting! She is EXCELLENT at advocacy and very knowledgeable in education. She articulates and collaborates very well with administrators. Sandra is extremely organized and stays focused during meetings. She remains on topic and professional during long discussions. She also provided the team with useful ideas and helpful strategies to use with my child. We are clearly on the right path with Sandra's guidance and wisdom! Mysonsmom
Sandra Riggs is well-prepared, organized & knowledgeable beyond belief. She asks all the right questions and clearly has a strategy that works. She cares and believes in children and can make the process work. We had almost given up, feeling defeated and my daughter feeling unsuccessful every day. When necessary, Sandra will control IEP meetings, not the administrators. For the first time in so many years we actually felt that an IEP meeting was not a waste of time, effort and we did not walk out completely stressed & defeated. It was absolutely amazing! We thank her so much for the difference that she has made for not only our child, but in turn so many others! There is a very special place for Advocates, especially Sandra Riggs. We will never attend an IEP meeting without her! Kjshawii
Sandra Riggs did a great Job helping us with our special needs second grader. Cobb County had moved her 4 times in 3 yrs! Although prepared, we would be trumped at every IEP meeting by the administrators. It was amazing the attitude change when we brought in a professional. Our daughter is in the same school, doing well, and is actually working her way BACK into the mainstream classrooms! This is in no small part because of Sandra’s expertise and experience with special needs kids and the school systems. We continue to use Sandra and feel it is well worth it to get the education that we the parents (who know our daughter better than the school administrators) feel she needs and would best suit her challenges. My wife and I Highly recommend Sandra, she has done a great job for us and we continue to use her for all of our school system interactions. JWM