Emiliano’s parents, Juan and Angelica, retained me when Emiliano was only 7 years old because the district wanted to place him in a severely handicapped class. Juan and Angelica wanted Emiliano to be in general education to be educated alongside his typical developing peers. They wanted Emiliano to have an ABA aide from a private agency to support him to be successful in a full inclusion program.
After we applied my 5 Step Program, we were successful in having the school district award Emiliano an IEP that included full inclusion, a non-public agency ABA aide, non-public agency speech and language services and academic support after school, costing the district more than $70,000 each year. 10 years later, Emiliano will graduate with his diploma and attend college to become a video game designer.
~ Juan & Angelica, Parents of Emiliano
Wow… I wish I had this information when my son transitioned to high school. The school district did not inform me of what was available for high school students on an IEP and as a result, my son hated school and he struggled year after year until he graduated.
My son has a very high IQ and he should have achieved much higher grades. If I had known this information, he would have received the accommodations he needed to support him to access the curriculum and we could have focused more on building his strengths. Every parent should take advantage of this amazing opportunity to learn their parent rights and secure the education their child deserves!
Jeanne Beard is a thought leader in the autism arena. The founder of the National Autism Academy, a speaker, coach, consultant, and author of Autism & The Rest of Us: How to Sustain a Healthy, Functional and Satisfying Life with a Person on the Autism Spectrum. Jeanne is a graduate of Northwestern University, and had a successful 30-year career in business to business sales. The mother of 2 sons, one diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and one diagnosed with ADHD, Jeanne is certified as a life coach and dedicates her time to helping families find success, peace and inspiration in life with autism.
Before I hired Valerie, Aria was found eligible for an IEP under Speech and Language Impairment and was only receiving speech services when she was in preschool. By the time she got to kindergarten, I felt discouraged because Aria wasn’t making progress and she was far behind grade level. I wanted a psychoeducational assessment to address her academic deficits, but I was delayed because I believed what the psychologist and assistant principal told me, which was to wait until she was 7 or 8 years old. After having a parent teacher conference, I found out Aria was the furthest behind all the other students in her class and that’s when I decided I didn’t want to wait any longer and I hired Valerie.
Valerie requested many assessments and after they were completed, I found out Aria had significant impairments in multiple areas which finally qualified her to be found eligible under OHI with a secondary eligibility of Speech and Language Impairment. Hiring Valerie was the best decision I could have made for my daughter because if I hadn’t, Aria would have been years behind grade level and would have been placed in a special education class. Because the district violated my rights by denying my request for assessment, Valerie advocated for Aria to receive compensatory academic instruction as well as the many other appropriate services she required as a result of the assessment findings. Thankfully, Aria continues to remain in a general education class with all the supports and services she needs to be successful in an inclusion program.
As I moved though the IEP process with Valerie, she taught me about my rights along the way but that was not enough for me to be able to know how to advocate alone and so I enrolled in Valerie’s Ultimate IEP course. Now I feel confident about being an equal IEP team participant and I know how to implement my parent rights to sustain the special education program Valerie developed. I am so thankful I made the decision to educate myself because if I hadn’t, my daughter would have never received the IEP she needed and deserved. I can’t express enough how important it is for every parent to get help and educate themselves because the IEP affects a child’s entire education and life after high school. There are no words to explain how thankful I am to Valerie for guiding me through.
I would like to reach out to parents everywhere in regard to Valerie Aprahamian, Advocates for Angels, and the amazing services she provides to assure children receive the programs they deserve as well as empowering parents with the knowledge and skills necessary to stand up for their child’s rights.
Let me first say that I am not an uneducated woman. I have 2 doctoral degrees, I am a physical therapist and a university educator so regardless of who you are, don’t be embarrassed if you were, like me, clueless about the intricacies, nuances, and skills required to understand and navigate the IEP process in the public school system.
Valerie guided us through the IEP process, which was a lengthy and complex experience and now my son is an honor student in high school and has most definitely remained on diploma track despite the fact the district wanted him to receive a “credential of completion” which would cause him to forfeit his diploma and fail to receive a high school education.
Valerie advocated for the district to award my son many services from private agencies that I never knew were available but now I am aware of my child’s rights and special education law. She changed our lives – she changed my son’s life forever. I am so grateful for her.
It was during the very first meeting at the district office for preschool placement when I realized that this was not going to be a smooth ride. Even without prior knowledge of how special education works, I knew I wanted goals to be set high for my daughter, but instead, the District staff insisted we start with an Autism Program placement and “wait and see” how she would progress from there.
I attended several IEP meetings and became very aware of the fact that I was not going to get my child the services or placement she needed by myself.
After hiring Valerie, she immediately was able to have the district provide Melissa with an aide and she began transitioning out of the Autism Program classroom. The IEP went from no services with 3 goals to 16 goals with services for behavior, occupational therapy and speech and language from a private agency! This year, Melissa met all her goals for first grade in the high functioning special education class and was on HONOR ROLL!
There is no way I could have accomplished this alone. When my rights were violated, Valerie knew how to hold the district accountable. I am grateful that I sought out Advocate For Angels when Melissa was still young because we have been able to lay a very solid foundation for her to continue to receive the education she needs.
God sent an ally…
It was March of 2008 when my husband and I first met Ms. Valerie Aprahamian. She was businesslike, intelligent and very professional but underneath this demeanor laid a crusader, an advocate of the rights of the voiceless and under privileged special needs children. Above all, simply a fellow mother who is experiencing her life’s journey, same as mine, same as yours.
My son Matthew was 3 1/2 years old when he was first diagnosed with mild autism. My husband and I were like zombies, numb struck of the unknown, uncertain of what lies ahead.
Valerie was truly a godsend to our son Matthew. Valerie interceded on Matthew’s behalf, fiercely battled with quiet determination and resolved to fight for his rights with resilient persistence as we faced continued obstacles and challenges along the way.
Since then, my son’s life has taken so many twists and turns of unbelievable and remarkable improvement. The little boy who once had a severe speech delay and who displayed many autistic-like behaviors, is now a vibrant senior in high school who has learned how to have appropriate social skills, grade level academic achievement and adequate speech ability.
This year, Matthew will graduate with his high school diploma. Because of Valerie, Matthew was able to be fully included in general education classes. We could have not done it without Ms. Valerie. We still have a long journey to tackle for life after high school but now it is easier navigating around the many obstacles because we know our rights after working with Valerie for so many years.
Thank you Ms. Valerie for the love, guidance, and help you have given us. We now have a hopeful future for our son.
Our family has been blessed to have worked with Valerie for over 13 years. Since hiring Valerie when my son was only 4 years old, she has remained with us and has always been a wealth of support and knowledge… She knows the Federal and State Education Laws and is a master in conducting productive IEP meetings. Valerie interprets the complex IEP information and she explains the options in terms parents can understand.
The district wanted to place my son in a “Functional” class in high school, which would have caused him to forfeit his high school diploma. But because Valerie was our advocate, my son was able to take the required classes he needed to graduate with a high school diploma, providing him with the same opportunities as any other student. Facilitator, teacher, encourager, listener, and friend, Valerie truly cares about your child and has dedicated her career to fighting for the rights of students on IEPs.
Before I met Valerie, I thought my daughter was doing fine because I was not informed. The teacher seemed competent and my daughter seemed happy and I thought I was on the right path. I attended one of Valerie’s online special education webinars and it stirred my concerns and made me question whether or not Lizzy was receiving the IEP she really needed. I called a teacher conference with Lizzy’s teacher and asked specific questions about her progress and that’s when I had my aha moment. The teacher could not give me any specific information about my daughter’s educational progress other than letting me know she was happy at school. The teacher told me they did not work on academics and that Lizzy was only being taught functional skills. I was horrified. I had no idea my daughter was not being taught general education curriculum because they never made that clear to me. That’s when I decided to contact Valerie and I decided to take the Ultimate IEP course.
Valerie’s course helped me to create a plan of action and clarified what I needed to do to initiate the changes I wanted to make for my daughter’s IEP. I also hired an advocate to assist me because I didn’t want to delay the process because I am still learning how to advocate. Because of Valerie’s course, I now have the confidence and knowledge to understand how to work with an advocate and my IEP team. Now I feel that I am doing everything I can to ensure that Lizzy receives what she needs to get the education she deserves to reach her full potential. As a mother, I feel happy and relieved that now I understand the bureaucratic nature of the school and I realize the district’s underlying political agendas are not necessarily about the best interest of the special needs child.
Our kids cannot wait for us to learn this on our own. I recommend the Ultimate IEP Parent Empowerment Program for any parent who wants to understand their rights and help their child reach their full potential in school as well as their future after high school. The Ultimate IEP course will give you a clear path to accomplish this goal and help you put it all together in the most proactive, efficient, and effective way possible.