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.
God sent an ally…
It was March of 2008 when my husband and I first met Ms. Valerie Aprahamian. The woman’s exterior facade was businesslike, intelligent and very professional but underneath this demeanor laid a crusader, an advocate of the rights of the unheard 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, totally gaping in grief and grasping at how to survive the many demands of rearing a child with such a disability. We waited for our precious son to come into our lives for 13 years with full joy and expectation, only to be devastated by this dreadful condition.
When Valerie was referred to us by one of the Moms whom I met at one of those support group meetings, all of the answers to our problems and needed help were supplied through her. She 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 toward the many obstacles and challenges we faced along the way.
It was never an easy journey for us, yet Valerie taught us to be patient and encouraged us to trust and believe that our school system would not fail us. She never wavered in her faith that our son would receive the necessary home and school services and eventually would improve in his condition and reestablish the promising life and future we once envisioned for our little boy.
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, who cried at the highest decibels in all places night and day, who never exchanged interaction or befriended any relationship with boys of his own age, who once belonged only in his own world of stemming and academic delays, is now a vibrant 8-year-old who has learned how to have appropriate behavior, age level academic achievement and functional speech ability. My husband and I can proudly say Matthew has found hope through the greatest help of Ms. Valerie.
Matthew is now a third grader who attends 3 regular education classes in Math, Social Studies and Science with the help of a teacher’s aide. Our hope is that he will be fully included in all general education classes by next year. He now talks and conveys his messages clearly, plays with his peers and participates in class discussions. Matthew is the smartest in his special day class and recently received outstanding grades on his report card. He also received awards such as “Student of the Month” and “Most Improved in Behavior” to name a few. We are so proud of his many achievements yet we have to give credit where credit is due.
We could have not done it without Ms. Valerie. She has truly answered our life crisis regarding our son Matthew. We still have a long journey to tackle but it is easier navigating around the many obstacles now because we know that Valerie is still in it for the long haul with us!
Thank you Ms. Valerie for the love, guidance, and help you have given us to bring back a hopeful future for our son.
Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the many special children you serve. You are an institution by birthright and continue to answer your fervent call to assist special needs families by living your purposeful life to the best of your heart’s desire. You are a success and a blessing to us and may you continue to keep fulfilling your compassionate and great mission in the lives of many families with a special needs child.
Justin was judged and treated poorly at school and denied special education services as early as four years old. I fought the best way I knew how but was never successful with getting the school district to understand Justin’s needs. The school site administrators at the SST meetings would make me feel like it was my fault he had problems and that it wasn’t their responsibility to help with Justin’s inability to be successful with his education. For years my husband and I watched Justin’s self-esteem sink lower and lower which caused him to have a negative attitude and bad behavior. It got worse every year until he finally broke down in 6th grade. Because of his break down, at the end of his 6th grade year we were finally able to get him a 504 plan. Even though he had the diagnosis of ADHD and Tourettes Syndrome, the district still denied him eligibility for an IEP. We found new doctors and finally got some answers; Justin was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.
After receiving the Aspergers diagnosis, things changed a little with the school in junior high but he still wasn’t getting the help he needed. I made sure to have annual 504 meetings but Justin was still struggling. 9th grade started out great but his grades quickly began to decline. We then started having problems with some of the teachers because they refused to help him and made Justin feel like he was choosing to get bad grades. The 504 document never held the teachers accountable by documenting that it was their responsibility to provide accommodations. Instead, they would write that Justin had to do all the work. One teacher even treated him poorly and embarrassed him in class.
Due to the stress he felt, Justin would throw up every day before school and have melt downs almost every night. I felt like such a failure as a parent because no matter how many meetings we had we never saw any changes being made. One day, as I sat crying in anticipation of another meeting, I decided to search for help. I called the first person I found and was embarrassed as I cried during the conversation. The woman told me that even if I didn’t hire her I needed to get help, especially since my son was already in high school. I talked to my husband that night and told him about this woman named Valerie and how she was so compassionate and helpful. We decided to hire her immediately and it was the best decision we could have made! She made such a positive difference at the very first meeting!
Now I cry tears of joy because I know we couldn’t go through the IEP process without her. We still have a few years of high school left but I know we will win with Valerie advocating for our son.
Since hiring Valerie Justin now has an IEP. He goes to school with a better attitude everyday because he finally has the support he needs. Valerie knew how to ask for assessment and show evidence of why Justin should receive accommodations and services. Now he has a 3.5 GPA. He even has less melt downs at home because he has less stress at school. After being denied Speech services and going through the appeal process, we now have been successful in receiving a private Speech and Language social skills group and pragmatic intervention because of Valerie and her expertise. It was a big financial decision for us to hire her but we look at it as an investment in our son’s future. Valerie is worth every penny!