As an experienced SLP performing teletherapy, have you ever been met by those words, ”They have an advocate”? And what happens when you do? I know. Your heart starts pounding. Immediately you are struck with those uncomfortable questions, “do this kid’s parents trust me?” “Don’t they assume that I am only interested in what is best for the child?”
Your imagination goes right to work as the insecurities begin flying through your head. This “advocate” is going to be a problem going by demanding of me things that I won’t be able to deliver. ‘What about my goals and methods?” The independence that I cherish so profoundly is about to fly right out the window!
What Does A Teletherapy Advocate Do?
First of all, take a deep breath and find out precisely what a teletherapy advocate does. Simply put, a teletherapy advocate helps the child’s parents to understand the IEP process and associated paperwork better. Also, a teletherapy advocate coaches parents as to how to best advocate for their child including how to best work with the school team.
Why Hire an Advocate?
So the obvious question is why would parents solicit the services on advocate in the first place? After all, why don’t the parents deal with the team directly? When everything is going as it supposed to, hiring an advocate certainly isn’t warranted. However, when the parents are either confused or disagree with the IEP, goals or related services, it may be time to reach for help.
Another reason is that sometimes the parents may be overly stressed by other factors in their lives leaving them either too emotionally drained or exhausted to interact with the team on their own. Under such circumstances, the best solution may be to invite someone more experienced with a “cooler head.”
In some cases, the parents may feel that the school isn’t sensitive to their concerns and thereby causing the child to suffer needlessly. An experienced advocate with knowledge of teletherapy, the inner dynamics of the bureaucracy, and the advantage of being less emotionally involved can and has worked wonders.
Will An Advocate Attend An IEP Meeting?
There are times that parents will hire an advocate to attend an IEP Meeting for any number of reasons. It could be for critical clarifications as the parents are generally not familiar with either the processes or the jargon related to the therapeutic process. Or the advocate may be there to provide emotional support, to “hold the parents' hands” so to speak.
Will The Advocate Question The SLP’s Goals?
Generally speaking, a teletherapy advocate is not there to challenge the expertise of the SLP, but instead to clarify matters that are of specific concern to the parents. This is all with the express intent of either better understanding the process or improving recommendations.
Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself
The objective and function of the advocate is to work together with the assigned SLP and the school, not against them. This is not a fight or even a contest but a more productive way of collaborating for the child’s best interests. So there is no reason to fear the advocate. In fact, when the advocate’s role is understood correctly, it is a win, win, win!