Foreward:

The school years of childhood are profoundly important: they’re the source of lifelong memories. For the first time, children venture outside the safe circle of their families and become members of a larger community. During this time of learning, growing, sharing, exploring, and playing, children discover a world of friends, peers, and other adults who will deeply influence them. Memories from these years should be wonderful.

A generation ago, children with special needs were denied this positive experience. Many of their parents, however, had a vision. They lobbied and advocated for their children’s right to an education. As a result,our children have the right to receive an education in inclusive school environments. Parents have made this difference! As parents we’re always working to ensure the best quality of life for our children. We wish for them to have friendships and opportunities. We wish for them to learn and grow to be the best they can be. We wish for them to be welcomed, to belong, and to participate in all aspects of community life. As parents we know our children’s unique and individual needs as well as their strengths.

Our knowledge and the skills we’ve developed on behalf of our children enable us to participate as valued partners in the education system.

We’ve also learned that cooperation works better than confrontation and that effective partnerships between parents and professionals take time and commitment. To participate confidently and knowledgeably in planning our children’s education, we must be informed. We must also be seen as equal partners with school personnel and other professionals within the system. This handbook is yet another tool to assist you in understanding educational issues and structures and to provide information that can
help you advocate for your child.

You’re the most critical resource your child has, and you’re also a valuable resource to everyone who comes in contact with your child! Stay true to your hopes and dreams and know that the difference you make for your child can help make a difference to other children along the way. I hope this handbook helps you in your most important job — being a parent!

Cathy Anthony
Family Advocate and parent

© Inclusion BC – Fifth Edition 2014, Fourth Edition 2012, Third Edition 2006,
Second edition 1999, First edition 1993

Who is this handbook for?

This handbook is for parents raising school-aged children and youth with special needs. As the parent of a son or daughter with special needs who attends school, you may have questions about the school system, how to secure the support your child needs at school, who does what at school, or what to do if a problem related to your child’s education arises. This booklet will help you work within the school system and support your child’s opportunities to learn and to be included as a valued member of the school community.

Download the handbook