The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has your child's future as an adult at its heart, with the first stated reading:
“to ensure that all students with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living"
When I help you advocate for your child, I will help you consider the skills your child will need in adulthood and consider them in all advocacy efforts
I'm dedicated to helping you secure appropriate services in all areas of need requiring special education, including:
Parents are the enforcers of their child's rights under the IDEA and Section 504.
In addition to my role as an advocate to help you secure appropriate special education services for your child, I will help you increase your knowledge of effective advocacy skills. My ultimate goal is for parents to learn as much as they can from me so they no longer need an advocate.
Having said this, there are many parents for whom I continue to help with advocacy throughout their child's education.
I see it over and over again. It's just that simple!
It all started when...
My son was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old, before the incidence of autism started to rise. Desperate to find him appropriate programming, I feverishly learned everything I could to help him and discovered an intervention model based on the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). I set up school in my basement and he started to make great progress. Unfortunately, when it was time for him to be eligible for special education services at three, my school district didn't agree with our request to provide him a program based on this specific intervention. In an unfortunate dispute, we retained and attorney and entered into Due Process. Fortunately, we prevailed and my son received this intervention.
Going through a due process was like being thrown into special education boot camp. I hadn't realized how much I had learned until other parents started calling me for help with their own children. With autism on the rise, the phone calls kept coming. I realized how much I loved helping parents secure appropriate services for their children. Faced with making a decision between my career in television production /public relations and becoming a professional advocate, I decided to reinvent myself and go down this new path.
All these years later, my son is now a young adult and thriving. While autism remains a big focus of my advocacy practice, I work with all disabilities.
Other Advocacy Efforts
I have remained passionate about my love for video production and public relations and combine that passion with my advocacy efforts. Attorney Jennifer Laviano and I partnered in creating yourspecialeducationrights.com, the first and only video-based website that helps parents understand their special education rights. I serve as a co-chair of the public relations committee for the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys (COPAA), a national organization that promotes special education advocacy. Additionally, I am the founding president of Special Education Equity for Kids of Connecticut (SEEKCT) and instrumental in its promotion.
I speak frequently on special education matters and have a long-standing history of service on special education–related state boards, task forces, and legislative appointments to state councils. I am currently a long-standing member of Connecticut's Transition Task Force and a member of the Connecticut IEP Document Revision group.
We cannot praise Julie Swanson enough. As the parents girl diagnosed with autism, we have benefitted from her services for quite some time Her vast knowledge of special education issues and her incredible ability to pursue appropriate services has made a tremendous difference in our daughter’s educational experience and in her daily life. Julie’s representation at a PPT is truly remarkable. She is always right on, never intimidated, and it is at this stressful time when it becomes crystal clear that she knows her stuff!! Thank you Julie!!
Jonathan, thank you sooooooo much for referring me to Julie Swanson. And Sue, thank you for making it possible for Julie to assist our family in getting my son's needs met at school.
Julie Swanson ROCKS! OMG it was so great to have so much support during the PPT. She is so amazing.
Thank everyone, we are off on the path to success now and I feel so wonderful. I don't know what I would do without all of you.
Julie has this exceptional ability to hone in on the issue at hand and is relentless in her pursuit for fairness for kids who can't speak for themselfves. I have used her services for many years to great success. Her compassion and her tenaciousness truly distinguish her from other advocates. She is truly one of the top advocates for children with special needs in the State.
We retained Julie when the school district wanted to exit our child from special education. Julie handled this difficult case with professionalism and care. She understands how troubling these cases can be for parents. Our child is receiving much needed services due to Julie. We cannot thank her enough.
We have often been asked “Why do you feel you need an educational advocate. You are the child’s parents. Surely you know what is best for your child.” We always respond “You are correct. We are the child’s parents and we do know what is best and most appropriate for our child. That is why we have and educational advocate”.
We have found her knowledge in the area of educational advocacy to be superior. She takes the time to listen to parental and student needs and leverages her own knowledge and experience to benefit all involved. She understands the opportunities to leverage in school and out of school resources to provide a cohesive plan that will directly support the educational and parental objectives. She is able to bring a level of objectivity to what at times can be an emotional situation and works together with all parties to deliver positive results. Her dedication to getting positive results is unwavering. The outstanding results that we, and our son, have been able to achieve have been a direct result of her efforts. We will forever be grateful for her help.
We saw our son today for the first time since dropping him off at his new residential placement. When we picked him up, the first thing he said to us was "Mom and Dad, I made a friend, she's a girl." Needless to say, it brought a tear to our eyes. Just wanted to let you know again how you have made a difference in our son's life. Without your dedication and determination, he would not be where he is today.
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