Dear ADDitude

Dear ADDitude: Should We Hire a Professional Advocate?

“My son’s school won’t grant him an IEP even though his teachers and I agree that it’s necessary for his education. Should we consider hiring a professional advocate to help him get the ADHD accommodations he needs?”

ADDitude Answers

I have not been fortunate enough to hire an advocate, but I know many people who have with success. Schools usually sit up and pay attention when an advocate is brought into meetings — they know they are dealing with someone who understands the ins and outs of the law, and the child’s legal rights.

Posted by Penny
community moderator, author on ADHD parenting, mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism


A Reader Answers

I agree that an advocate ~should~ make the school sit up and pay attention. However, the special education rules vary state by state, and that makes a difference. For example, in California it’s tough for anyone to get an IEP for a child with ADHD; getting a 504 Plan is not a problem.

That said, I would recommend hiring the advocate if you can afford it. If nothing else, she can help you craft a 504 that’s specifically helpful for your child. She can also work with the advisor who is scheduling his classes next year to make sure he’s assigned teachers who will work well with him. That, in many ways, is even more important then getting an IEP. Good luck.

Posted by Sandman2


A Reader Answers

Our son already had an IEP for speech and OT, but once he got diagnosed with ADHD it became obvious that he needed more. The school was terrible about offering the resources he needed and making things better for him, so we hired an advocate. So far, it’s been the best thing we could’ve ever done for our son. The advocate knew the standards for resources he should be receiving, and has lobbied successfully for things I didn’t even know were available.

Posted by Greengirl


A Reader Answers

I would recommend an advocate after using one for my son’s ARD meeting. Our advocate was VERY knowledgeable in these meetings. If this is your first experience with IEPs, you need that knowledge and experience on your side. My advocate was able to do the majority of the talking, since we had already discussed my main concerns. In addition, after a review of my son’s work, he was able to pinpoint further concerns and request the appropriate tests from the school district. I couldn’t have done that on my own, so, yes, I definitely recommend an advocate, especially if you aren’t sure of what to expect. Good luck to you.

Posted by Mom2Klay


A Reader Answers

An advocate is like a combination between a therapist and a lawyer. She will be able to help you communicate your child’s legal rights to the school through oral and written communication. When I consulted one, it was quite expensive (like paying for a lawyer, so around $150/hour), but well worth the money. I got excellent representation and my son got an IEP.

I am sorry that you are having so much trouble. Don’t take it lying down. Don’t be afraid to assert your child’s rights. Good luck.

Posted by SueH


A Reader Answers

I have begun working with an educational advocate and the response I have now gotten from the educational system is amazing. A good educational advocate knows the system and how to navigate it. The school had been resisting my attempts to schedule a meeting to update my daughter’s IEP, but the advocate made it happen.

Posted by Jeanette66