Sometimes, I feel like I expected way too much from my case manager. I wanted someone who would be able to help me make sure my IEP was followed in the classroom, and help me fight back when it wasn't. Instead, I was given someone who expected me to fight for everything, and would only step in if things were going up in flames- sometimes literally. Here are five things I learned about my case manager that they didn't tell me, and you shouldn't expect your case manager to tell you these things either.
You won't get the best assistive technology
Legally, schools are required to provide assistive technology for students who have a demonstrated need, as part of their right to a free and appropriate public education (also called FAPE). However, these devices don't have to be new, high-tech, or even easy to use. For example, when I needed a CCTV, I received a very old machine that frequently flickered and was frustrating to use- I nicknamed it "The Dinosaur." As annoying as it was, it was a CCTV, so the school had done its job and given me what I needed. Students and parents are going to have to fight to get the school to buy newer devices, or get them from another organization like the state department for the blind and visually impaired or similar. If you're looking for a CCTV that can be used for testing, may I suggest the E-Bot Pro?
They can't go after teachers
As much as I wished that my case manager could yell at teachers who did not follow my IEP, I eventually realized that there wasn't much they could say to them. The case manager has to work with these teachers almost daily, and will likely be working with them long after I graduate. So they couldn't really say much to them about not following my IEP, because while students may change from year to year, teachers tend to stick around. Here are my tips for collecting documentation for IEP violations.
A lot of things go on behind the scenes
When I was in a situation where my IEP was violated in a science class, I felt like my case manager wasn't listening to anything that I said when I talked about how toxic the classroom environment was. I later found out they were working on getting special permission to transfer me into a virtual class halfway through the year, and surprised me with this news on my birthday, which is around the semester mark. While I might not have noticed, my case manager was working on helping me more than I thought!
Legal resources for school
I have a reputation for using every resource available to me, which might be why my school kept certain legal resources secret from me, like my state protection and advocacy organization. I wish I knew about this organization sooner, as they would have been helpful when dealing with IEP meetings, and especially helpful with IEP violations. Read more about my state's organization, the Disability Law Center of Virginia, here.
They want you to not need them
While it's a problem if your case manager goes out of their way to ensure they're not there if you need them, ultimately they want you to learn to self advocate. My case managers were instrumental in teaching me this skill, which has helped me a lot since graduating high school and transitioning to college. Read more about learning to self advocate here.
I'm grateful for my case managers who helped ensure that I graduated high school and transition to college, where I have been thriving since then. If you liked this post, then you will also enjoy my post on lessons I learned from my teacher of the visually impaired, or TVI- read more about my TVI experiences here.