Advocacy for Children With Social-Communication Needs: Perspectives From Parents and School Professionals

Meghan Maureen Burke, Hedda Meadan-Kaplansky, Kimberly A. Patton, Jamie N. Pearson, Katrina P. Cummings, Chung eun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although parents of children with disabilities often advocate for special education services, most research has only examined advocacy from the perspectives of parents. Given that advocacy is an interpersonal exchange, it is crucial to understand the perspectives of parents and school professionals. In this study, focus groups were conducted with 47 parents of children with disabilities and school professionals (i.e., special education teachers and speech language pathologists) regarding how parents advocate for supports, desired social-communication supports, the impact of advocacy, and the perceptions of school professionals toward advocacy. Parents and school professionals reported similar advocacy strategies and desired social-communication supports. Parents and professionals also reported that advocacy can yield positive outcomes for children with disabilities. However, parents reported that some school professionals negatively perceived parent advocacy and that parent advocacy can yield negative outcomes, whereas school professionals reported positively perceiving parent advocacy. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Special Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • advocacy
  • family–school partnership
  • services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Rehabilitation


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