I am a parent of three children, two of whom have IEPs. Autism, ADD, anxiety, depression, sensory integration, PTSD, bullying, inclusion/exclusion—we've faced it all. While I'm trained through COPAA (Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates) to support my career as a Special Education Advocate, my most impactful training has come as a result of the advocacy I have done for my own children.
I grew up in Connecticut and attended schools here through high school. I graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and received my master’s degree from the University of Hartford in Organizational Behavior. My career began in broadcast journalism, and evolved into an editorial role at a Fortune 100 Company.
I loved my job, but my new baby was sick for the majority of his first year of life, and my husband and I came to the mutual agreement that I should stay home.
I am glad that we had the luxury of making this decision. Our son was later diagnosed with autism, and being home gave me the ability to manage his interventions. (An important point here: I will not sugar-coat the stress, anxiety and depression involved with managing early intervention, school services or social inequities.)
In the years since, I've really become something of an accidental advocate. I know the law. I know how to manage IEP teams. I know how it feels to be a parent out of options. Special education and having a child with these challenges is undeniably difficult, but there are pieces that can be fixed and life can be made easier.
I seek to not only support my clients, but help them become their own advocates, as this journey is one of a lifetime, rather than a short-term experience.
What's Up with the Purple Bag?
In 2008, I purchased a purple bag to accompany me on the first of many trips to the Connecticut Capitol. On that day, I witnessed the signing of landmark autism insurance reform legislation for which I had been advocating since my oldest son’s diagnosis in 2003.
It was no coincidence that I chose purple—the color of bravery and loyalty—for this bag. Since its debut, it’s made its way as far as the U.S. Capitol, and has been on the table for every IEP I’ve attended, including those of my own children. The purple bag represents every student’s legal right to access an appropriate public education, pursued with expertise and care by a parent who’s walked in your shoes.