Advocating for Your Special Needs Angel

by Valerie Aprahamian

If you are ready to be inspired and empowered to roll up your sleeves and advocate for your angel,

this is the book for you.

3-1-16 CoverValerie’s life turned upside-down the day she heard the diagnosis: Autism. Already the mother of a child with ADHD, bipolar and seizure disorder, she refused to believe the doctors who said Chanel would never speak, write or survivor in a typical school environment. Worried about her daughter’s future and infuriated by the very broken, bureaucratic special education system that endangered Chanel’s well-being on several occasions, Valerie armed herself with knowledge and became an advocate force to be reckoned with in her local school district.

Unfortunately, her fast-growing non-attorney advocate business and great success in district reform did not dissolve the dear, anger and sadness that is a natural part of raising a child with special needs. And when the tragedy struck, not once but twice, Valerie found herself in unfamiliar emotional territory. She was guided and supported by her two special needs angels to follow her heart and find her own wings.

In Advocating for Your Angel, Valerie beautifully weaves her own powerful story of parenting a special needs angels with the information, strategies and tools she used as a non-attorney advocate to transform her district and help Chanel graduate with from a typical high school.

Purchase Advocating for Your Special Needs Angel on Amazon or through PayPal.

In this book, you’ll learn:

  • What your angel really needs from you to find his or her wings
  • Your parental rights and your child’s rights in easy-to-understand legal terms
  • Tools and strategies for facilitating powerful IEPs and negotiating with your district
  • Exercises to help you move from pain to purpose and find your own wings
  • A new approach to inclusion and an evolutionary lesson our angels are here to share

About the Author

Val Profile (1)Valerie Aprahamian, founder of Advocates For Angels, is a non-attorney advocate, author, special education law teacher and speaker. She helps parents of special needs children in the development of their children’s Individual Education Program (IEP). This enables each child to reach the highest expression of themselves and fulfill their purpose. As a mother of two special needs children, Valerie has been called to work with families, not only in education, but also in awakening to the gifts these special angels can bring into the lives of everyone around them.

In Valerie’s experience as a non-attorney advocate for more than 18 years, she has represented hundreds of families with special needs children, attending close to 2,000 IEP meetings. She holds a credential from William and Mary University Special Education Law Institute and attended Grace College of Theology, majoring in clinical psychology, and Mount San Antonio College with a focus on fine arts.

Valerie worked extensively in creating a disabilities ministry at several churches in her area and founded a FETA group (From Emotions To Advocacy), where she taught special education law for more than 10 years. Valerie successfully led a system reform in her local school district to improve the relationships between parents and special education administrators to ensure the provision of FAPE to children on IEPs.

Valerie resides in Southern California with her husband, Michael, their three children, Chanel, Celeste and Michael-John, and their two dogs, Jonas and Bijon. She is a delighted grandmother of Symphony, daughter of Jessica, Valerie’s eldest who passed away at age 28. Valerie is a credentialed Yoga Alliance teacher, as yoga practice is a major component in her spiritual development. She enjoys painting and drawing, gardening and reading, and is an avid beachgoer.

Testimonials

“Valerie’s story takes us on what could be a heart-wrenching journey, but turns into a powerful step-by-step approach toward building a future for children and families dealing with autism spectrum disorder. She touches into the personal, familial, societal and religious minefields in order to guide us to safer ground with one another. Rather than putting her arms around the reader, she gives the reader a road map for navigating this modern-day terrain. Hooray for the solid ground Valerie provides! She has done her work well in order to provide a brighter future for children with special needs.”

—Luanne Somers, B.A., M.A., Classical Homeopath Somers Healing & Consulting, www.somersconnect.com

“As a mother of a child with significant special needs, I completely understand the sense of isolation and overwhelm Valerie experienced. I applaud her commitment to sharing her experience and expertise to pave the road for all the parents who follow behind us. I could have saved years of legal battles if I had the advice she presents in this book!”

—Niki Elliott, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Innerlight Sanctuary, LLC, author of The Intuitive Mother

“This is a must-read for any parent with a special needs child. Valerie’s journey takes us gently through the maze of advocating for our angels while teaching us to see our children as the teachers they truly are. Thank you, Valerie.”

—Angela Gonzales, M.D., founder of Renaissance Mind and Dr. Angie’s Place

“As an educator and mother of a special needs angel, I found this to be a miraculous book, summarizing but not missing pertinent aspects of advocating for a fully inclusive life for a special needs loved one. Valerie validated the frustrations of educators who are forced to adhere to outdated policies while attempting to teach to each child’s unique style of learning in various settings, and empowered parents to take the practical and emotional journey through the experience of parenting such an angel. In just a few hundred pages of her beautiful story, she was able to weave the varied components of guiding families through the education system, community, and religious organizations and the spiritual principles that enabled her to advocate for her daughter and for my son, who is now graduating from high school with a diploma. This book is a gift in compassion and understanding that differently-abled people are embodied Love, and that we can all find our wings and create a better world.”

—Karen Aceves, parent, client, educator

“What a beautiful true story of an amazing mother and daughter, and the will to fight for and believe in your child! Valerie and Chanel’s journey through autism and conquering it is inspiring and hopeful to all of us in similar situations. Thank you, Valerie, for sharing your valuable story and advice! I was greatly moved and inspired!”

—Dr. Gowri Rocco

“As a working mother of an autistic son, I always worry. As an educator, I thought I knew what to do. Yet I was constantly feeling frustrated with my inability to get my son the services he needed. I realized that my educational experience wasn’t enough, and I needed help. Valerie was kind, compassionate and is someone who TRULY understood what I was going through. She guided me and taught me how to advocate for my son and his educational rights. He is now on the road to a successful high school education, and I owe so much of that to her. While reading this book, I found myself feeling emotional. I wasn’t alone in the struggles I was going through. Advocating for Your Special Needs Angel reminded me that I can be vulnerable yet strong, and that we all struggle, but must not give up. I would recommend this book for all the parents out there struggling to learn how to advocate for their child and searching to know that they are not alone.”

—Shannan Ash, classroom teacher, client, mother of an autistic angel

Advocating for Your Special Needs Angel is a well-written guide to special education services describing the struggle commonly encountered by parents of and students with special needs. This exceptional guide is a must-read for all families involved in navigating a challenging set of supports and services.”

—Russell G. Rankin, former executive director, Area Boards 12, California State Council on Developmental Disabilities

Advocating for Your Special Needs Angel is a must-read for parents, teachers, therapists and doctors. Valerie not only demonstrates what is possible when we see the strengths in our children, but she provides a step-by-step guide for parents in working with Special Education Services. This is truly an inspirational story for all.”

—JoQueta HandyHandy Wellness and COB Learning Center, author of Brilliant Learning, www.brilliantlearningonline.com

“In her new book, Advocating for Your Special Needs Angel, Valerie reveals her deepest emotions as a mother and the way in which she found the strength and determination to fiercely advocate for her children with special needs. Her story provides hope and insights for other families on their journey and an understanding of the motivation and information that fuels Valerie’s unwavering support as an advocate for them.”

—Susanne Smith RoleyOTD, OTR/L, FAOTA, private occupational therapist, co-founder of Collaborative for Leadership in Ayres Sensory Integration (CLASI), co-author of Sensory Integration: Applying Clinical Reasoning to Practice

“Whew! Valerie’s book helped me to see all of my unprocessed grief, anger,and desperation. But more importantly, Valerie gifted me and every reader with knowledge, power, activation and HOPE, which I absolutely needed! Advocating For Your Special Needs Angel is a must-read for every parent walking this daunting path with your child. Regardless of where you are in the journey, this book meets you there and encourages you to keep fighting the good fight!”

—Marlia Cochran, author, speaker, pastor, mama to a special needs angel

“You never really know what people are going through, nor how powerful women are. This book is heroism, perseverance, grace and unconditional love!”

—Leeza Villagomez, president of Yoga Den, Inc., author of Yoga Drunk