Articles, Newsletters, Podcasts, and Video
About Peter Attwood
Peter was hazed into the special education world in 2007, and has been working for others since 2010, and full time since 2014 when he was laid off from his systems maintenance programming job. He is still debugging, but special ed problems now instead of computer code. He emphasizes getting the kid’s real needs figured out and taken care of, especially overlooked processing problems. He will use the law and other such remedies if the district wants to do it that way, but prefers to rely on reason and win-win solutions if the district is willing.
About Amy Munera
Amy Munera is the current president of Autism Society San Diego, and has served on the board of directors for the past seven years. She is the mother of three autistic boys, ages 11,14, and 17, and is an active volunteer in the local autism community in San Diego County.
Amy is passionate about advocating for autism acceptance and understanding, and promoting inclusion for disabled people. She believes it is important to listen to and include the voices of actually autistic people in disability related policy and non profits.
About Sandy Shove
Sandra Dixon Shove is a former elementary educator, a non-attorney special education advocate in private practice, and a longtime Autism Society affiliate leader.
She has 12 years of experience teaching, 13 years advocating for children with a variety of disabilities, and more than 14 years supporting and mentoring parents, as well as developing and presenting community awareness programs countywide as an Autism Society leader.
She is the mother of three young adults (one with autism), former Vice President of Autism Society of Santa Barbara and First Vice President of Autism Society of California, and a member of the Alliance of California Autism Organizations, Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys, and Women’s Organization for Special Education Professionals.
Sandy draws from this broad background and shares lessons learned while helping other parents become empowered members of their children’s planning teams.
About Mishon Johnson
Mishon Johnson, California native and mother of three boys first began advocating for her 2nd born son, Evan, who was diagnosed with Autism at the age for 2 in 2014. Evan was in early intervention at the age of 16 months when regression was noticed. The transition of advocating was helped tremendously by her extensive background in the child development field for over 15 years.
Mishon runs Our S.T.A.R.S. (Succeeding Through Autism with Resources and Support) Inc., a growing non-profit 501(c)(3) organization of parents and children who share common experiences and friendships.
They work hard to find resources for our children and to meet day-to-day challenges and successes of our most important mission of parenthood.
As Mishon points out “We are uniquely different in structure and in the services we provide. We support families through informal meetings, information, referral services, and educational workshops, and host networking events for families. We also, provide advocacy services like assisting parents with IPP or IFSP/IEP binders for peer support.”
About Leigh Monichon
Leigh’s 25 years in special education advocacy began with her autistic son. He was in a low-expectation special day class with only four picture icons to communicate and now he attends a four-year university. This was due to extensive determination, persistence, and advocacy.
In addition to providing volunteer advocacy on the State level while serving as Chair of Area Developmental Disabilities Board VII, Leigh helped many other parents advocate for their children.
After taking the year-long COPAA Special Education Advocate Training, Leigh helped found Aspire Advocacy. In March 2018, she received COPAA’s Advanced Advocate Training certification.
Specialties include attending IEPs, helping parents understand the IEP process, educating and empowering parents to help them be full IEP participants.
Leigh’s style is collaborative and thorough. While ensuring that the IEP Team addresses all educational concerns, with an eye on getting each client the services to which they are entitled.
She also focuses on building good working relationships between families and school staff.
About Anne Zachry
Anne has been a special education and disability resource lay advocate since 1991, a paralegal since 2005, and an educational psychologist since 2013.
She participated in due process hearings, federal district court appeals, 9th Circuit appeals, and California State courts on behalf of students with disabilities and their families or in support of their attorneys.
Anne designs and implements compensatory education programs for students who have been deprived of educational benefits. As a lay advocate, she uses her experience and skills as both a legal professional and education expert to resolve problems at the IEP level as much as possible while making the record in case things still end up in litigation. Most of her cases are resolved at the IEP level, though some still end up being handed over to an attorney for due process.
As an educational psychologist and behavior analyst, Anne can be called upon to testify as an expert.
About Juliet Barraza
About Valerie Aprahamian
Valerie Aprahamian, Founder of Advocates For Angels, is a Non-Attorney Advocate, Author, Teacher of Special Education Law, and Speaker. Valerie’s life work has been to assist parents of special needs children in the development of their child’s Individual Education Program (IEP)—to enable each child to reach the highest expression of themselves and fulfill their potential in living a meaningful life.
As a mother of a special needs child, 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 their lives.
In Valerie’s experience as a non-attorney advocate for more than twenty years, she has represented hundreds of families with special needs children, attending more than two thousand IEP meetings. She holds a credential from William and Mary Law School at the Institute of Special Education Advocacy.
Valerie resides in Southern California with her husband Michael and her adult daughter, Chanel, who has the diagnosis of autism and seizure disorder. She has 2 other adult children, Michael-John and Celeste. Valerie is a credentialed Yoga Alliance teacher, as yoga practice is a major component in maintaining balance in her life. She enjoys painting and drawing, gardening and reading, and is an avid beach lover.
About Lynda Zussman
Lynda is an Educational Consultant and Advocate who helps families with the Special Education process to receive the best placement and services for their special needs child.
She maintains a credential in the State of California in Regular and Special Education and works in three different school districts. She is an expert at conducting IEP meetings and now consults privately to families.
Lynda believes there are no learning disabled students, only learning disabled teaching methods. All students can learn and be successful.