Educational Consultant/Advocate

Dr. Lisa Gallagher provides educational consultation and advocacy, using a collaborative approach to reach joint agreements to meet the educational needs of the student.

My Consultation/Advocacy Approach:

As your advocate, I strive to provide consultation and education services to help you make informed decisions regarding the best ways to support your child to reach his/her full potential. As problems arise, people may forget to obtain all the relevant information and build a fully informed assessment. As tension builds, involved parties may polarize into opposing positions. When parents and school personnel are at odds with one another, the student can be caught in the middle and feel stressed or confused, even though all involved adults believe they are helping the student. As your consultant and advocate, I will work to help you achieve and maintain a positive working relationship with your child’s school personnel. Generally, when everyone works in good faith and collaborates for the good of the child, the student is best supported by a collaborative team providing support across home and school settings.

I work with parents and students in eastern Massachusetts, providing an individualized and student-centered process of consultation and advocacy. I provide options, strategies and recommendations tailored to your specific situation and needs. I also work collaboratively with the student, parents, school representatives and community providers to develop consensus and craft mutual agreements to provide the student with the support necessary to optimize learning. I work with you to help you become informed and empowered advocates for your child.

Background: As a clinical psychologist and special education advocate, I have worked with public, private and nonprofit schools for over 25 years, providing mediation, consultation and advocacy services to both parents and school personnel. I currently provide services for children ages 3 to 22, who have a range of needs related to psychiatric disorders, developmental delays, neurodevelopmental disorders, autism, neurological disorders, medical disorders, communication disorders, intellectual impairment, specific learning disabilities, sensory impairment, physical impairment and complex presentations with more than one area of need. I educate parents and school personnel on the impact of various disorders/impairments on the student’s capacity to learn and promote active discussion regarding the educational programs and services your child needs to make effective progress. I work with parents and school staff to understand all of the child’s academic, cognitive, social, emotional, behavioral, pre-vocational and transitional needs. I also work to help parents and educators understand their different perspectives, in the interest of reaching mutual agreements.

The Process: The first step is an initial telephone consultation to ensure that my skills match your family’s needs. If we both think we are a good fit, we begin with a comprehensive records review and consultation calls with current providers. We meet to discuss the results of the review, your child’s educational needs and any recommendations for additional evaluation that might be indicated. We then discuss options and strategies for accessing regular and/or special education services that you think your child might need.

At times my work may also include observation of the student’s current educational placement, education regarding special education laws and the rights of parents/guardians of a child with special needs, conference calls between providers and/or school personnel, attending 504 or IEP Team meetings to review behavioral data and/or evaluation results and collaborate on development of an initial or new Individualized Education Program. I also may work with you, over time, to ensure that your child makes effective progress as required by Massachusetts and federal laws. Throughout the process I research and maintain a master list of referral sources to address a range of needs such as neuropsychologists, college planners, speech and language therapists, audiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychotherapists, medication prescribers, developmental pediatricians, behavioral optometrists, parent education resources and coaches. In some circumstances, when parents request, I may prepare for and attend mediation and/or due process hearings with parents. We determine together our plan for our work. At times, we may work closely together via an active, joint, problem-solving plan. At other times, I may be in the background as a consultant while you as the parent(s) take the lead in advocating for your child.

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