I'm so happy you're here!


Parents of students with IEPs want their child to reach their fullest potential.

They know an appropriate education is the first step, but how can they ensure the school provides everything needed?

How can they overcome the barriers to parent participation in special education?

And what should they do when things go terribly wrong?  

I provide parents with the knowledge and guidance to advocate with confidence.

Free Download

Special Education Savvy is the IEP instruction manual every parent needs.

Wouldn't a mentor to grab your hand and guide you along your child’s special education journey be nice?

Savvy is the next best thing! 

Written more like a girlfriend's guide than a dry, jargon-filled textbook, the information is accessible to even the busiest parent. Mary Beth delivers smart, practical advice with some pep talks and tough love sprinkled in along the way.  


Readers will walk away with:

  • A more positive, collaborative mindset
  • Advocacy strategies that can be implemented immediately
  • A clear understanding of parental rights and how to assert them
  • Best practices for IEP meeting preparation, participation, and follow-up
  • A toolbox of advocacy techniques to ensure that their child receives exactly what he or she needs to succeed 
  • A comprehensive list of parent resources

Whether your family is living with a learning disability, ADHD, autism, a developmental disability, anxiety, or something else, the time to step forward as a more knowledgeable and assertive parent advocate is now. This book is a must-read for parents who have years of IEP meetings under their belts, as well as those who are brand new to special education.

Buy on Amazon

...the new go-to guide for effective advocacy in the IEP journey. Mary Beth takes you by the hand and walks you step by step, with clear directives that are easy to follow. This is the ultimate instruction manual for navigating the IEP journey...This book is an excellent resource that will educate and empower parents and all IEP team members!”

-Teresa Unnerstall, author of A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism

"This book is valuable for parents who need not only the technical information but the perspective of someone who has walked in their shoes and gets the emotional piece, too. Want to feel prepared and supported going into a meeting with the school? Look no further!"

-Laura Axtell, M.Ed., special educator, trainer, and host of the educational podcast, Podclassed

Professional praise for Special Education Savvy

"Ms. Gilliland has succeeded admirably in fulfilling her goal of clarity in this book, which could not articulate more clearly to parents and advocates how to navigate the special education system successfully. In addition to the clarity of the writing, this highly readable book has two outstanding qualities. First, it succeeds in reducing complex topics such as the legal requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to their fundamental principles without misleading oversimplification. Second, it presents a systematic, comprehensive strategy for parents to become effective advocates for their children, a strategy aligned with IDEA's requirements that will serve them equally well whether or not they eventually find themselves in conflict with their local school district. The author's systematic approach distinguishes this work from other books that are, in effect, collections of helpful tips for parents. Here, the tips are embedded in the overall strategy, one that is both practical and respectful of parents' personal circumstances and the time and energy they are able to devote to organization and preparation.


As a lawyer representing parents in due process proceedings, I wish that all my clients had access to the strategies in this book. The techniques of planning, organization, documentation, and presentation of evidence to the participants in IEP team meetings and of approaching school personnel as collaborators rather than adversaries, are designed to place all parents in a stronger position to represent the best interests of their children, whether or not they are forced to initiate litigation." 

-Judith A. Gran, partner in Reisman, Carolla, Gran & Zuba LLP and founding member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc (COPAA).


I'm Mary Beth Gilliland.

Helping parents navigate the overwhelming world of special education more confidently is my passion. No one should have to walk the IEP journey alone. With over 20 years of combined experience as an educator, mom, and advocate, I’d be honored to be one of your guides.

My goal is to empower the parents of the 1 in 5 children with disabilities. To encourage them to take a more active role in what happens at school. To shift their mindset about special education and let them know that they’re definitely not alone. To show them how to build strong, respectful partnerships with their IEP teams. And to teach them how to advocate for what their child needs in order to learn, and even more importantly, to thrive.

Learn More About Mary Beth

Ready to step up your advocacy game?   

Let me help.


Simple, monthly action steps to keep busy parents on track all year long. *Relevant for all grade levels and disability categories*


Shining a Light on Special Education for Parents

The IEP Advocacy Blog spotlights the most important information and strategies that parents of neurodivergent learners need in their repertoire. With plenty of personal experience, examples, and stories sprinkled in for good measure.   

School Avoidance: What to Do When Your Child Refuses to Go to School

Back-to-School Advocacy Strategies for September

It’s My Advocate Anniversary!