We navigate. You advocate.
Melissa Stein is a special educator and community advocate with expertise in evidence-based practices for children with Autism, ADHD, Emotional and Behavioral Challenges and/or Dyslexia.
I am a mother of three, wonderfully neurodivergent children. My work in disability advocacy precedes motherhood; in my early career, I worked in both direct service and federal policy positions in the disability world.
My deep dive into all things special education began when my oldest child– then 8 years old–was identified as autistic. When a pediatrician suggested we have her evaluated, I was confused. How could my bright, hyper-verbal child be autistic? That initial question began my professional and academic journey toward understanding her needs and the educational needs of all children with disabilities. My interactions with the school system were incongruent with my growing knowledge of best practices and special education rights, particularly the constant confluence of academic achievement with educational impact.
Those discrepancies between my informal learning and the schools’ practices launched my academic and professional journey to become a special education teacher and certified autism specialist. Today, I continue to learn about emerging research and barriers to appropriate, evidence-based practices in special education. My primary academic interests are post-secondary success, the functions of student behavior, and the relationship between behavior and unmet academic and social needs.
We, as parents, know our children better than anyone. Unfortunately, children do not come with directions--especially children like ours. They do not come with expertise in special education either. It is my privilege to leverage my acquired multifaceted view and expertise to educate and empower other parents to efficiently and effectively advocate for their children.
I encourage you to contact me for an initial 30-minute intake call, so you and I can determine whether we are a good fit and how I can help make this process less overwhelming. I pride myself on being a candid, empathetic, somewhat irreverent warrior. On that note, I encourage you to listen to Does Anybody Have a Map from Dear Evan Hansen when you need to remember that it’s normal to feel lost when you have a struggling child.
“Building a strength can take you to the top of the world.”
John Elder Robison
"Melissa is an organized, thoughtful and candid source of support for families seeking educational supports for their children. During an extremely overwhelming time, Melissa was a strong source of support for our family. We appreciated her persistent advocacy and immense knowledge of the system."
-Emily from Kensington
"Melissa knows the special education system/resources backwards and forwards. But more than that, she understands kids and parents and what they need to be successful. She will tell you what you need to know and empower you to advocate for you child. Anyone would be lucky to have her on their side."
-Dena from Chevy Chase
"Melissa is so knowledgeable, and has been so invested in our case. Melissa is a great resource for anyone starting out in figuring out the special educational system, especially within MCPS! Highly recommend!"
-Hinda from Silver Spring
Each child has unique needs, strengths and abilities. All people with disabilities have an inalienable right to self-advocacy and self-determination.