It is normal for children and youth to experience various types of emotional distress as they develop and mature. Let’s be honest, today’s youth are dealing with a wide assortment of topics and stressors that many of us did not experience when we were there age. There is widespread cyberbullying, drug exposure, immigration issues, unstable home lives, body shaming, community violence and abuse just to name a few.

Some students are not equipped with the “tools” to effectively handle their emotions in situations. Sometimes these students will act out in school, not to get attention but to get help and guidance.  As a society we need to look more closely at these “difficult” students to figure out if there is an underlying issue or if it is typical ‘kid’ behavior. When symptoms persist, it may be time to seek professional assistance.

Here are some suggestions for Parents:

It’s okay to make mistakes.  Unfortunately, when you child is born the hospital does not send you home with a manual on how to raise them and address issues that might pop-up. Remember that you are human and you will make mistakes and its okay. Seek out parent support groups so that you can interact with other parents who are dealing with similar struggles. Keep trying until you find the thing(s) that work best for you and your child.

Conversation Matters. Let your child know that they can speak to you about anything they are thinking about without judgment. Let them know that you are there to help them with their thoughts, feelings and/or situations they are dealing with. Be sure you do not get angry or pass judgment. Really listen to what they have to say – you do not have to agree with them but they need to know you hear them. Depending on what they express to you, it may be wise to seek professional support for them.

Parental Presentation. Create a safe haven for them when they are struggling and/or in crisis. Let them know that you will give them some time and space to settle down. When you do talk to them, use a low and soft tone of voice and short statements.  Do your best to remain calm and stable during this period so that your stress does not exacerbate their feelings. Help them process by asking them questions that help them critically think about what they went through “What can you do the next time you are in a situation like this?” or “What made you feel better the last time you felt this way?”

Here are some suggestions for Teachers:

Start Fresh. Do not allow other colleagues opinions of a student cloud your judgment before you get to know the student yourself. Develop your own relationship with the student and ask them what works well for them when they are struggling.

Use your experience to guide you not to limit you. As a former teacher, I can still remember the names of the most “difficult” students that I worked with. I had to constantly remind myself that each student is different and just because Billy and Johnny have the same behaviors, it does not mean the same techniques and approaches that worked for Billy will work for Johnny.

Be Patient. Most of my “difficult” students wanted to do well in school and wanted a positive relationship with me and their peers. I disagreed with colleagues who called these students “slackers” and/or “trouble makers.” I sometimes had to remind myself that turning in a worksheet might not be high up on the student’s to do list especially if they are dealing with abuse and/or neglect at home.  I would find the good in what the student did and praised it so that they knew I was paying attention and their had work was not being overlooked.

Be supportive. Review your student’s IEP to see what suggestions are stated therein. Reach out to the school’s guidance counselor and see if there are any evidence-based programs that you could easily implement into your classroom routines. It would not only support your “difficult” child but the entire class as a whole. 

When should you seek additional support? 

  • If it's an emergency in which you or someone you know is suicidal, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.

  • If you can wait a few days, make an appointment with your primary healthcare provider or pediatrician if you think your child's condition is mild to moderate.

  • If your child's symptoms are moderate to severe, make an appointment with a specialized doctor such as a psychiatrist. You may need to contact your community mental health center or primary health care provider for a referral.

Have questions or concerns about your student? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549


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A good advocate takes time to know your child …

It is important for your education advocate/attorney to meet the student. Most of the time this can be done at home or at the advocate/attorney’s office. In order to advocate zealously for the student, we need want to have a sense of who the student is as an individual so that we can better understand their educational strengths and difficulties. This will help us understand whether or not their current IEP goals and benchmarks are both unique and complimentary to the student.

Another reason it is important for your advocate/attorney to get to know the student is so that the student’s voice is heard. Maybe they don’t like math and their struggles are not the result of an unidentified learning disability but instead their disinterest. Maybe they are experiencing bullying and are too embarrassed to tell their parents/guardians. The student’s relationship with the advocate is just as important as the advocate’s relationship with their parents/guardians. Sometimes what is in the best interest of the student is not what the parents/guardians want so it will be vital to have some insight to what the student wants to help resolve any real or perceived conflicts.

We empower parents/guardians by...

Education Advocates/Attorneys are great to help the student and their parents/guardians through a tough situation. We can help you carefully read your student’s school records, testing, and IEP. We can help you draft letters to the appropriate school personnel. We can help you prepare for an IEP meeting ~ in some instances we may even attend the meeting with you. We can often see solutions not immediately obvious to other people. We can be neutral parties to help break the tension and distrust that may exist between the interested parties. We can provide information about special education options, requirements and programs.

However, our goal is to educate the parent/guardian so that they understand the special education process. This way the parent/guardian can become a better advocate for their own student.

Have questions or concerns about your student? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549


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A good advocate is well-trained and knows the law …

As Founder and Owner of E.M. Curran & Associates, LLC, Ellen uses her knowledge and experience in both the legal and education settings to guide students and their parents through the entire, complex special education process. Ellen holds a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School (2000) and a Masters in Moderate Special Needs from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education (2010).  Ellen has been trained by the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) and continues her professional development by attending events hosted by Wrights Law, SPaN, Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE).

A good advocate understands schools …

After practicing law for many years, Ellen decided to take a break and pursue other career options. Shortly thereafter, Ellen began teaching at an Alternative High School serving High-at-Risk teenagers in a very economically challenged urban setting in Massachusetts.  She taught in this environment for seven academic school years. All of her students had either an IEP or a 504 plan. Many were dealing personal issues on top of their educational difficulties. During this time, Ellen was responsible for drafting and implementing behavioral and emotional goals, IEP goals, behavior plans, transitions plans, and progress reports. She attended IEP meetings, transition meetings, and DCF meetings as well as parent and/or attorney requested meetings related to school, behavior, and learning concerns. Additionally, Ellen has taught pre-law undergraduate classes at a well-known local university for well over a decade.

So what we can do to help you and your student?

  • We can provide information about special education options and requirements, and can help you to seek a specific service or program for your child.

  • We can help you carefully read your child’s school records, testing information, and IEP.

  • Our work is driven by data and not our emotions. Of course we have your child's best interest at heart but as a third party, we are able to take that step back to analyze your child's evaluations and create a complete profile that is not swayed by our emotions or dealings with either side.

  • If you wish, and if it is appropriate, we may attend Team meetings with you.

  • A skillful advocate can often see solutions not immediately obvious to other people.

  • We can help you to become a better advocate for your own child

Have questions or concerns about your student? Contact us to discuss further:

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549



A Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) is a record of all criminal court appearances in Massachusetts for a particular individual, including arrests, convictions, dismissals, and serious violations. Your CORI report is a summary of all your criminal cases in Massachusetts state courts. CORI does not include restraining orders or other non-criminal matters. Criminal records can make it hard to find a job, get housing or have a good life. Even if your criminal record is old, ti can create problems for you.

There are ways to reduce the impact of a CORI on daily life. In any case, removing an offense from your CORI requires getting a court order.


Do you have good cause for getting your CORI Records Sealed? Have you experienced one or more of the following:

  1. You are having trouble getting a job, denied a job or are at risk of unemployment because of your criminal record? 
  2. Would you like to be able to have or train for a specific job but cannot do so due to your criminal record? 
  3. Are your prospects at your current job limited because of your criminal record? 
  4. Are you currently homeless or having trouble getting housing due to your criminal record?
  5. Are you unable to volunteer at your child's school or unable to participate in other community activities due to your criminal record? 
  6. Has a lot of time passed since you caught any new charges?
  7. Are you trying to make your life better be it through night classes, GED or other educational opportunities? 
  8. Have you completed all of your probation requirements? 

This is not an exhaustive list of good causes for getting your CORI Records sealed but just a glimpse of some of them. 


Most criminal records can be sealed eventually through an administrative process by mail or by a judge. Most misdemeanors and felony convictions from a Massachusetts state court can be sealed after a waiting period. The general rule is that you are eligible to seal a conviction after a waiting period of 5 years if it is a misdemeanor conviction, and after 10 years if it is a felony conviction provided that:

  • You have no new conviction(s) (except for motor vehicle convictions with a fine not greater than $50) during the same period in or outside of Massachusetts; AND
  • You did not serve a jail sentence during the same period in or outside of Massachusetts, AND
  • You are not now required to register as a sex offender.

Every time you are convicted or incarcerated, the clock re-starts to add another 5 years for a misdemeanor, and 10 years for a felony. 

Contact Attorney Curran to see how we may be able to help you:

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549


Autism spectrum disorder  is a multifaceted developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. There is no known single cause of autism. There are several behaviors associated with autism that an individual may experience including delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities.  Early intervention and access to appropriate services and/or supports have been documented to positively contribute to many individual's successful outcomes. 


Autism Spectrum Disorders typically appear during the first three years of life. There are no medical tests for diagnosing Autism. So if you are concerned about developmental delays in your child(ren) consult with your child's doctor. Here are some of the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders (this list is not exhaustive):

  1. No social smiling by 6 months;
  2. Poor eye contact;
  3. No babbling, pointing, or meaningful gestures by 12 months;
  4. Loss of skills at any time;
  5. No one-word communication by 16 months;
  6. Not showing items or sharing interests;
  7. No two-word phrases by 24 months; 
  8. Unusual attachment to one particular toy or object; and
  9. Not responding to sounds.

Here are some great resources:

Asperger Works. This program assist adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders with employment. 

Autism Eats. This program provides information on autism-friendly non-judgmental environments for family dining and socialization.

Autism Insurance Resource Center. This program provides information on issues related to insurance coverage for Autism related treatments and services. 

Autism Support Center at Northeast Arc. The center providses information and support for families of people with Autism, including a paretn support group. 


It's Back to School Time!


Here are some tips and suggestions to start the school year off on the right foot:

1.      Review your child’s current IEP

The IEP is the foundation of your child's educational program, so it's important that you have a clear understanding of it. Take the time to review your child’s IEP before the school year begins to make sure it still ‘fulfills’ the needs of your child. If you are unsure, contact the school and ask for a TEAM Meeting to discuss how the child has progressed and/or regressed since the writing of the IEP. Be sure that you mark on the calendar when the IEP expires and if your child is up for re-evaluation this year so that you can plan ahead and be prepared.

2.     Set up routines

With some children, just talking about the upcoming year and changes can help reduce some of that back-to-school anxiety! While other children, they would benefit from a clearly established routine to help alleviate their anxiety. You can even begin practicing your new schedule, focusing on morning and evening routines, and begin implementing them well in advance of the first day of school.

3.     Introduce yourself   

Make sure you introduce yourself to each individual who will be working with your child and not just the classroom teacher – the aide, speech/language, OT/PT, job coaches etc. Share with each individual, a “3-Minute” overview of your child. What are the child’s strengths, likes, positives? What are some interventions that work with your child? Share your contact information and willingness to be a partner and support in your child’s success in school. Be involved in school events such as Open House, Fundraiser/Community events, and parent-teacher conferences to help you and your child get a feel for the school and meet the teachers, other staff, students, and families.

 4.     Start a communication log

Keeping track of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings, and conferences is important. Create a "communication log" for yourself in a notebook that is easily accessible. Be sure to note the dates, times, and nature of the communications you have.

Also ask the teacher how they usually communicate with families. Do they send home a log (how frequently)? Do they send out weekly emails?  Find out what they are able to do and establish a clear request for that to happen regarding your child. Remember, teachers are busy so they cannot report on everything. You should expect highlights, summaries and when appropriate concerns.

Contact Attorney Curran to discuss any school related issues your child may have.

E.M. Curran & Associates LLC

10 Tower Office Park
Suite 406
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone: 781-933-1542
Fax: 781-933-1549