My name is Jocelyn Trapani, and I grew up in a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania where there were no strangers. Every weekend my aunts, uncles, cousins, would meet at my grandparent’s house for Sunday dinner. The smell of fresh apple pies would radiate throughout the house, along with sounds of laughter and joy. These are my fondest memories of Meadville, PA.
Growing up, I was a very average student. I attempted college after I graduated high school, but it was anything but successful. I could not understand why for some individuals school was effortless, but for me, it was hard and discouraging.
I eventually endured the college experience in my mid 20’s to advance my career. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Business Administration and then a few years later went back for my Master’s in Multicultural Education. I graduated with both degrees Magna Cum Lauda. It was during my graduate work that I was diagnosed with ADHD.
With Diagnosis Comes Clarity
This answered so many questions, like why I couldn’t sit through a class without organizing my closet in my mind. I began to understand and research the diagnosis so I could have clear expectations of myself. I began to realize the only difference between me and my peers was that my path to learning looked different, yet the end goal was the same.
During my career in corporate, I held several positions that varied in responsibilities, but the one thing always held true was that my positions always morphed into training, mentoring, and educating. In my early career, I put a team together of 9 individuals that were all on disciplinary action. Not one of these individuals was hitting any of their goals. I knew they were trying, but there was something missing. I wasn’t willing to look the other way. I took the time to get to know these 9 individuals to put motivators and individualized training in place.
They soared! In 90 days, everyone was hitting their goals, and one individual was promoted. I knew they could do it; they just needed a few adjustments to the process and a cheerleader in their corner. I was so excited for each of them and will always remember the sense of accomplishment on each of their faces. I provided a safe, secure, predictable work environment which allowed them to show up confidently and put their best foot forward when they walked into that office.
I believed there were no limits to helping someone feel comfortable in their own skin. Let’s face it, life can be hard, but accepting who you are is fundamental. Being an advocate is part of who I have always been. It is natural for me to help people fit into a world when it can be hard to find your safe place.
Our IEP Journey is Your Hope
I got engaged to David in 2003 and moved to Chester Country where we reside today. We have three boys: Garrett, Brody, and Gage. Words cannot describe the love I have for each of them. By second grade each child had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). I read several parenting books and no book prepared me for the IEP ride; acronyms, terminology, processes, timelines, deadlines, laws, tests, evaluations, private evaluations, school programs, specialists, and the list goes on.
My children’s IEP development ranges from speech development to alternative schooling – and everything in between. Two of my children are on the spectrum for autism, both have ADHD and one has selective mutism. My third son requires speech therapy, as well as support for anxiety. Our journey has included years of incorrect diagnosis including schizoaffective, schizophrenic, mood disorder, bipolar, ODD, anxiety, and depression.
Over the past several years I have worked directly with residential facilities, inpatient facilities, psychiatrists, therapists, county resources, wilderness programs, attorneys, school personnel, hospitals, private placement, law enforcement, hospitals, and alternative therapies. I share this very personal story because our journey is your hope.
Our journey is not unique, but what makes it feel unique and isolating is the stigma. My goal as an open book is to stop the stigma and ultimately make room for acceptance. Isn’t that what we all ultimately want, to be accepted?
I know having a child with special needs paves a bumpy road ahead, and I know that I do not have to walk this alone, and neither do you.
Together we will navigate the systems to provide options for your child to confidently thrive.
Education & Certifications
- Board Certified Special Education Advocate, NSEAI
- Member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPPA)
- Member National Special Education Advocacy Institute
- Master’s degree in Multi-Cultural Education, Eastern University
- BS, Business Management, Waynesburg University
- Elementary Education Certification, Eastern University