How to Advocate for Your Child without Being a Bitch.
I am both an advocate and can be a bitch when needed, so for me to tell all of you that you can do one without the other is like telling you that you can eat eggs without bacon. Of course you can, but it generally ends up not as nice. Well today is proof that I could be an advocate for my son and not be a bitch. I know! I’m just as shocked as you are.
So a little backstory, we were looking to switch our son from public to private school. The reason? In our district you cannot be six years-old and in preschool. We want to do two more years of preschool before heading into kindergarten. Brady is four now, but would turn six the April of his 2nd year of preschool and then school would be out in May. Essentially, they would require him to go to kindergarten a full year earlier than we wanted based on his IEP.
We found a few schools, interviewed them, picked one we liked and thought it was a go. After some confusion on both parts, and some struggles with Brady’s abilities and delays, it was decided that he would not go to school in the summer and then were told that maybe mid-fall would be better. A full 2 months after everyone else would start. I was starting to feel uneasy.
We have a super strong team behind Brady, his in home therapist, myself and my husband, an army of family and friends, and a lot of readers who are going through similar things. I took this uneasy feeling and decided to do something about it.
Instead of bashing the school online, or just sitting and letting it fester, I sent an email. Safer behind the comfort of my keyboard, but still honest and open and, I hope anyway, was perceived as simply a concerned parent. I felt that the way his therapies and school were progressing was well intentioned, but setting him up for failure. I laid out all of my concerns and hit send.
Then the anxiety started. Was I too mean? Was I too nice? Will I be perceived as “that parent” who tries to steamroll her way in?
I got a phone call from the school a couple hours later. Was nervous to answer the phone, but thankfully our in-home therapist was here, so I felt a small spark of confidence. I answered and we chatted for a long time. Again, I laid out my concerns, reiterated what Brady’s abilities were and that all I want is for him to get the therapy and schooling he needs. We came together and made a new plan.
In the end, I took a situation I was nervous about for a while and turned it into something that will help Brady. I wasn’t demanding, I simply stated my concerns and how I think it should be handled and they stated what they were able to do and we met in the middle.
After chatting with friends and readers over the past couple of years, I realized that many people out there don’t realize they can dictate what help, therapy and services they receive. So many times people are talked to, in the special needs world, as if we don’t know what’s going on or how to advocate for your kids. Thankfully that was not the case in my situation. I want to remind you all that YOU are the best advocate for your child. Stay strong, put yourself in uncomfortable conversations if needed, and remember that YOU know what’s best for your child.
Also remember that I’m always just an email or comment away. If you have any questions, need advice or just need to vent, shoot me a message! We are all in this together.
And now I close with an adorable picture of Brady. 😉
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