Advocacy: January

Advocacy was my word for the year in 2012…and what a journey that’s been. Although I don’t really want to claim advocacy as my “word for 2013”, I recognize that it’s a skill that I will be building on for years. And lately I’ve been noticing some growth in that area.

My ultimate goal with advocacy is to find a kind and clear voice. A voice of reason. I don’t want to be a fire-breathing dragon (it hurts my throat too much when I’ve gone that route) and I don’t want to be a doormat (it hurts my boys too much when I’ve gone that route). I want to stand up for what they need in a way that feels right for me.

And here we are…three years down the road of Special Education and I’ve learned volumes. The way I think about education, disability, need, intelligence, has changed so much. And, I feel a little bit like a broken record saying that. I feel like I’m constantly saying “I’ve changed! I’ve changed! I’ve changed!” …and if you’re noticing that too, let’s just agree to interpret repetition as emphasis. I have changed. And it feels like a really big deal.

Lately I’ve been listening to how my advocacy voice has changed. I’m well into the process of arranging Isaac’s placement for Kindergarten, which so far has meant many emails and phone calls. Last week I talked to a woman from our district about the assessments Isaac needs for his program placement…and when I suggested some assessments she said “no way. We are not doing that. It will take way too long.”

Doormat Robyn of three years ago would have said to herself, “oh. She must be right. She’s the pro. Back down, Robyn, back down.”

Fire-breathing Robyn of two years ago would have said to herself, “these people from the district are so LAZY. I can’t BELIEVE this woman SAID that to me!! Like SHE knows who Isaac is.”

And this Robyn of today, let’s call her Investigative Robyn, said “hmmmm….I better check on this. I’m actually not sure. She might be right, but I’d like to make some phone calls first to see what the people working with him now think.”

And so I did. I talked to the people working with him now, in three separate phone calls to see if they agree. Do they think Isaac will get what he needs next year without these assessments, or do they think I should go to bat for this? What’s the fallout either way? And the voice was unanimous…he’ll be fine without those assessments.

Turns out, it was a process issue. He’s changed so much since he was initially evaluated that I was concerned the new team would be using out-of-date information to decide on his services and goals. But, although he’s changed a lot since his assessments, they will be using the most recent progress reports from his therapists to determine services and goals.

Bottom line: I don’t need to go bat for this.

And even bottomer line (Like that? Bottomer line??): I found out what I needed to know. I gave the woman from the district the benefit of the doubt and looped in the people I know and trust to answer my questions and build on my understanding of the process. And everyone seemed perfectly willing to help. Though, even if they were put-out by my questioning, I think I would have been okay with that too. I think.

At this rate I can see myself becoming a zen-warrior advocacy princess. Can’t you?

Also deserving of advocacy? Orange Poppy Seed Muffins…which have been stuck in lunches and snack boxes…making me a mom that peddles a mild amount of opium on school grounds. But if opium has a calming affect (and I think it does?) the schools should thank me.

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About robyn

I stopped teaching Kindergarten in 2005 to become the mom of two crazy boys here in Brooklyn. At first I thought being a stay at home mom meant that I needed to pour all my time and energy directly into my sons, but I realized somewhere along the way that being a rockstar mom meant not only taking good care of my boys, but also taking good care of myself. And taking good care of myself means pursuing something creative...just about everyday. I started Made In Brooklyn to motivate myself in my creative goals as well as share my work with others and perhaps inspire them in their own creative journeys.
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9 Responses to Advocacy: January

  1. Mama V says:

    definitely an advocacy princess! sounds like you used common sense and strategy. good for you, robyn!

    have a great weekend!

  2. Cathy says:

    I’m happy that things turned out the way they did. Wouldn’t it have been even better if the lady that said “no assessments” had said why? (or did she really think only about time???)

  3. Terri Deal says:

    You go mom!!

  4. janel says:

    And because of your advocacy…everyone wins…!! Looking back on my 30 years of teaching…it is the relationships of mothers/fathers/families that partner with the teacher/school,…that enable growth, learning and love to blossom. Of course you already know that…but just wanted to say….yea Robyn!

  5. Ladkyis says:

    wrong kind of poppy seeds for that. As for the advocacy, well, you are just living up to your capabilities. All your readers have known from the very first blog of yours that they read that here we have an intelligent, loving Mom who would walk through fire for her family if it was needed. We had no doubt that you would find the way to get what is best without having to be a doormat or a fire breathing dragon. Although we also know that you can do those things if it means your family will get what is required.
    I sit here, thousands of miles away and grin delightedly as you discover more about yourself while all the time making sure that your children and lovely husband are cared for. Your voyage of discovery is ours too and we are thrilled for you

  6. Stacey says:

    funny last paragraph! Good girl with all the advocacy stuff too!!
    p.s. where do you get your muffin recipes from? I’m starting to bake, Robyn! I made the bagels last week and they were YUMMY! It’s becoming my things. And, I think it’s healthier bc I know what goes into them!!

    • Robyn says:

      I DEFINITELY recommend the cookbook Passion For Baking. I use it at least once a week for breads, muffins, desserts, scones…just not really for cookies. For cookies I use the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. You can find both on Amazon…and both will teach you a lot about the process…like what’s the difference between baking soda and baking powder…why is there salt in cookie recipes…stuff like that. :)

      Happy Baking!

  7. Ruth says:

    Ladkyis has pretty said all that I was going to say. However, I will add that you continue to inspire me with the way you tackle autism and you give me great hope.

  8. Miss Vicki says:

    “yo mama” just tears up reading this–what a strong woman the “baby” has become!!

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