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.