Information for parents of disabled children

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fighting Frustrations; When the System Seems to Be Fighting You

Long jumpImage via WikipediaWhen working toward a negotiable goal with your child's school, it's possible to become frustrated, and irritated, and. . . you get the picture. Some resistance can become lots of resistance, and your sunny disposition goes right out the window because this is your kid we're talking about here. There are ways to break through that resistance and come out on the other side with relationships intact, as well as an acceptable IEP. It starts with you.

Know Your Stuff

Research your positions, so that you can communicate that position clearly and without snarkiness. We seldom snark when we have facts and figures to quote. Unfortunately, this means we get homework. Pull out the old IEP binder and get to work. The safest way to start, in my opinion, is to decide on your deal-breakers.  What issue will force you up and away from the table? Once those are prioritized, you'll know where to start researching.

Know Your Enemy

Let me reassure you that it's usually not an enemy, more like an obstruction. It's not a good idea to assume an administrator is not "on your side". Admins are very often worker bees in the hive. They have job descriptions and requirements. Seldom are these people your enemy, but neither are they your friend. These are professionals. Once you really grasp that, it's not a long jump to the next logical conclusion. So are you!

As a mother or father, you have the most diverse job description known to man. You are the resident expert on your child. The data you have on this particular student is invaluable to the school's staff. They need your input.

Treat this like a business meeting. Wear a suit if you have to! If you come at this from a professional frame of mind, it will help you be the advocate you need to be. If you are losing your temper, stop the meeting. Ask for a break or a reschedule. The law gives you the right to do this. 

Know Thyself

Maybe this makes me the cockeyed optimist in the room, but I really believe most parents can do this on their own. It takes time and work and gumption. It's hard, still is it really harder than what we do already? Any one of us can do this

Degrees and doctorates are not required to get a diagnosis in the family. All it takes is breathing to get that news. Most diseases and disorders are no respecters of persons. As a parent, our limitations are what we say they are. How often do we tell our child with special needs 'they can do it'? Take a moment to look in the mirror and say it to yourself. After all, you've gotten this far, right?
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  2. Thanks! I like that link. What a great resource. Unfortunately in our area, administration is a much more jumbled business than those straightforward descriptions of what admin should be. :) We have many. There are director's above them. When you sit down at a conference, there is one who may or may not deal directly with your child. I wish the system wasn't so top heavy. It would simplify things.Sigh.