As mommas of special needs children we have to be stronger than your average bear I want to hear your stories about finding your voice and the journey to advocacy.
I will share my own story later.
Great thread! Hmm, I am trying to think of a particular moment in time when my mama bear came out. The time I think of most clearly is when my oldest son was in second grade and his regular ed teacher made a comment like, "I feel bad for whoever marries him, if he gets married at all!" I remember sitting there in total shock and looking across the table at the special ed teacher and just not knowing what to say. I figured it out pretty quickly after getting home and ended up in the with principal the next morning. I was livid at that point. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I did get an apology from both the principal and the teacher.
Also wanted to add, I tend to have to really push myself to advocate on my own behalf, but something about advocating for my kids just comes so naturally. I have had to fight for a few things here and there with regards to the support my kids get in school, but I never let it go until I know it's been fixed. My dh always laughs at the fact that I hate to make phone calls, but will spend hours on the phone getting the right person to talk to me about my kids!
QueenOfTheMeadow I wish I could say I was surprised by what the regular ed teacher said. Sadly, I am not at all surprised. I am glad DS didn't hear it! I know exactly what you mean about it being so much more difficult to advocate for yourself than it is to advocate for your children.
AFM - My mom was a teacher, my grandma was a teacher, I was taught to respect the authority of teachers and this unfortunately filtered over for years into my own children's education. I thought there were problems, I requested testing, but over and over I was told there were no problems, or the school is doing everything they can, then the school started blaming my DS1 for not making progress and then me for his behavior. My moment came when the school was trying to remove my DS1 from our local neighborhood school and place him in a psychoeducational facility. I visited the facility and pulled the state audit on it. It was horrifying! I hired an educational advocate and an attorney. Through these ladies I learned how to have a voice and how to advocate for my son. I learned to no longer fear the authority of the school district and I learned how to challenge it. We ended up filing due process and now my son finally has the appropriate placement and educational instruction that he needed all along! My DS2 is also in special education and after what we went through with DS1 now I know what to do!
I have also had to learn how to tactfully stand up to my family. My mother is a retired special ed teacher and she doesn't understand anything about DS1. She actually thinks that ADHD is just about being able to pay attention.
How about you? What was your significant turning point?
UGH! Family! That is always a difficult one to handle. In some ways, I thank goodness, that my oldest is the one on the spectrum. He broke my family in! LOL!
My middle son is gifted with a learning disability, and that was a little tough to handle, because they would say, "But he's so smart." and I'd have to explain all over again, that that wasn't the point of a learning disability. The point was he is so smart, but he can't showcase that in school without support.
Now we are going through the process of getting my youngest on an IEP. He's pretty much the poster child for ADHD. Smart as a whip, but distracted by the tiniest thing, no impulse control, and his executive functions are well, non-existent! I once found his homework folded up as a paper airplane. LOL!
That one has been a bit tough. My sil is a teacher and when I was describing him she said, "Sounds like a typical 8 yr old to me." I was less than tactful about it and said in my most sarcastic voice, "Yeah, because goodness knows I wouldn't recognize a kid with special needs when I see one." LOL! My side of the family seems to be coming into the realization that my youngest isn't just "badly behaved". So we've broken through to them with that side of things.
I have had the benefit of having a sister who is an amazing special ed teacher to back me up on some things. She often gives me the right way and terminology to get what we need. So she's been such a help!
I had to bring out my inner Mama Bear on Monday. My daughter needed blood work drawn first thing in the morning for an appointment she has next week. She was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and this disease and all it entails is very new to us. She woke up with a lowish blood sugar number but I figured if we hopped in the car, got into the lab right away, that we could have her eating something in a short period of time. I was told by the dr's office to be sure to tell the lab when we signed in that we have a pediatric diabetic patient. We arrived at the lab within minutes of it opening. I told the lab worker when we signed in about my daughter's condition and was pretty much told "So? We take people in order of their arrival". I totally get that for a regular person but someone with Type 1 diabetes, things can quickly head into hypoglycemia. I raised as much as a stink as I could but they were not budging. We waited half an hour before we were seen and by the time we left, my daughter was pale and sweaty and in the early stages of hypoglycemia. When I got home, I left a very detailed message on the lab's website (I may or may not have threatened to share our experience on FB, haha) and within a couple of hours was called by the company with an apology. I told them that if I went to the doctor or to the emergency room, I would assume that anyone who has a more pressing condition would be seen ahead of me. I am sure that people waiting for lab work would understand if a diabetic person/child needs to be taken care of first. I don't know if this will result in the lab being more considerate but I sure hope I did something to make a difference.
My biggest mama-bear moment may have appeared quite passive. It wasn't, by any means, but perhaps I was pretty invisible. In about 3rd or 4th grade, YoungSon was having a hard time. He had been mostly homeschooled, but we thought we would give school a try. He had been in school about 2 or 3 months, and his behavior was escalating. My sweet, quiet autistic boy was having daily meltdowns, running from school, etc. They moved him to a Behavior Classroom. Totally the wrong placement for him. But I just quietly withdrew him from school, and never looked back. This took all sorts of lifestyle changes - as a single mother, I had to quit my job, figure out income sources, and more. But it was all under the radar. No one but my closest friends (including ladies here on MDC!) knew how big a deal this was.