Thursday, March 17, 2011

Acting in Self-Advocate

As quick on my feet, as articulate and in command of the facts as I believe myself to be, I've decided it was foolish to think I could advocate for my own children. It is just too important, to vital to me that I, that someone, support them.

I can not be dispassionate about my child. The school principal could. The school social worker could. The classroom teacher, a specialist who never made a peep, all of these people know my children and perhaps truly care for them ... but they have the ability during a PPT to separate themselves from this relationship and look at my children with such objectivity. They could be "professional."

I could never achieve such disaffected objectivity. Maybe for a while. I certainly gave it a good try. But eventually, when describing the sincerity of my concerns, trying hard to reach them, I couldn't help but tear-up. Meanwhile, they remained detached.

Even though I realize such an attitude is professionalism, this was a child, my child, we were talking about. I was hurt that they could not be more empathetic. But, I could not reach them. And they would not reach across to me. This natural difference formed a huge divide between us.

To act as your own advocate is much like acting in self-defense. Despite all my preparations, it's almost all reaction. And it's sloppy. And it can feel desperate.

If I could do it again, I'd swallow the expense or perhaps ask a friend, but definitely bring somebody in to advocate for us, to act as a necessary go between. But if not, I'd be more prepared to demand the principal stop throwing around jargon and address me as a parent. Or perhaps I could better prepare myself to expect any variety outrageous comments and so not bristle into a paralyzed silence as they threw out the ISEE testing merely as an example that my daughter was just getting back at her parents or when they just ignored my son's clinically significant BASC scores.

I can not respond calmly, or rationally. I can not be an advocate. How could I expect to respond in any other way than as who I am, in the role that has the most priority for me, as a mother, their mother.

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