Friday, May 27, 2011

"How Did You Build A Good Team and Get Your Son What He Needs"

After this conversation with a mom of a 9 year old, my friend asked me to post the conversation (or to at least try) so here goes.

 I was approached by a mom who said “I’m angry and frustrated.  Every school I take my son to there’s a teacher or administrator who doesn’t want him there and it hurts. I’ve been accused of wanting everything for my “special” child, while taking funds and attention that should be going to the other kids.  I’ve been denied services, I’ve been treated like the bad guy when all I want is for my child to have an opportunity to be the best he can be and to benefit from the supports he is entitled to. IEP’s are a nightmare, I feel all by myself and I’m so tired of battling people. You have a great team how did you get there?

I have been where you are and I didn’t get where I am now overnight but over time. Over years;

·           I educated myself about the systems of care and their rules – including who the decision makers were. (I was wasting a lot of energy on folks who only had the power to say “no” not "yes")
·           I realized that I had the power to not sign an IEP no matter how much people pressured me. 

·           I stopped shooting the messengers - this may of been one of the hardest things to do.
·           I began valuing everyone who worked with my child and letting them each know how much I appreciated them.
·           I realized that part of my child’s success at a school depended on how people felt about me, so I became aware of how important it was to treat everyone with respect – even when we disagreed.
·           I did not gossip or complain to others on the school campus or in groups.
·           I learned how to ask “If we do not agree, what are my rights?  How do I dispute your position/finding, how do I transfer schools,  how do you suggest we move forward to resolve this in a way that is best for my child?....lot's of questions with as little blame as I could muster. 
·           I made myself part of the solution by showing up at school, offering support to teachers and other parents.
·           I embraced the old saying “You can catch more flys with honey than with vinegar”. 
·           I opened myself to compromise.
·           I learned to identify people who wanted to help me and I worked with those people when I needed support.
·           I learned  to listen, without looking angry and without being ready with my next response before they finished talking.
·           I  reminded myself of something I forgot during all of my adversarial battles: people get into education, not for the big bucks but because they wanted to teach or help kids, not to hurt them. With this I began seeing the system as allies to be nurtured and not an enemy to be overcome.
·           I started to believe that things were going to be okay. Different, but okay.

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