Parents as Advocates
An advocate is a person who speaks up for, acts on behalf of, or supports someone else. As a parent, you are the best person to advocate for your child because you know his strengths and needs, likes and dislikes. Unconditional love is a powerful motivator and it’s been proven time and again that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But how you squeak will determine how much grease you get!
As a parent advocate you will find others, such as teachers and physicians, who can support you in advocating for your child. Consider these professionals your allies; they can use their influence to assist you in receiving needed services and programs for your child. For example, a family doctor could write a letter to the school board describing the magnitude of the child’s anxiety concerning his language immersion program to speed up his placement in a program where he will be taught in his first language.
Despite the professional help you will seek along your advocacy journey, you are your child’s full-time advocate—the one with the file, so to speak, on ways to help him succeed socially and at school.
Parents make such good advocates because of their close, personal involvement with their children. Be aware that not all professionals you consult with will appreciate this closeness. Some professionals may take the view that you are too emotionally involved to be objective, implying that it is impossible for you to make rational decisions where your child is concerned. However, it may be your very connectedness that helps you understand that your child is different from his peers and that spurs you to take action to get him help.
As his trusted confidante, you know what really worries him and how complex his problems really are. You are the person who has drilled him on the multiplication tables night after night.
You were certain he knew them at bedtime on Monday night—how could he possibly have forgotten them by Tuesday morning? Likely, you are the person who knows how much school failure terrifies him. He has probably asked you, “What’s wrong with my brain?”
Parents often report a gut feeling that their child learns differently than other children. Many parents say they are relieved to discover that their child has a learning disability because they knew something was not quite right. Parents who bring these feelings to their family doctor, to their child’s teacher and to school administrators may not be treated receptively. Try not to be discouraged. You know in your heart that you must speak up for your child. If you don’t, who will?
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