Special Education Marathon San Carlos
Parenting is hard work (news flash, we know)
First of all, parenting any child is a lot of work. Secondly, add dealing with the systems in place to serve disabled children, and it becomes infinitely more complicated and difficult. Leigh and Susie frequently find that the government systems in place to help parents with disabilities consume substantial amounts of our time and energy.
Most parents put in an amazing amount of work, time, and effort to support their their children. They work with the government agencies when they can, and push back when they need to push back. Their passion inspires us, and helps us be the parents we want to be. Due to the efforts of parents who have pushed for services and supports for their children, both years ago and up to today, our children have as many rights and opportunities as they do. As a result of parental advocacy, we have IDEA (federal law), and Lanterman Act (California law).
We have to make sure laws are not diluted and that our children receive appropriate services. First of all, a school may unilaterally decide to deny a service, or not hire someone to provide it. Furthermore, the local Regional Center may make similar decisions. If we let agencies decide what services our children will and will not receive, many will not get their needs met.
Please keep in mind that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, we all need to fight back against poorly written IEPs, cuts or changes in law that impact our children, and anything that causes our children to not get the services they need. Almost certainly there will also be times when we have so much else going on that we have to leave the fight for a minute (or a month) and walk away.
Sometimes, we cannot get up and fight that day. Even the strongest person reaches their limit. Also, many of these systems are designed to push up against – or past – our limits. Agencies are good at wearing us down, saying no to reasonable requests, making us go through entire organizations to get services, forcing us to go to due process to preserve our child’s civil liberties. We have heard that some school districts conduct training in how to deny services. We believe it.
You have heard the line to “Put on your own oxygen mask first.” Yes! Most of all, because this is a marathon, not a sprint, we have to plan and act at a pace that still allows us time and energy to parent our children, enjoy our other relationships, and get ourselves ready for whatever is coming next. It will come, and you will face it better if you pace yourself on this long and interesting journey we are on.
As parents, we understand, As experienced and trained advocates, we can help.
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Parenting is a difficult job. Doing it well requires a wide variety of skills, many of which do not come naturally to some of us.