Yesterday, a friend and I left at seven in the morning to attend Parent Leadership Training so that we will be better educated regarding ARD (only in Texas--everyone else calls them IEP meetings) processes, not just so that we would be able to better advocate for our own children, but so that we could also bring that information back to local families and share.
Knowledge is, indeed, power. And let me tell you, even veterans of the process, like I am, can learn a lot. Laws change. Schools are pressured to reduce special ed spending, reduce the number of students receiving services, and not share important information with parents, like in Texas, the 11 autism supplements that by law, the school has to go over with you (if you ask).
We came home enriched and excited about what we'd learned, and, to be honest, as we read more today about these supplements we didn't know about, pissed and hurt and determined. Determined that other Texas families with autism will be armed with knowledge. Knowledge is not only power--it is empowering.
The more we know, the more we can effectively advocate for needed, necessary, and already legally obligated changes.
But...the flipside to this kind of intensive training, emotionally intense learning, is that it's the afternoon and I'm still in my nightgown. Yesterday wore me out so that I slept in till nearly 10 this morning and has me head-achy and ready to lie down and sleep.
It's important to not see the school system as the adversary, to not view teachers as opponents, to think of our community as OUR community--that the wellbeing of all of its citizens matters to the community as a whole.
Let me tell you that if we consistently gird ourselves for battle we will never win the war--we will always see the other team members (and they are team members) as the enemy to be vanquished.
If we want our children accepted into the wider community we must see that wider community as OUR community, one in which good intentions may not lead to the progress we wish for, where ignorance can damage not just our children but the entire community, and one where, with patience, determination, and education, we can make our community bend, change, and transform itself to one where people are embraced for their differences, not in spite of their differences.
Now, I think I will nap so that tomorrow I can go out and work with the community to build the change we need. After all, there's only so many days one can stay in pajamas and nightgowns.