"I want a girl...
who uses a machete to cut through red tape"
A few months ago, a mom I know was starting to freak out about what to do with her son for school next year. She'd been given the run around by the public schools, and most private schools won't take kids like ours; they seem to define special needs as dyslexia or some learning disabilities. I have about 9 months before I really need to freak out about this. Still, it's there. Anyway, I ran into this mom today and we talked all about how important inclusion is, how much Little Bird has benefitted from it, and how much her son is loving being at an inclusion summer camp. We talked about the big A. Well, the other big A: Advocacy.
A new friend found her way to these parts recently and sent me a message that I'm an "amazing advocate" for Little Bird. Such kind words, but really, I think most moms in my situation would fight the same way. My friend Lynn says she's an unwilling inductee into the Autism Army. Love that. Because we are warriors in battle. We are an army of moms fighting like mad for our kids.
And we're everywhere. Hear us roar!
Two years ago my friend W's son entered a full inclusion preschool program and then she never stopped talking about how amazing it was, how her son progressed leaps and bounds just by being around typical kids. The next year, I wiggled my way into that program. I was uncertain, but wanted so badly to have the same experience W did. It took no time for me to sing the praises of the program. In fact, the director of the program told me to slow it down because she was getting too many calls and didn't have enough spaces. I can't help it! I love this program! Of course, Little Bird will do Kindergarten there, but that's the end of the line for her- the program ends at Kindergarten. We'll have to see where we can find a good fit for her. I'm willing to fight fight fight for inclusion and for whatever services my bird needs and deserves. Grrrrrr!
Not all moms are as tough, but that's kind of what we're here for. We are tough for those that can't be. We are fighting for inclusion so the schools, teachers, social workers can see just how amazing it can be. They'll see that every child benefits from an inclusive environment, and they'll be more ready and willing to join our fight. Of course, Little Bird is my number one. But there's a part of me that knows I'm doing this for YOUR kids, too. I'm doing this for the families whose kids haven't yet been dx'd- even for those who haven't yet been born. Because we tough cookies, we mother warriors are gonna get this done. Grrrrr!
A few days ago I sat with a woman watching our children get occupational therapy. She's from Pakistan and her son is about 4. She's so intimidated by the system because English is her second language and she doesn't seem to know all of her or her son's rights. She accepts whatever is offered to her the first time around. I say the first time because most of us warrior moms rarely sign an IEP on the first round. We bring it back to our private therapists and we consult other moms who have gone before us. Some of us seek legal help. These might not be the very best services she can get for her son, but she doesn't even know that she can ask for more. She is, I believe, being taken advantage of. She might even know it. And so, it's for her, too, that I fight; that we all fight. We're changing the world, the way the system deals with kids with special needs. One IEP at a time.