Parenting Special Needs Magazine - March/April 2017

Starting Small

Tracy Felix 2017-03-17 12:51:57

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO AUDIO VERSION OF THE ARTICLE. to make big changes As parents of kids with special needs we need to be our child’s voice sometimes (or, all the time). When we look at our country or the bigger picture we may feel overwhelmed and hopeless. How can one person make a difference? A big lesson I have learned is to start small. Start in your community, in your school, in your church, or wherever people already know you or your child. Our son has nurses, that we hire, to go to school with him. Our school has never had a child need this before and they weren’t quite sure what to do with the nurses. What is expected of them while at school? What about discipline? Or liability in case of an emergency? Can they be on their cell phones? What if a nurse can’t be with him? These questions, and more, needed answers and a policy put in place for anyone in the future. I was able to work with the school superintendent, principal, and the county special education department to come up with a policy for private duty nurses in our school! It was a great feeling to know that I was making a new policy… making changes to our school. Communication is key I have had an open line of communication with those same people on other topics, too. Everything from inclusive playground equipment to transportation needs, to emergency procedures within the school. As a parent just starting on this journey at school, I can’t help but wonder why these things aren’t already in place, but I am thankful to them for having an open mind and taking the time to listen to my concerns. I may not be able to change the world but I can change the school that my son goes to and maybe that will change our community. Get involved So many of us are angry about how people with different abilities are treated, but just sit on the sidelines and complain. Complaining doesn’t do any good; getting involved does. Keep calm. Voice your concerns at a meeting. Listen to the responses. Join a committee or form one yourself. Try to break through walls and keep an open mind. If you want to make a bigger change, you can join programs like Partners in Policymaking (http://partnersonlinecourses.com) or World Institute on Disability (https://wid.org) and learn how to make a stand for yourself or a loved one. These may include some online training to help prepare you in your advocacy journey so that you can learn and make a difference right from your home. Tracy Felix Tracy blogs about her life and challenges as a mom to a son with special needs. Her blog has provided a forum for parents to get support, share ideas, and learn. You can connect with her at www.xlinked1.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/xlinked1

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