I have 2 kids that are struggling in different ways at school right now. I won’t lie to you, it’s been rough. I have been fighting to get them both what they need for almost 2 years now and we are just starting to see some changes and things being implemented to help them. I have been lucky enough in the school they are both currently in, to have an amazing principal on my side and she has made a huge difference to having things done for them. When it comes to advocating for your child, no one else is going to do it for you.
My 8-year-old was diagnosed last year with ADD. He doesn’t have any of the hyperactive traits but being able to focus and stay attentive are huge issues for him. He struggles with the most minor of tasks and has issues staying on task when he does finally get it. He can literally not sit doing something for more than about 8 minutes before he wants to switch to something else. It makes it difficult not only for his teachers but for me as a parent as well. I don’t want to constantly get angry with him or have to repeat myself a dozen times but unfortunately that is usually what it takes. My biggest fear is that he more naïve and trusting than a regular 8-year-old as his maturity is about that of a 4 or 5-year-old and I worry that one day someone will come up to him and lure him away easily because he thinks that everyone is to be trusted. I also worry that he might get hit by a car because he forgets to look both ways when crossing.
He is also sensitive and he loves to help with everything. I have been advocating for him at the school level for 2 years now and finally I think we may have everything in place to help him succeed. I hate that he has so much trouble but I am thankful I have put my foot down with the school and made sure that he doesn’t fall through the cracks. Getting an IEP isn’t always easy but as his mother, I wasn’t giving up until we had something in place for him.
My 10-year-old has it a little tougher. I will talk more about his issues in an upcoming post because we talked about what’s going on with him and decided that if what we are going through can help another little girl or boy, then he is okay with talking about it on the blog. I always ask my kids before I post anything about them because although this is my blog and I am their mom, at the end of the day it’s their story. Needless to say, we have a lot going on but I am always advocating for them with the school, with their father (since sometimes co-parenting isn’t an exact science) and anywhere else I feel they need a little extra help. I will not let my boys fall through the cracks and I will always advocate for them when necessary.
Here are some tips when dealing with this yourself:
- Advocating for your child doesn’t mean fighting every battle. It means fighting the important ones that need your input and the ones they can’t deal with on their own like getting an IEP. Children also need to learn to advocate for themselves so unless it truly needs you, let them deal with issues themselves
- Make sure to keep notes, letters and doctors opinions up-to-date. Ask for copies of anything in your child’s file with every doctor you see that you think you may need later on. I haven’t been great with this and now that I need paperwork and information for him, I don’t have it and I am now struggling to get it from specialists
- If your child is old enough, listen to what they need. Ask them how they are doing and see if there is anything they think will help them. My oldest has a few things that he has set up at school that makes a huge difference in his day. Self-advocating also means being able to tell you what is working and what isn’t
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. For me it means that I no longer fight with my 8-year-old when it comes to homework. I know that he isn’t capable of doing more than a few minutes every night and I am not going to have him crying or upset over a page of work that he truly doesn’t completely understand. Sometimes you can let things go that won’t make a huge difference except that you don’t have unhappy kids
My kids have certain things that aren’t up for negotiation and I believe that school is important but I also know that there are some things that are better left not fighting over especially when my kids don’t learn the same way as another child.
How do you advocate for your child? What do you find is the hardest struggle for them and you?