Honest, effective dialogue depends on a few key principles: empathy, equity, and a shared set of goals. When advocating for your child with a disability and his or her educational needs, sometimes it feels like the conversation is more of a battleground where no one speaks the same language. But you might have more tools and options than you realize to help ensure your voice is heard, understood, and remembered, and to help turn that battleground into a shared space for teamwork and collaboration.
In this episode, I chat with Andy Willemsen, a developmental service worker and community living advocate with more than thirty years of experience working with children with disabilities and their families. Andy identifies four key areas of knowledge that parents can equip themselves with in order to help support their child’s educational needs, and there’s good news: as a parent, you already have the first area—knowledge about your own child—down pat!
How can you use this knowledge to be a strong advocate for your child, and what other areas of knowledge do you need that can help strengthen your toolkit? Andy defines knowledge about the way the system functions, knowledge about the different actors within the system, and knowledge about what your options are going forward as three more tools to help bolster your case. He also stresses the importance of equity, empathy, teamwork, and planning ahead in working collaboratively to reach achievable, flexible goals that will evolve as your child grows.
This month is Inclusive Education month in Canada and Black History Month in the US. It is an excellent intersection to help us think about inclusivity. In Inclusion Academy, Good Things In Life's monthly membership, we are covering IEPs – how to make them inclusive, equitable and help all students reach their potential. You can learn more and join us by clicking here.
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Special thanks to Andy Willemsen for joining me this week. Until next time!