For several years, I’ve been trying to get an accessible school bus for my child to attend school. It’s been a struggle and a headache that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. I’m proud to say, my headache is just about gone. Finally the school district has agreed to provide my child with an accessible school bus starting next September. As I write this, I picture my readers sending me that high five through the screen of my laptop. Yeh! A battle won!

 

 When it comes to getting services for a child with disabilities, it’s no easy task. We constantly hear about hands being tied, case loads being too high and funds not being there. I’m not a mother that can view those responses as acceptable. Giving up is not an option when my child still needs the support. So, if you are struggling with an issue involving school or similar services for your child, I’ve decided to share some tips on how to get the right people to listen.

 

1.  Go through the proper channels. Make sure you’re talking to the right people. If your child has a case manager or learning assistance teacher, ask them who is directly responsible within the school, the district or otherwise. Request a meeting to discuss your child’s needs and make sure all parties involved can be there.

 

2.  Have your information, facts and needs clearly defined.

 

3.  Explore if you can, what other parents and children with disabilities are doing. Do they have the same struggles or are they getting services your child is not?

 

4.  Once you have your meeting, ask lots of questions including what a modified service would look like, what is required, who is liable, etc.

 

5.  Get a date on when you can expect to hear from them if your matter has not been resolved.

 

6.  After your meeting, follow up in writing on what was discussed and note your looking forward to hearing from them by the date decided.

 

7.  If you don’t hear back follow up again in writing (email is great) and don’t be afraid to send a copy of your email to other parties. Put further questions forward. I made my questions very specific. I believe that helped to show what a pain it would be for both the school and parents, not to have this service provided. For example, in trying to get an accessible school bus I asked the following:  If you don’t provide a school bus and I have to hire someone to drive my child to school, should they have additional insurance? Do they have to have chauffeur insurance? Who’s inspecting their vehicles for safety? What license class do they need? What do they get paid, by kms or by hour?

 

8.  If you have not had a timely response and push comes to shove, here are some ideas. Follow the chain of command and go a little higher. Write the editor of your local paper on the lack of services for children with disabilities. Don’t slander, just state the facts as you know them. Write your Mayor and make him or her aware. Contact your local MLA or MP, whoever will listen and help get the support your child needs. Don’t back down but be sure you’re being reasonable.

 

Being an advocate for your child, doesn’t mean you have to be nasty. Be assertive, knowledgeable and persistent. When you feel like it’s next to impossible, just look at your child’s precious little face and get that extra boost you need to keep going. Since you’re reading these tips, it means your child has a parent that cares and only wants the best for them. So for that reason, I’m giving you a high five and wishing you luck.

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(Wheel-ist-ic) Adj: awareness or acceptance of actual fact, real existence, or truth with relation to inclusion, accessibility and/or persons with disabilities.

Let’s Be Wheelisitic is a blog designed to open communication, share and create change through parenting, awareness, inclusion and advocacy. Over the years people have encouraged me to use my voice and experiences with my daughter to help others with or without disabilities, or parents of children with disabilities. This blog is my way of doing just that. I hope you will find this site enjoyable, educational, helpful, and rewarding.
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“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” — E. B. White

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