Fighting the good fight
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By GreatSchools Staff
Resolving conflict and restoring relationships
If all your attempts at avoiding problems fail — which, at some point, is bound to happen — try these parent tips on restoring your relationship with the team.
- Allow for a cooling-off period.
- Apologize and admit to your role in the conflict. “The best thing to do is apologize. If there is nothing to apologize for, then apologize for a breakdown in communication," said Stacey from California.
- Wipe the slate clean and then focus on facts, not feelings. “Remember that you don't have to like someone to have a working relationship with him," advised Cheryl from California.
- Communicate in person, and be sure to listen.
- Enlist a mediator or an advocate. A lawyer or advocate can help write a proper IEP and establish a level playing field. A mediator can help with the healing.
Building a support system
No one should walk this path alone. Having support is the key to managing the myriad practical and emotional details that being an advocate entails, parents said.
We asked parents who they turn to when they clash with a member of their child’s team. The vast majority said they get support from their family (with lots of shout-outs to spouses) and friends. Others turn to fellow parents of kids with special needs, and around the same number rely on a therapist. Another great source of support and information, many parents reported, is books and websites.
Learn from your experiences
We asked parents about the one thing they wish they’d known when they first started advocating for their child. The number one response was: Trust your instincts! “When I listen to my gut, I know I will always be my child’s best advocate,” said one mom. Other parents said they wished they’d been better versed in the law and in their child’s specific disability.
“Don’t be intimidated by authority figures,” said another parent, while several wished they’d known more to “document, document, document.” Last of all, one parent offered this advice to newcomers: “Be prepared for a long, hard journey. Develop patience and persistence.”