It’s funny . . . I’ve realized that this process of transitioning Finn from Early Intervention to the school district is calling up a lot of the same feelings for me that I had surrounding mainstream maternity care when I began to explore going off the grid in that arena. My first birth, Kevin, was, extremely unfulfilling, frustrating, and even traumatizing on some levels for me. But it wasn’t until years later when I was pregnant again and wanting a better experience that I realized it was, to a large degree, in my hands. I could passively and blindly go along with everything my doctor and the hospital decided for me and then complain and feel victimized, or I could break out of the box, educate myself and become my own advocate, and take responsibility for getting the care I wanted (and declining the care I didn’t want) – all based on full information. And that’s what I did, hiring a doula, educating myself about what screenings and protocols were really necessary and/or beneficial to me and my baby, fighting the fights that were necessary in order to not be victimized by the system, and eventually opting out of the whole medical/hospital-based maternity system and choosing midwifery care and home birth. My two home births were a tremendous amount of physical and emotional work, but in the end, definitely the most fulfilling experiences of all my births – because I did the legwork, I educated myself, and I chose to be an active, accountable participant in my care, and not just a passive patient.
And so it will be with Finn’s education. I can sit here and wring my hands and cry and complain about all the ways in which the powers-that-be are getting it wrong, or I can do something about it. I can educate myself, learn everything I can about the school system in my area, the Special Education system in my area, laws that pertain to Finn’s education, IEPs and how they work, and the list goes on – and I can be an active participant, an advocate, and, in fact, the best expert on his team. I have a responsibility to do this.
We had a less than positive experience with Early Intervention, for a variety of reasons. We are already getting off on the wrong foot with the school district. I don’t at all like the way they’ve run the assessments, attempting to do multiple assessments by multiple people simultaneously in a setting unfamiliar to Finn. It seems ludicrous to me that it should be run this way. It’s not been productive, and it’s not fair to Finn. I don’t appreciate how these meetings were put off by the school district until it’s so close to Finn’s third birthday that they are now under the gun to get an IEP written as soon as possible. I feel let down by our Regional Center service coordinator who has never taken a personal interest in Finn or in us and has only seemed to go through the motions to get Finn’s file moved through the system.
But really, I have to shoulder some of the responsibility in all this. I’ve taken a passive role, assuming that our service coordinator would make sure Finn’s individual best interests would be looked after, assuming the school district would be sensitive, assuming the “experts” knew what they were doing and that it would all fall into place. It’s clearly not going to work that way.
So my goal now is to learn what I can and be a true advocate for Finn.