Educators, Dyslexia and Days of Betrayal
There are times as a dyslexia advocate when you realize exactly why you have to keep going, no matter what. Today was one of those days when I met with a mother of a 3rd grader who has been trying since September to get appropriate assistive technology services for her son with dyslexia. She got the run-around until she did more research than most people ever do, and eventually ended up consulting with the Office of Civil Rights. Once they got into the act, officials in her school district finally paid attention and she is now getting the help for her son that she has requested for many months.
And she is paying a price—with angry teachers and administrators who resent her determination to get them to obey the ADA law that applies to her son’s 504 Plan.
We talked about the feeling of betrayal, of the hurt that comes with the realization that the trust we naturally bestow on our educators may be misplaced. It’s a multi-stage process: We start out believing they care, they know, they do the best for our precious and vulnerable children with whom they are entrusted. And when they do not, we are more than hurt, we are angry with ourselves: How could we be so dumb? How could we allow ourselves, our children to be in this position?
Then the anger is rightly directed outward: How could they not do their jobs? How could they withhold information and services when the law, their profession requires so much more? What is wrong this this system that allows this to happen?
And lastly, we think about all those other parents and children who do not have the same access to resources, the awareness, the opportunities to advocate—what in the world happens to them? Sadly, we know too well what will happen: they get lost, overlooked, overwhelmed, and fail to reach their full potential.
It’s what keeps us going in this business of advocacy; we get past that terrible feeling of betrayal, of outrage, of anger, and we keep going. We move forward—and yes, sometimes we take steps backward and have to clean up a mess—but always we keep in mind: Our children are depending on us. My child, your child, our 1 in 5 children with dyslexia who need us to speak up for them. No matter what it takes, they are going to get the help they need. Even when it is one of those days, tomorrow will be a better one. We have to trust ourselves, and each other, to make it happen.