The Non-Death Loss for Parents of Disabled Children in Education, All Over this Province



Do you ever just get so tired of walking through the verbal minefield when talking to some school administration? It can be so exhausting. I came out of one meeting and wondered what in the world just happened in there???

Sometimes I feel like I have been taken by some scammer.

Or I just donated to some fraud non-profit organization?

What exotic trip did I just sign up for?

I think we should show up to our meetings with a court reporter.

Set up cameras like in those crime interrogation documentaries.

We’ll all show up in outfits like we just telephoned into The Matrix. Neo, we’re in.

All kidding aside, if you have a serious meeting ahead…drink your coffee before you attend. You’ll need to be on the ball.

Not all levels of advocacy reach this kind of intensity, but if and when they do…you’re not alone.

What emotionally hits me is that when my kids started kindergarten and I remember those visual memories of them entering the classroom for the first time, all of the emotions of your kids growing up, attending their first day of school…NEVER, never, ever did I ever in a million years, think I would end up in the position to be emailing lawyers. Never!

And yet…here I am.

There is a sadness to that. A non-death loss. We lose the innocence and naivety that parents of non-disabled children experience. We know exactly how oppressive the system is. There is grief around that. Why can’t I think public education is sunshine and lollipops too?

Do you take the red pill or blue pill? Do you find out about the reality of public education or do you live in blissful ignorance? If you have a child with a disability, you don’t get a choice. It’s made for you.

I was a secretary at a couple of schools and it was amazing to me, how many parents of non-disabled children didn’t even know the name of their child’s teacher. Seriously.

I on other hand, can recite school legislation, explain the difference between Ministry of Education policy and the Human Rights Code, and define the loopholes in a variety of external complaint processes.

This isn’t what I thought it was going to be like. 

This is a loss that needs to be validated. The loss of innocence.

I am not the only one.

To the parent in the Facebook group who coined the term PTSD – “Post Traumatic School Disorder”. That’s a good one!

5 stages of grieving.

Denial – “Oh the system isn’t that bad…we must just be having a rough year. They aren’t ignoring my emails, they just are really busy.”

Anger – “What the #$@% is going on here, is this for real!?!?”

Bargaining – “I just want to have an honest conversation; I’ll even sign an NDA”

Depression – “What’s the point. Things will never change.”

Acceptance. – “I don’t care, I am filing anyways. Every little bit helps.”

Focusing on the negativity of everything is going to get us nowhere. However, toxic positivity and not even acknowledging the pain isn’t healthy either.

How many parents have gone through the stages of grief? Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. What stage are you in?

Let’s sit here together and acknowledge what this feels like.