Emotional, Impulsive and Cringeworthy. An Advocate in the Making.

There was a social reading event organized for adults. One by one they took turns and read out of their high school diaries written over 20 years ago. The audience cringes with empathy and chuckles over the shared embarrassment of their teenage selves. The drama, the emotions, the childlike perspectives of life. So mutually embarrassing.

This was a real event. People volunteered to participate in this.

As a mother attempting to seriously advocate for my children and other children in an education system void of accountability and supervision, I was left on my own. I look back at my emails written to staff full of emotion, impulsivity, and powerlessness. Pleads and negotiating to an untouchable system. Like Bambi on ice trying to find my legs.

My emails read like those embarrassing teenage diary entries. Cringeworthy.

School districts all over this province and country use the deep love we have for our children and weaponize it as a tool to hold over us and against us. They are very strategic about ignoring us and just sitting back and waiting for us to lose it. They wait for us to send those emotional emails so they can all point their fingers at us, at our wrong behaviour and weakness.

They even have legislative powers over parents written in the School Act without an appeals process. Talk about power!

What happens reminds me of what happens with many of our kids. They are emotionally dysregulated, in survival mode, impulsive, and they do something that they feel embarrassed about and regret later. Everyone points fingers at how wrong this child is behaving. No one looks at the pond. No one examines the trigger. Kids don’t go to school in a silo. They are surrounded by other children, who either intentionally or unintentionally are triggering. Don’t even get me started on the bullies who purposefully find it entertaining to poke the kids who are responsive for pure amusement.  

You should read all my emotional impulsive reactive emails I have sent to the school district, the Ministry of Education, to the Teacher’s Regulation Branch and to Ombudsperson. You won’t feel so alone.  You’d shrink in your chair along with me.

Districts poke the bear with parents. They will use silence and delay to create the pond. They will use their power. They will lie and gaslight you. Then they’ll just sit back and watch the show. Any emotional move from a parent and the spotlight is on you.

Many parents, justifiably shrink and move away. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Feeling little. Powerless.

When advocating for your kids, you need to be willing to fall flat on your face and be vulnerable, and yet get back up again and keep going. Just like our kids are always on the stage of over examination and judgement of every move they make, so are we. Solidarity little ones. Us too.

I am NOT shrinking from those emails. I OWN my impulsivity and emotional throw up.

I have figured out the system.

Those emails feel like a lifetime ago.

I wear them like a badge of honor. They are evidence of how far I have come. The skills I have learned. The knowledge I have gained. My understandings evolving as I begin to understand the rules of the game. They are part of my story. My beginning. My attempts. My learning.

I will wear those emails and show them to anyone.

You want to know why????

They are the secret door that leads us all to the pond. I am not just a frog jumping chaotically from pad to pad. I am navigating through an electrified pond.

You want to start questioning me and victim blaming me? Let’s do that. Let’s talk about all of it. Let’s pick through every little sentence and examine every little word. I am not shrinking into the dark. I will boldly walk straight into the spotlight with all those emails pinned to my clothes.

I am human.

I am a mother and I love my children.

My love for them is not my weakness. It is my strength.

Just try me.

Why is Documentation so Important?

Because you need to take your allegations out of the realm of conjecture. Here is a case example below from the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

N obo S v. T and a School District, 2006 BCHRT 546 (CanLII)

[55]           In this case, N states that she is a single parent and has several serious medical conditions, and that, because of this, she has been unfairly treated by the respondents.  As examples of the unfair treatment, she states that the respondents have failed to return phone calls, delayed letters, failed to provide information in a timely manner, and did not properly investigate her concerns relating to her son.  However, she does not include details of any statements or actions on the part of the respondents which would support such a conclusion.  She states only that she “believes” that such a connection exists: that she “believes” that the respondents think they can make her go away by exhausting her; that she “believes” that if she had a partner, her child would have equal treatment; and that she “believes” that she would be treated with more respect if she were married, healthy and had financial resources.   In other words, nothing in the complaint takes the allegations out of the realm of conjecture, as the facts alleged in the complaint do not support a nexus between N’s marital status and disability and her alleged unfair treatment by the respondents. 

[56]           As a result of the above, I dismiss N’s complaint pursuant to s. 27(1)(b) of the Code.


Allegations are what you are claiming to be true. Until they are proven in a hearing and a decision is complete by a tribunal member, until then, they are nothing more than allegations. Be careful about defamation on social media.

So, parents/guardians and loved ones of disabled children in the education system, what does this mean?

It means we need to be documenting EVERYTHING.

Keeping ALL emails, even the good ones.

Logging calls and dates, with who and what was discussed.

Follow up by email on phone calls to outline what was discussed and action steps agreed upon.

Keeping a timeline of events

Taking photos (if your child has been injured)

When you child tells you what happened at school, take your own notes and write it down. Email your notes to someone you trust to log the date, time and details.

Email other parents and ask them what they know, and make sure they respond in the email and not the phone. The Human Rights Tribunal can take years. People’s memories will change over time, so it’s really important to get the documented information at that time.

If necessary for your own mental health, taking yourself and your child for counselling, (Remember from the blog 10 Most shocking Education Advocacy Discoveries #3) If the counsellor is connected to the government services, they wont be able to testify at a hearing. You need an outside counsellor.)

An added suggestion by Dyslexia BC @DyslexiaBC on Facebook is to bring someone with you to all of your IEP meetings. (That person can take notes, and also be a witness.)

You need to be thinking about collecting evidence. Things that can be used as evidence in a hearing are documents, emails, doctors letters, counselling letters, counselling invoices, videos, photos, media posts, expert evidence, other parents witness statements/emails, voice recordings from meetings, anything that is relevant. Connected. Here is what the Human Rights Tribunal determines to be evidence.

In the same thread of thought, be careful what you offer up in your emails and conversations to the school district. They are also collecting evidence on you.

I will leave you with this case example below.

A and B obo Infant A v. School District C (No. 5), 2018 BCHRT 25 (CanLII)

A.   The Mother

[40]           Overall, I have found the Mother to be sincere in her testimony. She cares about her Child and became emotional when describing his feelings. However, I do not find her evidence reliable. I find her testimony not to be in “harmony with the preponderance of the probabilities which a practical and informed person would readily recognize as reasonable in that place and in those conditions”. The weight, and thus reliability, of the Mother’s evidence was affected by the fact that her testimony was almost entirely based on hearsay and double hearsay. The Mother was not a witness to most of the interactions she described.

[41]           The Tribunal may admit any evidence that it considers necessary and appropriate, whether or not the evidence is admissible in a court of law: Code, s. 27.2. Silver Campsites Ltd. v. James2013 BCCA 292 at para. 39. I considered the Mother’s hearsay testimony to be necessary and appropriate because it directly addressed the critical issues in the complaint and there were no other witnesses available to present it. The Father and Child did not testify on these issues. I assessed the Mother’s hearsay evidence on a point-by-point basis, with the objective of ensuring that I could make necessary findings of fact based on reliable evidence: Radek v. Henderson Development (Canada) and Securiguard Services (No. 3), 2005 BCHRT 302 [Radek]. I have considered the following in determining the weight to give to hearsay evidence:

I have considered in each instance the reliability of the evidence, the necessity for its introduction as hearsay rather than first-hand evidence, the probative value of the evidence, and whether the other parties would be unfairly prejudiced or otherwise disadvantaged through my reliance on it. (para. 54)

[42]           I have assigned relatively little weight to the Mother’s evidence where it conflicted with the first-hand accounts given by the School Counsellor, Principal, Vice Principal, and Teachers H, M, and G. I have found the Mother’s hearsay evidence considerably less reliable than the direct evidence of reliable witnesses, where there is a conflict.

[43]           The Mother acknowledged that she was probably not present for most of the incidents at school that involved her Child. At times, she had a hard time recalling events. For example, the Mother’s testimony on the psychoeducational assessment of her son was wrong by one year. She acknowledged that she was “out a year”. The Mother testified that there is no reason to dispute the emails that were authored by her at the time. The Mother testified “that is what I wrote at that time”.

[44]           During cross-examination, the Mother responded to several questions regarding her testimony about her Child’s version of events by saying that she did not know or was not there. She acknowledged that most of her knowledge of the incidents came through her Child. I find that her son was more likely than not motivated to minimize his involvement in some incidents when reporting them to his Parents, so as to avoid discipline. For example, the Mother described disciplining the Child in relation to an incident where he swore at the Principal. She described their punishment as “Draconian”. (In retrospect, the Mother regretted using that word in her letter). As another example, regarding the November 2016 Incident, the Child only reported to his Parents that he grabbed another student by the collar, whereas I find, as a fact, that the Child choked a student, pushed him over a railing, and spat in his face.

[45]           The Mother’s credibility was also impacted by her acrimonious relationship with most of the Respondent witnesses. I have considered her contemporaneous correspondence in assessing credibility because it speaks to hear capacity to perceive, recollect, and communicate facts objectively. Together with her husband, the Mother repeatedly sent letters and other communications attacking the character of most of the Respondent witnesses. For example, the Parents wrote letters about the Superintendent to the federal government, provincial government, board of education, RCMP, politicians and others. When confronted with this correspondence, the Mother minimized the tenor of her communications and its effect on the Respondent witnesses. The Mother maintained that she and her husband treated staff respectfully.

[46]           The Mother also provided inconsistent testimony. For example, the Mother testified that she did not accuse Teacher G of racism. When confronted during cross-examination, the Mother acknowledged accusing Teacher G of favouring one child over the other, and the other child not necessarily being black. The Mother ultimately acknowledged accusing Teacher G of racism. She explained finding it “very frustrating” when Teacher G prejudged her son and did not follow guidelines.

Understanding the Duty to Accommodate

In the Human Rights Code section (8), there is the Duty to Accommodate.

There are also layers under the umbrella of the duty to accommodate. There is a process that must be completed in order to obtain those accommodations. Since, this site is focused on disability rights and education focused, for this page I will be using disability as the example. First, the service provider must have proof that someone is disabled.

From the Human Rights Clinic Blog, Stress, Anxiety and the Duty to Accommodate, they explain…

“However, she did not provide any medical information that said she had a mental disability.

The Tribunal dismissed Ms. Matheson’s complaint, stating that “an essential element of a complaint of discrimination in employment on the basis of mental disability is proof that the complainant either had a mental disability… or was perceived to be mentally disabled by the employer.”

Here is Ms. Matheson’s case.

Which now leads us to the Duty to Inquire

Duty to Inquire

Here is link to more information and the above picture.

Duty to Consult

A great case that outlines the duties to consult by schools is the Hewko v. B.C., 2006 BCSC 1638 (CanLII)

There are many great details in this case, here are a couple that speak to me regarding the duty to consult.

AND also

Duty to Co-operate

Here is the link for the source below

Am I missing any??

If anyone knows of any more “Duty to…..” established in human rights case law, please let me know. I am happy to add to the list of links and information so we parents, can learn about our children’s rights and the process.

Commonly Used Acronyms in Supportive Education

Acronyms are often used in social media posts, emails and chatter amongst parents/guardians and school district professionals.  I personally feel there are so many of them and they are constantly changing. Sometimes it’s just hard to keep up! Districts also don’t always use the same language for their education roles. More confusion.

Here is a list compiled by over 30 parents from different districts across British Columbia, to help new parents who are entering the world of education advocacy. Or, even if you aren’t new, here is a list, because who can always keep track of these things??

If you want to add any, please email me.

These acronyms have not made it on the list because I have critiqued or placed judgement on these terms, they are simply acronyms you might come across.

If you are a parent/guardian attending meetings or are receiving communication and people are tossing around acronyms/terms/language you don’t understand, you have every right to stop them and ask them to explain. Jargon can create barriers in communication. We all have the right to understand what people are talking about when it concerns us and our children.

In addition to the acronym list below, here is also a Glossary of Terms from the BC Government for K-12 Education.

(Updated September 14th, 2022. Now over 40 parents contributed. 🙂 )

CB IEP – Competency Based Individual Education Plan
IEP – Individualized Education Plan
SLP – Student Learning Plan
SD – School District

ID – Image Description
TW – Trigger Warning

Specialized Professionals

AAC SLP – Alternative Augmentative Communication Speech Language Pathologist
BC – Behavioural Consultant
BCBA-Board Certified Behaviour Consultant
BI – Behavioural Interventionist
OT– Occupational Therapist
PT– Physiotherapist
SLP – Speech-Language Pathologist  (SLP can also be Student Learning Plan)
SW – Social Worker

Support Roles/Teams/Job Titles in Education

ASW – Autism Support Worker
BSW – Behavioural Assistance Worker
CM – Case Manager
CRT—Classroom Teacher
DIMT – District Inclusion Mentor Teacher
DLT – District Leadership Team
EA – Education Assistant
IST– Integration Support Teacher AND/ Inclusion Support Teacher
ITT– Inclusive Team Teacher
LAW – Learning Assistance Worker
LRT – Learning Resource Teacher
LST – Learning Services Teacher AND/ Learning Support Teacher
RT – Resource Teacher
SBT – School-Based Team
SEA – Special Education Assistant
SERT – Special Education Resource Teacher
TTOC – Teaching Teacher On Call
YCW – Youth Care Worker


AFU – Autism Funding Unit
ASNBC – Autism Support Network BC
BCCDC – BC Centre for Disease Control
BCCH – BC (British Columbia) Children’s Hospital
BCTF – BC Teacher’s Federation
CADDRA – Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance
CAN – Canucks Autism Network
CLBC – Community Living BC
CYMH – Child & Youth Mental Health, Government of BC
CUPE – Canadian Union of Public Employees
DPAC – District Parent Advisory Council
FSI – Family Support Institute
KMH / KMHRC / Kelty – Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre
MCFD – Ministry of Child and Family Development
MOECC – Ministry of Education and Child Care
MOH – Ministry of Health
P1/P2 – BCCH Child Psychiatry Inpatient/Outpatient Units
PAC – Parent Advisory Council
PAFN – Pacific Autism Family Network
POPARD – Provincial Outreach for Autism and Related Disorder
SET BC – Special Education Technology British Columbia

Administrative Processes

FOI – Freedom of Information Request
HR – Human Resources
HRT – Human Rights Tribunal
OIPC – Office of Information Privacy Commissioner
TRB – Teacher’s Regulation Branch

Loosely Grouped

DX – Diagnosis
IFL-identify first language
PFL-person first language
ND – Neurodivergent / Neurodiversity
NT – Neurotypical
PWD – Person With a Disability

ABA – Applied Behavioural Analysis
ACC – Augmentative Assistant Communication
AT– Assistive Technology
B&M – Brick and Mortar School (A physical building where students attend)
CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
CPI – Crisis Prevention Intervention
DL – Distance Learning
DSM-5 – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (5th Ed.)
FI – French Immersion
FSA – Foundation Skills Assessment
HS – Home Schooling
IQ – Intelligence Quotient
ISP – Inclusion Support Program
LS – Life Skills
LSS – Learning Support Services
NSS-Nursing Support Services
OL – Online Learning
Psych Ed – Psycho-Educational Assessment
SE – Supportive Education
SEL – Social Emotional Learning
SPED – Special Education
TIP – Trauma-Informed Practice
UDL – Universal Design for Learning

EAL – English as Another Language
ELL – English Language Learner
ELL – English Language Workers
ESL – English as a Second Language

2E – Twice Exceptional
AS – Autism Spectrum
ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
CAPD – Central Auditory Processing Disorder
CNP – Complex Neuropsychiatric Profile
CP – Cerebral Palsy
DCD – Developmental Coordination Disorder
DD– Developmental Disability
DS – Down Syndrome
GAD – Generalized Anxiety Disorder
FASD – Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
HH – Hard of Hearing
ID – Intellectual Disability
LD – Learning Disability
OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
ODD – Oppositional Defiance Disorder
PD– Physical Disability
PDA – Pervasive Drive for Autonomy (Pervasive Demand Avoidance)
SCD – Social Communication Disorder
SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder
VI – Visually Impaired

Designation Categories

A – Physically Dependent
B – DeafBlind
C – Students with Moderate to Profound Intellectual Disabilities
D – Physical Disabilities or Chronic Health Impairments
E – Visual Impairments
F – Deaf or Hard of Hearing
G – Autism Spectrum Disorder
H – Students Requiring Intensive Behaviour Intervention or Students with Serious Mental Illness
K – Students with Mild Intellectual Disabilities
P – Gifted
Q – Learning Disabilities
R – Students Requiring Moderate Behaviour Support or Students with Mental Illness